Rebuilt with a sleek redesign that seamlessly integrates fresh contemporary décor with a beachside aesthetic, Centara Reserve has become the chicest, yet most stylish, resort in Samui.
Traveller: Cathy Wagstaff
Room: Reserve Pool Suite
Address: 38/2 Moo 3, Borpud, Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand 84320
Date: November 2022
Price range: from $387
Best for: Leisure travellers seeking Thai touches in a refined modern beachside setting
Nestled on the south end of Chaweng Beach overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, and less than a 15-minute drive from Samui International Airport. The former Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui has been revamped into an incredible resort surrounded by lush gardens with its own beachfront in Samui’s largest town.
Within a short walk you can find
Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui’s most famous stretch at 5 km long, is lined with sun lounges, beach bars and vendors selling ice creams, fruit, cold drinks, jewellery, and sarongs. In the shopping streets, henna tattoos, hair braiding, and pedicures and clothing stores selling cotton beach wear are en masse.
Claim to fame
Centara Reserve Samui is the chicest arrival in east Samui. Beyond the impeccable redesign, exclusive suites and villas come with Reserve Hosts, Centara’s take on personalised butlers. 184 contemporary-styled rooms are light and airy, with a palate of white-washed walls, light rattan, brass fixtures and marble bathrooms.
The resort is a contemporary haven from the moment you enter the vast lobby with many suites boasting private plunge pools and direct access to the beach. It’s utterly private and has an abundance of on-site amenities, from a stunning spa to dining in one of its five bars and beachside restaurants.
My Reserve Pool Suite was an absolute haven with a private terrace, an outside day bed with a plunge pool. A little wooden gate opened onto gardens that was a short stroll across the grass to the beach. The suite had a king-size bed, a marble bathroom with a rain shower, and a Smart TV. The in-room telephone came with a button that says “ring for a surprise” – which was adorable. This level of suite came with Reserve Host service and little touches like a daily chocolate treat. Sustainability is a focus: glass water bottles, recycling bins, no single-use plastics and timber cards all in the room.
Beyond the rooms
Five bars and restaurants are as chic as the bedrooms. From Salt Society, a fresh beach club concept that’s become the island’s new hotspot. To Thai delicacies at Sa-Nga and curated cocktails at The Gin Run. Centara Reserve Samui also serves one of the island’s best breakfast buffets. A fitness centre and three pools – the main pool features a swim-up bar, while the infinity pool is adults only, a Spa, bike rental and Padi dive lessons are also on offer.
Dish to dine for
Salt Society, with its casual feel and crafted cuisine, is considered one of the best beach bars in Thailand and a big drawcard for many non-hotel residents. Its sandy setting overlooks the Gulf with wood decor – from the decking to the tables – and crème seating under the low glow lights and sky of stars come nightfall.
On the plate is a focus on line-caught local seafood with a menu by Executive Chef Christopher John Patzold who has previously worked for Amanyara and the Four Seasons. Watermelon salad with feta, mint, pistachio and salty kalamata olives to start then a grilled snapper fillet with mango salsa, dates and lime mayo was perfection. Plenty of wood-fired oven or raw dishes make up the menu.
Reserve Spa Cenvaree has seven treatment rooms (two for couples) with tailored treatments by seasoned therapists using 100% organic, cruelty-free products. Many of the oils and clays are infused with ingredients grown at the on-site Spa Herb Garden. Meanwhile, a beauty bar for nails and facials, and a post-treatment conservatory to relax between using the steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi, make for a serene escape.
The opulent bedrooms with private plunge pool, and so many dining options, make staying in easy; there is little reason to leave the grounds of Centara Reserve Samui. The Terrace is ideal for a light supper in a casual lounge setting. Or opt for more refined recipes at ACT 5 or traditional Thai flavours at Sa-Nga. The Gin Run, an elegant wood panelled bar with sea views, is home to an extensive selection of creative cocktails and features over 100 gin labels.
There is plenty of dining and shopping beyond Centara Reserve Samui, with Chaweng Beach being Koh Samui’s most popular town. Within a short drive, venture to the Big Buddha and the Fisherman’s Village Market in Bophut. If you’re craving that street energy and possibly Thai street food, the Chaweng Night Markets is within walking distance from the hotel.
The family factor
Centara Reserve Samui is ideal for families with a kids club, multiple swimming pools, and easy beach access. Families are well accommodated with 34 interconnecting rooms – some connecting up to three at a time – with extra beds available on request and kids menus at some of the restaurants.
Samui is busy over Christmas and the January holiday period. From November until January, the sea off Chaweng, like the whole eastern coast of Samui, can be choppy.
CentaraThe1 members can save on room rates and earn points on complimentary upgrades and shopping vouchers. Book direct with the hotel to save 10% on rate card and take advantage of deals with added savings. Book one of the suites or villas with Reserve Hosts, Centara’s take on personalised butlers, for a truly indulgent stay.
I wish I could take it home
The in-room cocktail bar. This stand-alone rattan piece is retro yet chic and filled with an array of drinks to savour any time of day. Best sipped on your private day bed by your private plunge pool. Naturally.
V&T expert rating
9 out of 10 – Samui is renowned as a popular Thai island destination and the refined design of Centara Reserve Samui makes it the beachside retreat to book. With all the style and sophistication you’d hope for in a tropical resort.
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