Arriving at onto the island of Samui is always a bit of an adventure. It’s a glorious chaos coupled with a warm heat and a gentle breeze. Garrya Tongsai Bay Samui had arranged for me to be picked up from the pier, I stepped into an air-conditioned van, waiting for me was an ice-cold towel and chilled bottle of water to refresh myself, a lovely touch. My driver has only been working at the Garrya Tongsai Bay Samui Hotel for a matter of months but could not speak more highly enough of his new employers.
As we wind up the narrow hills of the complex, I’m stunned at how much jungle like vegetation we are in. A hum of crickets and delicate bird song sound track my entrance to this lush, 28-acre estate. I’m taken through the hotel’s hut like entrance, the place has a Thai mid-century feel but, is also fresh and modern in its decor. I’m given a welcome drink, a mix of fruits and lemongrass which takes the edge off the afternoon’s humidity.
It’s here I am met by the manager Manuel Lang. We chat about his own journey to Thailand, sixteen years ago, and the history of the hotel. There are over 30 rooms here, the majority of which have a real sense of privacy. I was staying in the hotels signature suite, there is only one of these on-site, complete with my own pool, sun deck, a bathroom that’s bigger than my London flat and a gorgeous sunken lounge. Triple aspect windows, taking in the vegetation outside and the sea below, let in glorious light. The bathtub is situated outside and is more than big enough for two. I ran myself a bath on my last night and watched the red moon rise from the waves below. A new kind of moon bath if you will.
There are three restaurants on site. The Raya Raya situated by the lobby serves a glorious breakfast comprising of Asian, American, and European buffet with ice coffees and smoothies on order. By night it becomes a Thai a la carte dining experience. On Thursdays they have their ‘Street Food Night’ a traditional Thai buffet with local dancers, putting on a show whilst you grab yourself yet another prawn to nibble on was a feast for the eyes and the mouth. Down on the beach there is the Fish Tales restaurant, a fantastic mix for adults and children with everything from burgers, pizzas and delicious heritage cuisine, they even host a beach BBQ on Tuesdays which I was very sorry to miss. The evening menu differs, giving you a few luxury choices to enjoy. And finally, EVOL which is set back from the beach and is only open during the day, serving some healthier options if you fancy something lighter.
Personally, I loved Fish Tales, you can’t beat supping on a cold glass of wine watching the waves come and go. My favourite dish was the seabass in panang sauce with coconut rice, delicious, I’m still craving it now to be perfectly honest. The hotel is situated on the northeast coast of the island meaning the sea is on the gulf side and therefore slightly choppier. This made for a lovely change as most of Thailand’s island waters are both shallow and still. If you aren’t brave enough to dip your toe in there are two pools, the main one is right on the sea front and the other nestled up by EVOL which is an adult only, half-moon shaped pool. There were a few children around but mainly this feels like the sort of hotel you and a partner or friend come to soak up some delicious time together.
The hotel opened its doors thirty-seven years ago, the owners were passionate about creating a family atmosphere and, their hard work and dedication has clearly paid off as there are many staff members who are still here to this day. The warmth that has been generated here, has resonated, with many guests returning year after year, staff greeting and chatting to them like old friends.
During my stay I visit the award-winning 8LEMENTS spa. Set within the lush greenery and nestled into the natural surroundings it’s a place of peace and tranquillity. I’m greeted with a matcha and coconut drink while I am awaiting my massage. Having had a multitude of intense Thai massages whilst on my travels I decided to go for the Rest Essence, a unique body therapy designed to completely relax the body. It was divine with the therapist checking in with pressure and temperature at various times. I staggered out of there like a newborn lamb, feeling my way back to my room and feeling invigorated whilst relaxed. Quite the combo.
My stay here was short however, I intended to get as much out of the hotel as I possibly could, I mean, why leave? I had everything I needed here. There is a 24-hour gym which I glimpsed at, that was enough of a workout for me, a yoga studio, kids entertainment space and to top it off, on my last night there is a movie screening on the beach. A perfect end to a perfect trip.
If you are looking for a warm atmosphere with incredible service visit Tonsai Bay immediately, you will not regret it.
Garrya Tongsai Bay Samui
84, Tambon Bo Put
Amphoe Ko Samui
Surat Thani 84320