Friday, January 16, 2015

HOTEL CHECK THAILAND, Banyan Tree Samui

We return to one of the most luxurious resorts on the celebrity isle of Koh Samui. The simplest room type is a remarkable villa...

Banyan Tree has claimed one of the most beautiful coves on Koh Samui.  The water is that radiant turquoise you expect but don't always find on your tropical holiday. It glitters invitingly, washing against smooth rocks and a stretch of sandy beach.  Green grass stretches into the valley and a popular beach restaurant called Sands lies right there to enjoy the water views.



On the steep sides of the horse shoe shaped cove 88 sturdy imposing villas stand out in the greenery between mature coconut palms and glossy undergrowth. The villas are magnificent.
All have sparkling private pools built so close to the sliding doors of the bedroom and lounge that you could tumble out of bed into the pool.

All categories are pure luxury. In other words even the starting price guarantees top quality, at least 130sqm of space, extensive deck, daybeds and private pool.



Stretching beside the generous sparkling pool the villa reaches from entrance patio in a line from lounge through bedroom to bathroom and shower. Step into your lounge with a long sofa that could sleep two giants head to tail within view of a giant tv. Here you feel the Banyan Tree spirit of oriental features, authentic hand worked detail and earthy tones. A strong distictive presence.


Then step into your bedroom also with a tall cone shaped ceiling and a view from bed over the pool to coconut palms and sea beyond - a heavenly place to watch the sunrise.





Next into the richly moody bathroom with black marble basins, and bath with a view.
Then still heading in a straight line step into your glass shower with attractive natural details - pebbles set into the floor.

Finally, if you have a royal villa, you also find a tower at the end with a sala and one of those round sofas where a couple can lounge together and eat some tropical fruit from the room or sip a glass of champagne. This extra space brings the total area to a generous 155 sqm.

In Royal villas (as in the family Sanctuary villas) you also have a Jacuzzi – jet pool. This was not just a fancy extra – it was a vital part of our enjoyment. In the evenings – the only time we were at the villa it lured us into it's quickly warmed therapeutic jets of water. Perfect place to enjoy an evening drink.

Our pool in the Royal Banyan villa, with the enjoyable jet pool to the left
Gleaming black bathrooms

Palmy view

"With our little efforts we help save the environment for our children" - note on the door of out bathroom


We also looked over an opening category Deluxe villa. Very similar - equally Posh with ample decking and pool. Just lacking the Jacuzzi and the sala in the tower.  Total for this category is 130 sqm – impressive for an opening villa type.


A different view from the bath in Deluxe Villa B15 - lower down close to the beach
If it's view was less far reaching than those higher up the slopes,  the villa we inspected made up for it with closeness to the beach. It was only 5 mins walk whereas the high up villas require a buggy. Besides you felt delightfully cosy somehow sunk into the tropical vegetation with peeps between the palms at the sea.

Highest up and most private with the best views are villas called Horizon Hillcrest villas. Also usually high up are the Sanctuary villas - with a second bedroom. These are Family villas with a generous 168 sqm and a jet pool.   

As part of your splendid privacy in the villas, you have a lockable gate on the private road. When you order a buggy you can relax on the sofa and wait for a phone call from your gate phone.
This is a very posh world ...

Dining          

Edge is the lunch and breakfast restaurant. Start the day with a double feast – combining lavish buffet with a la carte and a feast for the eyes. 

The Edge lies in the main building high up on the right arm of the horseshoe bay. By the wide picture  windows, on  the shady verandah or on the open terrace in the sun you have views to mesmerize. High up on the other side of the bay Saffron is the signature restaurant serving Thai cuisine.

Sands is the beach restaurant. Tables spill out from inside, to the covered veranda and then on to a platform, getting closer and closer to the sea. But you can eat even closer than that. The sands are well equipped with cocoon like beach sofas, some in private tents…and here too you can eat in the caressing sea breeze watching the water lap onto the sandy beach.


We ate at Sands a few times enjoying the ambience and the food.  In the evening of the 12th full moon of the year (6 November) it was magical. The name SANDS stood on the beach lit with fire. Tables were out on the sands decked for a special dinner. The last full moon of the year is much celebrated in Thailand.

While they stampede to full moon parties on Koh Phangan, on Koh Samui the people make floats (krathongs) with greenery and waxy tropical flowers and release them onto floating water to take away the old bad luck and renew good fortune. At Banyan Tree we were invited to join the float making and to send off our float from a launch platform on the beach when darkness came.

Villa Host Obby arranges that we  make kranthongs to wish in good luck and do away with all the bad luck of the past

Meanwhile on the lake in Chaweng many thousands were apparently launching their krathongs. Then just before deadline they began launching lanterns into the sky, seen from our airport transfer to our 10 pm flight from Koh Samui's international airport..

A large krathong in hte Banyan Tree lobby where we were making our own small ones

Facilities & activities


Infinity pool

Reflecting ponds by the spa

Apart from the stunning infinity pool there is a kids pool with sofas for adult comfort, hydroptherapy spa, gym, kids club,  group activities (we joined tai chi and yoga), watersports, excursions like snorkling and temple visits. There are free shuttles to Lamai in the daytime and Chaweng at night where local restaurants, clubs and shops abound.

In a nutshel

An impressive and exclusive resort built round a horse shoe bay with private sandy beach and turquoise water.  Spacious imposing villas with separate living rooms and large sparkling pools stand on the steep slope among coconut palms. You get around by buggy. Spa, nice infinity pool, beach restaurant, family pool, bar, and two restaurants with great views. 

Many perfect details - these are arrival amenities

How to get to Banyan Tree Samui

20 minutes by car from Koh Samui international airport.


More about Banyan Tree Samui on the Select Collection website.



Images by Aleah L Stanbridge Photography and Select Collection

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