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Travel to Phuket


Where the tokays sing

1 June 2019

Time stands still in Samujana, one of Koh Samui’s most exclusive properties

It’s that sticky kind of weather, where sweat pools at the back of legs and dogs lie panting in the shade of a palm. Cicadas beat a wall of sound as our golf buggy strains up steep hills to our waiting villa.

On entering Samujana, the heat seems to dissipate. As a cool sea breeze sends inflatables drifting across the infinity pool’s surface, the island’s giant Buddha glinting in the distance – this is Koh Samui at its finest.

Samujana is not your typical villa stay. The independent estate houses 27 bespoke villas, most of which are privately owned and run by management. The co-op approach means, says General Manager John Dopéré, that Samujana has “the privacy of a villa, and the service of a five-star hotel”.

Owners come at most for a few months out of the year, the properties available to rent the rest of the time. Resultantly, each villa reflects the tastes of its owner – some resplendent with Balinese architecture, others designed around Japonesque water features.

Staff will help guests to choose a villa that suits their needs, whether that be an eight-bed for a lively wedding party, a tranquil space for a honeymooning couple, or an indoor slide and trampoline for kids (villa 9, if you’re interested).

Overall, the vibe is truly informal. An outside bar serves as a guest check-in, with a member of staff permanently on hand to make iced drinks, recommend activities or book transport. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all available to order at the villa – a mixture of Mediterranean classics like caprese salad or traditional offerings like Tom Yum Goong or Pad Thai.

The crowning glory of all the villas is undoubtedly the infinity pool, whose edge a guest may peer over to gaze at the lush, jungled hills so characteristic of Koh Samui – the smell of satay and lemongrass in the distance, and the chirrup of a tokay gecko nearby.

From the concierge

To the high seas
Charter Samujana’s luxury two-bedroom, 43 foot catamaran ‘Kindred Spirit’ for a private cruise. The boat can accommodate 20 people for a half- or full-day sail round Penang for snorkelling or deep sea fishing.

Eat, pray, love
A highlight of a stay at Samujana is its gourmet barbecue, made at the villa. If you want to head out, local spots Poppies and the Jungle Club are both good choices.

Muay Thai and yoga
Try out one of the villa activities of a morning: either a private Muay Thai class – the sport is immensely popular on the island; a yoga session next to the pool; or a Thai cooking class with the estate’s head chef.

Words: Georgina Lavers
Images: Matthew Shaw