W Retreat Koh Samui brings an alluring vision of cutting-edge design, in an all-villa beachfront resort caressed by lush foliage, unspoiled golden sand and warm island breezes.
With 75 hotel villas and 17 residences for sale the resort property offers panoramic sunrise and sunset views of the Gulf of Thailand from its exceptional beachfront location.
W Retreat Koh Samui and The Residences at W Retreat Koh Samui is a joint venture of Amburaya Hotels & Resorts and Istithmar World.
Amburaya Properties is a Thai-based developer with properties in Bangkok, Pattaya, Koh Samui, and India and continues to look for opportunities to grow its portfolio within Thailand and the region.
Istithmar World is one of the world’s largest privately held real estate developers, with a portfolio of developments that includes The Palm trilogy, among others.
The project started seven years ago when the search for a site that could promise a setting for ‘luxury with atwist’ to differentiate the property from all other high-end resorts in the region without sacrificing the sense of belonging.
“We believed that Koh Samui was heading to become a niche oriented island catering to the upscale traveller,” says Sunny Bajaj, managing director of Amburaya Hotels & Resorts. “When we found the site that we have today, we believed it was perfect for a high end product. Its topography, beach and shoreline were not the only factors but its proximity to the airport, commercial areas and the only golf course on the island were just unmatched to any of the other sites that we looked at.”
W has seven themes for owners to choose from that best fits the location, site and surroundings. In addition W also has key words that it is identified with which should also be infused into the design.
These are Flirty, Insider and Escape. The descriptor Tropical Zen was the result of this process that best describes the W Retreat Koh Samui today.
Amburaya selected several design firms that they believed would be suitable to design a high-end W-branded property and asked them all to present their ideas.
The board and representatives from the brand chose the innovative architecture of MAPS Design Studio and interior design by Thailand-based design firm P49 Deesign [yes; two ‘E’s].
According to Carl Almeida, partner, P49 Deesign the W Retreat Koh Samui is a series of surprises and experiences that change from daytime to night-time. W Retreat Koh Samui – like Koh Samui itself – really is an island within an island, a place where nightlife shines, dedicated to celebration. It exists as its own source of energy and life, almost apart from the rest of the world.
With a hill separating its own peninsula of land from the rest of Koh Samui, W Retreat Koh Samui offers an escape within an escape for guests and travelers who seek something extraordinary – a far cry from the everyday resorts nearby.
The site is unique with a beach frontage that encompasses two separate beaches that come together at a sandy point. The beach gradually rises up to a hillside in one direction while the other direction is quite flat.
The architectural solution utilises both thesefeatures of the site for the 75 guest retreats as well as the 17 residences.
The design actively makes the different components work together. “The fact that there is a hillside zone and a flat zone led to the solution of two different types of guest retreat: hillside and beachside,” says Almeida.
“The hillside zone retreats have unlimited views of the ocean and islands beyond, whilst the beachside zone retreats are designed to be more like islands within an island.”
The hillside villas are terraced to offer panoramic views from every guest room, while public areas occupy the highest terrain.
“Finishes are local and a simple palette of materials are used to both evoke the beach aesthetic as well as sustainability goals,” says Tan Hok Beng, principal, MAPS. “Much of the public spaces are non-airconditioned, while the villas are designed to be able to be completely open to natural ventilation.”
P49 Deesign worked closely with the Starwood and the owners’ teams to develop the plans and area programme.
It was an ongoing process of design and consultation that lead to the final solution currently in place. Their design approach adopts the exterior architectural elements and textures which are then seamlessly transitioned to the interior design.
Stylistic elements for the Retreat were based on a driftwood beach reference for all wood finishes. Other elements were influenced by Japanese Zen, which P49 translated into a ‘Thai Zen’.
The entry process was carefully thought out in a team effort with the architect, interior designer and landscape designer working together to create an overall entry experience.
The sequence from the driveway up to the porte cochere was developed to instil the Zen feeling immediately. The Entry courtyard is calm and quiet with simple but expressive architecture that mixes exterior wood finishes with stone. The vertical bamboo surrounding the courtyard gives a sense of privacy and enclosure.
“Our design approach for all our resort projects encourages the smooth transition from interior spaces to exterior and vice versa,” says P49’s lead designer Sapparit Panja. “At W Retreat Koh Samui, there was a great synergy between architecture, interior and landscape where design elements, materials, finishes and style elements have been carefully co-ordinated.”
All furniture throughout the Retreat has been selected for its uniqueness, Asian flavour, quirkiness, overall style and attitude. The entry sequence into the Living Room utilises state of the art interactive projection techniques.
Lighting fixtures from Thai designers add a touch of whimsy to the overall look and artwork has been selected from local Thai sources with the intent to have Thai product and design elements used throughout the project to help create a sense of place.
Lighting was used specifically to help the resort transition from day to night not just in luminosity but most importantly in terms of the attitude. Within each of the retreats, warm lighting is enhanced with red LED lighting that is concealed behind bookshelves and within the vanity in the bathroom.
This is part of P49’s design concept where day turns to night and the resort wakes up and starts to party into the night. Lanterns are used through the landscape to feed into the ‘festival’ feel of the retreat.
F&B plays an important role at the W Retreat. The Living Room incorporates a bar and lounge set into the landscape based on a raw stone concept. The Spa has a juice-inspired relaxation lounge that cocoons the guest.
The Kitchen Table is an all day eatery which encompasses open kitchens, chefs table and dramatic glass ceiling cutouts covered by water.
On the beach there is Namu which has many components including an intimate Japanese and seafood restaurant and a beach bar and club. Raw wood, textured concrete, and green glass elements are key materials while seating varies from glowing resin through to overscaled daybeds suitable for VIP parties.
Located adjacent to W Retreat Koh Samui will be The Residences at W Retreat Koh Samui, featuring 17 secluded beachfront villas ranging from three to five bedrooms and from 1,000 - 2,752 square metres. Each residence offers a modern tropical Zen style with exotic touches, and each offers full access to the benefits, services and amenities of W Koh Samui.