Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Conrad Koh Samui

Hotel Stay Details
Hotel: Conrad Koh Samui
Dates: February 22-28, 2013
Rate Paid:  37,500 Hilton Points/night
Regular Rate: $850 / night (incl. taxes) Total $ Savings: $5,100
Point Redemption Value: 2.3 cents/pt*

My parents and I had spent the past few weeks primarily staying at Starwood hotels (Le Meridien, W, St Regis and soon Sheraton).  But for a few days this week, we switched to the Conrad - Hilton's luxury brand.

We arrived in a shared van from Nathon Pier on the western side of the island.  The drive took about 30 minutes and went through a few small towns and even smaller villages along the way.

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As we got closer, the other couple in our van asked if we could all stop at the FamilyMart (like a 7-11 convenience store) to load up on groceries since we all knew the Conrad's mini-bar would be expensive (think $5 USD for a Coke and $8 for a Singha beer).  I had my father buy me a bunch of milk boxes and some cup-o-noodle soups for me.  He picked up a few beers for himself and my mom as well.

After 5 more minutes of crazy steep roads up the mountain, we finally arrived at the resort which had a modern style water fountain in the center of the driveway overlooking a beautiful view of the Gulf of Thailand.  To the side, was the Welcome Reception Area where we were checked in.

We were the 3rd group to check in but the front desk was well staffed so that we each were attended to right away (I think the security at the bottom of the mountain road alerted the hotel staff how many guests were coming). Cold scented towels and chilled glasses of a flavored water were exchanged for all our passports - even mine!

Shortly thereafter inputting our information, they returned, thanked us for being Hilton Gold members and explained that our villa was ready for us and our pre-arrival request (crib for a baby) was accommodated. Since all the villas were identical (each with their own private pool), there was nothing to upgrade us to. They apologized for that and hoped that a bottle of red wine would serve as enough compensation.

As I mentioned, the Welcome Reception Area is at the top of the mountain.  The resort property is actually built along the steep cliff edge of the island with a series of zig-zagging paved paths that get you up or down. (photo from DestinAsia.com)

The paths could be used for walking but since they were so steep at times, they had a fleet of golf carts ("buggies") on call to take guests back and forth whenever/wherever you wanted.

My parents and I hopped on the back of our buggy and made our way down to Villa 219 past the massive "Conrad Residences" (which were full 2-3 bedroom condos with kitchens and living rooms), the various resort restaurants, and the actual Main Lobby/Concierge (see the large purple structure next to the pool) located halfway down the mountain.

After a few hairpin turns and quick descents that scared my mother, we finally reached our villa and were given the 5 minute tour by our gracious guide/driver.

As soon as we entered, we felt the crisp cool blast of 70 degree air welcoming you. The small foyer led you to main bedroom which had 15 foot high ceilings and a king sized bed adorned with some sleek colored accent pillows that matched the rest of the room's relaxing color scheme.

As mentioned, the beautiful crib was also set up and waiting for us in the room, complete with fresh new bedding that looked like it was brand new.

Along the side window there was a chair and desk for people like my father who can't get away from his computer while on vacation, complete with a collection of various device chargers in case you left yours at home (though my father notes that they didn't have one for a Blackberry).

Along the far side wall, there was a large flat screen internet enabled television that could be pulled out and angled so that you could watch TV from the bed. Conrad also gave you 4 bottles of drinking water that they replenished daily (or upon request).

Across from the TV, there was a small couch and coffee table with the aforementioned bottle of red wine and some apples nicely presented on the coffee table with a nice welcome snack.

But nothing could take your eyes off the amazing view of the private infinity plunge pool through the floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors.

Each of the villas had their own outdoor patio area with a pretty sizable pool (about 32 feet long x 7 feet wide x 4 feet deep).  Perfect for a family with a young child to enjoy, especially without the annoying complaints of any other guests.

The patio had a small table, chair, outdoor couch and also 2 sun loungers chairs with the nice mesh to conform to your body (much better than those foam mattresses or inflexible plastic chairs that leave marks on your skin).

From the other end of the pool area, you could enter into the bathroom which was itself quite a beautiful room. As you can see, the massive circular bathtub (that could fit a family of 3-4) was the main centerpiece. There was even a small flat screen TV that kids like me could enjoy while taking our baths.

Having dual sinks came in handy as well because my parents often fight over who gets to use the bathroom like sorority girls before a formal.  Conrad also gave us a lot of bathroom amenities to make sure all our lavatory needs were met, including baby supplies like powder, lotion and shampoo.

There was also a large stand-up rain shower (large enough for 2 people to fit comfortably) and a smaller closet-like room for the toilet (which as my father pointed out, does not get WiFi signal).

Speaking of technology, the villa was very well equipped. In addition to having a strong WiFi signal (that didn't need a password to connect), there was also an iPad for guests to use to web surf and contact Guest Services/Room Service with.

From the touch of your fingers, you could use the iPad Conrad App to request a buggy to pick you up, have your room cleaned, order a burger from the pool bar, or book a spa appointment.

If the iPad was too high tech for you, then they also had a nice chest full of fun family games like Scrabble, chess, Monopoly and even Jenga!

From what we read, the Conrad's unique property layout made getting around the resort a bit more challenging than usual, so they tried to make each villa self-sufficient for those guests who preferred to never leave their rooms.

After scheming his way to get Hilton HHonors Gold status, my father was able to get us free breakfast at their restaurant Zest for each morning of our stay.  I'm not sure what the breakfast normally cost (because there were no prices on the menu) but I'm sure it wasn't cheap. Each morning, you had your choice of fresh fruit, breads/cheeses/cold cuts, pastries, dim sum, noodle soups, fresh fruit juices and of course the requisite omelette station.

Since we had everything we needed in our villa and that we wanted a week to just relax comfortably, we didn't really spend too much time at the rest of the resort nor did we venture out too much outside to see the rest of touristy Koh Samui.

But if we wanted to, we could have enjoyed our time at the main pool, the few boutique shops, the Library, or even taken a complimentary speedboat to the Conrad's own private island beach (since there was no beach available here).  But I'm more of pool girl than a beach girl anyway. As I mentioned in another post, I hate sand.

Overall, we were very happy with the Conrad Koh Samui and while my father would never pay the $600-850+ USD / night to stay here, he was more than happy to burn Hilton HHonor Points to stay/eat here for FREE (post coming later this week to show you how he got those HH points).

* Note:  Hilton HHonors Points are generally MUCH easier to earn (3x) than Starwood SPG points.  Comparing it to currency might make more sense. 3 HH points : 1 SPG point :: 3 Israeli Sheckles : 1 US Dollar.  So I'd compare this 2.3 cents/HH pt redemption to being 6.9 cents/SPG pt.


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