My gluten free holiday experience in Thailand

We decided to treat ourselves to a winter sun holiday, As always I was slightly nervous about eating away from the safety of my own kitchen, due to having Coeliac disease and being extremely intolerant to even the tiniest amount of gluten . Additionally I am intolerant to yeast ( vinegar, wine, soy etc ) and onions. The thought of some winter sun was enough to persuade me.

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Mr S booked to stay at W Retreat hotel in Koh Samui I left it up to him to chose a hotel and location in Thailand. I looked forward to it all being a surprise, I wasn’t so much surprised as shocked when we arrived at 10pm at the hotel. Dark, flashing lights and loud music greeted us after a 6hr flight. I thought we had arrived at a night club. where had Mr S booked!

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Sometimes its not good to make judgments immediately, especially after a long flight. The hotel looked very different in the day light, modern, trendy and very cool. Not what I was expecting from a Thailand hotel, but the longer we were there the more we both loved it.

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Our room was on the very highest level of the hotel complex, up a steep hill with 180 degree view of the coastline. Just amazing!

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A quick phone call and a friendly member of staff driving a golf buggy would appear to take you to and from your room to the beach, bar etc or you could brave the hills and many stair cases on foot. Not a hotel for someone with mobility issues of any kind, as there are not lifts to ever floor of the hotel.

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The bar area is situated on the top floor of the main hotel building, a DJ plays every evening here and the area takes on a club feel.

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The next level down is the main restaurant The kitchen table. This is where we went for breakfast everyday, you can chose between a buffet breakfast with as you can imagine everything you could possibly want for breakfast from a very british bacon and eggs to Asian food. We chose to eat a la cart which works out cheaper if you are only eating omelettes bacon etc and fruit or yoghurt, with tea or coffee. I had some delicious breakfasts at W, very thankful I can eat eggs.

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Lunch and evening meals are also available at this restaurant which has a open balcony ,if you chose to eat alfresco. A good choice of European and Thai food is on offer. I was able to enjoy steak, fish, prawns etc with delicious vegetables with mash or rice. There were many things I couldn’t have, chips, deep fried food etc But I was very happy to have the selection of gluten free food. I would loved to have seen just one gluten free pudding!

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The hotel has a food and drink Insider Sea Torres who is responsible for making sure your dining experience at the hotel is everything you hoped for. She made it her job to make sure she understood all of my intolerances and worked with the chefs and restaurant staff to make sure they understood my requirements. This made me feel very relaxed at meal times, something that rarely happens even in UK restaurants. Sea suggested we might like to do a cookery course with the chef.

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This turned out to be a great learning experience for both Chef Pepsi and ourselves. We made a ‘ free from’ thai green curry, chilli beef salad, coconut and chicken soup and sweet and sour prawns.

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During our stay at the hotel, Chef Pepsi invented a ‘free from’ Pad Thai and Thai veggie curry it was very nice to eat Thai food without worrying about becoming unwell.

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The hotel complex also had an infinity pool with sunbeds and bar.

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On a lower floor was the spa and gym. We enjoyed a couple of Thai massages and I also had a facial and manicure. Not cheap but, but similar to prices at home. Cheaper Thai massages were available on the beach at Chaweng just a short taxi ride away.

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The beach area was very quiet, and was made up of coarse sand containing crushed shells and coral in the sand. Chaweng beach a short drive away in the hotel shuttle bus has very fine sand but very busy.

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Towards the end of our stay we used the bar on the beach for lunch, unfortunately no gluten free food is available from the grill, but food can be ordered from the kitchen table which takes about 1/2 hr. I was able to enjoy some amazing salads.

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The food from at the restaurants was always very good, I can definitely recommend it as a place to eat safely with food intolerances. I suggest emailing ahead as we did.

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The signature restaurant at W Koh Samui is Namu a Japanese restaurant, located near the beach. We had 3 meals here and I was able to sample japanese food for the first time. The Sashima was very good. The Chef was very helpful and with the help of Sea , they suggested dishes I might like to try.

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The staff at W Retreat hotel were very friendly, many of the staff greeted us by name. I think I has become rather infamous! due to the food intolerances. But genuinely the Insiders and other members of staff really made our holiday in Koh Samui.

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A view of Chaweng beach

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High tide at Chaweng beach

The weather during our stay was mixed, the first few days were cloudy and windy but warm, gradually this improved and the final 6 days were sunny and warm with a more gentle breeze.

I took a business /intolerance card with me explaining all my food intolerances which seemed to be a great help to the restaurant staff. They stuck one up in both restaurants for my entire stay. English was spoken well by most of the Hotel staff so I had no need of a Food intolerance translation sheet on this holiday.

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W Retreat Koh Samui is part of Starwood Hotel group

Happy holidays!

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