As soon as the villa host at the Banyan Tree Samui asked us to choose our pillow foam, linen scent, sleep essential oil and incense stick I knew this would be a special place. Having dreamed of visiting Thailand for many years, I had built the experience up in my head. Alas Koh Samui, a 1.5 hr flight from Bangkok and 18 hours from my home in New York over exceeded my expectations in every way.

Sitting in an infinity pool outside the villa on the cliff overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, the two day journey to get there seemed like a distant memory. We got over our jet lag by going straight to a Muay Thai boxing class (one of the many complimentary classes included in your stay) to bring up our energy levels. This was followed by the rainforest hour long spa experience, which includes an indoor rainforest shower, steam, sauna, multi jet pool massage and waterfall swim and a heated lounge chair and rock garden walk. To complete the experience I chose a one hour long Thai classic massage with oil, which began with a foot scrub with flowers and ended with warm towels, a hot tea and relaxed mind.

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Banyan Tree offers options for all types of travelers. If you are looking for a honeymoon retreat where you just want to enjoy the privacy of your villa, a sunset cruise, a guided snorkel along the coast and some morning yoga and Pilates, then you can find this and so much more. For families, the Octopus Kids Club, kayaks at the beach, oversized two bedroom family villas and hammocks in the garden will keep children of all ages occupied for days. Groups of friends can try the Banyan tree mixology and cooking classes, outdoor ping pong and pool tables, various restaurant options both for a casual meal on the beach at The Sands or a fine dining offering at Saffron. Highlights at Saffron include the duck breast with tamarind sauce, multiple curry options, crab meat spring rolls and taro dumplings with purple potato ice cream for dessert. They also offer gluten free bread and many bountiful salads for those watching what they eat.

When you are ready to venture off property, Koh Samui has a lot to offer guests by day and by night. A full day snorkeling and kayak trip at Angthong National Marine Park is a great way to explore nature and see the exotic fish and coral. You can also fish on Koh Tan Island for barracuda, snapper, shark, mackerel and more, which is great for people of any age and experience level. Those who wish to stay on land can see the Namuang waterfall or even visit the Buddha’s magic garden.

Your Sanctuary For The Senses…

Restaurants on the island along with the street markets offer something to please any palette. A luxe experience can be found at Six Senses Dining on the Rocks complete with sea views and multiple tasting menus with a wine pairing option. You cannot go wrong with a menu that includes soft shell crab tempura with avocado, rack of lamb and tooth fish. The Fisherman’s Village night market has everything from noodles to crocodile on a stick and shrimp spring rolls. Come hungry and be ready to negotiate as the asking price is never the final answer. Hundreds of vendors sell local souvenirs, Thai style clothing, pottery and so much more. Stop into the Coco Tam bar for a night cap enjoying the bean bag chairs on the beach and fire spinners before getting a tuk-tuk to take you back to your resort.

As your Koh Samui adventure becomes a fond memory, your villa host offers you a toast on your departure of lychee, coconut and blue grenadine. While I knew I may never have the opportunity to return to the Banyan Tree Samui, I found myself glowing from the time I had there knowing that my Koh Samui beach experience was one that I would never forget. I bid him farewell and said I hope I see you again. Next stop Bangkok.