The Siam Residence is no newcomer to the Samui scene. For those in the know, it’s become one of those special little places to drop into now and again. It’s boutique and family-owned – secluded and elegant, with acres of scrubbed white sand. The luxurious accommodation is on a par with the top hotels. There’s a super restaurant under the stars. And you’ll find it tucked quietly away, just south of Nathon on the fringe of Lipa Noi.
It’s difficulty to pick out just one reason that The Siam Residence is special. In part, it’s the location: this is what beaches on Samui used to be like. Scrupulously clean, with not a trace of litter or even debris cast up by the tide. Deserted and private. There’s not a jet ski or a row of beach umbrellas anywhere. And none of the wandering vendors or time-share people who congregate elsewhere.
But then there’s the way it’s managed and run. It’s a blend of Austrian ownership and Swiss management. Everything here is just perfect – in fact it brings to mind the sort of pristine care that you’ll see in a Swiss garden or an alpine town. The lawns are carefully manicured and edged by neat and brilliant floral borders. The glowing golden-toned paths are spotless. And the cottages themselves are picture-postcard perfect.
The restaurant here is simply titled ‘Grandma’s Kitchen’. But it comes as a bit of a surprise when you see the building for the first time: it’s actually two inter-connected glass octagons. (And this motif is repeated in the seafront massage room.). There are lawns all around, and often in the evenings, you’ll also find that there are tables out on the grass, under the stars and overlooking the adjacent beach.
And then there’s the hospitality and service. Yes, of course we are in the Land of Smiles. But here it takes on an added breadth of meaning, as you’ll find yourself warmly greeted by the Resident Manager, Jan Boog. “All of us here take a warm personal interest in our guests,” he told me, “and that includes visitors who come in to enjoy our restaurant, as well as our residents. We train our staff to a high level, and that’s reflected in the quality of service they extend to our guests.”
One of the signs of a good resort is the way they treat their staff. Many places on the island have a rapid staff turnover; they are constantly moving on seeking higher pay and promotion. But here the atmosphere is good, the staff are well-paid and appreciated, they have English lessons and financial help with their children’s education, and they’re more than content to stay in pleasant surroundings with good people around them, in what amounts to a family atmosphere.
The best example of this is Khun Lamyai Chaisuwan, the Head of Kitchen and, like a number of other staff, she’s been happy to work here for quite some time now – 24 years, in fact! Her menu is traditional Thai, with all the expected popular dishes and also several that aren’t so well-known. She’s not content to remain static either, and has continued to evolve her fare, gradually adding new dishes and offering various combos and specials. And these are to be seen on the featured ‘specials’ chalkboard, which gets changed every few days.
To get the feel for the lovely little resort and what the restaurant has to offer, it’s probably best to come by in the daytime, have a drink and a snack, catch up with your emails or Facebook (free Wi-Fi) and make a note of its location. The restaurant’s open all day, and there’s a wide selection of lighter bites, preferable in the heat of the day. These range from a range of assorted salads, through to the usual sandwiches and snacks, and all sorts of seafood nibbles.
And, talking of seafood, this is an aspect in which Grandma’s Kitchen specialises. Yes, I know, just about every restaurant on the island says the same thing! But here Khun Lamyai has developed a system that’s both excellent, and yet effective in its simplicity. Everything is truly fresh; bought each day from the fishermen in Nathon (and none of it stays in the fridge until it’s sold, either). So, first decide on what you want, or what combination. Choose from such items as prawns, king prawns, rock lobster, mussels, crab, snapper, mackerel, barracuda etc. – whatever is currently in season. (And if you want something special, lobster for example, then just order it a day or so in advance and it’ll be provided for you.)
And now for the good part: you can have it individually cooked to your preference. Choose between boiled, barbecued, deep fried with garlic and pepper or with tamarind sauce, sweet and sour, stir-fry etc.). There’s also an added healthy option: steamed in one of several different ways. As Jan says, “If you want anything cooked a different way, then just ask!” And, of course, there’s a huge range of supplementary dishes, sides of various vegetables, different sorts of rice, soups and savouries.
To help you seek out The Siam Residence, and experience it to the full, take a look at their Facebook page and note the GPS location – 9.513784, 99.936623. Enjoy!
Rob De Wet
For reservations or further information, telephone 0 7742 0008.