This post is one in a multi-part series.
Frédéric Colas has been travelling the globe with his family since July 2011 raising money to build an African school for Burkina Faso’s Cissé Yargo village. Every time a Facebook friend or “real time” friend hosts the family, the Colases donate $100 to their “We Like the World” project (when they stay at a Four Seasons, the Colases donate $250 per night to the project). In addition, for each person who friends the project on Facebook, the family donates $1. The journey ends in Burkina Faso this month (June).
An unforgettable birthday! My husband and daughter organised a wonderful, two-day surprise for my 45th. All I knew was that it would happen in Koh Samui, an alluring, coconut grove-filled resort island in the south of Thailand. What I didn’t know was that it would unfold at the beautiful Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui.
We stayed in a villa with its own private plunge pool, surrounded by lush jungle, up on a hill overlooking the beach and Gulf of Thailand. That was magic—and it was just the beginning…
As it turned out, my family had planned a sumptuous birthday dinner for me with the hotel manager. My daughter Héloïse arranged for a delicious chocolate-mango cake for dessert, specially made for me by the resort chef. And to top it off, my family presented me with two beautiful Burmese rings and a purse.
For the finale, we joined an amazing traditional fire-dancing show on the beach. It was just stunning with the dark sea all lit up in the background. Then we lit a Thai lantern to send our family wishes up into the air, a very important Thai tradition. We watched the lantern as it flew high into the sky and disappeared into the Koh Samui night.
There was more: the next day, they’d requested a special Mum-and-daughter pampering session at the Four Seasons spa with Naree Sukyak. Dad delivered Héloïse and me to the beauty salon for a side-by-side coconut pedicure and manicure. What a treat to share this relaxing moment in such a place with my eight-year-old girl. She was very excited, of course, as it was her first real manicure/pedicure ever.
(If you visit, the resort has just launched mini spa treatments, all of which you can enjoy from the comfort of your beachside recliner). Manicure and martini, anyone? And if spa-ing isn’t your daughter’s bag, have her trot off to the resort’s (complimentary) Kids For All Seasons* kids’ club while you indulge.
Ensconced in the spa—a series of covered verandas—Naree took good care of me. She is a 34-year-old, very elegant Thai woman who smiles easily. She has been working as an aesthetician for the Four Seasons Koh Samui spa since it opened five years ago. Naree honed her skills first at school, then through on-the-job training at the resort. What she likes most about her job, she told me, is to make people feel happy; to see a radiant, relaxed smile on their faces when they leave her spa.
And that’s exactly what happened to us. I can tell you, that treatment was remarkable: two hours of laidback lounging for a pedicure and a manicure (one hour each). The frosting on the cake? A lovely dip in a fragrant bath of flowers, leaves, lime and coconut milk. Héloïse wanted it to last forever. Finally, we got a scrubbing with a coconut exfoliation cream, followed by a gentle, aromatic massage using coconut oil.
Naree confided that she feels lucky to work at the Four Seasons because the resort treats staff well and helps employees develop their abilities through training. She has even learned English here. Her husband Pok also works at the resort as a bellman driving a buggy. So they get to commute to work together on their motorbike. The only hard part, she says, is that her son stays at her mother’s place, so she doesn’t get to see him as often as she’d like. Héloïse agreed that she would find it very difficult to be separated from her mum like that.
Héloïse was surprisingly persistent with her steady stream of questions on the resort’s different manicure products. She was amazed how long it takes to get fabulous looking nails. She was also very proud to be pampered like a grown-up lady, though struggled deciding on just the right nail colour. She finally settled on a feminine and frilly pink (no surprises there!).
I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy manicures and pedicures for years, but thanks to Naree, this one proved by far the most exquisite. What a memorable birthday treat with my special girl.
This post is one in a multi-part series.
Read more about Koh Samui in Four Seasons Magazine.
*Kids For All Seasons (KFAS) is a Four Seasons complimentary recreational and educational program for children of resort guests. Most KFAS clubs are designed for youth four to 12 years old, and open daily from 9 to 5. (Younger children can often join KFAS with a nanny or parent, or resorts can arrange for babysitting.) But details vary from property to property, so check the resort’s website for more information.
Kids can go all day or just for an hour or two. Activities inside and out include games, sports, music, treasure hunts, swimming, arts and crafts, cultural education, environmental preservation work and yoga. Not your average camp, the VIP offerings are pretty extraordinary—for example, at Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, it’s like “holidaying in an aquarium,” as one blogger puts it. Kids get to meet with a marine biologist to learn about the exotic local sea creatures, such as flying fish and parrot fish.
Estelle Colas is an art aficionado with a passion for making a difference in the world. She has worked in advertising since 1991, mainly with the Havas Group. Estelle is currently Global Brand Director at BETC Euro RSCG. Though originally from France, she has lived in the United States and Belgium, and travelled the world extensively. Estelle lives in Paris with her husband Frédéric and their nine-year-old daughter, Héloïse.
View all posts from Estelle
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