Located on a hill at the southern end of Lamai Beach, Samui Reef View Resort is a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the tourist strips of Lamai Beach and Chaweng Beach. Unlike some of the other popular resorts on Koh Samui, like Samui Pier Resort, Pandora Spa Resort, Maenamburi Resort and Chaweng Tara Resort, this is a small and friendly place without the hustle and bustle of major resorts and with easy access to the best Koh Samui beaches and attractions.
Samui Reef View Resort consists of about 13 rooms in a semi-circle around a very nice salt water swimming pool, with a bar and restaurant at the front. Lamai Beach is Koh Samui’s number two rated location after Chaweng, which is much busier and much more touristy. Lamai Beach is quieter, more laid back, more civilised.
Run by Angus (an ex-pat Australian) and his wife Hom, the Samui Reef View Resort reviews on TripAdvisor attract a lot of very positive traveller reviews. We wanted to see if the reviews were true, so we booked a room here for a week in June 2012.
Angus and Hom’s hospitality is fairly legendary on TripAdvisor and we weren’t disappointed. Angus was quick to respond every time we had a question and helped us to understand the transfer arrangements from Surat Thani to Koh Samui. A quick phone call to Angus when we got on the bus from Surat Thani to Donsak Pier (where the ferry goes across to Koh Samui) and Hom was waiting at Thanon Pier, on the Samui side, to grab our bags and take us the last 10km or so to the eastern side of the island where the resort is located. Angus met us on arrival and had a couple of cold beers waiting for me after the long haul from Surat Thani. He’s a veritable expert on where to go in Koh Samui, where to eat, what to do and what to see, so take the time for a chat.
Our first impression of Samui Reef View Resort was that it looked very new, like it had only recently been finished. Crisp white rendered buildings with green roofs, surrounding an opal blue swimming pool with lush greenery everywhere you look. In fact, the resort is nearly six years old, so the new appearance is testament to how well the place is maintained and managed.
Our double room at the top end of the resort was spacious and clean, although a little spartan with just a queen size bed, a bar fridge and a small TV and DVD player. But the bed was comfortable and the linen and towels were changed every second day during our stay. The rooms have a large ensuite bathroom and 24 hour a day hot water. The water in the taps is clean (from underground rain water tanks), but perhaps best not to drink it. We used it to brush our teeth and had no problems.
Although it was monsoon season when we arrived, we rarely needed to use the air-conditioner as the position of the units high on a hill means they catch the sea breeze most of the day and night and are pleasantly cool. From our unit balcony we could almost catch a glimpse of the reef after which the resort is named, but we had to use our imaginations a little. It’s hard to stress how important the sea breeze is at Koh Samui. If you are in a place that catches the sea breeze every day, it feels about 5 degrees cooler! Our unit seemed to catch the sea breeze throughout the day, and especially in the evenings when we were relaxing on the balcony with a drink or two.
Angus encouraged us to explore Lamai Beach that first day, and Hom drove us in to the centre of the town area about five minutes from the resort. Angus gave us a mobile phone to call when we wanted to be picked up, which made that first trip into town very easy.
Being early risers (especially so when we’re still getting used to the three hour time difference from Australia), we were disappointed to find that the restaurant and bar are only open from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm, so we had to wait a long time for breakfast the first morning. But the bacon and eggs were nicely cooked and the coffee was OK (the espresso machine was not working). The restaurant has a very large menu with lots of western foods and a great range of Thai food too. Although we didn’t end up eating there a lot, the chicken and cashews and the chicken satays were both very good.
Early breakfasts are available on the main road, about 100m down the hill, if you don’t want to wait until 8:30 before starting your day. We often rode into Lamai Beach for an early breakfast at the Outback Bar or one of the other places that open on Lamai Beach strip from 7 am. We even ventured all the way up to the Fishermen’s Village at Bophut Beach a couple of times for a fantastic breakfast at the French cafe near the pier.
Angus quickly organised a scooter for us at a good rate so we could get mobile and see Koh Samui for ourselves. If you are staying for more than a day or two, a scooter is a good investment as most of the island is within a 30 minute ride from the resort. Angus also gave us a map and circled all the special places we should visit and where to find the best food and night life on Koh Samui.
I’d have to say that Samui Reef View Resort is friendly, well run and predictably comfortable. The pool is fabulous and can be used 24 hours a day if you keep the noise down. The bar is well stocked and there are beers and soft drinks in the mini bar in your room, at bar prices.
The disappointments were very minor. If you get a rainy day when there’s no chance of getting out and about, which we did a couple of times, there’s not much to do there. But you can always sit in the bar and have a few drinks or chat to Angus. There’s a computer available if you want to browse the net or check your email. And there’s stacks of DVDs and books to borrow (DVD player in your room).
Just sitting out on the balcony, having a lazy day and enjoying the birds chirping and the warm sea breeze is nice too, although I’d have like to have a little table to blog from using the free wi-fi. Although the wi-fi signal struggles to make it to the top rooms, it is reliable and fast.
All round, Samui Reef View Resort is good value for money and you can be sure of a warm welcome and a pleasant stay, long or short. A standard double room starts at 900 Bt per night in low season, rising to 1100 Bt per night in high season. Poolside rooms are a little more, but all the rooms are close to the pool so don’t bother paying the extra. There is also a family room (two bedroom apartment) available from 2500 Bt per night for families, but again you may not want to pay the extra as rooms come in pairs sharing a balcony, so just book one standard room for yourself and one for the kids next door.
Bookings are available online and Angus is very quick to reply to emails with questions about availability, etc.