New resort pushes Samed up-market

The opening of the luxury
Paradee Resort and upgrades to three other resorts are repositioning
Samed island in Thailand as an up-market leisure destination.The six-kilometre island, located 72 kms southeast of Pattaya in the
Gulf of Thailand, has long been popular with backpackers and
Bangkok-based weekenders attracted to the island’s squeaky white sands
and fringing coral reefs. Accommodation options have now developed
well beyond simple beach huts.

The 40-villa Paradee Resort at the southern tip of Samed (sometimes
also spelled “Samet”) will be fully operational by November 1 and is
already running at 50% occupancy. When the resort is complete, rates
will start from US$337 and rise to US$562 for beachfront cottages with
private pools and US$1,800 for the 200-sqm beachside Paradee Suite,
which is being created by Abacus Design, a leading interior designer
in the hospitality sector in Asia. The Paradee has a spa centre with
four private treatment rooms.

The four-star Le Vimarn Resort, which has a beach-view two-storey spa
centre, has just finished upgrades to four honeymoon cottages, which
are already popular with Korean newly-weds. Cottage rates range from
US$195 to US$570.

On the same beach, the four-star Ao Phrao Resort, which includes a
two-bedroom hilltop suite overlooking the beach, will refurbish next
year. Rates currently range from US$120 to US$330.

The three-star Sai Kaew Resort in the northeast of Samed island opened
an additional 30 cottages and a swimming pool in its garden area last
year and will open its La Luna Italian beachside restaurant in
September. Room rates range from US$85 to US$290.


At the northern end of the island, Mooban Talay Resort also offers
international-class accommodation.

“New resort facilities on Samed island now offer a much wider range of
options at the middle and upper end of the market that weren’t there a
few years ago,” said Mr Chanchai Doungjit, director of the Tourism
Authority of Thailand’s Rayong and Chanthaburi office, which is
responsible for marketing this part of Thailand’s eastern seaboard.
“The fine sand beaches, coral coves and seafood that Samed is famous
for are still there. Now guests can enjoy them while staying in
international-class resorts.”

Mr Luzi Matzig, group managing director of Asian Trails, a major
inbound tour operator in Thailand, said Samed’s advantage was that
visitors didn’t need to fly to reach it. The fact that it is less than
three hours’ travel time by car and boat from Bangkok also helps. “I
recommend Samed to repeat visitors to Thailand who have perhaps seen
other famous places in Thailand already,” he said. “It’s ideal for
honeymooners, couples and families on shorter stays.”

Samed island, a 30-minute boat ride from Ban Phe in Rayong province on
the mainland, has no paved roads or airport. Most guests arrive
directly at their resort by boat. The island is only 2.5 km wide at
its widest part.

Resorts on Samed offer day trips to nearby islands to visit a sea
turtle conservation station. The same excursion offers snorkelling at
Talu island and a walk up to the archipelago viewpoint on Kudee

Samed itself is popular with birdwatchers and hosts a number of
oriental-pied hornbills, a species indicative of healthy forest
biodiversity. The island is part of the Khao Laem Ya-Mu Koh Samed
marine national park under the protection of Thailand’s forestry