A Thai Birthday Celebration

Happy Birthday to me

Seat 1A is a great way to start a holiday- even more so when no one else is in the row. And you got the ticket for free, with points. And it’s your birthday this week.

Being a Thai Airways Airbus, and after a pilot, at a party, telling us how much better Boeings were, I thought it best not to mention to family, until now, that we were delayed on the ground for an hour after pulling back, as the aircraft lost power while taxiing. We were towed back and had to use airport power to restart, which took a few goes.

That was the only hitch, though, as with only 3 passengers, and me in the first row, alone, I always got what pleased me (except a 3rd serve of caviar). The malossol caviar seemed better than usual, especially with egg white, onions, lemon and rusks.  A lobster and salmon canapé was good, too, but by the time I got to prawns for the main, the other food had surpassed them, so they seemed less magnificent. Smoked cheese with fresh figs, dates, strawberries and Ferrero Rocher topped off with a double espresso made me full enough to wait until the next movie to have the chocolate mousse cake dessert. I’m not usually a drinker, but Dom Perignon, then some frozen vodka with the caviar, had me smiling, too.

The flight was very comfortable and uneventful, and passed quickly.  All 3 first class passengers were met at the aircraft door, and all the FAs ’wai’ed goodbye to us as we were whisked to private immigration in a golf cart, where we were met by a gloved porter to retrieve our luggage, go through ‘customs’ (with quote marks as it’s more of a ‘wave-through’) and I was delivered to the Novotel desk, where a van was waiting.

I won’t bother too much with hotel description as I’ve stayed here before, but  the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Bangkok is an excellent choice of airport hotel, with little noise, a few reasonable food outlets and even a pool to cool off. It’s about a 5 minute walk or shuttle ride to the terminal, where there are lots of shops and restaurants to occupy you if you aren’t tired after the flight. I bought drinks and snacks and headed back to the hotel.

Banyan Tree Samui. View from my pool.

Up early and to the airport again. I had checked-in online the night before, and again, only 2 others sat in business on Bangkok Airways.  I had a prawn dumpling soup for breakfast in the business lounge (I first went into the main lounge and offered my boarding pass, only to be told there was a better lounge down the way, and it was).

I arrived to board with a long line of people, but somehow the staff knew I was in business,  and pulled me out of line, past the long queue and into a private van to be taken to the tarmac. After the business passengers were all aboard and settled, the main buses were allowed to come with the economy passengers.

Breakfast was adequate, but the service good and the flight was short. Bangkok Airways is a small, private airline and a great choice in Thailand. It’s good value and very comfortable, offering all passengers lounge access. They have only 4 aircraft with business class at the moment, but luckily Samui is one of the destinations. Samui airport is very quaint, with little open wagons, like Wiki-Wiki in Honolulu, but no walls. In fact, the whole airport has no walls.

My private pool, overlooking the bay.

My luggage came off first and I went to get my rental car. I was a bit disappointed that no one had come to meet me, though, as the W Retreat Koh Samui had mentioned they would send someone. Oh, well. I had booked the W but construction was not completed, so they accommodated me at the newly opened Banyan Tree Samui.

I stopped at Tesco Lotus supermarket to pick up some snacks and drinks, when my phone rang. It was Gino, the hotel manager of the W (where I’m not staying) saying that he and Vivian, both of whom I know from other hotels, were waiting for me at the Banyan Tree. When I asked if there was a sign on the road, as it’s a new hotel, they weren’t sure, so they drove to the supermarket to pick me up.

Inside my villa at Banyan Tree Samui

I followed them to the hotel, where there were another 3 W staff (5 in total), waiting at the door to greet me, plus the GM of the Banyan Tree and the rooms manager. We sat in the lobby drinking a mango ginger cocktail and looking at the 180 degrees of water. Boy, did I feel special!

After about 20 minutes of chatting – I was quite overwhelmed by all the people who greeted me, I suggested looking at the room. I had booked a beachfront villa, so when we started climbing the hill in the club car, I asked where we were going, and was told they had upgraded me to a Royal Banyan villa with pool, Jacuzzi, lounging area, sunbathing area, outdoor dining area, living room with espresso maker, TV with iPod/phone/everything inputs, 20 foot satin lined ceiling, bedroom equally over the top with another similar TV and a work desk with unlimited free wired and wireless throughout the resort, then the bathroom, walk-in robe, toilet and bath….and every single part of the villa has a 180 degree view. I could walk directly into the Jacuzzi or pool from the living room, and the other end of the pool from the bedroom or bathroom. It was so fantastic that i turned off the air con and opened all the glass doors to soak in the warmth. I’ve said this before, but this is really the most beautiful place I’ve ever stayed.

Enjoying sunrise with espresso and a dragonfruit, from the pool.

Ton, my villa butler, gave me a mobile phone with a button to press if I needed ANYTHING while on the island – not just at the resort. It charges in the drawer of the desk, which has built in power and Ethernet (all hidden in the pull-out drawer). There’s a stingray skin lamp on the desk, too. The bedhead is carved, and reaches to the ceiling, where the satin roofed arch joins it to the apex of the room. The 2 basins are solid black marble towers, with fossilised shells. The shower is so big, they need double doors to it. Actually, there are 3 doors… the third is into the pool.

Anyway, I had an issue with some liquid vitamins. The airline must have dropped my bag, as it had leaked everywhere. Big yuck! I asked Ton to fix it. He did. Luggage and clothes are being cleaned at the airline’s expense.

Relaxing in my personal pool

Gino and Vivian invited me to lunch, which turned out to be 7 W staff and me at the coolest place in the world, the Beach Republic Club, which is part open-air restaurant and part beach club. Most of the male W staff are gay, and this is obviously where they come to perve at all the European boys eating, lounging, swimming, and wearing as little as possible. The Euro girls weren’t so bad to look at either.  Lunch was as amazing as I could have hoped. I started with prawns, sushi, spring rolls, satay…then I laid my eyes on the Maine lobster, which I took a whole one of, at Gino’s prompting. Then a bunch of Thai food, 2 fresh strawberry Mojitos, a crepe with ice cream and a bunch of stuff I can’t remember because of the Mojitos. The funniest thing about this day was that the boys insisted on paying, as it was a staff outing. Then they drove me to one of the local sights, and we bought some yummy coconut soft candies famous from the area and headed home.

I spent the afternoon in my infinity pool looking at the sea and then headed into town to the Lamai Walking St market, where I bought a gift for the boys, as I would be inspecting the W with them the following day.

Even work isn't too hard with a pool and view like this.

I really can’t remember a better day in many years. Couldn’t even be bothered watching the F1.

Can’t wait for the Thalassotherapy Rainforest Spa experience and massage tomorrow, some beach time under the coconut trees, then some dinner in the Thai restaurant at the peak of the resort. What a birthday treat!

I loved:

  • Caviar and lovely Thai service on Thai Airways
  • Bangkok Airways
  • Banyan Tree Koh Samui – really a world-class resort
  • Having my own pool overlooking the sea on my birthday

Bedroom at Banyan Tree Samui

Not so much:

  • If I have to say something……. it rained one night, but really, this was a perfect experience!
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