Conrad Koh Samui had been on my bucket-list for many years. So back in August 2022 when I noticed good award availability during Easter 2023 holidays, I did not waste any time locking in the dates.
For those not familiar, Conrad Hotels is part of the Hilton Honors program meaning you can redeem Hilton points for a stay at Conrad properties.
Hilton got rid of award charts and adopted dynamic pricing several years ago. Since then, redemption prices closely reflect cash rates meaning you need higher number of points when the property is busy and cash rates are high. Conversely, you need fewer points when the property isn’t as busy and cash rates are moderate. That said, dynamic pricing is not an exact science and we often see cash and award pricing totally out of sync.
Standard award nights at Conrad Koh Samui are generally priced at 95,000 Hilton Honors points. Like all properties within Hilton portfolio, when you redeem points for 4 nights you get the fifth night free and that is generally the best strategy to get maximum value out of your points. My 5-night stay cost a total of 380,000 Hilton Honors points, and with the fifth night being free it brought the average price down to just 76,000 points per night. Cash rates at the time of my stay were over $1,000 per night making this a stupendous deal.
Earning Hilton Honors Points
There are no cards in Australian market that directly earn Hilton points. However, if you have an American Express Card which earns Membership Rewards Points, you can transfer these points to Hilton in the ratio of 2:1 (2 Membership Rewards Points = 1 Hilton Honors Points).
As you can tell, that is a terrible transfer rate and should only be done in the most extreme circumstances, such as when you wanted to top-up your Hilton account with a small number of points to make a redemption. American Express Membership Rewards Points is a highly valuable currency and must almost exclusively be transferred to one of its airline partners for high value redemptions.
The other way to get your hands over Hilton points is to purchase them when they are on sale. Hilton frequently sells points for US$ 0.005 (half U.S. cent) per point and members can purchase up to 320,000 points per year.
As the name suggests, Conrad Koh Samui is located on the Thai island of Samui. Built into the side of a mountain on the South West corner of the island, the property is as far from the Samui airport as it can physically be.
The windy, and at times congested island roads mean that it takes about an hour to cover the roughly 30 km distance from the airport to the hotel. Samui airport is privately owned, and as such does not allow Grab to pick up arriving passengers. Unless you arrange transfers directly through the hotel, the only option is to hire a private taxi and pay their extortionate prices.
I paid THB 1,200 (AUD 53) for my one-way ride to the hotel. If you are not travelling with heavy bags, consider walking to the Hertz Car Rental which is about 500 metres from the arrivals area and then catching a Grab for about half the price. Be warned though, Samui can be blistering hot and walking half a kilometre under the blazing sun isn’t recommended unless you have a very high tolerance for heat and humidity.
Arrival & Check-In
About an hour after we left the airport, we gently rolled into the reception of Conrad Koh Samui. As I stepped-off the car, the lobby was straight up. Also greeting guests is a beautiful water feature and stunning views of the Gulf of Thailand.
I was greeted by Jack, one of the concierge who welcomed me to Conrad. He escorted me to the lobby where a tray with chilled towels and two bottles of refreshing coconut water lay waiting.
The lobby itself was quite small and unremarkable. There was some seating space and couple of desks on the other end which were unstaffed.
Unlike a lot of properties these days where elite benefits aren’t proactively advised and offered to the guests, Conrad Koh Samui takes the principled approach by displaying the benefits prominently on the reception desks.
As you can tell from the picture above, Conrad Koh Samui is part of Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts Program which is a perk of The Amex Platinum Card. I can’t remember the last time a property was so open and honest about the Amex FHR benefits they offer their guests, so this made a real impression on me. Well done Conrad Koh Samui 👏🏽
One minor negative was the lack of aircon in the lobby which I thought was a bit odd. Checking-in multiple guests can sometimes take a while, so this might be of concern to some people arriving hot and sweaty at the property.
Anyhow, after sipping through my drink and making small talk with Jack, I eventually handed over my passport so that he could process the check-in. Soon enough, I was on a buggy being driven to my villa.
Villa No. 302
The standard award at Conrad Koh Samui books into a 1-bedroom Tropical Island Pool Villa, these are mostly located on the lower levels with full or partial sea view.
A couple of days before the arrival, I checked the booking on my app and noticed that I had been upgraded to Villa No. 302 which is a 1-bedroom Five Islands View Pool Villa. These villas, mostly located on the third level of the property are amongst the most premium villas and sell for more than AUD 1,500 per night in high season.
As I mentioned earlier, Conrad Koh Samui is built into the side of a mountain overlooking Gulf of Thailand. There are no real bad villa’s here in the sense that every villa offers partial sea view at the very least. That said, its preferrable to be on the higher levels as the views are that much better.
At nearly 130 sq meters in size, my villa was decently proportioned. As you walk in, the combined bedroom/living room is slightly to the left.
A King bed occupies the central position in the villa. There were a bunch of pillows neatly placed at the head of the bed. As is typical at properties frequented by the honeymooners, the staff had left some rose petals and an elephant shaped towel art on the bed.
I am sure some people love this kind of pampering, to me, it creates unnecessary work in terms of removing the petals and cleaning the bed afterwards. In tropical places, these flowers often hide bugs inside them which can easily sneak-out and cause issues that I don’t wish to dwell upon.
Later on, I found a Pillow menu in one of the drawers. It contained everything from Buckwheat pillow to Cervicalopedic pillow and every other pillow type in-between as you can see below.
There were bedside tables and power outlets on each end of the bed. Some of the outlets were compatible with my Australian phone and laptop chargers which was nice.
Then to the left of the bed, you had a long desk and chair and space to put down personal belongings.
Adjacent to the table, there was a couch which could double-up as bed for a small child. The in-room welcome amenity of tropical fruits such as guava and oranges and a welcome card was placed on the nearby table.
Opposite the couch, there was a wall-mounted TV and a buffet underneath.
On the counter, you had the Nespresso coffee maker and complimentary drinking water supplied in glass bottles. Next to them, there were two letters with information about various dining and spa facilities as well as the daily wellness routine that the property offers.
Capsules for the coffee maker as well as provisions for making tea and coffee were inside a small compartment built into the counter. The cabinet below contained tea/coffee mugs, wine glasses and the electric kettle, next to them you had the bar fridge with a small pack of milk and even more bottled water.
A couple of hours after I settled into the villa, staff brought-in some more welcome amenity of sushi, dipping sauce and a sweet item which I couldn’t recognise.
The other half of the villa was the bathroom, taking up as much real estate as the bedroom/living room. A massive circular bath-tub was the main attraction here. It wasn’t particularly deep but could have easily fit-in 2 adults and a small child.
The oversized vanity was positioned directly behind the bath-tub. It came with his and her sink and individual mirrors. On the counter, you had a basket filled with items of personal and dental hygiene. Toiletries were supplied by Mojave Ghost and were of high quality.
The toilet and shower were located right at the back of the bathroom. The shower was roomy and fitted with the rain shower, although I had some difficulty in balancing the water temperature. Bath products were from Mojave Ghost and you couldn’t fault them.
Lastly, the centre-piece of the villa was the 10 metre long infinity edge pool overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. You could access the pool from the bedroom and bathroom both.
The pool deck had some basic outdoor furniture on one end and a pair of loungers underneath a canopy on the other end.
The water in the pool was toasty warm, thanks to the west-facing nature of the villa which meant that the pool was bathed in constant sunshine for 4-6 hours on a daily basis. I pretty much spent most of the free time taking dips in the pool and looking at the mesmerising ocean and Five Islands views in the distance.
The sunset hour was the best time of the day. Each evening around 5:45 pm, I would sit out on the deck and watch the sun drift lower and lower until it fully sank in the shimmering waters of Gulf of Thailand. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the gorgeous sunset views make up the USP of the villas at Conrad Koh Samui.
To sum-up, I found the villa to be of a decent size and well appointed but not exactly luxurious. Let’s hope the owners take the opportunity to elevate them to the next level at the next renovation.
Given that it’s not practical to walk to shops and restaurants, those without access to transport are fully reliant on hotel’s in-house dining venues. Primarily, the property offers 3 different options.
First up is Zest, which is open for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast is served daily between 7 am – 11 am, dinner service is from 5 pm – 11 pm. Guests dining at Zest have the choice of sitting inside in the main part of the restaurant or outside under the covered patio with water views.
Breakfast consisted of a mix of Western and Thai options. I particularly loved the variety of smoothies, yogurt drinks and coconut water on offer. Then there were the usual offerings of hot and cold beverages such as juices, tea and coffee.
There was a selection of bread and pastries, standard Western options such as bacon, eggs, pancakes, waffles and Thai dishes such as rice, BBQ chicken and pork and a LIVE noodle station. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
Then there were some made-to-order dishes such as omelette, eggs benedict etc that you could order with the staff and these were brought to your table.
Strangely enough, I found the Thai dishes to be pretty average and the Western options eclipsed them in terms of taste. On the whole, I thought the breakfast was one of the slightly weaker points of the property and there is room for improvement.
Next up is Azure, located besides the pool it has a great setting and is open daily from 11 am – 11 pm. This is the only restaurant open for lunch and dinner both.
I dined here several times during my stay and found the food to be reasonably good.
On one occasion I ordered Fish & Chips (see above). The snapper was crunchy and cooked perfectly, unfortunately I found a few pieces of bone inside which hadn’t been removed properly. Upon being made aware, the staff were extremely apologetic and offered to replace it immediately. To make up for the service deficiency, they comped the desserts which was nice.
I should mention that Zest is an outdoor venue and does not have air-conditioning. In addition, I found the service to be rather slow, so anybody heading out for lunch should be prepared to brave the heat and humidity.
Lastly, there is Jahn, property’s contemporary Thai restaurant turned premium steak house. It is open daily for dinner between 5 pm – 11 pm.
I am not a steak or red meat eater so I did not dine at Jahn, but it gets glowing reviews from guests who enjoy that type of cuisine. If that’s you, make sure you check it out during your stay.
Pricing across the venues were quite reasonable for a property of this calibre, made even better with the 25% discount offered to Hilton Honors Diamond members. Expect to spend anywhere between AUD 80 – AUD 100 per meal for 2 people including drinks.
Although I never got around to it, in-villa dining is available if you did not feel like venturing out. Further, the property can arrange Moo Kra Ta which is a type of BBQ where you cook pork in a hot pan heated by charcoal, in your villa.
The property can also organise private dinner on the beach or the pier, beach BBQ or Beach Moo Kra Ta with an advance 24 hours reservation.
Fulsome eating and sedentary resort lifestyle can quickly lead to weight gain and loss of fitness. Thankfully, the property offers a well stocked gym that is open 24/7.
If you ever tire of the private pool in your villa or just want to swim laps, head to the resort pool located next to Azure.
There are day-beds and some half a dozen cabana’s to seek refuge if the sun gets too uncomfortable, although I never really saw anybody using the pool
If you are into Spa treatments, Conrad Koh Samui offer a range of treatments, such as Siam Fusion that uses herbal compresses and the Coffee Purifying Body Scrub with a locally sourced product. The facilities include six treatment suites, a private plunge pool, and saunas with ocean view.
You can check out the full Spa menu over here.
At the time of my visit, the property was running a promotion whereby Hilton Honors members could earn bonus 2,500 Hilton points upon spending USD 125 at the spa.
While I appreciate the offer, I don’t think it would get too many people excited, particularly when spa and massage places are dotted across Thailand at about tenth of the price.
The craze for Destination Wedding has grown manifold over the years with Thailand being one of the popular choices. Couples looking to get hitched are fully catered for at Conrad Koh Samui with a beautiful Wedding Chapel and a backdrop of palm trees and Azure blue waters.
Lastly, the property offers a roster of Daily Wellness Activities such as Beach Yoga, Tai Chi, Thai Boxing, Beach Volleyball and Aqua Aerobics. Private lessons can be arranged for an extra THB 1,000++ per person. Advance booking is recommended.
If you are into motorized water activities, there is longtail boat trip, shared and private boat trips on offer. Jet-ski’s are also available for those looking for an adrenalin rush. Just remember that all outdoor activities are subject to weather conditions and may be cancelled.
Conrad Koh Samui ticks most of the boxes that is expected of a luxury seaside property. Some people may find the isolated nature of the property to be a little off-putting, personally though I think it adds to the sense of exclusivity.
The villas are well appointed and serviced daily, a turn down service is offered each evening which is nice. The food and drinks offering is somewhat limited, specially if you are here on an extended stay. If so, I suggest you invest in a hire-car so you can explore the substantial dining options other parts of the island offers.
I found the staff to be polite and ready to serve at all times. Jack in particular was awesome and my main source of contact during the stay. From booking dinner appointments to organising a hire-car, nothing ever was too much trouble for him.
There is no shortage of luxury properties in Koh Samui, but if you have plans to travel to the island and are sitting on a bunch of unused Hilton Honors points, you can’t go wrong booking a stay at the Conrad.
Have you visited Conrad Koh Samui? Leave a comment below.