The cottage is set up a winding garden path that might well have stepped out of a fairy-story. There’s even a little stream, a waterfall and a pool where fat Koi carp lazily swim about, as if they too are on holiday. Up ahead there’s a cottage with its own little garden. An old-fashioned brass key turns in a lock, and doors open to reveal a room so cosy that it might seem like home; the best of both worlds – the one you’ve left behind in your home country and the fabled one that you’ve just entered.
Mesmerizing and filled with surprises, the cottages and gardens are a haven unto themselves. The meandering paths, seemingly so random, are the work of a maestro architect who laid them out over two decades ago, with each part meticulously planned. The cottages are hard to count, as they’re hidden by trees and foliage in the neatly-tended yet jungle-green garden; they’ve also been angled so that there’s maximum privacy. They bring guests a delicious sense of well-being. To sit out here on the porch in the evening, under the gentle, romantic lights is to savour tropical life at its most beguiling. You might be somewhere far more remote; there’s no real way of knowing.
Each cottage, a mixture of traditional Thai style Ayutthaya architecture dabbed with Balinese grace notes, looks old-style but turns out to be contemporary. Inside you’ll find everything you might possibly need or desire for your holiday. A large flat screen TV with internet connection (you can also hook up your smart phone), a DVD player, all kinds of mood lighting that’s easy to adjust and an air-conditioner that’s no more obtrusive than a whisper. The bed is utterly comfortable, and each day when guests come back to their cottage, they’ll find a small cake or other treat on the table adjacent.
There’s both an outdoor and indoor sitting area; the latter has a sofa which can double as an additional bed. The bathroom is as spectacular as the rest of the cottage. It has a Balinese outdoor rain shower (it includes a skylight mosquito net so you can bathe safe from insects of any kind) over a sunken bath. Small, thoughtful touches abound as they do throughout the rest of the cottage – an ornate antique-looking pot holds perfect squares of facial tissues; a vanity mirror telescopes out from a niche of teak wood, and there’s even an indoor garden with busy plants. As for lotions, creams, shampoo and so on – no need to even ask. It’s all there and right at hand. And this is one of the main points about Poppies. Everything has been considered and thought out, and then maintained. And as for the cleaners, they must check their work with a microscope – everything throughout the resort is immaculate.
Poppies is located on southern section of the beach road in Chaweng. That’s to say the nightlife of the town is easily accessible, yet the resort’s at the quieter end. And thanks to all the trees and foliage it’s quieter still, and guests do a double-take when they see the garden. Can it really be so close to Chaweng?
Maintaining a resort like this takes not just effort but creativity. And even though Poppies has stayed faithful to its original charms, it’s constantly seeing what can be made better. The lucky travellers who came upon Poppies in its early days, 22 years ago were in for a treat and knew it. They knew it because back then Poppies was one of the very few spots on the island that guaranteed both a luxurious stay and food to match. It made a name for itself very quickly and everyone who lived on the island was familiar with it.
Over the following two decades, Samui became an internationally sought-out destination, with many a luxurious resort setting up here. But today, Poppies still maintains its leadership. As a resort, it’s number one on Trip Advisor. Suffice to say, the people behind it know what they’re doing. Poppies is an offshoot of Poppies Bali, which opened in the early 1970s – it’s still going strong today. Some exhaustive landscaping took place and the cottages were built with maximum privacy in mind. Usually resorts can get away with curtains of greenery, but here it was a lot more. Not only were the lushest imaginable gardens planted, but something that’s really innovative was also planned, just so guests wouldn’t always see countless staff making their way through the property. It’s something that’s unique on Samui, and rare enough elsewhere: a completely hidden tunnel was built to connect the kitchen and beach end of Poppies with the lobby area.
And it’s not necessary to be staying here to fall under the influence of Poppies’ magic, as they also offer superb dining. Their restaurant has always been one of Samui’s top eateries, with top-notch chefs in charge. And from the beginning, they brought quality foods and ingredients to the island that were, in those first years, impossible to find here. Over the years they’ve built on their successes. Staff seem to like Poppies as much as the guests: many have been working here for over ten years or more, which is highly unusual. Chef Wan, for example, has been here since the resort opened, all those years ago, and provides amazing dishes for her guests, in addition to running a sought-after cooking class.
And the new General Manager, James F. McManaman, is very familiar with Poppies, as he originally came to Poppies shortly after it opened. Invited back to take the helm once more, he’s been tasked with implementing new plans for the resort and its restaurant. Some are already completed, such as the building of Poppies Fitness Studio, possibly one of the world’s few gyms to be found in a teak room. The majority of the plans, however, are still under wraps, but only for the moment; the first quarter of 2017 will see them coming first to light and then to fruition, making this popular resort an even better place for a holiday or a wonderful meal.
For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7742 2419.