Good value, but quite ordinary
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During our Samui research earlier this year, we popped in to check out Secret Garden, a long-standing Bang Rak establishment; it looked tired and rundown, as if in need of a holiday itself. So on hearing that a new owner took over May 1, 2012, we couldn’t resist a peek to see if new eyes and energy were what Secret Garden needed. We were pleasantly surprised, and pleased to inform that the resort is in process of a makeover, and on the way back to her former glory.
Walking the dog on Bang Rak beach every evening, we saw a transformation underway, and when our puppy ran up to play with the resort’s resident dog, we followed – a good excuse to watch the sunset and enjoy a cocktail at the beach bar.
The new owner is Dutch, hence the orange hue. The most obvious improvement is to the restaurant, bar and chill areas. A couple of wooden salas have been erected, and padded with vibrant cushions, making ideal reading spots. Super-size couches are strategically positioned at the bar to face the sinking sun at cocktail hour, and the plentiful sun beds have been covered in the same cheerful orange.
The restaurant delivers a good selection of both Thai and Western food, at mid-range prices – curries average 120 baht, and a blackboard announces daily specials. Breakfasts include freshly ground coffee, but unfortunately, like many Thai restaurants, tea is served with the teabag dangling in the cup, rather than in a pot, which doesn’t allow for that much needed second cuppa.
Bang Rak beach may not be Samui’s best, but it’s still a good option due to its central location. It’s a popular swimming beach with locals. Here you will see young children splashing about late afternoon, while grandparents dig in the sand looking for cockles for dinner. Sitting at Secret Garden’s beach bar, the view is ever-changing with the arrival of the very noisy Haadrin Queen, the slow boat from Ko Pha Ngan, speed boats returning from the Ang Thong Marine Park, joggers, dog walkers and planes on their final decent to Samui’s nearby airport.
The resort’s bungalows are positioned in a beach sand garden, some on the seafront. They are somewhat boring in decor, with the emphasis being on functionality rather than aesthetics. Rooms do however have air-con, safes, cable TV and patios with seating. Apparently this is the last aspect of the resort to receive a makeover, and rooms will be revamped during the rainy season of November. Rooms sell at flashpacker to mid-range rates, with the garden bungalows starting at 1,000 baht per night, and the beachfront bungalows at 2,000 baht.
Secret Garden lacks a swimming pool for those who don’t like swimming in the Gulf of Thailand’s 28 degree Celsius sea. There are however several resorts that accept day visitors to their pools. Those preferring a resort with its own pool and still keen on this beach may want to try Samui Pier Resort, only 100 metres away.
By Rosanne Turner
Last updated on 3rd February, 2016.