Sunday, 10 May 2009

WARNING: A Bophut address is no guarantee of a Bophut Beach location...

Baan Bophut (2nd Left) and the Fisherman's Village looking west

Tripadvisor's ranking based on guest reviews has just downgraded Baan Bophut's position from 10th of 271 hotels in Koh Samui to 3rd of 18 hotels in Bophut. We wouldn't have much cause for complaint if the other hotels listed were in Bophut Beach or the Fisherman's Village, but of the 18 listed, only four are, and one is 10km away.

Unfortunately, as well as being a lovely beach village devoid of girly bars, Bophut is a tambon, or postal district, and it covers much of the north and east of the island including Maenam, Bangrak, Big Buddah, a large slice of Chaweng and almost everything in between.

The endearing scruffiness of Bophut Beach road (Moo 1) belies its reputation for some of the finest eateries on the island

Tripadvisor's new listing policy has enabled some poorly reviewed hotels, that were previously buried way-down the former Koh Samui ranking, to morph overnight into Bophut locations with respectably low double-digit scores. Look closer and you'll note that ten of the eighteen listed have less than 20 reviews between them. Two are not even reviewed. Baan Bophut is not in good company here.

I don't know what's going on, and Tripadvisor has not replied to either of my e-mail attempts to find out. But prospective visitors should note that, not listed, are some great, mainly small, family-run hotels in Bophut Beach - the Fisherman's Village and their location can be verified by making sure they have a Moo 1 street address.

The extent of Bophut Beach - The Fisherman's Village from the pier, looking west

Saturday, 2 May 2009

April family holiday update...

The last to be seen of my Panama

We returned last week from a fantastic holiday in Koh Samui. The memsahib and me to our home in Dubai; son Dominic and his Fi to Edinburgh, via Dubai for a few days. My brother Nick was joined in Samui by his kids - Sam and Ruby, who now live in Australia. Nick arrives in Dubai shortly en route to his home (and partner) in France. Another nephew - (young) Nick, his girlfriend Helen and their friend Tweet, also contributed greatly to a wonderful family holiday.

Hotel Family Holt. L to R - Olwen, me (John), Fiona (Fi), Dom, Lucy & Jonny

Most memorable was the birthday cruise organized to celebrate the moveable feast that was my 60th birthday - two months after the event, which I had spent alone in Dubai. A boat trip around neighbouring Koh Pha Ngan had been arranged through Kenny at Sunseekers and we duly departed from Petcharat jetty in calm seas accompanied by fruit, beer and singer guitarist Mark James who, with Fi on violin, were to provide musical diversion.

First stop was the beautiful beach at Thong Nai Pan, where most had lunch. Approaching the bay at speed into a headwind caused the loss of my beloved Panama hat and the swim ashore for lunch and back, consumed all my diminishing stamina. It didn't help that, as I hadn't brought shorts, I undertook the swim fully clothed.

We stopped again at stunning and isolated Bottle Beach, before heading for a final stop on the southern side of the island, closer to Samui, to enjoy Mark And Fi's music while watching the sun go down. The weather, unfortunately, had it's own plans and we were hit by a squall that seemed to appear from nowhere, forcing the decision to head for home.

The strength of the gusting wind quickly intensified, before blowing over as swiftly as it had arrived

Finally back at Baan Bophut with glasses filled and the squall replaced by an orange sunset, we enjoyed a fantastic unplugged performance by our musicians. Olwen produced a surprise birthday treat, my Mum's recipe Christmas cake, unadorned, smuggled unbeknownst to me from Dubai.

Mark & Fi gave a fantastic, unamplified performance

Fireworks and fire-balloons from Tweet, and lots more beverages, completed an unforgettable belated birthday.

Dom & Fi toward the end of a beautiful day

Escape - Relax... and get out on the water

Baan Bophut's abiding mantra encourages prospective guests to escape and relax. And while we continue to discourage those looking for action and adventure (including ping-pong and beach volleyball), I feel bound to inform you of the hotel's only surrender to the potential for physical activity and the opportunity to exercise.

Lucy snatches a paddle-break aboard one of Tik's 'Bismarcks'

Inspired by the popularity of Tik's kayak rental business and her own burgeoning enthusiasm for developing arm and upper-body strength, Lucy acquired a couple of solo kayaks to add to his fleet.

The same Thai kayak builder also makes, what they call Tri-Yaks, to accommodate three people and other larger kayaks designed for fishing. Both are future options for fleet enlargement if there is sufficient interest from guests.

Not yet available for rental are Lucy and Jonny's new 3.6m (11'6") Naish Stand-up Paddle Boards (SUP).

SUP is an increasingly popular surface watersport, with Hawaiian surfing origins, that benefits paddlers with a strong core workout. Importantly for almost waveless Samui, SUP is a form a surfing that allows one to go places without any need for waves to be present.

Jonny paddles back from breakfast in Big Buddah

Adopted by an increasing number of surfer dudes who appreciate the enhanced wave-spotting potential of being able to stand-up on a stationary board. SUPing offers surfers the ability to catch more waves, as well as providing a better view of incoming waves.

Lucy's 3.6m Naish SUP with Polynesian design and padded deck area

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