samui

In Phuket and Koh Samui, Where Elephants Can Just Be Themselves

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Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, Elephant Whisperer and founder of the Save Elephant Foundation has devoted her life to rescuing and rehabilitating working elephants. Having launched the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai to international acclaim in 1996, Lek has now co-founded similar parks in Phuket and Koh Samui. These ethical elephant sanctuaries make a fascinating and educational day out.

The mission of the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary and Samui Elephant Sanctuary is to meet the highest standards in animal welfare and educate elephant camp owners and tourists on how to treat and respect the majestic elephant – Thailand’s national symbol.

Visitors to these sanctuaries won’t be invited to ride on the elephants’ backs, watch them do tricks, hug or bathe them – all activities that are damaging and stressful for the animals. Rather, visitors will be encouraged to simply observe these gentle giants in their natural habitat where they can just be themselves. Observation platforms overlook natural pools where visitors can watch the elephants splashing each other and covering themselves in cooling mud; open fields and jungle-covered hillsides provide plenty of space for elephant play and socializing.  

Both sanctuaries offer morning and afternoon programmes that start with video presentations to inform visitors about what to expect from their elephant encounters and explain a little about the elephants’ stories and why they so badly need protection. You will get up close and personal with the magnificent residents during their breakfast and dinner times, when you can help feed them a healthy diet of fresh fruit. In between, there’s plenty of time just to watch the elephants at play and marvel at their intelligence and grace. Both half-day sessions include a tasty Thai buffet and transfers to and from the sanctuaries. It is important to book your session in advance as neither of the sanctuaries accepts visitors outside the set programme times or who arrive without prior bookings.

 

Introducing the elephants

At Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, where the elephants can roam freely over 30 acres, you’ll make friends with Richy, Tong Kwaw, Baan Yen, Jan Jao, Gaew Ta, Madee, Kannika and Dok Gaew. All of these extraordinary elephants more than deserve their peaceful retirement – some are more than 70 years old!

At Samui Elephant Sanctuary,

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The Best Beach Clubs in Koh Samui

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Fabulous Koh Samui, with its white beaches and verdant hills, is also a happening island. Hop into any of its excellent beach clubs for a day of fun in the sun. You’ll never want your vacation to end.

Nikki Beach 

Overlooking the crystal blue waters of Lipa Noi, the beach club at Nikki Beach Resort Koh Samui is renowned for its incredible events, food, cocktails, and unsurpassed VIP experience. The beach club offers guests a unique experience and personal touches that are signature to the Nikki Beach lifestyle brand. You can relax on a sunbed and listen to music played by famous international DJs and live musicians, while enjoying handcrafted signature Nikki Beach mojitos. The Nikki Beach Sunday brunch and sunset cocktails are must-dos.

 Chi  

Chi Beach Bar/Restaurant Samui from Kalara Koh Samui on Vimeo

Chi serves up modern cuisine and handcrafted cocktails, with a swim-up bar and 25-metre saltwater infinity pool overlooking a pristine white beach. With an extensive menu that offers Thai selections, pizzas, burgers and other savoury fare, there’s something for everyone. Weekly offers include oyster platter deals, saxophone evenings, movie screenings, and ‘clever cocktails’ afternoons.

Beach Republic 

Beach Republic is an elegant and stylish beachfront venue located in the northern area of Lamai. Featuring impressive modern architecture, the resort’s restaurant has both indoor and outdoor areas, the latter set around the swimming pool deck, with direct access to the beach. They host special themes and events each day of the week, with live DJs and musicians entertaining the crowd.

 Karma Beach 

Perfect for groups of friends or families, Karma Beach delivers on all fronts if you are looking for a laidback venue. Designed like an oasis, with touches of Thai elements, it exudes unmistakable tropical vibes. Get ready for mellow lounge music at an enviable beachfront location, replete with a tempting food menu. This is the lounge to head to for a luxurious and comfortable retreat.

KC Beach Club and Pool Villas

KC Beach Club and Pool Villas is located in Chaweng, the most happening beach on the island. It has a fabulous party atmosphere. Get cosy in a beach cabana or float around in the free-form swimming pool while listening to cool tunes by the resident DJ.

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A Delicious Tale of Cooking, Learning and Feasting in Koh Samui

in Culture/Destinations/Dining/Families by

It was a dinner to end all dinners – the perfect introduction to authentic Thai food, served with panache.

It began when our professional dinner host, Joe Sambataro , an American by way of Argentina, taught us how to make cocktails that would keep us happy for the rest of the evening. We started off by grinding limes using a muddler, a contraption resembling a mortar and pestle. “So, we just push and twist and get the juice out. But don’t push too hard because if you do that, you’ll break the skin and that will make your lime juice bitter. So think about something that makes you mad but not too mad, haha,” quipped Joe. We each got to choose our drinks; mine had rum and mango and tasted like a sunny day at the beach.

Cocktail preparation

Joe then asked us how spicy we wanted our dishes to be. “Can I get a show of hands, who likes spicy food? Who likes mildly spicy food? Who doesn’t like spicy food at all?” he asked. “Do you know the best way to communicate your preferences to the staff at a restaurant? I’m going to help you out here. I’m going to teach you some very important phrases that will come in handy. If you don’t like spicy food, you should order your food ‘mai phet’ which means not spicy. Don’t forget to copy my rising intonation! That’s very important!

Cocktail expert

And if you are okay with a little bit of spice, you can say ‘phet nit noy’ which means mildly spicy. If you want your food medium spicy, you can say ‘kon kaang phet’. And if you like your food very, very spicy, you can order your food ‘phet maak maak’ which loosely translates as spicy very very.” He also cautioned us when we were making our own sauce, “With Thai chilies, take it easy. If you don’t like spice, don’t add spice. If you like a little bit of spice, start with two pieces and try it first. If you like mild, go with four. If you like a whole lot, add as much as you want, but just remember today it’s all fun, but tomorrow, ring of fire!” he added cheekily.

The dinner commenced with three starters, based on traditional Thai recipes.

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Treat Mum To Mother’s Day in Bali, Phuket and Koh Samui

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She’s the one who made sure your food wasn’t hot enough to burn your tongue and put a band-aid on your knee when you fell down. She’s the one who fed you when you were hungry, cared for you when you were sick and gave you an allowance. She helped you with your homework and made sure you wore the perfect dress to your first dance.

 

She’s the first one who cheered you on and made sure you grew up happy and able. Most of all, she’s the one whose hugs made you feel like everything was alright, and that nothing bad would ever happen. Why not give her the getaway of a lifetime? Take her on an unforgettable trip to Bali and Thailand. Here’s what you can do when you’re there:

Bali

Give Her Breakfast in Bed

Spoil your mum first thing in the morning on 12 May by giving her breakfast in bed. Prepare a basket of freshly-baked French butter and almond croissants. Add some elegant macarons to the mix for a real indulgence. Get them and more delicious treats at Monsieur Spoon, a bakery run by two Parisian cousins. The bakery has shops in Canggu, Petitenget and Seminyak.

Take Her To an Authentic Balinese Cooking Class

Venture to the market in Ubud to pick vegetables and meat. Chat with local farmers and observe the townsfolk going about their daily activities. Then, take an authentic Balinese cooking class inside a traditional Balinese house. Discover the way the local live – and eat. Enjoy the food you and your mom have made for lunch and dinner. You can do all this at Eat With.

Pamper Her in the Spa

What better way to say ‘This is your day’ than a pampering at the spa? From reflexology to a scalp massage and even hair colour to brighten up those roots, Therapy has it all.  Want something more off- the-beaten-track? Take mum to a bar-cum-salon. Blow Bar is an alternative bar where you can sip on a martini as you get a manicure, perched on a bar stool. Dad can enjoy the popular Scotch & Shave.

Have a Heart to Heart Over Tea

It’s your turn to listen to mum.

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Splendid Samui for the Whole Family

in Destinations/Families/Recreation/Tips by
elite havens official launching party - 18-03-2018 (229)

It is astonishing how much the charming tropical Thai island of Koh Samui has changed just over the last 10 years.  Expansion of the airport and direct flights from cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore have transformed the island from a backpackers’ haven to a sophisticated and vibrant resort island with leading international 5-star resorts, fabulous restaurants, and a wide choice of private holiday villas all over the island.

Holidaymakers looking to rent a villa in Samui are spoiled for choice by the Elite Havens collection which offers a superb range of luxury beachfront residences on some of the islands most beautiful beaches, spectacular hillside retreats with jaw-dropping views and palatial pleasure palaces with every  imaginable luxury, available for rent.      

There’s nothing quite like a villa stay for those who want to relax and be themselves among friends and family, where you have the flexibility and total freedom you never quite get in a hotel. 

In Samui, whichever villa you decide on, the relatively small island – you can drive around it in just over an hour –  means you are never very far from anywhere.

It’s an easy island to explore and fall in love with.    

Villa Neung is a chic designer villa with beachfront access to the idyllic Laem Noi Beach – an unspoiled white sandy stretch on the north-west coast, fringed by coconut palms and washed by a shallow blue sea. 

Designed for luxury tropical living, the villa has its own 15-metre beachfront pool, three ensuite double bedrooms and an airy, open-plan living and dining pavilion with stylish Thai-inspired interiors, making it an appealing beach holiday escape for families or small groups of friends.

Villa Nueng - Stylish villa facadeVilla Neung

The villa’s own staff will take care of absolutely everything, preparing delicious Thai and western meals to order, booking spa therapists, organizing tours and activities, perhaps setting up a picnic or candlelit dinner on the beach, and even watching over the young ones while you take a break.

For a change of scenery, a number of rustic beachside restaurants and bars are just a stroll along the beach and it’s only 20-30  minutes’ drive to the chic boutiques, trendy restaurants and nightlife of Maenam, Fisherman’s Village in Bophut and Chaweng.

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