If you're looking for luxury on Koh Samui that won't break the bank, look no farther than the Renaissance Resort & Spa. When Bri (my sister) and I planned our trip to Thailand, we decided to spend the first part of the trip in hostels and budget hotels and end with something splurgy. Well, two somethings splurgy as it turned out (see Glamping in Thailand post). However, since every fiber of my body rebels against paying exorbitant prices for lodging, we scoured the internet for something that would give us a taste of luxury without the usual painful price tag. Fortunately, most of Asia is a great place to do just that, and when we stumbled upon the Renaissance and saw that it was a great price split two ways, we decided to give it a go and ended up having an incredible experience.
We arrived at the Renaissance hot and sweaty from our taxi ride over from our hostel at Chaweng and immediately knew that the next four days were going to be pretty amazing when we were presented with cold towels and welcome ice cream. You read that correctly... welcome ice cream. Handcrafted mango and lemongrass ice cream to be exact. Now maybe you've stayed somewhere posh enough to be greeted with handcrafted treats, but we sure as hell haven't and therefore we were pretty bowled over. Aside from the ice cream, I think the first thing that stood out to us was how lovely the staff were. They seriously went above and beyond for us the entire time.
The Renaissance is located on a mostly private beach near Lamai. While the sand was soft and fine and the water clear, be warned that if you want to stay on a beach where you can swim, then the Renaissance is not for you. The water was extremely shallow, almost like a tidal flat, for at least a mile out. Plus, it was fairly rocky with lots of crabs and was actually rather silty if you stirred up the water. We still enjoyed wading though and the Renaissance offers free use of their kayaks and paddle board. They also provide bean bags and lots of loungers with umbrellas, so you can always find a nice spot to sit on the beach if you don't want to lie out on the sand.
One of the things we enjoyed the most during our stay were the two fabulous pools, one of which was located just below our room, the other, overlooking the beach. The best thing about the pool overlooking the beach were the canopied day beds located in the water. We spent an entire day blissfully lounging on one of them. The other pool was actually a lap pool (usually empty) that I fell in love with and obsessed over for some reason, thus the numerous photos. I don't think I'll ever have a house with a pool, but if I do, I want it to be just like that lap pool! Both pools offered outdoor showers + extra large towels, and the staff at the oceanside pool provided each guest with a glass of ice water upon their arrival.
We also really enjoyed wandering around the grounds and common spaces. The whole place was a lush paradise with so much attention to detail.
The third thing we really enjoyed during our stay was the lavish included breakfast buffet. Freshly squeezed juices, coffee, pastries, savory platters, cereals, noodle dishes, fried rice, tropical fruit, and made to order eggs, pancakes, and french toast were just some of the offerings. And the staff manning breakfast were truly outstanding. So attentive and one of them even greeted us by name each morning! The other reason we were pretty excited about the breakfast buffet was that buffet meals = excellent news when you're trying to save money. Eat enough at a breakfast buffet and you can skip lunch, maybe even dinner. Following that strategy, we were able to avoid eating dinner at the Renaissance's expensive restaurants our entire stay, but we did walk down to the local Family Mart a few times for instant noodles :)
Needless to say, we were pretty sad when our four days were up and it was time to leave. We could have easily spent a week or longer soaking it all in. We'd like to say a special thanks to the Renaissance and all their staff for making our stay on Koh Samui a memorable one :)