|Jewel of Siam Re-discovered|
Koh Samui and the Gulf of Thailand have been host to more superyachts this season than ever before. Off the radar for many years, captains are now dropping anchor in Koh Samui and discovering the natural wonders and beauty of the Gulf.
Koh Samui was discovered a few hundred years ago as a spot for sea traders and fishermen passing through the Gulf of Thailand to seek refuge from storms. The early Chinese and Malay settlers looked on in awe at the island's magnificence and some speculate the word "Samui" is derived from the word "Saboey", which translated means "safe haven" in the original Chinese tongue. A fitting phrase for arriving yachts.
Among superyachts visiting Koh Samui and the Gulf this season, reports Captain Charlie Dwyer of Asia Pacific Superyachts, have been: "… the 55m M/Y Keri Lee III (ex Katherine) and the luxury motor charter yacht Keri-Lee (ex Meireni), designed by Jack Sarin and built by Sovereign yachts of New Zealand; the 51m M/Y Double Haven, custom built in 1993 by Feadship in Aalsmeer (Netherlands); the 50m M/Y Sapphire, the 39m luxury Sail yacht built by Custom in 1999 and designed by Joao Paquito; the 40m M/Y Amoha, custom built in 1991 by Benetti with interior designed by Zuretti and exterior styling by George Nicholson; and the 40m M/Y Rasa, custom built in 2001 by Palmer Johnson Yachts in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin USA, to name a few."
A great time of year, when weather conditions are not so favorable for vessels in other parts of the country (Thailand), the cruising season in the Gulf of Siam is actually very good from February to September, said Captain Charlie, adding: "One of the visiting yachts arrived in May and cruised the Gulf until the end of August. The vessel then continued the cruise on to Vietnam and Cambodia and this same yacht plans to visit Singapore before continuing their journey on to Phuket, Thailand in November 2014."
Though Koh Samui does not have an established superyacht marina at this time, visiting Superyacht captains found not only were there many safe anchorages, they were delighted to find it was as simple as putting forth a request for a good anchorage to Charlie and his team. The agent not only directed vessels to some great anchorages, they recently organized a private plane and handled all the logistics, such as ground handling, without any worries for the captain requesting these services.
In the important matter of provisioning, a chef aboard one of the recently visiting yachts was impressed with the abundance of the fresh fruits, vegetables and imported meats, stating these provisions were 'among the best in quality' he had seen in years. The engineers and crew were also amazed to find spare parts and logistics were readily available from the agent.
Commenting on all provisioning and services needs being met while in Koh Samui and the islands dotted throughout the Gulf, Captain Derek of M/Y Amoha wrote the following about his journey: "The wealth of local knowledge and experience from the APS Samui team has made our visit to Koh Samui and the Gulf of Thailand a memorable, hassle-free and enjoyable experience. You and your staff were courteous, knowledgeable and a real pleasure to work with. The whole experience from check-in to departure has been exemplary. Koh Samui and its surrounding islands are a great place for superyachts to visit and with your expertise it was an absolute pleasure."
"There were many requests this season from captains and owners", reports Dwyer, "…including a gourmet BBQ on a private island, more than 100 tons of fuel delivered alongside and exotic provisions such as oysters from France, scallops from Japan, prime meat from Australia and lobsters from America." The APS agent noted he and his team were able to provide for all of these requests and many more from owners, captains and chefs.
Highlights when cruising the Gulf of Thailand include superb diving (with a private Dive Guide aboard) off the world-famed dive locale of Koh Tao and kayaking and trekking through the natural wonders of the uninhabited islands of the Ang Thong National Marine Park, located just 20 NM from Koh Samui.
Ang Thong Marine Park is a protected area of more than 100 square kilometers of land and sea. The pristine archipelago of 42 islands in the Gulf is a fantasy come true to explore with towering limestone mountains, thick jungle, white-sand beaches, fertile mangroves, waterfalls and hidden coves and lakes with a rich variety of exotic wildlife and sea creatures. Snorkeling, hiking, sea kayaking, diving, sailing and simply relaxing on one of its idyllic beaches are activities to be enjoyed at the marine park and at the stunning islands along the way.
Superyachts discovering Koh Samui will find an island with an interesting background. The island has gone through some of the biggest changes in its entire recorded history in recent years, transformed from a traditional sleepy fishermen and backpacker island into a full-on global and jet set island destination. Yachting visitors will find a variety and range of facilities and services which constantly expands and already includes everything from full servicing for Superyachts to internationally recognized luxury shops and an incredible selection of gourmet dining, 5-Star resorts and internationally acclaimed spas.
Still, despite the fast pace of development Koh Samui manages to retain its charm. Small quaint local villages and numerous coconut plantations are still very much in evidence, especially in the southern part of the island. Many of the locals continue to live their lives by "island time", loosely translated to "…very slowly". Considering the warm and welcoming "Thai Smile" and natural beauty of the island aligned with top rated luxury, it's no wonder more and more superyachts are discovering the Gulf of Thailand and Koh Samui.