As nice as Thai on the is­land of Koh Chang

ROOM AT THE INN

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Asia - MIKE O’CON­NOR

OPENED in De­cem­ber, Parama Koh Chang by Epikurean Ho­tels & Life­style is backed by the moun­tain ranges of Koh Chang, Thai­land’s sec­ond-largest is­land, with views across the Gulf of Thai­land.

It’s a bou­tique prop­erty of 19 deluxe and ocean­view suites and is the sec­ond to be opened by the Epikurean group in Thai­land; the other is on Koh PhaNgan, also in the Gulf of Thai­land.

We check into a sprawl­ing, 78sq m, third-storey suite with a large liv­ing area fur­nished with a day bed and sofa, desk, bar and wine fridges, kitch­enette and flat-screen tele­vi­sion.

I kick off my shoes and the wide, dark floor­boards, which glis­ten with a dull sheen, are cool un­der­foot. The bed­room is dom­i­nated by the largest bed I have seen; it’s a ‘ ‘ su­per king’’, ap­par­ently. I lose things in bed — read­ing glasses, note­books, phones — and it oc­curs that if I do so in this bed it could take sev­eral days to find them.

The bath­room — with stone sunken spa tub, shower re­cess with rain­wa­ter show­er­head and twin basins — is also suit­ably spa­cious.

The glass walls of the liv­ing area and bed­room slide aside to give an unim­peded view over the swim­ming pool to the gulf be­yond.

There are three pools at Parama Koh Chang. One wraps it­self around the main build­ing and teems with a va­ri­ety of fish that pro­vide an end­less ma­rine slideshow for guests din­ing on the deck. It’s also home to at least one turtle that sur­faces each morn­ing as I break­fast, nods and glides back into the depths.

The pool has a sand beach and ham- mocks and is well fur­nished with sunbeds. On the down­side, there is no beach, but a pri­vate is­land leased by the re­sort is a five-minute boat ride away and boasts a smooth strip of fine white sand that slopes gen­tly to the wa­ter.

It’s called (what else but) the Pri­vate Is­land and there are plans to build a beach club there, but for the mo­ment there are sunbeds, at­ten­tive staff to tend you with tow­els and drinks and to ferry you back to the re­sort when­ever you wish.

The third pool is stocked with fish des­tined for the kitchen of chef Nokveedz. When fish is on the menu, which is of­ten, she chooses some­thing suit­able from the hun­dreds that await their fate in the pool.

Chef bakes her own bread, makes jams and yo­ghurts, pro­duces a steady stream of Thai, Western and Mediter­ranean-in­flu­enced meals and holds cook­ing classes for guests on re­quest. Din­ing is in­doors, out­doors or, if pre­ferred, at the chef’s ta­ble, a 20-seater made from a sin­gle pol­ished slab of jack­wood from which din­ers look into chef Nokveedz’s kitchen.

There’s a small cock­tail bar in the main re­sort build­ing but most guests pre­fer their sun­set drinks on the west­fac­ing board­walk where over­sized bean­bags are a favourite spot to en­joy the pink-and-pur­ple light show.

A sep­a­rate build­ing houses a welle­quipped, air-con­di­tioned gym and sauna plus a spa with four treat­ment rooms. Ad­di­tional rooms are to be com­mis­sioned shortly, one fit­ted with a Vichy shower. Moun­tain bikes are pro­vided for the use of guests and we pedal 7km along a flat, sealed road to the near­est fish­ing vil­lage. At a restau­rant perched over the wa­ter, we or­der lunch plat­ters of prawns in tamarind sauce, squid and scal­lops served in the shell and the bill, which in­cludes two large bot­tles of Chang beer, comes to the equiv­a­lent of just $30.

The re­sort is lo­cated in Koh Chang’s south­east. The main tourist ar­eas of White Sand Beach and Lonely Beach are 30 to 40 min­utes dis­tant and there’s a reg­u­lar shut­tle ser­vice avail­able for guests.

Through­out our stay, a steady north­west­erly breeze blows across the is­land and the mem­ory of ly­ing in that huge bed in the morn­ing with the glass doors open and the breeze play­ing across the bed­clothes will surely re­main with me for some time. Mike O’Con­nor was a guest of Epikurean Ho­tels & Life­style.

Ex­clu­sively cou­ples, mainly Euro­pean.

None. Con­fes­sions of a Bangkok Pri­vate Eye — True Sto­ries from the Case Files of War­ren Ol­son by Stephen Leather. Take the shut­tle to White Sand Beach for shop­ping and Lonely Beach for sun­set and evening bar ac­tion. There is no beach but the pri­vate is­land com­pen­sates. Spa­cious ac­com­mo­da­tion, great food, tran­quil­lity and pri­vacy.

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