Indisputably, the Amari Emerald Cove on Koh Chang is among the more superior properties on the island. It offers all the luxuries and the “feel” of a resort while being contained enough to be cosy; one has one’s privacy and yet, one has the option to mingle in the company of other guests. The guest profile here is mainly Swedish, Russian and German, with the Thais coming down for long weekends.
You enter the hotel through a small friendly lobby that has the typical Thai high vaulted ceiling. No fans, for the lobby is open on all sides. Water bodies in the form of canals and lotus ponds abound throughout the property. If you imagine this as one vast courtyard, then the swimming pool lies in the centre, beyond which is the sea. Flanking the pool to the right side are the rooms, while to the left you have the multi-cuisine restaurant and the pool bar.
The 165-key hotel is divided into three main room categories: Deluxe, Deluxe Ocean Facing, and Suites. The rooms too are built around an inner ‘courtyard’ which is a green space. A quirky touch is that the room numbers are written on the floor beside the room rather than on the door. The interior room décor has simple, mounted stone sculptures in the place of paintings or wall hangings that offer a harmonious, soothing overtone to the furnishings and wooden furniture. All rooms have balconies that come with towel racks, two wooden chairs and a table.
There are 79-rooms in the Deluxe category, which offer a tropical garden view. They measure at 50sqm and so do the Deluxe ocean facing rooms, also 79 in number. With the exception of a DVD player which is present only in the latter category, all the rooms come with bath tubs and have the usual room amenities like tea/coffee maker, electronic safe, large screen TV, umbrellas (which is very wise seeing as how we are in the tropics) and two complimentary bottles of water daily. All rooms are equipped with ceiling fans and of course, air conditioning. The Deluxe ocean facing rooms are designed to accommodate an extra bed (at THB 1,500 inclusive of breakfast and taxes) if so desired. The bathrooms are spacious and comfortable. Bathroom amenities are thoughtful and plentiful and replenished in sufficient quantity daily. Ice machines are located on every floor; the first time around the ice is free, after which it is chargeable.
The seven suites are very different from the rest of the rooms and not just in size – which is a staggering 106sqm. For starters, there is a daybed sofa in front of the TV; extremely comfortable. The dining table is shaped like a wooden slab, with four armchairs instead of upright seating and the balcony has two recliner chairs. These rooms come with views of the pool and the sea, with the bedroom totally giving out on to an amazing sea panorama. The bathrooms here are quite huge; you can open the window over the bath tub to give on to a sea view. Irons and ironing boards are provided in the suites; for the other rooms, it is on request. The suites get six complimentary bottles of water per day.
F&B options include the 50-cover Italian restaurant, Sassi, which also offers a PDR of 6-8 pax; the 72-cover Just Thai; the 100-cover Cove Terrace that serves international cuisine and is also the breakfast venue; Breeze Bar with a live Filippino band daily except Sundays, and the Pool Bar with 22-covers that offers a 50% discount on all drinks during Happy Hours of 4-6pm. In-room dining is available. The eucalyptus scented cold towels presented at all meals in the restaurants is a very welcome and refreshing touch. The Amari standard of a lavish breakfast holds true at this property as well. The executive chef is good and the hotel should hang on to him; although the commis chefs do tend to get rattled at breakfast time, nonetheless, they are a cheerful bunch. F&B service is well trained too. What sets the Amari apart from its immediate competition in this regard is that they offer full and half board options to their guests. Food prices are reasonable. There is also the quaint ‘popcorn movie’ service – for just THB 350 baht, you get four bottles of beer and a tub of popcorn, with the proviso that this can be enjoyed only in the privacy of your room. Overall, the hotel offers good value for money.
Recreational facilities include a pool table and a small library below the Breeze Bar. There is an outdoor Jacuzzi pool, a kids pool and the bigger pool that overlooks the sea. It is the first time I have witnessed plenty of sunbeds in stock so that there is no infighting amongst the guests! Come the night and the trees around the pool area are lit with fairy lights in the night, giving a magical fairytale touch to the place.
The Fitness Centre is open from 6am-10pm and has two rooms – one for cardio machines and the other for free weights. Drinking water, towels and cold towels are provided complimentary. Apart from this, complimentary activities for guest pleasure include yoga, Thai boxing, Thai cooking classes, water aerobics and Zumba classes. There is a ‘Kids Corner’ (chargeable) where batik painting, kite making, doll painting etc is taught. The hotel uses the services of an outside operator, PADI Diving Centre (help desk located on the premises) for kayaking, scuba diving, and the renting of Hobie Cats, Laser and Optimist boats.
To relax and pamper yourself, head for the Breeze Beauty Salon or the Breeze Spa with five treatment cabanas, all of which are sea-facing and done up in restful hues of pale and cloud blue. A silver lotus placed in front of the room signifies that it is occupied. It is the most soothing atmosphere in a hotel spa that I have come across in a long time. The bathrooms here have wooden slatted doors and come equipped with lockers. Every month, the spa organises thematic promotions; for instance, in February it was the Rose for the season of love, in March, all treatments were centred around the Mango and in April, the theme is Jasmine. The Amari has also created some distinctive mood massages that are its signature therapies.
Meeting facilities include three function rooms – Wanakita, Cholada and Sikarin – that can accommodate between 30-360 pax depending on the style of seating. Two computers and a printer are available for complimentary guest use. There is free wifi throughout the property.
Housekeeping does tend to get a bit sloppy at times, but there is nothing major to complain about; it is hard to get good staff on Koh Chang. Pest control here is quite commendable for such a resort, especially when compared to its neighbours. Most of the front office staff are friendly and helpful and oblige you by calling for a ‘taxi’ at all times – bear in mind that these are the songtaews and not taxi cabs.
The Amari maintains the stretch of beach along its property and so the light sandy beach with soft sand is clean from debris, however, the beach along this side is full of broken coral bits so one has to look sharp. Nonetheless, it is among the best beaches on the island; secluded, unpolluted, free from hawkers and good for swimming.
The Amari Emerald Cove is located on Klong Prao beach in Koh Chang. Moving south from here are the Kai Bae, Hat Tha Naam (Lonely beach) Bailan and Bang Bao beaches. Although Lonely beach is typically known as the party beach, this no longer holds true as each beach offers pubs and eating options; Kae Bae in fact, has its own ‘Walking Street.’ There are plenty of ATM’s and 7Elevens and I counted at least five Tesco’s. Money exchange centres are limited. Moving north you come across Chai Chet, Hat Kai Mook (Pearl beach) and Hat Sai Khao (White Sand beach.) There are two night markets daily between Klong Prao and Pearl beaches. Just before Chai Chet beach is the turn-off for the Klong Plu waterfall; a waste of time going here if it is not the rainy season, as the waterfall is a mere dribble. It is a walk through the jungle to get to the waterfall, so make sure you carry your sneakers. Much further ahead is the Klong Nonsi waterfall. Most tourists hire motorbikes to get around Koh Chang (usually THB 200 per day.)
To get to Koh Chang you can fly into Trat airport and then take a minivan or taxi from there to Thammachat pier from where you get the ferry to Koh Chang. You can usually buy the combination van/ferry ticket; price varies from THB 250-400 according to the beach you are headed to on Chang. Most travellers to the island simply take the bus from Bangkok’s Ekkamai station at THB 275 per head. Once at Thammachat pier, take the ferry to Sapalot pier (for beaches like Klong Prao or Kai Bae) at THB 80 per head. At Sapalot, you can take the shared songtaew (tempo-like vehicle) at THB 50 per head which will drop you to your hotel if you have not already arranged with your hotel for the pick-up.
AMARI EMERALD COVE KOH CHANG
Tel: +66 39552000
Fax: +66 39552001