Monday, January 4, 2016

The Four Seasons in Koh Samui: A Villa in Paradise

Part of an archipelago of more than 60 islands off Thailand’s east coast, Ko Samui is known for its coconut palm-fringed white beaches and dense, mountainous rainforest. Nestled within a quiet oasis on Laem Yai Bay, the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui is the perfect place to discover the idyllic bliss of Thailand’s island life, whether from a private outdoor deck overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, the aqua-inspired interiors of plush residences perched on the hillside, or the turquoise waters of any one of the luxurious private villas infinity pools. The Resort, built in an area that was formerly all orchards and coconut groves, was designed by Bangkok-based, Harvard-educated architect and landscape designer Bill Bensley, who oversees a 45-member firm that specializes in developing exotic luxury resorts, transforming wild landscapes into sophisticated environments, as he did with the spectacular Four Seasons Koh Samui in 2007. “I consider myself a designer of environments — there are no boundaries. As a landscape architect I’ve been taught to protect the earth and environment, and as an architect I want to do the same.” Even in a resort as large as the Four Seasons on Koh Samui, Bensley’s work reflects his eco-sensitivity. “I was presented with a site that had 856 very mature coconut palms and a brief to build 80 hotel villas,” he recalls. “Today, there are 856 palms on the site and 80 villas. Coconut palms penetrate the roofs, the decks, even the kitchens. It took 17 trips to the site, and I drove the client, the surveyor and the contractor mad, but it was worth it. The site is still as beautiful as when I first laid eyes on it.” It was equally spellbinding for us during our five glorious days of paradise in our private hillside luxury villa, shaded by coconut groves and overlooking the mystical Gulf of Siam.

A welcome drink of sparkling passionfruit and fragrant jasmine lei greet guess upon their arrival at the Four Seasons Resort in Koh Samui

The Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, carved into the hillside on Laem Yai Bay

The treetop walkway to our villa with a spectacular view over the island and Gulf of Thailand

The bedroom with sliding doors to the terrace and infinity pool

A freestanding tub with sliding doors onto our private paradise

View from our deluxe one-bedroom villa with private infinity pool 
and view over the hillside of the Four Seasons Resort

The powdery coconut palm lined beach

Water hammocks beckon

Beachside dining at 'Pla Pla', which means 'many fishes'

'Koh Thai Cuisine' perched on the top of the hill and under the stars at night

The elegantly appointed lending library with everything from Grisham to Dostoevsky

Cocktails on the terrace at sunset...heaven!