As the sleek white cruiser slid alongside the Laem Hin jetty, a happy band of passengers boarded and headed across the turbid channel towards The Village Resort on Coconut Island known in Thai as Koh Maphrao. I could feel myself relax and a slight, contented smile began to lightly settle upon my lips.
It takes just ten minutes to cruise across the narrow channel separating Coconut Island from Phuket, yet it’s like entering a quieter, gentler parallel universe. Disembarking at the resort’s private jetty, I was immediately claimed by a feeling of tropical island tranquillity. Waves gently lapped pristine sands, while huge palms waved to the deep blue sky in verdant salute.
This is exactly how life in a tropical escape should be I thought as I was led past sun-loungers aside azure swimming pools; the resort’s open-air beachfront bar/restaurant; then into the green expanse of the resort’s huge grounds where, quite noticeably, there were happy smiles everywhere.
I had come over to review The Village’s recently renovated fine dining restaurant KOKO, and I thought what better way to build an appetite than with a bit of sea kayaking along the beach past the little Muslim fishing village, then a swim in one of the resort’s huge pools? Alternative appetite-building activities might have included cycling the quiet traffic-free island lanes, sailing a Hobie Cat, or hitting the gym, such are the wide array of gastro-stimulators on offer at The Village.
A shower, followed by an icy cold drink while watching the glorious sunset across the waters from the resort’s beachfront bar brought me happily to the dining hour, while that slight smile upon my lips had blossomed into a full-blown grin.
KOKO sits upon a grassy hillock and commands wonderful views over the lush amphitheatre of the resort’s tropical grounds and the lapping waters of the bay, with the shore lights of Phuket dancing in the distance and seeming a million miles away.
A buzzy, circular cocktail bar welcomes you into KOKO’s bosom, where resident mixologist Alex wove his Kazakhstani magic, getting the evening’s proceedings underway with his sensational, fruity and refreshing house special drink.
There’s both indoor and outdoor dining, the latter on a lovely terrace where I sat ringed by palm fronds, the Loy Krathong moon and attendant glittering stars rising above me and the reflections of the lights of Phuket dancing on the distant waters.
KOKO is equally inviting for a lovers’ tryst, a quiet supper with a group of friends, or a boisterous family meal. All are equally welcomed and at home in this relaxed yet stylish restaurant.
The cuisine takes you upon a gustatory trip around Asia with Japanese, Thai and pan-Asian dishes bounteously represented both within the fixed price buffet and the brimming a la carte selection.
My appetite, well stoked by my pre-prandial exercise, I started with a light, fresh selection of lobster California Maki, Oriental tacos and tuna tartare, then an Asian-inspired pumpkin soup.
The main courses, including Masaman smoked lamb shank, Japanese curry with beef Katsu, and grilled salmon with black soy continued the delicious pan-Asian extravaganza and left only a tiny corner of unfilled tummy space for the seductive dessert plate.
KOKO boasts a fine selection of beverages covering all the main varietals and geographies and ordering by the glass is an excellent way to enjoy some variety and is well-priced.
As the ideal antidote to the stresses of Phuket and the perfect place to dine, KOKO and The Village Resort on Coconut Island deliver the ultimate knock-out punch!
For more information please visit: thevillage-coconutisland.com