Ao Prao Resort Koh Samet -A Review By Punam Mohandas
Set on the quiet and placid beach of Ao Prao, the Ao Prao Resort on Koh Samet is perfect if you’re looking to get far from the madding crowd. With a manageable 59-keys, your privacy and seclusion is assured.
The lobby is open-air and has hanging, spiral-shaped cane lanterns in black and natural colours in differing sizes that sway lazily with the sea breeze. Unusually shaped seats in cane form the centerpiece while all around, there are armchairs and divans with green and aquamarine cushions. All over the hotel is the delicate ‘Pakhboong’ or morning glory flower motif in white, etched on the lobby floor and in the rooms.
The rooms are charmingly placed in steppe levels, surrounded by flora. The Premier Sea View room is large and comfortably furnished, with a lovely wooden patio overlooking one of the pools as well as the sea. The wooden flooring is offset by turquoise and green coloured cushions and a 40-inch television. An acrylic half board hanging from the ceiling is etched with the signature white, hand painted morning glory flowers, lending an aesthetic touch to the room, while cylindrical, cane lamps hang by each bedside table. Reading lights have also been placed however, these are not correctly positioned, making them redundant. The sliding bathroom door has a bamboo framework on it, leading to a comfortable space with a double washbasin with the morning glory motif on the counter, and a rain shower. The only niggling point here is the shampoo/soap dispensers; perhaps the resort could consider doing away with this, which is basically the budget hotel leitmotif.
The Beach Front Cottages have king sized beds only and pleasing interiors with neutral tones to the décor, that add to the illusion of the space being larger than it is, further complemented by the sweeping sea views. The décor has the same flower pattern and the bamboo framework on the bathroom door.
There is only one Sea View Suite, with two separate bedrooms (not inter-connected) that is sold as one unit. One bedroom has a king sized bed and the other has twin beds. Both rooms are done up in a mustard and turquoise colour theme, with black, spiky, cane overhead lamps. The bathrooms here are much more spacious than the other rooms in the resort, with the twin bedded room having an even larger bathing and dressing space. This unit is good for families or a group of friends.
All rooms come with spacious wooden patios that have a broad, swing-like bench as well as chairs and table, all in wood. Apart from this, amenities include large screen TV, tea/coffee maker, two complimentary bottles of water, electronic safe, minibar, umbrellas, torch, weighing scale, hair dryer, bath robes, rubber slippers for the beach as well as coir room slippers. Housekeeping has to be reminded to replenish the amenities, though.
The hotel has one all-day dining option overlooking the sea, the 80-covers ‘Breeze’ with outdoor as well as indoor seating options. Umbrellas are thoughtfully placed by the entrance to the restaurant as the island is prone to sudden showers. There is also a bar by the pool where drinks and finger food can be served, as well as a small lobby bar.
The hotel also offers a meeting room that can accommodate 80-pax theatre style. An outside patio overlooking the sea is used for cocktails or as a pre-function area.
Recreational facilities include two swimming pools. In terms of entertainment, the hotel has a couple of crooners every night (except Mondays) and fire dance shows on the weekends. Further, the resort is able to arrange motorbikes on hire, as also kayaking, snorkeling, PADI diving or speedboat trips around the island. There is also a small shop thoughtfully placed in the lobby that sells snacks, toys and games and beach pre-requisites such as sunscreen, swimsuits, goggles and so on.
The Ao Prao Resort is located right next to its sister property, Le Vimarn Cottages & Spa and so guests are able to take advantage not only of the spa, but the restaurants as well, such as the Italian speciality ‘O’ and the Thai cuisine, ‘Buzz.’ The Dhivarin Spa has two massage beds and two reclining chairs for foot massages in an outdoor pavilion on the beach. Within the main spa building that has the traditional Thai vaulted ceiling, there are four (couple) treatment rooms and two beds in a curtained, open-air alcove on the roof. All the rooms have outside sunken bathtubs and showers and there is a steam room on the premises as well. The signature treatment at the Dhivarin is the aroma massage, with a choice of three mood oils: Sensual (geranium) Empowering (lemon grass, mandarin and ylang ylang) and Happiness (lavender.)
The staff at the Ao Prao are helpful and friendly. While the junior level do not speak much English, the senior staff are all well versed in the language and guests should face no problem on that account.
With a beach that is almost private and thankfully hawker-free, there is nothing to disturb your rejuvenating holiday, and there are plenty of sun loungers by the pool as well as the beach for guest’s convenience. Suggestion: mosquito and pest control could be better handled.
The guest experience begins right from Seree pier at Ban Phe (which is where the bus or taxi will take you) where you relax in an air conditioned, private lounge while awaiting the speedboat. A shuttle bus then drives the passengers on to the pier so that you don’t have to walk in the heat. Clamber aboard the resort’s private speedboat and from this point on you’re in safe hands as, at every step of the way, you now have attentive hotel staff to worry about you.
Koh Samet is 45-minutes away from Pattaya by speedboat. While Pattaya does have its own airport, there are many more inexpensive options to travel to this island. Buses from Ekkamai in Bangkok leave every hour and the cost is 155 baht per person; travel time to Ban Phe pier is roughly three hours, from where you take the speedboat or ferry (cheaper option) to Samet. You can also do the minivan trip which costs 200baht per person; the van load is 14-pax.
It should be noted that visitors to Koh Samet National Park who do not hold a valid Thai work permit are required to pay 200 baht per head, while Thai nationals and holders of Thai work permits pay 40 baht per head.
Ao Prao Resort Koh Samet
Tel: +66 38 644 100 -3
Fax: + 66 38 644 099
Punam Mohandas asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author.