Six Senses Samui
9/10 Moo 5, Baan Plai Laem, Samui
Consider this when booking your room here: Do you want a five-second walk to the beach or an endless view of absurdly blue water? Six Senses hugs an oceanside rain-forest-covered hill, which means each of its sixty-six private villas offers a slightly different perspective, some shadier, some right on the sand. But you can't go wrong with any of them—or anything at this resort, for that matter. You'll spend your mornings here having coffee and fresh jackfruit on your private patio before heading to the beach for yoga. Afterward you may walk along the bamboo jungle path to the spa, where you'll spend two hours getting massaged with hot stones. What's next could be anything...Muay Thai...an afternoon nap. Soon enough, you'll be hungry for dinner at Dining on the Rocks, the restaurant on the top of the hill that overlooks what appears to be the entire world (and serves the freshest, crunchiest, spiciest organic papaya salad on the island).
102/9 Laem-Set Rd, Na Mueang, Koh Samui Di
This is Briohny Smyth's favorite place on the island. Part hotel, part holistic wellness sanctuary, part yoga retreat, Kamalaya echoes Thailand's sentiment of wellness: To feel good, you must take care of your mind, body, and spirit. Which is why Kamalaya surpasses a traditional spa-like resort. The staff here focuses on those who feel worn out, depleted, tired. Going through a divorce? Head here. Tired of your job? Ditto. Restorative yoga classes, lengthy massages, acupuncture, guided meditation—it’s all here to cure what ails you. You'll eat organic meals free of any refined sugars and dairy (and meat and gluten, if requested). And eventually, you'll head back to your life feeling happier, lighter, and completely rejuvenated.
10/9 Moo 5, Bann Plai Laem, Koh Samui
Sala is a departure from the traditional thatched bamboo villas of Samui. The look here is streamlined: all white and mahogany wood décor with minimal accessories. It still has everything we love for an indulgent stay, including bathtubs that could pass for small swimming pools. The pristine spa offers traditional Thai, Swedish, and a Chinese-Ayurvedic-Thai combination massage on its menu. Ask your clinician to have your treatment outside, where the ocean sounds will put you in a blissful state between sleep and consciousness.
Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
219 Moo 5 Angthong, Koh Samui
Maybe it's the emerald jungle cliff on which it sits. Maybe it's the oceanside villas with private infinity pools. Or maybe it's that you can walk out of your room and take in what looks like the entire Gulf of Thailand. Whatever it is, this is one of those rare hotels that make you forget there is an outside world. Adding to that feeling, each villa has a private butler on hand for whatever you need. And what you need might be the fresh grilled island fish, spicy chicken satay, and a creamy mango smoothie. And while you’re at it, maybe an appointment at the spa? Get the lava shell massage. A skilled clinician will get your comfortable on a warmed bed in an oceanside veranda. She'll rub away any tension, stress, knots—you name it—with a heated lava shell filled with algae and seaweed gel. It's odd; it's therapeutic; it will leave you feeling like butter.
99/9 Bophut Bay Tambon Bophut, Koh Samui
We fantasize about making a permanent move to Anantara. The resort is on the larger size—106 rooms—but still feels quaint and private with its thatched roofs and intricate walkways woven through lush greenery. (And the greenery is everywhere.) It’s a playground for the active and curious. There's Muay Thai, paddleboarding, yoga, cooking classes, Pilates, weight training...we could go on. If you're looking to stay supine, the spa, with its ornate Chinese décor and pristine treatment rooms, is where you’ll have one of the most intense (in a good way), invigorating massages of your life.
99/9 Moo 4, Maret, Samui
Follow the island's eastern shoreline until you get to a secluded bay. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you get to a place that looks like it could be in a James Bond movie. Look up and you'll see private villas attached to stilts on the rocky hillside. This is Banyan Tree. It's more pared down than some of Thailand’s more opulent resorts but still totally considered, with individual swimming pools and hammocks, rain showers, and an incredibly attentive staff. The wellness program is the star here. And by wellness, we mean a huge spa that focuses on hydrotherapy (ask the staff to recommend a treatment that’s in line with your goals) and Thai massage. There's also a respected yoga practice. This is where you come to recharge. For a little more action, a hotel shuttle will bring you to Lamai, a charming little city five minutes away.
50/1 Rajdamnoen Road, Old City
As the name suggests, Tamarind Village is located on an old tamarind orchard. It's quaint and quiet and feels like you're staying in an old, hidden Lanna village. The main building wraps around a grassy courtyard and a giant, ancient tamarind tree. It glows at night thanks to a sprinkling of twinkling string lights, visible from the guest room terraces. But the star at this hotel is the spa, which offers several traditional Thai or Chinese massages, as well as facials, scrubs, and steams. The rooms are pristine and the staff is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. A bonus is the unexpected, totally considered gift shop that's like a mini night market. Shop here for locally made silk scarves and woven baskets.
Raya Heritage Hotel
157 Moo 6, Tambol Donkaew, Amphoe Mae Rim
If there is a hotel in heaven, it might be Raya. It's light and airy. The guest rooms have gigantic cushy beds with pillows as soft as clouds and large terraces that overlook the river and greenery. (And if you’re willing to splurge, your own private pool.) Walk into the lobby—a breezy, bright room where the staff brings you blue herbal "butterfly" tea, a Thai specialty—and you'll want to sit there for hours. But then there's the spa. Without overstating things: It will change you. Sit in the steam room filled with herbs native to northern Thailand and let your muscles relax. Then go for the Bamboo Massage, especially after a long flight. A spa therapist rubs you with a heated bamboo stick, just hard enough to release tension. At night, eat at Khu Khao, one of the three restaurants on-site. The basket lights hanging from the ceiling cast a warm glow that makes the already gorgeous room even more inviting. Order the khao raem fuen sai ga, a spicy organic grilled chicken and rice salad; sit back; and realize it's not a dream—you get to stay here and…
14 Wat Ket, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai
Just on the west bank of the Ping River, Rarinjinda—a handsome, dark wood boutique hotel and spa—makes an excellent wellness base to totally refresh and relax. The ethos here is to leave you feeling healthier and more vibrant than when you arrived. And they’re very good at their jobs. Whatever you do: Get a hydrotherapy treatment. A giant hydropool has two built-in lounge chairs so you can sit or lie and let the warm bubbles pulsate around you. If you want a more authentic massage, a spa clinician will incorporate Himalayan salt and fresh herbs, including Thai basil, into your treatment as she Rolfs and rubs away tension and stress. You’ll leave feeling lighter, centered, and clearheaded. Have dinner at the restaurant overlooking the Ping River before heading back to your elegantly furnished room.
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
502 Moo 1, Mae Rim
Once you see the lush, expansive rice paddies, and the emerald grass, and the jungle mountains outlining the sky, you'll know you did something good for yourself. And then, when you see the grand rooms with huge king-size beds and rich mahogany wood, and the colossal pool that seems to go on forever, you'll never want to leave. Just taking in the views is an act of wellness. And that's before you head to the spa, which offers virtually every treatment and therapeutic practice you can think of. Tailored programs cater to specific needs, such as detoxification and rejuvenation. Visiting masters teach classes on chakra healing, acupuncture, and osteopathy, while the experienced staff hosts yoga and meditation classes.
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