It only takes one look at Samui’s Villa M to know that there is something special about the place. It’s right in the thick of things at Fisherman’s Village – you can walk in from the bustling street, through the tranquil living room and straight out onto the beach – but the great location is the least of its charms. The house is bright, breezy and full of light, and every corner tells a story of owners Neill and Leslie’s travels around the globe. The two have furnished Villa M thoughtfully and personally, with recycled teak floors, antique furniture sourced from around the region and best of all, unique, interesting wall hangings including vintage photos of the Thai royal family.
None of this has gone unnoticed. Villa M recently won TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence 2018, so we asked Leslie to walk us through the house, her favourite bits, and how she created such a chic villa.
Read also: A guide to Koh Samui’s neighbourhoods
The design is inspired by grand colonial homes.
“We drew inspiration from memories of the beautiful colonial homes we loved as children growing up in Asia and gracious hotels such as the Oriental, Bangkok, the Raffles Singapore the Taj, Mumbai. We paid particular attention to detail and sourced some wonderful furniture and antiques from all over Thailand and the East.
“Every piece is meaningful to us as we have not furnished Villa M generically, but thoughtfully, and styled with particular attention to detail and comfort. Our furniture, antiques, artwork and memorabilia have been brought back from our travels including Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and India, and also from our private collection.”
Each room is furnished with beautiful antiques.
“Our guests always comment on the Shanxi door entrance, the mother of pearl faux door and the 19th Century painting of a beautiful Chinese woman.
“Neill loves the bone inlay furniture sourced in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, the Buddhist prayer box from Mandalay and our collection of old books. I am fond of our Gujarat chest, Burmese antique furniture, the Laotian table, and old photos of Samui, King Bumipol and Queen Sirikit.
“We both also love our Australian artwork, particularly the Charles Blackman’s drawing ‘The Fisherman’, Norman Lindsay’s ‘The Model’ and Donald Friend’s ‘Village Chief’.”
The villa was always meant to be sympathetic to its Thai surroundings.
“We envisioned and ensured that traditional Buddhist ceremonies and blessings would be a priority throughout the construction process, for the exterior to be in harmony with the village architecture, and using environmentally friendly materials.
“Neill and I grew up in Asia and have retained a love and connection for the region. Our extended family is now scattered around the globe and Samui provides a central point for everyone to get together. We love everything about Thailand: the Buddhist culture, the warm, hospitable, friendly Thai people and the delicious food. Simply put, whenever we visit the “Land of Smiles” we feel that we were coming home.
“We found Koh Samui special as it is a magical island, has strict building codes; a maximum three storeys (you cannot build higher than a palm tree) so we were confident that it would avoid the high rise of Phuket and other popular destinations.”
Leslie and Neill always wanted Villa M to feel like a home.
“We want our guests to feel when they enter Villa M that they have discovered somewhere incredibly special; a beautiful Asian island home. We have decorated Villa M as a home, with furnishings and artwork from all over Asia and vintage photos and books specifically from Koh Samui.
“We have an excellent Reservations, Guest Experience and Maintenance Team, and our Concierge, Khun Chee, and maid, Khun Chon are amazing and have won the awards respectively for “Best Manager” and “Best Maid, Luxury Villas and Homes, Koh Samui.”
And it’s the only luxury villa in Fisherman’s Village.
“We chose Fisherman’s Village specifically – on the north east of the island as it is very special, offering a peaceful, sophisticated alternative for those looking to avoid the island’s more crowded and commercial tourist areas. It’s a charming village, considered the most sought after seaside locale on the island with its original, wooden Chinese shop fronts, and reminds us of the way Asia was 50 years ago, It is also the dining hub of Samui, with chic boutiques, spas and the famous Friday night Walking Street market.
“The village is also close to almost everything you would want to see or do – the airport, the night life and shopping in Chaweng and most popular attractions and sporting activities – including Big Buddha, the golf course and elephant sanctuary- and with boats direct from the village to the surrounding islands and the enchanting Angthong Marine National Park activities.”