United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
Conrad Koh Samui
My wife and I enjoyed five amazing nights at the Conrad Koh Samui in August! The Conrad brand of hotels and resorts is under the Hilton umbrella of properties. We were excited to score our five nights using Hilton points. This resort is a five star, all villa property on Thailand’s second biggest island in the Gulf of Thailand!
We got a cab from the airport which cost us 1500THB one way to the resort. The email I received from the property prior to arrival detailed a 1500THB cost for a taxi as well, 4000THB for a Volkswagen, or 3500THB for a BMW X5 or Mercedes. The ride to the resort was around 45 minutes or so. When we got to the resort entrance the driver started to climb some STEEP and twisty roads!! In fact it was some of the steepest roads I have ever encountered. When you arrive at the top however you realize that the resort lobby is situated high on a cliff top with lovely scenery!!
We were greeted by the staff on arrival and offered a seat and two tasty lemongrass beverages along with a refreshing cold towel. We arrived very early, around 9:30am and checkin isn’t until 3pm usually. The lovely front desk agent advised that our assigned room wasn’t yet available but they would escort us to Zest Restaurant to enjoy complimentary breakfast and relax and our room would be ready in about one hour. They went over the reservation details and checked my credit card and we were on our way. Our bags would meet back up with later in our villa. We hopped into one of there many buggy’s for a ride down to breakfast.
We were not very hungry as we already had breakfast service on both of our flights over and a third breakfast was a bit much but it was appreciated. We had some juice and coffee and just relaxed and enjoyed the views until our room was ready.
Our Villa #304
Once our villa was ready we were then escorted in a buggy to our room which turned out to be #304. I had contacted the hotel a few days prior to our arrival and asked them specifically for a room on the 300 level and for a great view of the 5 islands just off shore. They made no promises but assured they would do their best. I feel they came through as we were thrilled with our villa!
The villa is large! The villa pool is huge! We were shown around the room by a nice employee. They schooled us to all the nuances of the room and let us be! The bags came shortly after and then we simply relaxed in paradise in our villa the entire first day! This is perhaps my favorite villa/room that I have stayed at thus far!
The bathroom consisted of a huge soaking tub and dual sinks of course. The amenities were Aromatherapy branded but after a day or two we requested one of favorite branded bath amenities-Shanghai Tang. There are three options of bathroom amenities and the third option is a animal friendly brand that I was unfamiliar with. The bathroom was large just like the villa in general. The shower had a hand held faucet and a rainfall shower head as well. The shower had great water pressure as well. Secluded to the back of the bathroom was the water closet surrounded in marble and stone like the rest of the bathroom.
There are sliding doors in the bedroom leading to the pool, sliding doors from the bathroom leading to the pool along with sliding doors leading from the bedroom to the bathroom for added privacy if needed. With all the sliding doors open you can get an amazing ocean breeze in the room and enjoy amazing views of the Gulf of Thailand right from your bed!!
We enjoyed several dips in our in-villa pool throughout our stay. Frankly you do not have to leave your villa if you don’t want to. I also thought our villa was situated great within the resort as we had a short walk to Zest every morning for breakfast and if we wanted to workout it was not a hard walk to the gym in my opinion.
Chocolate chip cookie turndown snack at Conrad Koh Samui
As always a detailed walkthrough showing all of our villa below:
I will say that this is simply an amazing 5 star property and we would love to come back here if the opportunity ever presents itself. Kudos to Stefano (the GM who introduced himself on our fist day) and the rest of the Conrad Koh Samui staff as you are all doing a wonderful job!!!
The beach is not extraordinary at the resort so they offer a nice, complimentary boat ride to a more remote island with a better beach. There are two daily boat trips I believe 10am and 1pm (but I may be off in my times). We met at the lobby and were driven down to the boat landing just a short drive away from the resort. We were then loaded on the boat and chartered over to the island.
The beach trip is a nice getaway. It gives you the opportunity to get off the resort if you want. They also do a quick snorkel stop before you arrive at the beach. However once on the beach I wouldn’t want to spend multiple hours there. We stayed only for about 20 minutes. Enough time for a quick dip and talk with one of our boat operators. There is no food or drink or bathroom so we wouldn’t last long but I do recommend it for a quick trip!
We spent a few hours throughout the course of our week at the main pool but since we had our own personal pool in our villa we didn’t need the main pool as much as we would at some other resorts. We used our free drink coupons here one day and then bought another round shortly after.
Two or three of our mornings at the Conrad we decided to get a morning workout in. Our first morning we were up so early it was still pitch dark out and we decided to get a 5am workout. At 5am the workout room wasn’t at full power as we had to call to have someone turn on the machines for us. The workout room had two treadmills a bike and an elliptical machine for cardio. It also had several weight training machines and free weights.
We thought the workout room was somewhat small but I guess for 81 villas which maybe half were full while we were there, its OK. They also had plenty of bottled water and cold towels and reading materials. All in all the workout room was fine and did the job and has a decent view of the ocean when on the cardio machines.
On one of our last nights we decided to dine at Jahn. Jahn is the Conrad’s fine dining establishment. The setting of the restaurant is very nice, as it is perched on the cliff like the other rooms giving you great views out to the Gulf of Thailand. We had a 7pm reservation and were the first guests to arrive for the night thus securing a corner table. However the sun set soon after we sat down and the view was gone. Our waitress was an all-star! She asked if we wanted our picture taken and even suggested going outside to have some pictures before the sun set! Her famous tag line in lieu of “say cheese” was “1-2-3 SEXY” which we thought was quite funny!
We both went with the tasting menu without alcohol but my wife did have one glass of wine with her meal. I stuck with water on this evening as I was very tired on this night! Service was great. The waitress spoke very good english and was very attentive. We had a really good meal at Jahn. It was probably better than our pricey meal at Le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower in fact but I feel kind of strange paying over $150 for a meal in Thailand when quality food can be gotten for so cheap. However they are helping fill the fine dining niche on Koh Samui and I think they do a good job. I don’t necessarily feel the need to eat here again but it was a good experience in our opinion.
One evening when my wife decided to retire for the night early without dinner I decided to order some room service.
Being Hilton Honors Gold members afforded us complimentary breakfast during our stay. You bet your ass we ate here everyday! My fist impression was that that food wasn’t that great but honestly it depends on the day I found. Some of the pastry or bread items don’t feel baked fresh and can be somewhat dry, so I ended up staying away from them and went strictly with the hot items. There are several egg dishes on the menu that can be made for you and I found everyone to be good not outstanding but good. I thought the workers here were great and always had a smile for us and knew our names every morning.
We typically tried a variety of food every morning. I would usually order one egg dish off the menu and while that was being prepared I would have some things from the buffet. The one thing that is truly outstanding in my mind was the banana smoothies!!!!! WOW! I couldn’t get enough of these things! The smoothies tend to go fast as they are put out in glass bottles along with the milk options. However if they are all out you can ask for one and they will gladly make it for you!
Being Hilton Honors Gold is priceless in scenarios like this where you can enjoy a good breakfast for free every morning. I believe the price on the breakfast buffet would otherwise cost somewhere around $30 per person if I recall correctly (I could be off a bit).
If you choose a table outside you can get a great view while you dine. We ate outside on two mornings and ate inside in the air conditioner on three mornings. I preferred the indoor seating. We were very happy to have the complimentary breakfast to get us off to a good start to our day.
Azure Bar and Grill
The poolside restaurant at the Conrad is called Azure Bar and Grill. We only had one meal here and a few drinks on one day of our stay. When laying by the pool one afternoon they were bringing around free martini cocktails/mocktails for guests which is a nice touch.
We decided to share the special on this day which was the seafood platter for 1500THB (around $45ish). The food looked great but it was rubbery. My wife could only eat certain items and while I could eat them all it was not a great meal by any means. They could improve on this one in our opinion.
Great property that my wife and I would return to in a heartbeat. Great views, decent food, very private and luxurious. Villa hard product-outstanding! Service is great! The only downside is perhaps the location is far from Lamui or Chaweng beaches if you are looking for more action but we didn’t mind the drive as the complimentary shuttle to Chaweng is a great asset if you must leave the property! Keep up the good work Conrad Koh Samui!
As I mentioned we spent five wonderful nights in Koh Samui at the Conrad! Best part is we paid next to nothing for these five nights! When I checked the cash rates for this property I knew this would not be affordable for us without obtaining some Hilton points! The total was over $3700 for five nights or $682/night!
Instead we strategically applied for a few credit cards in order to be able to stay five nights! Here are the credit cards we applied for in order to make it possible:
- Citi Hilton Honors Reserve card -FREE TWO weekend nights at any Hilton property after spending $2500 within the first 4 months of card membership. Another free weekend night at any Hilton property after spending $10,000 in purchases each year. A $95 annual fee. Hilton Honors Gold status which gives you free breakfast and wifi!
- Bank of America Virgin Atlantic card – When we applied the offer was 20,000 miles upon first purchase and another 25,000 miles after $2,500 spent within 3 months. And another 5000 miles for adding two authorized users. A grand total of 50,000 miles. A $90 annual fee.
These were the only two cards we needed for this weeklong stay! There are a few other cards that allow easy accumulation on Hilton Honors points too. (We also applied for the Hilton Honors surpass card from American Express and thus have a decent amount of Hilton points that we have not yet redeemed)
Lets try and be transparent on what it really cost using points. The annual fee on two Citi Hilton Honors reserve cards is $95*2=$190. Lets say we manufactured $10,000 of spend (allowing us to get an extra free weekend night award) on my card using Vanilla Reloads when I got this card in early 2013. That manufactured spend costed $79 ($3.95*20 Vanilla Reload cards). Then we manufactured $2500 of spend on my wife’s card using Amazon Payments which costs $0. We then paid the annual fee on two Bank of America Virgin Atlantic card which is $90*2=$180. Lets assumed we manufactured spend of $5000 which would have cost $39.50 using Vanilla Reloads. Lets add it up:
$190+$79+$0+$180+$39.50=$488.50!!! Lets throw another $25 on the total for gas and my time of getting the Vanilla Reloads. GRAND TOTAL of $513.50 for 5 nights at the Conrad Koh Samui!!!!! About $100 a night with breakfast included since we are Hilton Honors Gold members because of the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve card!
The Virgin Atlantic card that we applied for awards us Virgin Atlantic miles which we didn’t want but they partner with Hilton. Meaning we could transfer points to Hilton. When I initially made my points transfer (2013) the transfer ratio was1:2 thus 50,000 miles = 100,000 Hilton points. The award ratio changed this year (2014) and when my wife did her transfer it was less lucrative 1:1.5 so 50,000 points = 75,000 Hilton points. We moved a small amount (3 or 4k) of American Express Membership Rewards during a transfer bonus to top up her Hilton account.
The nightly points rate for the Conrad Koh Samui is an absurdly high 95,000 points per night. However as I mentioned before the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve card awards weekend free night certificates thus we planned our trip to incorporate 3 weekend nights!
For night number one we used 95,000 points from my account.
Night number two we used another 95,000 Hilton points
Night number 3 we used one of our 3 weekend award nights.
Nights number four and five we used our last two weekend award night certificates!