9 of Thailand’s top luxury resorts for the perfect tropical escape
From personal butlers to exclusive beaches, Michelin-starred restaurants to health and wellness treatments, there’s something in this list to suit your need.
Barely a two-hour flight away, the Land of Smiles is the perfect escape for stressed-out Singaporeans seeking luxurious resorts, slow massages, occasionally fiery cuisine and sun-kissed golden beaches lapped by perfect azure seas.
These nine resorts showcase Thailand's brilliant diversity and underscore why more than 614,000 tourist arrivals came from Singapore in 2022 ‒ with 2023 expected to easily beat that figure.
One of Phuket's most exclusive and storied resorts, Trisara is named for 'the garden in the third heaven', a mythical tropical paradise from Buddhist tradition. Any visit to their idyliic cove on the Andaman Sea reinforces why the description is so apt.
Perfectly private thanks to its surrounding hills, the 14-hectare resort is decked with exotic orchids, resplendent bougainvillea and picture-perfect coconut palms. Gorgeous private pool villas and residences somehow blend into the naturally terraced landscape, while gracious and genuine service comes from the heart in this proudly Thai-owned escape.
Most of all in recent years, it's Trisara's dazzling sustainable cuisine which has won plaudits, notably a Michelin star at their restaurant PRU ‒ the very first on the island. Dutch chef Jimmy Ophorst wows diners in a space named for the acronym Plant. Raise. Understand. Almost every ingredient is sourced from the nearby organic Pru Jampa farm, with dishes celebrating Thai and classical European techniques.
Bang Krachao is a laid-back island overlooking the Chao Phraya and the city’s skyscrapers on the horizon. Although barely an hour’s drive from both Bangkok airports, it feels light years away and is home to a remarkable, immaculate 60-villa resort resort called Rakxa which means ‘heal’ in Thai.
Their mission combines wellness, physiotherapy and aesthetics across a minimum three-night retreat, although many guests stay a couple of weeks. Operating in partnership with Bumrungrad International Hospital, it has become a favoured spot for a chic international clientele seeking weight or stress management as well as health and wellness treatments encompassing the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
Rakxa Jai is their holistic wellness centre featuring treatments drawing on Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Thai traditions, while Rakxa Gaya is a state of the art gym and pool staffed by physiotherapists and training experts. The final pillar is VitalLife Scientific Wellness Clinic where optional treatments include a hyperbaric oxygen chamber and IV infusions. Brilliant, balanced cuisine, stunning garden or pool villas and some of the best massages you'll ever have complete the picture.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT KOH SAMUI
Amid Thailand's remarkable array of island destinations, Koh Samui remains one of the most popular draws. Magnificent vistas across the Gulf of Thailand to Koh Phangan, tropical charm and the ability to sail, snorkel and dive the waters of Ang Thong Marine National Park, a true aquatic haven dotted with limestone cliffs and caves, all draw visitors.
Handily all three ‒ and plenty more besides ‒ are on offer at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui’s 60 pool villas that reflect architect Bill Bensley's whimsical creativity, while for seriously elevated experiences, their Private Retreats collection (ranges from two to five bedrooms) are perfect for multi-generational travel or friends set on an unforgettable break.
Other special draws include traditional Thai therapies and treatments using locally grown herbs at their Secret Garden Spa or watching the silver screen in ultimate style at their private cinema. The resort's team of attendants called 'mae baans' ensure that impeccable service is always delivered with a smile.
MANDARIN ORIENTAL, BANGKOK
What started life almost 150 years ago as a 12-room hotel, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok has morphed into one of Asia's most legendary places to stay, where close to 400 rooms and suites are frequented by a well-heeled global clientele, which has included Noel Coward, Michelle Yeoh, Marlon Brando and Russell Crowe.
They come in part for the unbeatable Chao Praya location with sights including Bangkok's historic and famed Grand Palace as well as the new ultra-luxury Icon Siam Mall all a short boat ride away. The same can be said for the hotel's famed spa, reachable by their elegant shuttle boat and home to some of the most sublime treatments in a country known globally for wellness.
When it comes to food, nowhere in Thailand is as garlanded with Michelin stars. Le Normandie by Alain Roux holds two for flawless French cuisine, while Kinu by Takagi holds one for its delicate Japanese omakase tasting menus. Many visitors gravitate to the traditional Thai dishes and surroundings at Baan Phraya, next to the spa.
BELMOND NAPASAI, KOH SAMUI
Elevated residences and villas set in the hillside mean that breath-taking views come as standard in Belmond Napasai nestled amid palm and cashew trees on Mae Nam beach. Fellow guests include resident water buffaloes, adding to the sense of integration with nature in ways that beguile younger visitors in particular.
Inside the accommodation, huge tubs let you soak it all in, daybeds let you dream and traditional weavings reinforce the fact that the natural world is never far away. On the food front, Lai Thai served first-rate Thai cuisine with occasional but distinct French references, while the wafting aromas of smoky barbecued Surat Thani tiger prawns are impossible to turn down at Beach Restaurant.
For even more serene relaxation, look no further than Napasai Spa, a sanctuary hidden in tropical gardens where mind, body and soul will leave fully restored with massages in the open air and treatments beloved by Thai royalty.
SONEVA KIRI, KOH KOOD
Aficionados of barefoot luxury travel know that few places can match the sustainable DNA and sense of purpose as demonstrated by the Soneva brand. Nowhere is that more tangible than on Koh Kood, Thailand’s little-known, fourth biggest but least populated island.
This unspoiled corner is only a 90-minute hop in a Cessna from Bangkok and is home to Soneva Kiri, a multi award-winning resort where experiences are everything. Their latest addition is 'Seven Days, Seven Beaches', where guests are taken to explore the island's most stunning beaches and Koh Rang, a national marine park teeming with aquatic biodiversity, in a traditional wooden fishing boat.
Back on land, vast villas in spectacular settings range from one to five bedrooms and have to be seen to be believed. Pools, bikes and butler service from 'barefoot guardians' come as standard and you'd be hard pushed to dine in more style. In addition to Michelin-starred guest chefs, tapas and Indian restaurants, save room for their legendary deli, ice cream parlour and chocolate room.
Emerald Bay on Phuket's west coast lives up to its name with pristine blue-green waters that entice guests off the 600-metre private beach at Rosewood Phuket and into the gently lapping waves. But the resort's perfectly manicured jasmine-scented grounds and stunning pools can be difficult to leave, even for a moment.
Choosing between the 71 pavilions and villas is equally tricky, given their refined design and interiors using indigenous materials, effortless integration into the verdant landscaping and that distinctly Thai phenomenon of beautiful light, at almost any time of day. Asaya offers wellness a la carte in sublime surroundings, while Ta Khai and Red Sauce are two of the excellent suite of dining options with constantly evolving seasonal menus.
Sustainability is also front and centre, as evidenced by landscaped rooftops, rainwater ponds and Phuket's largest solar renewable energy set-up. The bright lights and famously intense nightlife of Patong are only a short drive away, but leaving the immensely comfortable Rosewood may feel like too much of an effort.
INTERCONTINENTAL KHAO YI
A new addition to Thailand's already stellar hotel and resort scene comes in the Khao Yai National Park and mountain range in central Thailand. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, elephants, gibbons, deer and more call the protected area home and joining them is InterContinental Khao Yai Resort which has just opened its doors.
With that man Bill Bensley once again the brains behind it, guests can expect no end of visual story telling. He was inspired by Thailand's long history of train travel and upcycled retired carriages into some frankly extraordinary accommodations. Not only that, another carriage has magically morphed into a cocktail bar with live jazz and even a French a la carte restaurant ‒ named Poirot, for obvious reasons ‒ makes for one of Thailand's most unique places to eat.
Wine tasting up in the hills, trekking trails, conservation immersion and cycling tours of local orchards and vineyards are just some of the options to pull you away from the sublime comfort of the resort.
ANI THAILAND, KOH YAO NOI
Finally to Ani, an exclusive and very special resort on the east coast of Koh Yao Noi, an island in the Andaman Sea roughly halfway between Phuket and Krabi. A mix of fishing villages, mangroves and rubber plantations show that life there is still largely traditional.
The Ani resort ‒ in common with their other properties in Anguilla, Sri Lanka and the Dominican Republic ‒ has been designed exclusively for one group of guests, up to 30 in total across fifteen suites. Not only that, but every stay is all-inclusive as the staff team of 22 take care of everything from dining and alcohol to picnics and excursions, spa treatments and even babysitting.