The Luxe List 2010, Thailand: Banyan Tree Samui, Koh Samui

Samui’s accommodation scene has gone from scruffy to stylish in the last few years, and perhaps no property better exemplifies the trend than the Banyan Tree. Set on a series of terraces that cascade down a lush hillside to a horseshoe-shaped bay, the resort features 78 pitched-roof villas bedecked in sumptuous Thai silks and coconut-wood accents. Check-in at the ridge-top reception area is accompanied by sweeping views of the Gulf of Thailand, and while it’s physically all down hill from there, the experience is anything but. Given that all the villas come with plunge pools and a full range of mod cons, you’d be excused for never venturing beyond your front door. Yet you should, because the extensive facilities here include three excellent restaurants, two bars, a small but private beach, and (of course) an expansive spa, which just happens to be home to the island’s first hydrotherapy circuit. This tropical getaway’s hallmark, however, is even simpler to describe: serenity.

99/9 Moo 4, Maret; 66-77/915-333;; doubles from US$790

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