Samui Wining & Dining
SECRETS OF STYLE
We riffle through the pages of a resort called The Library!

We riffle through the pages of a resort called The Library!I’ve seen theme resorts in Thailand that were styled around a medieval castle or ‘The Wild West’. But here, at The Library, I’m talking about something far more subtle than this brash Disneyland approach – note the difference between ‘theme’ and ‘concept’. The Library is a concept resort and, indeed, one of the best-known in Thailand. It’s stylish. It’s uber-cool. The visual ideas here are super-subtle, and the conceptual statements are always fresh.

          

An example (and probably the most immediately noticeable one): The Library has dubbed all its rooms and suites ‘pages’. And the exclusive ‘secret’ villas are ‘chapters’. Whimsically, their very laid-back and upmarket restaurant is ‘The Page’. Then there’s ‘The Lib’ and ‘The Fit’, the first being a real library and the other the fitness room, both housed in minimalist cubes of glass.

          

That last one also gives you a hint. This is the centre of Chaweng. All around are resorts that have contracted architectural experts to find ways of cramming the maximum amount of accommodation into the space available. But as soon as you turn the corner, pass through the car park and enter under the screened gateway to the grounds of The Library, you’ll come to a halt. There’s a gigantic green lawn which runs in a straight swathe to the sea. And the neat, white, cuboid blocks of the rooms and suites are tucked along the edges (spaced well apart) under the shade of a fringe of mature and spreading trees.

          

And then the next thing that’ll stop you is the deep red swimming pool. All of these things are visual, so far. But where this effortlessly-stylish resort goes on to score more and more points is that the whole place is crammed with very gentle, almost whimsical, little statements – most of which you’ll only come to notice after you’ve spent a little time there.We riffle through the pages of a resort called The Library! Take, for example, the furniture in some of the areas. It doesn’t all match. There might be four types of table and several styles of chairs in one room – and each one is an individual custom-made work of art. But they all go together perfectly.

          

Think of an old-time court jester with bells on his cap, walking a tightrope. Then ask yourself, “is this person a highly-skilled tightrope walker or is he a jester?” Anyone can fool about with superficial jokes and gimmicks. But having the skill, the flair and the authority to walk a high-wire is a different matter. And this is The Library. Behind those lovely little visual statements and gently-conceptual gestures is an established, competent and very upmarket getaway, with standards and a quality of service that are the equal of many a 5-star resort.

          

Take the restaurant: The Page. The open-sided and L-shaped area conveys a sense of freshness and straightforward expertise. The furniture is quiet yet sturdily functional – no surprises here. The surprises come with the direction that the menu takes – it’s ‘Rare Old Kingdom Thai Cuisine’. The chef, Khun Chortip, has combed the whole of Thailand for ‘grandmother recipes’. This goes way beyond the usual ‘pad Thai-style’ offering of so many restaurants who feel the need to play it safe – to simply offer dishes that are proven favourites. You can get that sort of thing on every street corner. This is rare fine-dining, Thai-style.

          

I’d love to list all of the diverse and intriguing dishes here, but that’s beyond the scope of this story. But take for one example ‘Goong Krob Phad Prik Khing’ (stir-fry crispy shrimp in red curry). Back at the turn of the last century, Thailand’s most revered monarch, Rama V, was constantly traveling outside of Thailand as an international ambassador. Seemingly this was his all-time favourite dish. And everywhere he went he made sure that his chef carried a big jar of this special curry paste.

          

And unlike most ‘Thai restaurants’, The Page uses only the freshest and most tender of ingredients, including Wagyu beef from Australia and mussels from New Zealand: you’ll enjoy these particularly in the ’Samrab’.

          

The concept of Samrab is “to combine dishes that complement each other and share them on the table”. In a way this is similar to the idea of pairing a wine with a particular dish. But in this case it’s a pairing of four dishes chosen from four main groupings! It’s usual for a guest to pick one dish from each group – a set of four dishes is perfect for two people sharing. This is a unique approach and it’s the first time I’ve come across it.

          

The Library seems to have more secrets than Harry Potter, and there’s a lot more yet to be told. But right now you’ll have to settle for a superb restaurant and just a few of their many ‘secrets of style’!

          

Rob De Wet


 


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