PHUKET: Ready to lift the veil on Koh Samuiís "best-kept secret", the boutique Akaryn Samui is set to welcome its first guests next month.
As the fourth and latest venture by Thailand hospitality pioneer Anchalika Kijkanakorn, the Akaryn Samui looks to redefine the boutique resort experience.
The largely undiscovered, Hanuman Bay is a pristine crescent cove with a 500-meter powder sand beach, flanked by dramatic granite outcrops at each end. Nestled between the golden bays of Cheong Mon to its north, and the bright lights of Chaweng to its south, the cove and resort are only a short drive from the airport.
"It really is Samuiís best-kept secret. I fell in love with it at first sight, and thatís when my vision for Akaryn was born. Thereís no other beach like it on the island. It feels so removed and private. We are the first resort to be build at Hanuman Bay. Thatís why it was vital to design every detail to complement the bayís natural beauty and integrate it into the guest experience in many subtle ways, said Ms Kijkanakorn.
"My team and I have taken everything weíve learned about boutique resorts to create a genuinely new experience. Thatís how the idea of Ďintuitive luxuryí was born. Itís not just a slogan, itís a concept we absolutely believe in and our guests will appreciate. Iíd define it as luxury that doesnít need to shout Ďwow factorí and knowing what your guests want almost before they do.
"There is a huge old sea almond tree right on the bay almost at the high tide line. We made that the heart and soul of the resort, and designed the pool and chill-out deck around it, so itís a place where people can really connect, given that the rest of the experience is so private.
"The main pool is rather special too. Itís done in black lava rock, Weíve also found a way to simulate the shimmering effect of phosphorescence in the ocean."
The new property features 34 stand-alone pool suites (five of them beach front) each an expansive 80 square meters (sqm). It also features 18 gracious 100 sqm villas with 8m private pools. Akaryn Samuiís design offers a radiant take on tropical-modern, Asian-influence decor and a selection of genuine antiques. Standard features include large LCD TV, iPod and iDock with a large movie and music library, naturally sourced amenities from AHMSís exclusive Spa IV, and 430-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets.
Apart from The Wet Bar, Akaryn Samuiís food and beverage options include: The Edge, with chic international all day dining on the waterfront; tapas with a twist at Ochos; Royal Thai cuisine complemented by the freshest seafood at The Legend; and an elegant selection of genteel brews at The Tea Salon. Other facilities and amenities include 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi throughout the resort, yoga classes, an extensive book, film and music library, and Galleria, a stylish boutique.
So little known and hidden away is Hanuman Bay that it barely registers on most maps and didnít have an official name. But some locals believe the bayís crescent shape and jagged rocks resemble the gaping mouth of the monkey god Hanuman from the Ramayana story.
Ms Kijkanakorn is well-acquainted with the epic, as it is a constant source of inspiration for bedtime stories for her two children, after whom her two Samui properties are named.
"I love the idea of Hanuman watching over this magical place. It suggests mythical romance, long strolls, deep conversations and contemplation, and perhaps the odd bit of mischief. I canít wait to welcome our first guests, and let the story unfold."
Akaryn Samui is the fourth property in Ms Kijkanakornís Akaryn Hospitality Management Services (AHMS) portfolio, following the recent launch of the 62-room, 4-star Akyra Chura Samui resort at Chaweng Beach. She is also the founder and owner of the Aleenta Hua Hin-Pranburi and Aleenta Phuket-Phang Nga resorts, and the driving force behind the Pure Blue Foundation, a marine conservation charity.