Ibis Samui Bophut – A Review By Punam Mohandas
The Ibis Samui Bophut comes as a welcome surprise. Most unlike other hotels in the chain, this one proudly stakes claim to being a resort property, located as it is on the Bophut beachfront. Although clean, the sand is brown and gritty on this side of Samui.
The large, open-air lobby gives out on to lots of greenery, with banana and cashew nut trees dotting the landscape. Paved flagstones laid amid the grass lead to the accommodation buildings, pools and the beach.
There are 209 rooms that are spread out among five buildings. Keeping it simple, the rooms come in two main categories: Standard and Family. The latter has five different configurations, i.e. connecting rooms with sliding doors; one main bedroom that contains a divan-like bed as well; choice of two doubles or two twin-bed rooms; a choice of two double inter-connecting rooms and one big room that contains a double bed as well as bunk beds. All rooms in the Family category are sold as a set (rather than single) which makes the price much more economical for a family or group of friends travelling together. These rooms also offer play stations or stuffed toys for children to enjoy.
Keeping the Ibis diktat in mind, the rooms are small, basic and functional, with a neutral colour palette. All the rooms have small balconies, just large enough for a chair and table, overlooking a nice view of the garden (only 17 of the 209 rooms are sea-facing, which does make it somewhat restricting.) All rooms are equipped with a small television, tea/coffee maker, minibar (but no food or drink items) hairdryer, electronic safe and two complimentary bottles of water per day. Two beach towels are provided per room and changed on a daily basis. In terms of housekeeping, the Ibis Samui stands out from its Bangkok and other city cousins; the service is more frequent and these little touches are kept in mind, seeing as how it is a resort Ibis. This property also offers a bellboy service, unheard of at sister hotels.
Bathrooms are admittedly a bit cramped. There is a separate shower cubicle, which saves one from messy wet floors. Keeping in line with the no-frills look, you won’t find fancy shampoos or body lotions here, just a couple of wall soap dispensers. Hot water tends to be an issue; toward the night one finds a tepid trickle emerging from the shower head.
F&B options are limited to the 170-cover Taste, the all-day, all-meals dining outlet. This is the only Ibis in the chain that offers a live egg station at breakfast time. Interestingly, breakfast is a rather involved affair; from 4-6am and 10.30am-12pm a continental breakfast is served, while from 6-10.30am a full spread is laid out. There is a beach bar as well, offering Happy Hours twice a day and a local-style mini barbeque every lunch time. There is no in-room dining as such, but the staff are happy to prepare trays for the guests to carry to their rooms.
Recreational facilities include three small swimming pools and a really small kids’ pool. The pool timings are thankfully fairly relaxed and it is not uncommon during high season time to see people enjoying a reflective swim by moonlight. It’s somewhat of a challenge to be by the pool during the day; a big drawback is that the hotel has limited beach chairs which can create something of a fraught situation, as I found to my dismay when an extremely rude European man removed my things from a chair and dumped them on a table whilst I was in the pool and, what’s more, had the temerity to be abusive subsequently. The chairs are dashed uncomfortable as well.
There is an outdoor table tennis table by one of the pools and a small play area consisting of swings and a slide. Massage facilities are available but outsourced to a local operator; the prices are slightly on the higher side as you will find when you walk the length of the beach.
Convention needs are met by meeting room Koh Phangan which is part of the breakfast restaurant space and provides a whiteboard and projector screen; a stage set-up is also possible here. This room can accommodate 120 pax theatre style. Koh Tao near the lobby can accommodate 50 pax classroom style and is better suited for training sessions and small meetings.
There is free wifi throughout the hotel. The lobby has three computer work stations and a printer, for guest use. There is also a travel desk in the lobby that is run by a private operator; once again, prices are on the higher side here.
All Ibis hotels claim that if they cannot resolve a guest’s problem within a 15-minute span, the stay is on the house. Check that one out!
Sightseeing on Bophut includes the nearby Fisherman’s Village. Elsewhere on Samui, take in the elephant trek to the waterfalls or the Big Buddha statue at Bangrak. Chaweng or Lamai beaches offer softer sand; Chaweng is the party beach while the latter is extremely picturesque and home to the Grandmother and Grandfather natural rock formations and is well worth a visit. Water sports are available at most of the beaches. The best way to get around would be to hire a motorcycle as taxis are too expensive and songtaews do not offer frequent service to the other beaches; do note that Samui is accident-prone on account of its many hairpin bends, especially on the way from Chaweng to Lamai. The spectacular island of Koh Phangan, famous for its Full Moon party, is 45-minutes away from Samui by speedboat.
To get to Koh Samui, you can fly into the island directly however, bear in mind that Bangkok Airways owns the airport and hence holds the monopoly, although there are some THAI Airways flights too flying in now. Ticket costs are therefore at a premium. Another option by air is to fly into Surat Thani from Bangkok (about 70-minutes) with Air Asia or NokAir and then take a bus/ferry combination ticket for THB 350; multiple options available at the airport. You could also do the overnight train from Bangkok to Surat Thani (roughly THB 765 but there are choices here too such as 1st, 2nd and 3rd class, fan or air conditioned, upper or lower berth) and then the bus/ferry combo at THB 250. The trains are safe and comfortable. From Surat Thani’s Donsak pier to Koh Samui’s Nathon Pier it is about two hours, after which you can take a taxi or songtaew to whichever beach you’ve decided to stay on.
Ibis Samui Bophut
TEL: +66 26592888
FAX: +66 26592889