Fodor's Expert Review Banyan Tree Samui
99/9 Moo 4, Maret Samui, Lamai Beach, Koh Samui, Surat Thani 84310, Thailand See on Map
Prepare your jaws properly, because the moment you walk into the hotel and look out the open windows at the back of the lobby, you’ll have to pick it up off the floor. What you’ll see is breathtaking views of Banyan Tree’s private beach with calm waves from the Gulf of Thailand lapping against the white sand. Surrounding the beach are the 88 stunning villas, poking discretely out of the mountains, set against lush forest, and waiting for the morning sun to hit them just right to welcome in a new day. This five-star resort is more than just the view, however, as you’ll discover an ecologically conscious paradise with top-rate service, gourmet dining, and a one-of-a-kind spa.
The hotel prides itself on its environmentally friendly policies. The biggest thing you’ll notice is the “no plastics” signs throughout the property, and any plastic you do find is 100% biodegradable. Banyan Tree is also a member of EarthCheck, an organization that holds hotels to the highest standards for environmental practices.
All accommodations are individual villas that basically have the same layout. There’s a living room complete with well-appointed mini-bar and plush couches, a bedroom with king sized bed, and a large bathroom. All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the property (higher prices for higher villas with higher views) and also look out over the private pools that come standard with each.
Other room treats include fresh fruit changed daily, incense with changing daily scents, smart TVs for streaming needs, a pillow menu for optimal comfort, and an espresso machine to help you wake up to that morning sun.
Also looking out over the pool is the lush bathroom. Set against the window is the enormous standalone bath tub (complete with bath salts), while double raised sinks and ample amenity kits provide you with all your self-care needs. A separate rain shower opens up directly to the pool outside in case you want to flit back and forth between them.
If you book directly on the hotel’s website you can get special goodies like a free minibar or round-trip airport transfers.
The main building of the hotel is separated from the villas and offers a unique vantage point of the accommodations and the water down below. The lobby itself isn’t a hang out, but the lobby bar off to one side is perched up high to take in the massive views over craft cocktails.
While all the villas have their own pool, the hotel still soars with its crescent shape infinity spot down by the beach. Open from 8am-6:30 pm, the pool is an oasis in the truest sense and also features a pool bar with a 2-for-1 happy hour and a bevy of free treats that they trot out throughout the day.
The hotel is incredibly family friendly and that includes a second pool that’s just for kids as well as a kid’s club that offers classes, games, books, and more.
Like most high-end resorts, the spa is a luxury spot with every treatment imaginable from massages and facials to scrubs and body wraps. But unlike most other resorts, the hotel also has a rain forest indulgence area. Here, guests are led through a maze of water-based therapies including steam rooms, saunas, foot path massages, and a giant hammam with interactive jets and blasting water faucets to work out any kinks.
Next to the spa is the gym, which features Life Fitness workout machines, ample free weights, free water, apples, and headphones. Next to the gym is a fitness studio where the hotel hosts free daily yoga and Pilates classes.
There are so many dining outlets at the resort, you won’t need to explore the rest of Samui to find something good to eat. Saffron is the signature restaurant that serves authentic Thai cuisine for dinner and offers stunning ocean views from up high in the mountain. Sands, meanwhile, is the beachside property for lunch and dinner with international cuisine. And The Edge is off the lobby, which offers up a wide range of goodies for breakfast and brunch to go along with sweeping vistas.
The Lobby Lounge is the main watering hole of the resort, where coconut-based craft cocktails are prominently highlighted. Like the pool bar, there’s also a 2-for-1 happy hour here.
The entire property is like one giant garden with massive amounts of flora and fauna waiting to be discovered. The good news is that the hotel offers eco-tours of the property, so you can learn all about it. There are also snorkel tours where you can explore the private bay and witness some of the environmental projects that the hotel is spearheading.
Chances are if you’re staying at this resort, you’re staying at this resort. It’s incredibly isolated and provides for almost any want/need on a tropical vacation. However, if you do want to venture out, you have some good options. If you rent a car, parking at the hotel is free. If you don’t rent a car, the hotel offers a free daily shuttle to and from the center of town for any shopping, eating, or nightlife desires you might have.
Saffron is widely considered one of the best restaurants on the island, but if you want to venture out, you have some good alternatives. Poppies (17-minute drive) is a fine-dining Thai spot with a beachfront property, perfect for romantic nights. A little far away, but probably worth the trek, Dining on the Rocks (35-minute drive) at the Six Senses Samui resort serves award-winning international cuisine with unbeatable views.
Close-ish to the hotel is the town of Lamai, where there’s the Central Lamai Beer Bars Plaza (14-minute drive), which is exactly what it sounds like – lots of bars, all in one place. A little further away on Chaweng Beach, you’ll find Ark Bar Beach Club (22-minute drive), a Samui institution with rowdy all day and late-night parties.
WHY WE LIKE IT
What’s there not to like. This all-inclusive resort has everything you could ask for: five-star services, great amenities, insane views, and loads of privacy. Great for both honeymooners and families, there’s something for everyone here. One of the best things about the hotel is how environmentally friendly it is and offers guests a range of activities to both learn and enjoy the hotel’s ecological practices. While it’s not close to the main towns for shopping, eating, or nightlife, it’s not really the reason you come here. This resort is about decompressing and enjoying the peace and tranquility that only a private beach with private villas can truly provide.