Koh Samui is one of Thailand’s most famous islands. Funnily enough, even though I have spent 3.5 years in Thailand, I had never visited, until now. From Bangkok to Koh Samui, the flight is only a little over an hour long. I must say that the rumors I heard about the Koh Samui Airport are absolutely true, it really is a very small and adorable airport. My first resort to visit on the island was The Tongsai Bay. The resort was first opened in 1987 and is built in a glorious private cove. The property focuses heavily on sustainability and this is refreshing with the amount of waste I typically see in the hospitality industry. Over my stay, I also learned that most of the staff has worked at the resort for decades and this provided a very warm service. Let’s take a deeper dive and talk about what you can expect at this quaint resort, shall we?
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For my stay at The Tongsai Bay resort, I had arranged an airport transfer directly with the hotel. After landing, I was shuttled to the terminal, went through a health screening, and as soon as I got outside, I saw The Tongsai Bay staff with a sign that had my name on it. By van from the airport, it took just 10 to 15 minutes to get to the resort. Smooth indeed.
I arrived in the evening, after the sun had already set at The Tongsai Bay. I noticed the intimate mood straight away as the light was fairly low. There was one staff member working in the lobby when I arrived and I was offered a welcome drink. In typical Thai fashion, it was quite sweet but very tasty and refreshing. After a smooth check-in process, we hopped on a buggy and I was shuttled to my accommodation.
Tongsai Pool Villa
The Tongsai Bay resort has several various types of accommodation. For my stay, I secured a Tongsai Pool Villa which was 180 sqm. As mentioned, the resort is in a cove. In the center there is a building for the suite rooms, then around the two wings there are various villa types. I was perched high upon one of the hills which offered a great view of the entire property, beach below, and glorious sunrise. Throughout my weeklong stay, I nearly never set my camera down as everything was beautiful!
First, there was an entrance gate, then there was a locked door to enter the outdoor living space of the Tongsai Pool Villa. This villa type has about half of the living space indoor and half outdoor. The outdoor portion features a kitchen, dining room table, private infinity pool, bath tub, lounge chairs, and an outdoor daybed with roof and mosquito net. In the kitchen area there was a capsule coffee machine, tea kettle, mini-bar, and loads of drinking water.
All areas of the villa are incredibly spacious and comfortable and the interior is equipped with two air-conditioning units. There are lots of notable features including a massive closet that runs the entire side of the villa, safe for valuables, vanity with chair which doubled as my working desk, king-size bed, sofa, lounge chair, ottoman, garden terrace that runs the length of the villa, and a massive bathroom. The garden adds to the already beautiful environment and can be illuminated at night. They also had a fairly extensive pillow menu to choose from.
Just behind the entryway was the spacious master bathroom. In the bathroom there was a dual sink vanity, shower stall, and toilet which could be closed off with sliding doors. Keeping with the sustainability features of the property, the toiletries are made from environmentally friendly ingredients. I appreciated this fact immensely but wasn’t incredibly thrilled with the smell of the shampoo.
Each and every day the villa was cleaned two times, once around mid-day and once in the evening. The amount of staff were fairly minimal while I was visiting so I began to recognize the same women every day and they were very respectful and friendly. I loved the fact that they provide tons of drinking water. They place glass bottles, not plastic, in very convenient places around the villa. The staff also brought me snacks every afternoon throughout the stay. With the hotel breakfast that I will discuss later, then the afternoon snack, I could skip lunch and really only had to worry about dinner later.
Beach, Fitness, and Activities
The sandy beach in the center of the rocky cove is what the entire resort is circled around. On either side of the beach, there were large rocks that created a private and secure setting. These rocks make it nearly impossible for outsiders to access the beach. The Tongsai Bay has various options for activities such as kayaks available beach-side.
The entire resort is filled with greenery. If you want to connect with nature, this is the resort for you! The resort goes out of its way to keep it as natural as possible and it is very evident no matter which corner of the property you decide to explore.
Just next to the sandy beach are two pools for guests at the hotel. Both are quite large and surrounded by sun chairs.
Also, in the same area, is the The Tongsai Bay’s fitness center. The gym looks out over the pools and beach but is on the smaller side. The equipment during my stay also was a bit dated but I’ve learned that in the coming months things will be updated and I assume this includes the gym. During my visit there was no sauna or steam room, not sure if this will change in the future.
The property also features a lovely tennis court on the top of the hill and a lounge room near the lobby which has a billiards table. All in all, I felt that there was always something to do at the property which really adds to the resort’s offering.
From the inception, The Tongsai Bay has always focused on sustainability. During my stay I learned a lot about all that they do to achieve this by discussing and touring around with the staff. Somethings that The Tongsai Bay does to achieve a smaller impact on the environment include recycling nearly all types of waste, using environmentally friendly cleaning products and toiletries, offering glass water bottles instead of plastic, not cutting down trees needlessly, minimizing use of non-biodegradable waste, growing their own produce, and not offering motorized activities. Well done!
Food and Beverage
The breakfast at The Tongsai Bay takes place just next to the lobby in a restaurant that has a large open-air dining room with gorgeous view of the water. Luckily, throughout my stay it was very sunny every morning making this an exceptional setting to enjoy the beautiful views. The breakfast had a modest assortment of items on their buffet but as you’d expect, there were some options that could be prepared to order, such as eggs or pancakes. The buffet selection was fairly Thai style with items such as fried rice, congee, Thai noodle soup, fresh fruit, and a small salad area. Overall, I did enjoy the breakfast, it wasn’t super diverse, but was enjoyable nonetheless.
What really sets this resort apart from others is the quality of service. Over a very short time, I quickly built connections with the staff and truly felt welcomed into The Tongsai Bay family. Every morning it was great to see them all with smiles on their faces. Clearly they loved their jobs and it showed through in the quality of service.
Another restaurant I got to experience was the Po-lad Beach Bistro which sits right on the beach. I had a lunch towards the end of my stay where I got to try the salmon, wagyu, and mango sticky rice. These dishes were lovely and honestly impressed me quite a bit! I expected the food to be good, but this was exceptional. Especially the salmon which had a tom yum sauce that I had never had anything like before. The service was a bit more formal than at breakfast which was nice to experience. Overall, a lovely afternoon and experience.
The Tongsai Bay is represented by Green Pearls® who is the leading source for green hotels around the world. As a communication and information platform for sustainable, handpicked, and unique places worldwide, they spread word about the green stories that make their members unique.
The Tongsai Bay was a great introduction to Koh Samui, Thailand. It felt as though the warm and friendly staff took me by the hand and introduced me to the local culture in the nicest way possible. I was intrigued and impressed by the level of sustainability which the resort practiced. Also, as the resort has been around for a while, you really can feel it through the level of service. The entire week almost went off without a hitch until my check-out day when there was a slight hiccup with the buggy service staff.
During my visit, the resort was in need of a bit of updating but luckily I’ve learned that the renovations have already started so I am excited to see what it’s like when it’s all finished. When it’s all said and done, I had a lovely and heartwarming stay at The Tongsai Bay in Koh Samui, Thailand and I wouldn’t hesitate to return in the future or recommend it to anyone who enjoys a friendly and warm service with premium accommodations.
84, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand
Phone: +66 77 913 750