Travel with kids – Sandalwood Luxury Villas in Koh Samui
In November, we went to Thailand for 3 weeks. It was brilliant. We started in Bangkok, with 4 days to explore the city. We visited the Grand Palace, the Golden Temple, and other dazzling places like Wat Pho to see the reclining Buddha.
Koh Samui with kids in a luxury boutique hotel
After Bangkok we went on to Koh Samui for a fantastically relaxing time in a stylish, boutique hotel. Sandalwood Luxury Villas is set high on a hill in Koh Samui, and run by an American, who married a Thai. The hotel is a series of villas, each detached and some with its own pool. I think there are some really great features to boutique hotels.
European boutique hotels we’ve stayed in have been wonderful. However people go to Thailand, and particularly Koh Samui, for a bit of peace and quiet, don’t they? So I was initially apprehensive about taking two little children to a hotel with just 14 rooms, not least because I expected that other guests would be there for rest and relaxation, not jumping in and out of the pool with a 4 year old! We’re not shy about taking our kids on holidays, but I think there’s something reassuring about the anonymity of chain hotels sometimes, not least that you know what you’ll be getting, and that the rooms will have soundproofing for the sake of other guests!
We found that being high on the hill had its advantages; in particular – check out the view from our balcony!
Yet it had a couple of disadvantages, for example we couldn’t easily pop to a local restaurant for our evening meal, nor was there the opportunity to have a stroll along and see life happening.
This is where the boutique hotel really came into play. Our room had a small kitchen area, with a microwave and fridge, which allowed for a bit of creative cooking.
The restaurant in the hotel was brilliant, and breakfast was included, but for lunch and evening meals, we didn’t always want to take tired, cranky children to sit in a public space. You know what I mean, right? We bought sandwich bread and cheese for sandwiches, and pot noodles, for quick and easy any-time snacks or meals. The hotel provided us with fruit, including an impressive-looking-yet-dull-to-eat dragon fruit, so we could give the boys healthy snacks easily too.
What else did we love about the Sandalwood Hotel? The villa we stayed in was on two floors, with a main bedroom downstairs and a mezzanine level providing a smaller bedroom upstairs. This let us put James to bed and then draw the curtain on the mezzanine so he had some darkness and we could watch tv before we went to sleep.
Bags with beach towels were provided in the room. We could replace the beach towels as often as we liked from the box next to the main pool, or housekeeping switched them for fresh towels daily.
James loved playing with the owner’s 5-year-old son, and we went to the nearby splash park with them, and to Walking Street one evening. This, obviously, isn’t a feature offered by all boutique hotels, but we have found that many will tailor a sightseeing tour or make recommendations for you if you discuss your needs with them. On from Koh Samui we went on to Chiang Mai, which we wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for the recommendation of the Sandalwood Hotel. Chiang Mai was a spectacular place to visit with young children, and we were lucky to catch the wonder of the Loi Krathong festival.
We enjoyed the service in the hotel, which was responsive to our needs. For example when we arrived, we weren’t certain if James would manage the stairs up to the mezzanine, or if we wanted to block it off so that Noah couldn’t climb up. The stairs didn’t have a bannister or risers to the steps, so it could have been a cause for concern. But straight away a spare bed was brought in and set up in the main bedroom so that James had the option to sleep downstairs with us, or in his fabulous “upstairs room”.
Each day, a car would be booked for us, and when it was ready, the phone would ring in the room to let us know. We weren’t always quite expecting the call, particularly when we’d suggested we might visit somewhere, in a holiday-mode kind of consideration. Our consideration had been taken for a definite during discussion with the hotel owners, and they’d passed the information to the reception to make sure our plans became reality. One time we left in a hurry and didn’t find the key to our room, so when we returned that evening, we had to make a quick stop off at the reception to pick up another key. When we returned home, it transpired that the key we’d been using for the last day was actually the spare key, as we found the original key while unpacking at home. Now we have an unusual souvenir, as (following a quick email to explain) the hotel reassured us they’d ordered replacement keys. Oops!
Swim toys were available in the pool area, which was a lovely touch, even though we had our Konfidence toys. It’s always exciting to find new gear to play with!
Another great feature of the Sandalwood Hotel in Koh Samui was the spa. Rob and I each got a wonderful treatment. We went one after the other, but the opportunity for babysitting was offered to us, in case we wanted to go together or enjoy a couple’s massage.
As a stylish hotel the Sandalwood was child and family friendly, and in the future I wouldn’t be so apprehensive about taking young children to a more unique property.