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Over 100 years ago, merchant boats laden with rice dotted an iconic river that passed Bangkok. The iconic Chao Phraya River is known as the Venice of the East. 

These teak wood boats would sail from Bangkok to the open waters to trade their wares. Some would move into the Gulf of Thailand, as far as Koh Samui island. 

Boats made into Hotel Suites

The new Meliá Koh Samui rescued 31 of these vessels and gave them a new lease on life in the 21st century. 30 of them became elegant two-story boat suites. Meanwhile, the other became an innovative kid’s club. 

Marrying Thailand’s rich maritime heritage with a sleek contemporary design, the 30 intimate boat suites each feature a bedroom with polished wooden floors on their upper deck, and a dressing room and impressive bathroom, replete with a soaking tub and double showers, on the lower deck.

Views of Choeng Mon Beach

These suites offer either views of Choeng Mon Beach, on the north-eastern tip of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, garden vistas or direct access to a 1600 sqm lagoon pool that loops through the resort’s lush grounds like a river.

The craftsmen converted the wooden hulls of the boats into suites. They extensively renovated the decayed teak wood structures. This was by no means easy to do. To carry out the specialised task, the resort recruited craftsmen experienced in boat restoration to painstakingly restore the wood structures.

Interiors of Melia Koh Samui suites

The craftsmen cut out old decayed wood and replaced it, piece by piece.  They studiously attended to decayed wood in the keel of the boats. This is the bottom-most longitudinal structural element of the vessels.

They fastened strakes of wood to the intricate ribs that support the hull and give the vessels their shape and strength. Generations of sailors and craftsmen have been using a special concoction of ingredients on their boats. They mix rubber oil and red lime together with cotton rope to seal joints, gaps and holes.

“These boats were built to last due to the great strength and durability of the teak wood as well as the craftsmanship initially invested in them,” said Meliá Koh Samui General Manager Ernesto Osuna.

“In a fitting tribute to Thailand’s seagoing past, we turned to the tried and true methods of the shipwrights to provide the sturdy foundation of our boat suites, that really are one of a kind.”

-Meliá Koh Samui General Manager Ernesto Osuna

About the Melia Koh Samui

The hotel designers created the boat suites inspired by a nautical theme. They maintained this throughout the luxury beachfront resort.

Located 15 minutes from Samui International Airport, this is the first property in Thailand of the Spanish hotel group Meliá Hotels International.

It has two restaurants, an executive lounge, and a swim-up bar. In addition, there is an infinity pool with sunken seating areas, a spa, a fitness center, and a ballroom. For families, there’s the kid’s club also housed in a former teak wood vessel. Children will also love the outdoor playground and a mini water park.

The Level of the Melia Koh Samui

“The Level” section of the hotel contains these boat suites. This section also offers an upgraded level of service and benefits. Guests get access to the light and airy executive lounge shaped like a boat’s hull. They can also enjoy the lounge’s vast open terrace with panoramic views of Choeng Mon Beach.    

In the lobby, the aptly-named Boat’s Bar looks like a long boat. It has a black hull topped with eggshell-colored marble. Sculptures and installations of boats adorn the lobby. Among these are vessels that appear to be floating on the surface of the lobby’s floor.

The designers have continued the sea-faring theme in the public areas. They’ve placed big white ceramic vases around to look like they are festooned in barnacles. There are also paintings of the ocean and miniature wooden boats for sale at The Gallery.

This non-profit social enterprise helps improve the lives of Thai communities. They sell accessories and home décor items made by talented Thai designers and artists.

History of boats in Thailand

“We commissioned artists who created sculptures, installations and paintings,” said Mr. Osuna. “These provide captivating interpretations of a way of life that sustained many in Thailand for centuries. These have come together here at the resort to help tell our boat story.”

The hotel management has installed an educational display in the lobby. It’s made up ion miniature boats in glass displays. There’s also a timber map of the Gulf of Thailand. This map outlines the history of the refurbished  vessels for guests who are curious to know more about this boat story.

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