Sometimes referred to as the little sister of Phuket because of its smaller size and lower visitor numbers, Koh Samui is anything but inferior when it comes to beauty and charm.
The first thing visitors see when they arrive by plane to this stunning island in the Gulf of Thailand is the quaint airport which despite its boutique, tropical style is a fully functional international airport that connects Koh Samui to some of Asia's largest cities several times daily.
Until a few years ago, Bangkok Airways' monopoly on the privately owned airport meant flights were fairly pricey, but the route between Koh Samui and Bangkok is now shared with Thai Airways. Although prices are still typically more expensive than a flight from Bangkok to Phuket, this has increased the number of available flights to Samui and at the same time provided a boost for its boutique appeal.
One of the most prominent trends in the Koh Samui tourism landscape in recent years is the success of the private villa segment. Although the island has offered private villas for sale or rent for years, this particular market segment was severely affected by the global financial crisis. it has made a full recovery and several private as well as corporate investors are now looking into this market segment for second homes, holiday homes or even as a corporate retreat for executives and clients.
With a year-round mild climate, Koh Samui doesn't have Phuket's extended low season months and tourist arrivals are relatively steady throughout the year, making it an excellent place to invest and optimise rental income from a luxury villa. The economic advantages of renting a villa are also a factor to consider. If a group that is travelling together is large enough and the length of stay is a week or above, it is often cheaper to rent a villa than to book several rooms in a hotel or resort.
From an owner's or investor's perspective, the continued popularity of Thailand as a global travel destination ensures a steady stream of ever more sophisticated travellers looking for new opportunities and unique, individual experiences. In terms of facilities and services, the types of villas on Samui are now as varied as the types of resorts on the island. Many are multi-bedroom mansions,while some are more modest and fall more in the category of bungalows or cottages, offering one or two bedrooms.
These properties were often built in the early days of the villa craze and were perhaps not even intended for rental use, but rather as a second home for a long term visitor. However, they offer a good opportunity for those travelling on a budget, of those traveling in smaller groups to experience the uniqueness of staying in a villa as opposed to a large resort.