Welcome to Villa Karpe Diem, the epitome of chic luxury. In the world of lifestyle travel, there are villas, and then there are villas. As one arrives at the latter, there is an inner voice -complete with an instrumental soundtrack – that confirms you have ‘made it’. This is one short story of such a journey.
Whether a seasoned traveller to Koh Samui or a first-time nomad, there is a common consensus of first impressions that can be truncated down to three letters…WOW! And for many, it all begins upon landing at the privately built and owned Samui International Airport (USM). Having spent most of my adult life out of a suitcase, there isn’t another single airport that arguably offers such a delightful experience as that of landing on this tiny strip in the middle of a tropical island. After landing, passengers are shuttled by a trolly – reminiscent of a Disneyland theme park ride – to traditional open-air pavilions. Simple, yet efficient, it doesn’t take long to collect your luggage and hop in a cosy and spacious air-conditioned van. From there, it’s on to a quick tour of popular Chaweng Beach en route to your hill-top oasis.
One thing I love about Koh Samui, being Thailand’s second-largest island, is that it offers something for everyone. One can get lost in the hustle and bustle of shopping in districts such as Chaweng (where you can pretty much find anything), or swiftly retreat above or far from other humans. As much, or as little excitement as you want, the choice is yours.
However, if you’re lucky to secure a stay at the rarely available Karpe Diem, your experience is guaranteed to be unique, to say the least. Nestled in the lush tropical hillside – high above the rest – as one pulls up, they quickly gain a sense of relief and well-deserved privacy. The exclusive neighbourhood is a mecca for a few of the world’s most renown architects and designers. With Karpe Diem arguably being the area’s flagship.
Harmony with nature, along with an endless sense of light and space is an evident theme of the property. The well-maintained hillside garden paths appear effortlessly fluid with this sprawling four-bedroom complex. And this is just to get to the villa’s entrance. Once you open the door and reveal the expansive open layout, with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass, further excitement sets in. A few more steps through the heavenly crisp white interior and prepare to be amazed once more. Your eyes soon set gaze upon the two sparkling blue infinity pools flowing into the majestic turquoise waters of Thailand’s Gulf.
“Am I really here?” I had to ask myself. Admittedly, it was an emotional moment. All the accumulated stress in life had dissipated and was replaced with a sense of calmness and accomplishment. I imagine that was a somewhat similar feeling to what the first Apollo astronauts experienced when they looked back and saw the same brilliant colours of the ‘pale blue dot’. Fortune favours the brave, but in order to gain that favour, you must first ‘Karpe Diem’. It was in that moment that the subtle, now obvious, villa’s meaning had revealed itself.
Following a few minutes of being in a hypnotic trance staring off to the horizon, we were given a tour. The staff graciously guided us up the hillside garden, above the main building, to the panoramic gym and award-winning spa. Complete with sauna and plunge pool/jacuzzi, it was one more ‘feather in the cap’ for an already stunning property. From the upper building, we were led down the internal glass-encased atrium stairway to the entertainment room and billiards table to the second infinity pool with swim-up bar, BBQ area, and yet another lounge. For those looking to host ‘an affair to remember’, this is your place.
The tour alone took a better part of an hour to explore the massive complex. With four oversized bedrooms, each with beautiful ensuites, there is more than enough ample space for the family and friends to enjoy this oasis in the sky.
Then it was time for sunset. The colossal clouds retain and reverberate the sun’s final rays of light and faithfully refract the warmest colours. The day’s parting gift of vibrant red, orange, and vividly purple tones paint the evening sky. Truly a treat that never gets old. The one thing better than Thailand is that of Thailand at night. As the absence of sunlight rushes in, the inherent local culture has adapted by lighting their towns and buildings with a spectrum of vibrant neon colours. To the distant north, without polluting the sky, is the palet emanating from Chaweng Beach, and above is the endless Milkyway.
Even at night, Karpe Diem commands the centre of attention. From the pool to the building’s accented blue LEDs and candles, sundown has only marked the next chapter in your experience here. It was to say, inspiring. Though the villa was designed for the ultimate in relaxation, ironically, it motivated and inspired me to work harder and seize the opportunity. With that, we performed a second round of filming in order to capture the sophisticated splendour for both day and night.