Banyan Tree is one of the swankiest hotels in Koh Samui (I mean, the guest demographic at Banyan Tree appear to be the Koreans, Japanese, Europeans and the Arabs, so it's pretty telling the type Banyan Tree caters to). It's located deep within a private beach along Lamai Bay, up a winding slope that's pitch black come nightfall, and since there aren't any amenities within walking distance, I wouldn't recommend trekking out on foot. Best call for a taxi or a hotel car instead.
Lamai Beach may not be the most buzzy of beaches, but it's a short 15-minute drive out to Chaweng Beach, the heart of town, and the best seafood restaurants are all within a 15-minute drive vicinity.
The service at Banyan Tree was second to none. We were given a handphone (it's an ancient Nokia but hey, it's complimentary, with unlimited free local calls, so who's complaining?!) with our butler's contact keyed in, so we could reach her at all hours. And there was this genuine care and concern shown by the amazing staff; we were spoiled silly. There was once, that the Hubs was starving, but couldn't eat a full meal as it was just before a muay thai class, so the staff prepped a fruit cup for a quick energy boost and to quell his hunger pangs.
For sure, my number 1 choice for lodging in Koh Samui.
The reception is perched at the top right of the resort, and it sure makes a statement in welcoming you to Koh Samui.
Its cliffside locale offers one of the most magnificent views ever.
Coconut ginger welcome drink and a lemongrass scented cold towel to perk you right up after a long flight in. Banyan Tree is close by the airport, a short 15 minute drive away.
A winding path that leads down to the library and The Edge restaurant.
The "big gong", right below the lobby, was real fun to play with. Go ahead, have a swing at it, you know you want to!
For a resort so lush (read: lots and lots and LOTS of forestry), it was surprising the lack of mozzies. I think the burgeoning cricket population had something to do with it. All we heard all day and all night was the deafening chirp of crickets. Okaay, it wasn't "deafening", it got to be a rhythmic lull after a while.
All of the villas come attached with a private plunge pool (the basic - deluxe pool villa starts at USD700), but I'd recommend the Horizon Hillcrest Pool Villa (upwards of USD900) for maximum privacy and ample space.
The resort is expansive, the terrain gets ridiculously steep, and villas are built maze-like, so buggies are absolutely necessary for getting around.
Family Ocean Pool Villa
We got upgraded to the Family Ocean Pool Villa (USD1,100 onwards), a sprawling 169 sqm space made up of 2 villas. The main villa comprises 3 segments, which can be cordoned off for added privacy. The front door leads into the living area of the main villa. The main villa faces the pool, and both the bedroom and living room have direct access into the pool, from the sliding doors. How convenient is that?
The living room leads into the bedroom, which has a pillow menu to suit every whim - the hypoallergenic, medium soft foam, hard foam, double curved foam, and neck foam; and in different fabrics - linen, rayon and satin. The bedroom has its own tv as well; it's small, but functional.
The bedroom then leads to the bathroom, closet, toilet and shower. The shower has a direct access to the pool deck, so you don't have to traipse through, dripping wet, the living and bedrooms. I particularly appreciated that the rain shower was large enough to accommodate 2 persons so we could both soap up and rinse off together simultaneously.
The other villa, a smaller one meant to fit the children and/or the help, with a shower/bathroom, balcony and closet, is entirely self-contained.
The 2 villas are connected by a deck. The villas at Banyan Tree are not particularly private, so be sure to put on pants when lounging around your villa.
The adult and baby pools, jacuzzi, and sun deck.
Banyan Tree had one of the nicest gyms I'd ever seen, with a lush view of the surrounding greens. This is at the spa building, with a beach access and where the main pool is located. I really loved the complimentary fitness classes, especially the muay thai ones, held at the adjoining yoga studio. The instructor was so awesomely pro, my knuckles got seriously bruised just punching up with him.
Banyan Tree Spa
The gym is located right where the Spa reception building is. Banyan Tree is renowned for their spas, and you'd do well to squeeze in a massage here. Only the hydrotherapy rooms are annexed to the main spa building; the massage rooms are a short walk away, down closer to the beach, in their own cabanas.
The spa reception, with a teeny boutique of Banyan Tree aromatherapy and spa items for sale.
Welcome drinks at the spa - a refreshing aromatic Pandanus Tea that was so good I bought back a few boxes thereof and got my friends hooked on it! P.S. You can ask for refills, the staff will be most happy to oblige!
We opted for the Thai Classic Massage (THB4,400/S$175), a blend of gentle stretches, long soothing strokes, rhythmic massages and compressions to stimulate energy flow. My masseur did the most amazing jig on my face, I swear I was glowing for days after. Post-massage drinks - a ginger honeyed tea and a fruit cup with yoghurt - healthy and delicious.
The mostly-empty main pool which has direct beach access. Nobody really hits the beach though...it's not the clearest beach.
The fine-dining restaurant, at the opposite end of the resort from the main reception, serves up refined Thai cuisine. Reservations just before sunset are required for enjoying the view.
The primary breakfast joint for an international buffet spread - with the most awe-inspiring view. Dine early to snag the window seats. The food's surprisingly decent.
The Library is connected to The Edge by this short walkway
It's well-stocked with books, and has a wonderfully cosy feel, with plush couches that make it so conducive for whiling the time away.
Banyan Tree Koh Samui