The Yorkshire-born woman who has opened a new beach resort on stunning Thai island of Koh Samui

Yorkshire-born Susan Fields and her partner have opened a beach resort on the stunning island Thai island of Koh Samui. Kate Morfoot paid them a visit.

Koh Samui is a stunning island off the East coast of Thailand in the Gulf of Siam. Only an hour’s flight from Bangkok, you will find palm-fringed beaches, magnificent temples, beautiful beachside restaurants, and much more.

We checked into Tembo Beach Club and Resort, the perfect place to holiday and soak up the Thai vibe. Opened just over two years ago by Yorkshire-born Susan Fields and her partner David Birchall, Tembo has become the “go-to” beach club by locals and expats alike.

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They have a loyal customer base from both the UK and around the world who come to holiday in the resort’s range of bungalows adjacent to the swimming pool and Bangrak beach.

The new beach club on the island of Koh SamuiThe new beach club on the island of Koh Samui
The new beach club on the island of Koh Samui

There are nine spacious villas with balconies to choose from, and one generous beachside villa directly overlooking palm tree adorned beach, with three more rooms planned in the coming months.

The resort, nestled amidst colourful tropical gardens, has been expertly designed by Susan. Her attention to detail and personal touches throughout the villas and the resort are extraordinary.

The white-on-white décor gives a sense of space and cleanliness, accented by luxurious Jim Thompson colourful Thai fabric cushions, 300+ thread count bedlinen, luxurious pillows and fluffy towels. Immaculately presented and serviced daily, all rooms feature private balconies, walk-in rain showers, air conditioning and ceiling fans.

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Overlooking the crystal blue sea, Tembo offers all day dining, starting with a daily breakfast included in the room rate). The breakfast options are deliciously healthy and indulgent, depending on your desire for the day.

Susan FieldsSusan Fields
Susan Fields

Tembo Beach Club has a unique vibe providing a relaxed atmosphere where the music is spot on for creating ideal pool-side ambience that is perfect for chilling and chatting by the bar.

In-house guests have priority access to the sun loungers and day beds on the terrace. You will have the perfect day sunbathing, beachside dining and swimming in the warm, clear sea or the decent-sized swimming pool.

Soon to be opened at Tembo include a “chef’s table” intimate dining restaurant, a European-style delicatessen and an art gallery and café. A colourful aspect of Tembo is its boutique, a treasure trove of colourful and affordable resort wear, accessories and homeware. All the items in the shop are curated by Susan on her travels and include items from Bali, Italy, Spain, India and Thailand. For an added Thai experience, book onto the resort’s Thai Cookery Course.

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Some tourists hire mopeds, but we hired a reliable driver who was good value. Just a ten-minute drive from the Resort is Fisherman’s Village.

Susan Fields and her partner have opened a beach resort on the stunning island Thai island of Koh SamuiSusan Fields and her partner have opened a beach resort on the stunning island Thai island of Koh Samui
Susan Fields and her partner have opened a beach resort on the stunning island Thai island of Koh Samui

In a nod to the Chinese heritage of the descendants of the Hainanese fishermen who migrated there, you can spot red Chinese lanterns along the busy streets of shops and beachside restaurants which sit alongside Thai massage shops.

There’s an interesting array of independent shops selling high quality clothes and jewellery, as well as spa and massage establishments, beachside restaurants and a street market. The most lively nights are Monday and Friday when there is a “walking street” market.

Also worth visiting is Coco Tam’s bar and restaurant which hosts fantastic nightly fire shows.

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There are many fabulous restaurants to choose from. After sunset cocktails at a beach bar, followed by a fun time at the brand-new ‘The Lounge’ in Choeng Mon which features regular live entertainment, we headed there for an incredible evening of Italian food.

We visited the Samui Elephant Haven where many elephants have been rescued from hard labour, street begging, unsafe situations and, indeed, many years of being ridden with hard metal seating pinned to their backs.

On the island, it’s hard not to notice how many street dogs there are. Although they are homeless, they are under the watchful eye of dog-loving people, one of whom is Susan from Tembo, who feeds around 30 dogs daily.

She has rescued several island dogs, together with Nikki who runs Pariah Dogs. This organisation has rescued 36 dogs and provides rehabilitation and a safe haven with the aim of finding them their forever home.

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The Big Buddha Temple built to protect the people on the island in 1972 is one of Koh Samui’s top attractions. You can see the 12-metre-tall Buddha from the aircraft and from various locations around the island. We walked up the 72 steps to the top, where we enjoyed a spectacular location sunset.

A short car journey away is the temple of Wat Khunaram. Although, it is not one of the most beautiful temples on the island, it has been made famous by the mummified Buddhist monk, Luang Pho Daeng, who died there while meditating in 1979.

Wearing a pair of sunglasses, his upright remains are left in his mudra pose with legs folded – all on display in a glass cabinet. It’s an extraordinary sight and one where both Thai people and tourists come together to pay their respects.

Located just off Samui’s south coast lies the small island of Ko Madsum which is better known as ‘Pig Island’. The pigs can be seen wandering along the beach and have become quite a tourist attraction in their own right. The white sandy beach and stunning blue sea provides a perfect day trip .

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The safe and friendly island of Koh Samui is magical and has something for everyone, whether you want to relax on a beach or explore and soak up the Thai culture. It’s an island you can return to time and again and find something wondrous to explore.​​​

Follow Kate’s journey to Thailand on Instagram @Love2Eat2Travel

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