Need to know
48 suites and villas.
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm. No check-outs are allowed on 24 or 31 December.
Double rooms from $92.40, excluding tax at 10 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast (buffet or à la carte, depending on occupancy) and WiFi.
It’s no accident that the hotel is such an architectural triumph: award-winning Tan Hock Beng (founder of Singapore-based MAPS Design Studio and the architect behind W Retreat Koh Samui) dreamed up its design. The garden comes with equally impressive credentials, having been conceived of and planted by Alan W Carle, the acclaimed landscape designer responsible for Singapore Botanic Garden’s gorgeous Ginger Garden.
At the hotel
Beach, spa, four pools, gym, boutique, library, pool table, DVDs and board games to borrow. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, iPod dock, minibar.
Our favourite rooms
Though the Mandarin Suites are a generously spacious and ambitious entry-level room category (75sq m, dark-wood furniture, terraces overlooking the pools), it’s worth upgrading to the private Princess Villas, which count four-poster beds, 100sq m of space, outdoor baths and romantic courtyards with plunge pools among their charms. Each villa is set within its own walls, so you’ll feel deliciously secluded. The Empress Villas are great for families, thanks to their private pool and two bedrooms: one upstairs; one downstairs.
Pack four bikinis/beach shorts: one for each swimming pool. Start with the vast infinity pool by the beach, try the large freeform pool in the gardens, then flop around in the two smaller pools by the Mandarin Villas. Of course, when poolside pales, there’s always the glorious beach: a milk-white stretch of sand.
Just reading the spa menu’s treatment ingredients – ‘honey, cloves, coconut oil, golden yellow turmeric, aloe vera and ylang ylang’ – soothes us. There’s a Moroccan feel to this 1,800sq m space, which has a courtyard and 10 tranquil treatment rooms. There's a 24-hour gym too.
Comfy things for wobbling across the waves in a basket boat with a local fisherman; a little notebook for jotting down the names of your favourite plants in the garden (they’re all helpfully labelled in English and Latin); underwater camera for fishy photo shoots.
Singapore-based architect Tan Hock Beng designed the crisp colonnaded porches and mod-Asian interiors.
Welcome. Cots (free) and extra beds (US$23–100, depending on age) can be added to the villas. Little Smiths will be supervised in the kids club for free, 9am to 5pm; babysitting is US$15 an hour. There's also a kids' menu and activities aplenty.