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The moment you turn off from the hurly burly of the Samui ring road on to the calm and wooded drive that leisurely winds its way up to the lobby of this impeccably presented establishment, one has the instant sensation of an all enveloping serenity. ‘Vana’, an old Sanskrit word for forest and ‘Belle’, the french for beautiful, could not be more appropriate.
Built in 2015, the hotel was conceived and designed in a sublime Feng Shui style that is such a pleasure on the eyes and invokes a feast of well being in the soul. The calm, open air reception flows so naturally from its lofty position at the top of the hill down past beautifully crafted water features containig a myriad of lush and verdent plants ultimately leading the guest to surely some of the finest beach frontage that Koh Samui has to offer. A wonderful environment in which to spend a leisurely and tranquil afternoon experiencing the Vana Belle Saturday brunch. Following the design theme, Vana Belle’s signature restaurant, ‘Kiree’ is a well considered space that feels instantly welcoming, more of a lounge ambience than simple restaurant with superbly crafted couches and immaculate soft furnishings in a well proportioned, bright and airy dining room which overlooks the private beach and across the shimmering sea to a distant horizon.
Luxurating in the relaxed opulence with an offered glass of Bollinger Champagne, one is lulled into the afternoon’s gastronomic adventure. Unlike many other hotels and restaurants that offer a brunch option, at Vana Belle not only do you have the choice of the magnificent buffet spread but guests are also invited to choose from a selection of delectable offerings from the chef’s A La Carte menu. At the beautifully presented buffet stations we were spoiled for choice with a variety of fresh seafood ranging from; creamy French Oysters, snowy Alaskan King Crab, succulent Phuket Lobster, home cured Smoked Salmon and some of the plumpest New Zealand Green lipped Mussels I have ever seen. Accompanied by a create your own Caesar salad, warm crusty homemade bread rolls and a chilled glass of golden hued Pinot Gris we slipped under the spell of the Vana Belle culinary team’s magic. To follow we regaled ourselves with the eighteen month old home aged Parma Ham, cut in fine almost transluscent wafers that just melted on the tongue with a rich and smokey finish. In addition to the ham, there was an astounding variety of traditional cured Italian Salamis and a cheese selection offering ripe mature Brie, a wonderfully arrogant Gorgonzola and a sharp, full flavoured vintage Cheddar.
The Wagyu beef Rib-eye carving station was my next port of call. It is not for no reason that this Japanese extravagance is renowned worldwide as the best beef in the world, and when it has been prepared with passion and talent as here by the executive chef at Vana Belle, you can really experience the justification for that reputation. The well coloured outer crust of this tender joint of meat yields willingly and without effort to the knife as ribbons of finely marbled medium rare beef fall from the joint in a cascade of wonderous beauty. Add to this golden roasted Potatoes with light fluffy interiors, fresh garden vegetables and a Yorkshire pudding that made me seriously question just how good my mothers really was, and to add to the decadance, a drizzling of a pungent and generous Truffle jus that perfectly complemented the ensemble. A particularly robust 2014 Sydney Harbour Shiraz, perfectly peppery and full of rounded tannins, was an ideal accompaniment for this king of meats.
The A La Carte menu, should you be so inclined has a fabulous choice of entrees which highlights some of the best prepared food available on the island today, including; Lobster scrambled egg, Fois Gras omelette, Eggs Florentine, sliced ripe Avocado & yellow Mango salad, cold curried Crab salad, roasted Snow fish, seared Salmon steak, Lobster Thermidor and Mussels Provencale are amongst a delicious list of produce freshly prepared to order.
The selection of desserts on offer is no less remarkable so one should endeavour to save a little room to experience the delights of the highly indulgent Valhrona chocolate buffet. A chocolate fountain burbles away quietly to itself just waiting for you to dip into its folding sheets of falling liquid chocolate with homemade biscuits or fresh fruit skewers. The chocolate cheesecake was a particular favourite of ours with an intense and satisfying full cocoa flavour and a delightful cream cheese filling that was lighter than an angel’s sigh. Maccaroons, cakes, chocolate Truffles, oven fresh pastries and an extensive tropical fruit selection once again all add to highlight the generosity of this magnificent, all inclusive Saturday brunch.
If you appreciate a charming relaxed environment, well prepared delicacies and feel like indulging yourself with family and friends on a lazy weekend afternoon then a visit to Vana Belle is not to be missed, just enjoy, you will not be disappointed.