Culture

Koh Samui’s Swinging Jazz Festival Is Back. Here’s What to Know and Where to Stay

Samui Summer Jazz 2022 is aiming to hit all the right notes at stellar hotels and bars to prove that tourism is back in tropical Thailand

Alexande Beets at Samui Summer Jazz 2022

Alexande Beets at Samui Summer Jazz 2022. Courtesy of Alexande Beets

By Vincent Vichit-Vadakan

May 24, 2022

WHAT’S BETTER THAN LIVE MUSIC on a warm summer’s night? Samui Summer Jazz 2022, a festival that last occurred eight years ago, has the answer: not a whole lot. Smooth vocals, mellow or progressive beats, big band or even a hint of hip-hop: however you like your jazz, this festival has something for you. 

Conveniently, the main events will cycle through five different resorts June 7 through 12, so if you book in at one of those you can be sure to be able to roll right into bed from the party at least one evening. Read on for who to hear and where to stay at Samui Summer Jazz 2022.

Taking the Stage at Samui Summer Jazz 2022

FROM LEFT: Paul van Kessel, courtesy of Samui Jazz Festival; Saskia Larro Band, artwork by Peter Pollmann.

Every day for five consecutive nights and one afternoon, these musicians will take to the stage in a different venue on the island, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the charity Sisters on Samui

On the first night, the New York Round Midnight Orchestra opens the ball with its brand of big band swing. On subsequent nights, performers include vocalist Paul van Kessel who sings classics and his own compositions. Trumpeter Saskia Laroo is one of the few women in the world famous for her skills on the instrument, with a style the meshes hip-hop, reggae, salsa and more.  “I’m looking forward to bringing our groovy vibes to a Thai audience,” she tells Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia.

Saxophonist Alexander Beets will perform with his quintet and with vocalist Nathalie Schaap, who is also a bass player of note. Also joining the line-up is the Ben van den Dungen Quartet

Vocalist and bassist Nathalie Schaap Samui summer jazz festival 2022
Vocalist and bassist Nathalie Schaap. Courtesy of Alexander Beets

Samui Summer Jazz 2022 artistic director Sakpol Aunsumran, better known in Thai jazz circles as the saxophone player Koh Mr. Saxman, will also be performing. Other Thai acts including Samui Jazz Brothers will play before a jam session with musicians on the festival line-up.

“I’m really looking forward to a warm sun and the air that you can only get from an island,” says American singer Deborah J. Carter, who grew up in Hawaii. The jazz diva also lived in Japan before her career took her to Spain, the Netherlands, and on tours around the world. Music now allows her and all these talented others to travel back to Thailand, for our listening pleasure.

Where to stay

W Koh Samui Summer Jazz Festival 2022 resorts
Courtesy of W Koh Samui

Samui Summer Jazz 2022 kicks off at W Koh Samui, amid its video projections and playful contemporary art. Before or after the jazz, you can lounge at the W’s renowned Woobar, where resident DJs and expert mixologists serve guests with equal flair. Opt to stay the night because the property’s 74 pool villas are vibrant and plush, the breakfast views are worth the price of admission alone, and the resort’s stretch of private white sand will fulfill all your IG dreams. 

U Samui on Bangrak beach is one of the newest five-stars on the island. Of its 51 rooms, eight are villas with their own pools, perfect for splashing around in private. The hotel’s Hiwa Kai Kitchen and Bar takes tropical island fare in an unexpected direction: Hawaiian and Thai cuisine meet, and it makes delicious sense. Poke bowls use locally caught fish and black lava salt is the perfect foil for charcoal-grilled dishes. 

U Samui Summer JAzz Fest 2022 resorts
Courtesy of U Samui

Sala Samui Chaweng Beach Resort has carved itself out a peaceful stretch of white sandy beach in an otherwise bustling area. With a combination of elegant pool villas and suites facing the Moon Pool and its wooden deck and double loungers, you’re guaranteed a perfect stay. The attentive staff who are the trademark of Sala hotels can serve you a romantic dinner on the beach, prepare a barbecue to order or float your breakfast on your own private pool. 

Luxuriant greenery and 300 meters of soft sand beachfront are what set Santiburi Koh Samui apart. The Lèn Spa will find a treatment that is just right for you, like the Mohom Healing Art Massage with indigo compresses and essential oils that are sure to ease those aching muscles. For the ultimate indulgence, check yourself and your loved ones into the 250-square meter Grand Reserve Pool Villa.

Moon Pool, SALA Samui Summer Jazz Fest 2022 resorts
Courtesy of SALA Samui

At Meliá Koh Samui, on Choeng Mon Beach, check yourself into the Level Boat Suite, a teak barge that has been converted into a 91-square meter duplex, complete with lounge access. Though it’s a relative newcomer to the Samui dining scene, the Sunday brunch at the Breeza Beach Restaurant and Bar is legendary, so it’s fitting that the final event of Samui Summer Jazz 2022, a specially conceived Jazz Brunch, will crown the whole festival here. 

And one place to see and be… Seen Beach Club, one of the island’s favorite bars, will host the Saskia Laroo Band during Samui Summer Jazz. The design of the beach club is neo-retro, eye-popping colors mixed with a 1950s soda fountain sort of vibe. Think Mid-century Miami, drive-in movie theater or tropical tiki bar and you’ll start to see what Seen is all about. 

FROM LEFT: Courtesy of SEEN Beach Club Samui; courtesy of Melia Koh Samui

Samui Summer Jazz 2022 runs June 7 to 12. Concert ticket packages that include drinks, snacks or full meals, depending on the venue, range from Bt1,000-2,990 net. Contact individual hotels for accommodation packages. 

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