In 2013, John Taylor decided to invite his closest family to Koh Samui for his 50th birthday celebrations. Here is John's account of the holiday.
"For my 50th birthday we wanted to do something a bit different and decided to take our immediate family to Thailand where we had rented a private villa for a week. My wife, Emma, had celebrated her birthday with a big party for friends at home the year before, but we felt this would be a great way to spend more time with the people we don't get to see as often as we want to. We invited both our parents and my brother and his family on the trip, which meant we were 12 people, including children.
One of the hardest things about booking the trip was finding just the right villa. Not because of a lack, but rather because there were quite a few that could take two families, each with two children and two sets of grandparents. The youngest in our party was 12 and the oldest 79, so we needed something to cater to everyone while also allowing everyone their own space.
I found an excellent website that allowed me to narrow my search using search functions such as location, price and amount of sleeping guests. In the end, we settled on an 8 bedroom villa on the west coast that gave everyone enough room while also having plenty of space to socialise and spend some quality time together.
Once we had booked the villa we were asked whether we wanted help to arrange some trips, which was great because we hadn't visited the island before. Our parents preferred to just stay around the villa, but my brother and I both took the children snorkelling one day at the Ang Thong National Marine Park, which was one of the highlights of the stay. The rental agency we used helped arrange for a private speedboat and we had a whole day of exploring the many small islands in the marine park, including the spectacular one with the salt water lake.
With so many people in our party, we preferred to stay at the villa most nights and we only went into Chaweng for dinner on a few occasions. We had included a chef in the rental package and each morning he asked if we had some special requests before going to the market to shop for that night's dinner. We had some excellent Thai meals and he was very generous with his knowledge of cooking traditional Thai food. One day my wife and sister in law went with him to the market and they ended up spending the afternoon with him almost as if we had booked a cooking course. To be hones, it was the best holiday of my life and we'll definitely be going back to Koh Samui.