Frangipani is without question the unmistakable signature scent of The Surin. A heady and intoxicating aroma I’ve come to associate with this luxury beach resort, its ubiquity is all down to the countless tropical plumeria trees dotted throughout the resort’s extensive grounds. It was a poignant signal that we’d finally made it back again, greeted like old friends by the front of house team as they offered chilled ginger tea and strung jasmine garlands to welcome us after our long flight.

The last time I reviewed The Surin, I hailed it as being nothing short of the perfect luxury resort. So you can imagine how delighted we were to be spending another week here, especially after the disappointing turn of events we’d had over Christmas at one of YTL’s other beachfront properties. In light of my extensive commentary from our last visit, I decided to focus this review mainly on the enhancements and differences we encountered a year on.

When we visited in 2014, we hardly ever left the resort as we were perfectly content being self-contained in a bubble of pampering. It was a similar sort of feeling this time around as well. The cottages still feel spacious, well maintained and neatly organized between the lush tropical foliage – a stunning backdrop for catching sea views and rays of sun at opportune moments. The service staff at breakfast consisted of many familiar faces, and they continue to be the most polished team, eager and tireless in their delivery. I had a number of different spa treatments including deep tissue and jetlag recovery massages, and they were all exceptionally delivered. Pansea beach was even more glorious this time around, with the calm waters devoid of any jellyfish presence, which was a rather unpleasant experience I’m glad we didn’t have to repeat.

While the majority of services were vastly improved (including housekeeping), the one area where we felt the resort had taken a few steps back was with its dining options. While the food wasn’t awful by any stretch of the imagination, we thought the service lacked the efficiency we experienced at breakfast – especially at the Beach restaurant, where one evening we waited over 45 minutes just for starters to arrive. We were pleased to see the Thai restaurant had been moved outdoors, however the tasting menu was not as good as it was from our first visit. Everything just tasted the same: very sweet, and buried under lemongrass and chilli. The casual poolside restaurant and the bar service was very good when it was good, a bit indifferent at other times. Subsequently, we did go in search of other options, which is a shame as we would have happily spent the time/money at the Resort, at our own leisure.

The Verdict
We couldn’t believe how quickly the week went by, and with the exception of the F&B being a little under par this time around, everything else was very much to our satisfaction. This was a quieter and much more mellow time of the year to visit, and we loved it. Pansea beach remains one of the finest you’ll encounter anywhere in the world. Considering the recent ban of beach loungers on the majority of Thailand’s beaches, and the fact that all beaches are by law public and open to anyone, it’s a rarity to have such peace and seclusion on an island that many consider overrun and tired. The Surin is testament that discrete luxury can still be experienced where you least expect, and once again I left a little piece of my heart on departure. Until next time…

Hotel – 10/10
Experience – 9/10