What is it? Arguably the most luxurious resort on Koh Samet: 40 sumptuously appointed villas overlooking the aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Thailand, reached by speedboat and served by a picturesque private dock. Located at the narrowest part of the island, the resort boasts a shoreline on both the east and west coasts, meaning it is one of the few properties on Samet from which you can watch the sun set - in the case of Paradee, on a tranquil deck overlooking the sea, complimentary cocktail in hand. Serene, exclusive and at a remove from the more populated parts of the island, it is easy to see why the resort is a favourite of the Thai royal family.
Don't you mean Koh Samui? No - and why Koh Samet isn't better known is a mystery. The island, just off Rayong province and a two-hour drive from Bangkok airport, boasts beautiful beaches, a microclimate that renders it relatively dry during the rainy season and none of the backpacker apocalypse that has taken over more popular Thai islands. A holiday spot for Thai people, Samet is all the better - and more affordable - for it.
OK, and how's the beach? The sand at this end of the island is soft, fine and sparklingly white. Even on a cloudy day, the water manages to remain a startlingly vibrant greeny blue. Chaises longues line the shore, with a few tables and chairs clustered under the occasional tree for shade. The sea is almost entirely free of rubbish - and speedboats, parasailers and jet skis. The only sounds are of the birds in the trees, the lapping of the waves and the clink of ice in your glass.
I'm more of a fresh-water swimmer … For a resort with such a beautiful beach, Paradee doesn't skimp on pools (top). The centrepiece of the resort compound is a lovely infinity pool overlooking the sea complete with a swim-up bar. What's more, nearly every one of the 40 villas has a private pool and hot tub; the few that don't share such facilities with their neighbours. The pool areas, perfumed by flowering vines, are a wonderful place in which to take complimentary breakfast.
Doesn't it get a bit boring? For those who like to "do stuff", Paradee offers lots of activities, including snorkelling, boogie boarding and sailing, all of which are free, and the resort is happy to organise scuba-diving trips or tours of other outlying islands.
What else? It's the little things that make a place really special. On arrival at the Paradee, you select a scent, a wine and a bar of locally made soap from a big assortment - the turmeric option is especially luxuriant. Whenever you return to your room, your scented oil will be burning, a bottle of your wine will be waiting in an ice bucket and your bathroom will be freshly stocked with your soap. And then there are what we came to jokingly call the "feeding times". Each day, just before lunch, waiters stream out of the kitchen to deliver a complimentary fruit plate to each of the guests (even if they happen to be in the pool or on the beach); after lunch the ritual is repeated with fresh strawberry ice cream; and in the afternoon with tea and macaroons. Overall, it is the people at Paradee that make the stay exceptional and when the entire staff line up on the dock to wave goodbye as your speedboat ferries you back to the mainland, it feels both poignant and sincere.
This sounds expensive. Is it? Especially by Koh Samet standards, at between HK$3,000 and HK$4,500 per night, the Paradee Resort is certainly not cheap. If the price hasn't frightened you off, you can find out more at www.kohsametparadee.com.