W Retreat Koh Samui, Thailand
When I heard that W Hotels had setup what they called a 'retreat' on the beautiful island of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, I was a bit surprised. I always associated the W name with stylish, modern New York establishments but not with tropical islands. Initial curiosity turned into love once I saw photos of the resort which was finished in the second half of 2010. Soon enough, our 4 day, 3 night stay was booked.
The W Retreat sits on the relatively isolated north eastern corner of Samui away from the hectic tourist trap of Chawaeng Beach (though there is a free shuttle from the hotel if you want to party there). Guests stay in private villas (post to come) which sit either along the beach or the hillside. The hotel lobby and main buildings are placed along the hillside as well and feature breathtaking views of the ocean.
From the lobby, the rest of the W's facilities cascade down the hillside to the beach. The hotel's spa, restaurants, and main pool are all built to capitalize on the beautiful views of turquoise water. The private beach was amazing as well, it wasn't crowded at all and waitstaff delivered food and drinks to guests sitting on lounge chairs and day beds.
The best part of the W Retreat however, was that everything was uniquely W. All of the trendiness we expect of the W in NYC has been carried to this tropical paradise. Low key music plays along the pathways. At night the pool glows green and blue. Upstairs at the lounge and bar, guests drink while sitting inside sunken tables that mimic lillypads while glowing ornaments float around them. The featured restaurant at the hotel is Japanese fusion with a very modern open format kitchen and the food is on point.
Do we recommend the hotel? Just look at the photos, they speak for themselves. The W Retreat is really something else. A definitively 5-star experience marked by their motto, "Whatever/Whenever." The hotel staff was able to assist on all fronts and helped me rent a motorcycle, change my airplane reservation and let me to check in early and check out late. If you ever find yourself in Thailand... treat yourself to the W.