Conrad Koh Samui would be the perfect place to relax after a wedding, says Richard Jackson.
I’m lying on my back, floating contentedly in my private salt-water infinity pool. As the sun pours down on me, all I can see in front of me is the vivid blue of the Gulf of Thailand.
I couldn’t be, or feel, much further away from cold, grey Birmingham.
I am instead relaxing in my villa in Conrad Koh Samui, a luxury resort of 80 oceanview villas perched on the cliffside.
And what luxury. Everything there seems designed to relax and revive, from the spa treatments to the fine foods and incredible location (it’s the only resort facing to the west of the island, which only improves the unspoilt views).
I came back a different person. Even a few weeks later, my brother asked me what had happened to the tetchy, dour Brummie that set off to the airport.
It didn’t last, obviously, but it just goes to show what a break like this can do for your general wellbeing.
The villa itself was incredible.
It’s probably a bit of a waste staying inside when there’s 34-degree heat out, but the widescreen TV, giant soft kingsize bed and the equally giant (if you fancy a change from the rain shower) circular bath might tempt you away from splashing around all day in your 10-metre infinity pool.
There were about two or three members of staff per guest in the resort, so customer service was excellent.
It was almost impossble to walk up and down the steep cliffside paths for long without a friendly golf buggy coming along to whisk you off your feet and take you to the next treat.
As you might imagine, this level of five-star luxury doesn’t come cheap. But as a once-in-a-lifetime getaway, say a honeymoon, it would be hard to top.
I’ve never been on honeymoon (I’ve never been married, so it would probably have been a bit previous).
But it would be the perfect post-wedding destination – perhaps, as we did, combining a few days there with a few in Bangkok.
There are a mouthwatering array of restaurants on site. Zest is the least formal, everyday restuarant for breakfasts and evening meals (where we also took on a Thai cooking masterclass, which showed me where I’ve been going wrong until now).
Poolside, there’s Azure where we enjoyed the most refined ‘barbecue’ you could ever imagine – and also enjoyed head chef Konrad’s tales of working for Mohammed Al Fayed at Harrod’s.
The terrace of the cool Glow Lounge, where a ten-second rain shower was the only bad weather we experienced all week, was perfect for cocktails, while The Cellar’s wine-matched five-course menu was a delight.
Overall, the emphasis at Conrad Koh Samui was on fine dining, rather than Thai cuisine, although their jewel in the crown, Jahn, did offer up spectacularly presented and tasting twists on Asian/Thai food.
Luckily there’s also a fitness centre and sailing/diving club as well as a giant pool, if you want to burn off a few of the many thousands of calories you’ve taken in.
And while you’re in a healthy mood, the spa offers a wide array of treatments.
Even sitting in the lobby of The Spa, sipping jasmine tea and enjoying the silence and the stunning views, is relaxing. And that’s before the soothing one-hour massage to remove those knots in your shoulders.
With all your eating, pampering and doing absolutely nothing needs well catered for within the complex, you’d be very, very tempted not to leave the resort.
But there’s more to see in Koh Samui.
We had a feast of unfussy but delicious authentic Thai food at one of hundreds of little places, at no more than a few pounds a head, while a night out in Chewang was equally cheap and cheerful. On the other side of the island, it offers the kind of thumping dance music, beach bars and brightly coloured drinks that you should have the energy to cope with until the early hours after a blissful day of inactivity.
A different kind of exertion came in an afternoon trip to the Muay Thai Kickboxing Academy on the island.
After a couple of hours in a sweaty gym, kicking, punching and blocking while being shouted at by intimidatingly-ripped instructors Nong and Lucky, I now feel confident that I can kill with my bare hands.