Thailand, also known as the land of smiles, where miles upon miles of white soft sand is framed by warm turquoise seas and lush rainforest or mountains. Where temples and culture abound and the people are among the friendliest and most hospitable on the planet. Oh and lets not forget to mention the food!! What is not to like. Here are my top picks for some of the best luxury resorts.
Four Seasons, Koh Samui
If complete get away from it all relaxation and privacy, in the lap of luxury is what you are looking for, then this may be just your thing.
Set on a pristine stretch of white powder sand, just half an hour from the airport in the Norwest corner of one of Thailand’s most beautiful Islands, you will find Four Season Resort, Ko Samui.
With 3 bars and restaurants available, as well as in villa dining, there is no need to leave this private sanctuary, but if you do want to venture out, then history, culture and golf is right on your doorstep.
There are 6 sumptuous accommodation types to choose from, as well as a choice of larger private residences which come with a live in personal attendant. All villas have private pools, some with enough space for the whole family.
Choose from a range of water-sports, fitness classes or beach sports, or have a game of tennis – if that all sounds too energetic, take a cooking class, indulge yourself in a spa treatment on the secret beach, take meditation, tai chi or yoga classes, meet fellow travellers at the resort’s beachfront infinity pool, or simply lounge on the beach or by the pool with a good book and a cocktail.
It is very family friendly too – you will find great kids facilities, with a kids for all season’s programme, kids muay thai classes, spa treatments for kids and teens, a games room, movies under the stars and babysitting services available.
It is no wonder that this beachside Khao Lak resort is a honeymoon favourite. Tranquil, lush gardens with lily ponds, fountains, and a stream meander down to the Edge, the resort’s beachside bar and restaurant.
You can enjoy a Champagne breakfast any time up until 6 pm in Ficus restaurant, built around an ancient Ficus tree and alongside one of the large ponds.
Rooms are in small blocks with pool residences on the ground floor providing a private swimming pool and garden, and spacious Spa suites on the upper floor having a small private outside plunge pool, huge living area, bedroom and open plan bathroom with double ended stone bath and 2 showers. Another bonus of the Spa suites is 1 hour of spa treatments per day in Pathways Spa – LUSH.
If you can drag yourself away from your amazing pool residence or suite, there is a large swimming pool in the grounds with a spa section, or the beach is a great place to spend an afternoon – a swim in the warm Andaman sea a must, or you can try your hand at paddle board, sailing, or take a trip on the luxury speedboat – Lady Sarojin. This boutique resort also specialises in dining experiences, you can have a private dining experience almost anywhere you choose, including at the foot of a nearby waterfall.
The resort offers its own range of excursions, you are transported in one of the hotels own comfortable 4×4 vehicle, with your own guide, food and drink provided.
Phuket, better known for its nightlife also offers a few hidden gems. Situated overlooking the pure white sands of the secluded Pansea Beach*, Amanpuri provides paparazzi-proof seclusion, that could be why JayZ and Beyonce chose it for a recent break.
40 Thai style pavilions provide accommodation amongst the swaying palms, and some even have their own plunge pools. There are 4 sumptuous restaurants to choose from, a spa and the resort even has its own private yacht.
*Although all beaches in Thailand are public, this stretch of sand is protected by cliffs at each end, and other than sharing the beach with the equally stunning neighbouring 5* resort, The Surin, the only other way to reach the beach is by boat, so it is in effect fairly private. You will also get fit negotiating the 125 steps from the main resort down on to the beach but we promise it is worth it.
Six Senses Ko Yao Noi
Reached in 45 minutes by an incredible and scenic speedboat journey (or a helicopter transfer if you prefer), the setting of this romantic hideaway will leave you speechless. This is an all villa resort, built into a hillside in a jungle setting on an Island between Phuket and Krabi and offers stunning views of the sea and towering limestone cliffs of Phang Nga Bay. The villas are spacious and gracious.
Explore on bikes, Boats or Kayaks, relax in the Zen garden or by the hilltop infinity pool and just soak up those views, and some rays of course. Butlers here look after your every need and will organise anything you desire.
The hotel even has its own organic vegetable garden and produces some of the freshest Thai food you are likely to taste.
Banyan Tree Samui
Set among the lush jungle of a private bay in Lamai, on the east coast of Ko Samui you will find the luxury all pool villa resort of Banyan Tree Samui. Overlooking a pristine beach and the sparkling turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand, here you will find yourself in a secluded haven.
With a total of 7 dining options available from the dizzy heights and amazing views from The Edge, authentic Thai cuisine served in Saffron, bespoke dining experiences arranged overlooking the private bay, poolside snacks or a beach BBQ experience in Sands, you will never go hungry.
There are none less than 9 villa types on offer including family villas sleeping up to 5 and a Presidential Villa sleeping 6 – many with incredible views. All villas are a private enclave where your Villa Host will take care of your every need.
There is a main pool, the Rainforest indoor Hydrotherapy Pool experience, a fitness and yoga centre, children’s club for ages 4 – 12 years, which also boasts a children’s pool, a library, shop and gallery, and even a ballroom for hosting events, weddings or themed parties.
Enjoy a cooking class, a private island excursion or a memorable day trip out into the Gulf of Thailand on board the Sense of the Sea, the Resort’s private speedboat. Indulge in the Banyan Tree famous Spa, or afternoon tea and a signature cocktail in the tranquillity of the lobby lounge, enjoy the tranquillity of the private bay on board the complimentary water sports equipment, or simply luxuriate in your private villa.
Pimalia Resort, Koh Lanta
Another place to get away from it all and forget about the world.
Set in the lush hillside of Koh Lanta Yai, one of 2 small islands off the west coast of Thailand near Krabi, and facing the sparkling Andaman Sea, you will find Pimalia, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
Built to compliment the environment, it has an award winning Spa, which also offers complimentary Spa classes.
There are 3 bars and restaurants to choose from, numerous, flexible rooms types, which can be booked together to accommodate up to 12 people.
From the stunning stretch of beach, you have access to beach sports and complimentary use of all non-motorised water-sports (motorised water-sports is banned in the area). You can go scuba diving, take Thai cookery classes, take part in classes or learn yoga and even muay thai boxing. You will also find a sports centre with fitness facilities and tennis courts.
Complimentary transfers are offered from Krabi airport. Although Pimalia does not advertise itself as a family resort, children are welcome.
If you are looking for a luxurious beachfront property on Krabi’s Andaman coast, the Rayavadee will tick all the boxes. A member of the Leading Hotels of the World, It is right next to Krabi Marine National Park, in a natural setting where you can find exotic birds, monkeys and other wildlife.
Surrounded on all sides by tropical gardens, towering and dramatic limestone cliffs and beautiful beaches, Rayavadee features a stunning main pool area, 4 dining options, a full service spa and its stunning villas include butler service.
There are 96 two-storey pavilion rooms and 5 luxurious villas, all of which are dotted throughout tropical gardens with coconut groves and just a few minutes’ walk from Railay and Phranang Beaches. The spacious accommodations have stylish Thai-inspired details throughout, blending perfectly with the resort’s natural surroundings.
Rayavadee offers guests tailored excursions which provide memorable, personalized experiences that put you in touch with the best the area has to offer. Whether you’re looking to escape to a deserted beach at sunset or spend the day visiting Phi Phi Island or Phang Nga Bay, the resorts own fleet of luxury speedboats will whisk you wherever you wish.
You can kayak through a pristine mangrove forest or climb aboard an elephant for a ramble through the Krabi landscape. Scale a rock wall with private rock climbing instruction, hike a nature trail to a waterfall, learn to scuba dive from your own private dive boat or discover the art of Thai cooking.
Looking for something a bit more out of the ordinary? Unravel from the stresses of everyday life … move away from the beaches Thailand is so famous for, and imagine yourself immersed in the tropical jungle .. Keemala, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is well away from the crowds. It overlooks Kamala Village and the Andaman Sea. Positioned in the hills and within the lush woodlands, Keemala offers a retreat from every day life and welcomes you in to an enchanting evergreen wonderland.
This resort is focussed on providing life enhancing experiences. It is close enough for a day at Kamala Beach, or to partake in the liveliness of Patong, yet far enough removed to enjoy the tranquillity of rainforest, holistic activities and food, all to help aid your wellbeing.
It offers special 3 of 6 day holistic retreat packages aimed at 4 pillars – Purify, Energise, Unwind and Rejuvenate. It also offers couples romantic packages, allowing you time to reconnect.
There is a spa, fitness centre, resort swimming pool (all its villas have their own private pools) and a choice of dining venues where you can choose from their special healthy living options.
Kim Robertson is Director at Your Way (Travel) Ltd. Your Way (Travel) Ltd. specialises in long haul, tailor-made, cruise and luxury travel to the USA, Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Far East.