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Boutique In Koh Samui – The Sala Samui With Kids

The Sala Samui, a stunning boutique hotel in Koh Samui holds wonderful memories for me.  It is where, many moons ago, I got engaged.  In the swimming pool pictured below no less!

I was very excited when Jessica told me she was off to the Sala Samui as I still haven’t made the pilgrimage back with my kids.  She took her two young daughters and shares her review below:

Sala Samui - Fun Pool

Where did you go?

Sala Samui Resort and Spa, Koh Samui, Thailand

Who went (ages of kids)

My husband, myself, and our two young daughters (28 months and 3 months).

When did you go?

September 27 – October 1, 2013

How was the weather?

A mixed bag. Mostly a picture perfect, sunny, 30 something degrees. We did have a rainstorm one afternoon and a bit of cloudy sky, but overall the weather was lovely.

How did you book the trip?  

Flight and hotel were booked separately through the respective websites for Sala Samui Resort and Bangkok Airways.

Which airline did you fly?  How was it?

Bangkok Airways. The three-hour direct flight between Hong Kong and Koh Samui is pretty painless, and the 16:15 departure time (18:15 arrival in Koh Samui) makes the Friday flight perfect for a family mini-break from Hong Kong. Out outbound flight was delayed by around half an hour, but this was really no big deal. They supplied the requested fruit platter for our daughter (who hates airline meals) and offer a small sticker pack to children on each flight, which is enough to keep a small child entertained for a few minutes. Koh Samui is a very easy airport and we were through immigration in no time. The return flight at 11am was just as easy and we were home in time to feed and get the kids to bed before meltdown hour.  Bangkok Airways staff were friendly, helpful and accommodating on both legs of the journey. The only annoying thing about flying Bangkok Airways is having to be bussed to the gates.

Did you book a transfer to hotel?  How long is the transfer?

Both times we’ve stayed at Sala Samui we’ve availed ourselves of the hotel transfer for the 10-minute journey between the airport and the resort. Our experience has always been seamless, with the drivers waiting for us at the airport’s Meeting Point upon arrival. The cars are well sized, air-conditioned, and driven by friendly resort staff who have cold water waiting in the vehicle. Each time the requested baby/child seats have been installed fairly safely (though not rear-facing). The car seat installation gets a big tick from me as it’s almost impossible to find a car service anywhere in the world that provides seats that are properly installed for young kids.

What did you think of the room?

The decision to get out of HK for a minibreak was a last-minute one, so by the time we made the reservation, the hotel only had a Deluxe Balcony room available. This room type is upstairs, in the section furthest from the communal pools and beach, and does not have a private pool. Having stayed in a Sala Pool Villa on our last trip, we were a little disappointed about this, but the hotel has two large communal pools that are just a short walk away, so this was not a deal-breaker.

Sala Samui - Private Pool & Garden

Upon check-in staff informed us that we had been allocated a complimentary upgrade to a Garden Pool Villa. These are the downstairs rooms in the same section of the hotel as the Deluxe Balcony rooms. The room was fabulous, and big enough to comfortably accommodate two adults and the two large cots. Due to the size of the garden space and the functional layout of the outdoor area, the Garden Pool Villa is probably better than the slightly more expensive Sala Pool Villa when traveling with kids. Like any hotel room with a private pool, we had to be super-vigilant about water safety travelling with a two year old, but we loved being able to splash around while the baby was sleeping.

Sala Samui - Bedroom

The rooms are all chic and luxuriously appointed. Décor is clean, white and neutral and would appeal to any discerning aesthete.  Beds can be configured either as king or twin beds depending on guests’ needs. Guests can choose from a pillow menu, and a selection of different soaps and lotions. Big airy outdoor bathrooms bring the outside in, and make the most of the balmy climate. Huge oval baths are perfect for kids’ bath time.

Sala Samui - Bathroom

Had you requested any baby/kids stuff in advance?

In addition to the car seats for the hotel transfers, we had requested two cots for our daughters. These were a good size, and set up in our room when we arrived, complete with bumpers (which we removed for the baby) and bedding.

When we were on our way from the airport to the hotel, we asked the driver to call ahead and arrange a pizza for our hungry daughter  (a bribe to keep her in-check for the last 30 minutes of the flight!). The pizza, from the hotel’s Italian restaurant, Pangaea, was delivered in perfect timing just five minutes after we walked through the door of our room, and was delicious. Thirty minutes later, room service arrived at the room with a glass of milk and some sweet treats for our daughter. The last thing we needed at 8pm was a tired toddler on a sugar high so we hid these before she could see them, but they were a thoughtful touch and she enjoyed them the next day.

We had also pre-booked a hotel babysitter (charged at THB300 per hour for the first child, and THB100 for the second child, payable in cash to the babysitter), to allow my husband and I to eat dinner at the hotel restaurant each night. The babysitter arrived on time and was lovely, although both girls were already asleep so didn’t provide too much of a childcare challenge. The same babysitter looked after the girls each night, and even arrived on the last evening with a present for each child.

What were the facilities like?

The facilities at the hotel are great – private pools in almost all rooms, plus a lap pool, a fun pool, beach loungers, kayaks, an excellent spa, gym, library and great food. Everything, including the lovely gardens, is beautifully maintained, clean and in great condition. The hotel also fronts onto a clean and peaceful part of the beach, which is public but doesn’t feel that way.

Sala Samui - Kayaks on Beach

Was there a Kids Club?  

There is no kids club per se but kids love the fun pool near the Beach Bar and Sala Restaurant, and there are bug sun loungers from which parents can watch kids swimming. There is also a library that stocks some kids DVDs. Our daughter made friends with lots of other kids by the pool, and the atmosphere is very friendly and social.

Sala Samui - Baby A lounging by the private pool

How were the restaurants?

The Sala Resaturant is excellent, and serves both Thai and Western cuisine. The selection of Thai dishes available on the lunch and dinner menu was better than I remembered, and all great quality. Meals at the restaurant are enjoyed poolside, and overlooking the beach. The restaurant is very flexible about dietary requests and has a good kids menu which can be ordered either in the restaurant, or from room service. The kids menu includes freshly pureed fruit and veg options for babies. 

Breakfast is a standout – the best I’ve had in any hotel around the world – and has everything you could possibly want. As well as house-made baked goods, preserves, muesli and granola, the buffet boasts Asian dishes, a Mediterranean breakfast selection, an egg station, a wide range of cereals and an a la carte menu of cooked breakfast and yummy daily specials.

Sala Samui - Breakfast

The adjoining Beach Bar offers a two for one happy hour (2pm to 3pm and from 5pm to 7pm), and serves great cocktails and mocktails, as well as a selection of soft drinks, juices, smoothies, beers and wines etc.

Apart from the kids pizza on arrival, we didn’t eat at the Italian restaurant Pangea, but wouldn’t hesitate to do so in the future.

Did you do any activities/excursions?

When we visited the hotel in April, we thought it would be a good idea to take our animal-loving 23 month old daughter to the Namuang Safari Park to see the elephant show and the various animal exhibits, which is about a 45 minute drive from the hotel. BIG mistake! The elephant show is up close and personal, and proved terrifying/traumatising for our daughter, although I think it would be a good day trip for families with older kids.

The hotel has kayaks available for paddling around at the beach, and jetskiing and other water sports can also be enjoyed down the beach from the hotel. While we didn’t do much on this trip, the hotel can organise a range of day trips including island tours, tickets to the Safari Park or Aquarium, private boat tours, fishing etc

What top tips do you have for someone doing this holiday?

If money’s no issue, opt for the larger one bedroom rooms if your kids are light sleepers, or if you like to stay up late.  If you’re on more of a budget, look out for special deals and packages on the Sala Samui website – you can find some great value. 

Would you go back?

This was our second visit to Sala Samui, and we can’t wait to return. Koh Samui is an easy trip from HK or Singapore with bambinos, and the hotel itself is hard to beat. 

Sala Samui - Sandcastle time

How family friendly do you rate the hotel and destination?

While I can’t say we explored much outside the hotel due to the age of our children, the hotel itself is very well set up for kids. 

If I had to find one way our experience at Sala Samui could have been improved, I would say that it would be good if they had someone available to make up rooms before 8:30am. Because of the ages of our kids, we would have liked the room made up while we were at breakfast as it was difficult to find another time of the day where one child was not sleeping. Overall though, this is a small point and did not detract at all from our enjoyment of the hotel. 

I could not speak more highly of the customer service, which was impossible to fault.  Overall, Sala Samui is extremely accommodating and welcoming of kids and an outstanding destination for families.

 

A huge thanks to Jessica for her review.  If you’re looking for a gorgeous baby present, check out the collection of L’il Fraser wraps she sells – and contact her on jessica@winterandfinch.com

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