by Ann Rickard
SOMETIMES indulgence is called for; a holiday where you don't have to leave the luxurious arms of your resort if you don't want to. Such a place is Banyan Tree Samui on Thailand's tropical island of Koh Samui.
I have 10 reasons why you will come to love this special place.
- We'll get to the resort's myriad charms in a minute but it is the welcome of the staff that tops our list. The wide smiles, the cold towels and refreshing drink, the warm Sawasdee greeting and the gentle nod with the raising of both hands with palms together that makes you feel like visiting royalty - and you deserve it.
- The resort tumbles gently down a steep and verdant hill surrounded by controlled jungle and lush gardens in the private Bay of Lamai overlooking the magnificent Gulf of Thailand. We need say no more.
- All villas have their own infinity pools and ocean or part-ocean views, apart from spa villas which are nestled among lush gardens High ceilings, tasteful Thai furnishings, king-sized beds, robes and slippers, flat screen televisions, and a pillow and bed-linen menu, all add to the sense of luxe. Spacious terraces have sun beds and if you want to take the kids or your mates, two-bedroom villas are available.
- Every guest has their own villa host who will arrange everything from dining or spa reservations, to buggy pick up and drop off. But there's more...call your host any time on the personal phone given to you at check-in and use the same phone to make free calls to anyone anywhere in the world.
- Banyan is home to the sumptuous rainforest/hydrotherapy experience. This is like a mini-visit to the Daintree Rainforest but with lots of pampering. Inside this watery sanctuary (swimsuits necessary) with is bamboo and greenery, you are guided through a wet and wonderful journey by a dedicated therapist. First a walk through a mini 'jungle' drenched in soft rain, then a quick steam and shower, then a fun bucket drench followed by a Swiss shower, sauna, ice mountain experience, sole therapy and finally into the Vitality Pool with built-in lounges, high-powered jets and rain showers to ensure every part of you is massaged and soothed. Finish by the pool on a curved-to-your-body warmed day bed.
- A fitness and yoga centre, kid's club, spectacular main pool, dedicated kid's pool, a calm and soothing library, water sports galore...didn't we say you may never want to leave this resort?
- Dining...very important...and Banyan Samui has it all covered. We love lunch at Sands overlooking the beach where fresh seafood competes with enormous steaks, or for the lesser appetites, zingy salads and the always-right pizzas and burgers. International fare is served with views at The Edge, and for a true Thai epicurean adventure, dinner at Saffron is the go. In-villa dining works for those days when you don't want to step outside your gorgeous space, and for the ultimate in romantic dinners staff will set up a private place for you on the beach beneath a floaty marquee surrounded by candles.
- Private beach, true indulgence. Giant boulders form a rocky surround for the calm and warm water of the Gulf of Thailand, which means safe swimming and snorkelling. Giant sun-beds, shaded sun-lounges, swinging hammocks and oval lounge chairs for two...which to choose for a day on the beach?
- If you must leave the resort - and it's unlikely with its immaculate grounds brimming with water features, floating lilies, lush growth and orchids - a shuttle bus will zip you into town in a jiffy.
- Location, location, location. Sitting aloof away from the madness of Chaweng, Banyan Tree Samui in Lamai is far enough away from the bedlam to give you a memorable stress-free break. It is also close enough to have you in the bright lights if you seek that.
For more information, go to www.banyantree.com/en/thailand/samui.