Destination Guide

Koh Samui

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Courtesy of Six Senses Hideaway Samui

Thailand’s third-largest island (roughly the size of Martha’s Vineyard), Koh Samui has spectacular scenery—sparkling turquoise sea, lush green jungle and expansive beaches—and no shortage of five-star resorts.


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Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui

Arriving at the Four Seasons Koh Samui does not disappoint. The resort’s unassuming driveway leads to the top of the property, where a tall, narrow door opens to a small lobby and a modern, open overhanging deck with an incredible panoramic view of the lush resort grounds, an abundance of palm trees and the turquoise water of the gulf. The property will appeal to guests looking for high-touch service and a distinctive sense of place.

Situated in the tangled greens of a coconut grove (the property has 856 coconut trees!), the Four Seasons is built into a steep hillside, which ensures  spectacular views of the Gulf of Siam from all over the property. There are 60 villas and 14 two- to five-bedroom residence villas, but because of the resort’s multilevel layout, it doesn't feel crowded. The villas are well-proportioned, with ample indoor and outdoor spaces connected by floor-to-ceiling sliding windows that let you enjoy the view from your bathtub, bed or your dressing area. Interiors by Bensley Design Studios showcase an elegantly understated aesthetic: polished teak and rosewood furniture and floors, area rugs with pops of color and the occasional fabric or décor accent in striking turquoise. Each massive stone-lined bathroom has a double vanity and a deep egg-shaped bathtub that faces the window, plus a separate rain shower. It’s the kind of sexy yet relaxed jungle lair you picture James Bond unwinding in at the end of the movie. Each villa has a spacious outdoor terrace with an infinity pool and oversized daybeds. Naturally, the minibar, stocked with sweet and salty treats, a Lavazza coffeemaker and Champagne and wine, is found out here.

Getting around the sprawling property on foot can be bit of a workout, due to its steep inclines, so much of the time you will want to call for a "buggy," an oversized golf cart to get up and down the mountain. Down by the lovely beach, there’s a cool bar/lounge, where guests can nurse a cocktail or a smoothies, while reclining on enormous daybeds, as well as enjoy the massive 50-meter pool that’s popular with families. You won't go long without water and chilled towels here. Travelers with children (anyone under 18 can stay in their parents’ room for no extra charge) usually prefer the beach villas, which don’t have the elevated, sweeping views, but enjoy direct access to sand and water, with somewhat less privacy. Indagare knows which two are the most  private. Overall, the Four Seasons Koh Samui is extremely child-friendly, without losing its sense of romance and luxuriousness. There’s a fabulous kids’ club, and little treats and surprises are organized throughout the day, such as s’mores offered at a beachside campfire every afternoon.

Parents should book babysitting services in advance to make time for a pampering half-or full-day at the Four Seasons’ excellent Secret Garden Spa or to take advantage of the property’s romantic atmosphere. There are five spa salas, actually huge villas, each with indoor and outdoor massage beds, indoor and outdoor showers, an alfresco bathtub and a steam room. Hidden in the jungle, they offer privacy and time for reflection. Two other salas are tucked away by the beach. Sala 5 is the most remote: you get there via a wooden walkway that snakes up the path of stairs through dense greenery. Treatments here are referred to as experiences, and the spa therapists are excellent. All include local products, such as lemon grass, coconut oil and herbal tonics and teas that are locally produced. Guests who prefer to be more active can play tennis and enjoy water sports. The attentive staff can also arrange private lessons with a Thai kickboxing champion (there is a small ring for sparring; sessions even happen on the floating dock just off the beach) or spend time training in the fitness center or doing pilates or yoga in an outdoor pavilion with a view. Overachievers can attempt the K2 competition, which involves a timed run to the top of the property. Indagare can help arrange additional activities off-site such as mountain biking and a visit to a coconut shop for a lesson in how coconuts are harvested, as well as fishing, hiking, golfing, jet skiing, kiteboarding and sailing, among others.

There are three restaurants serving excellent food on the property, including KOH, perched on one of the property’s highest points, and Pla Pla, the breezy beachside eatery, where most guests enjoy a long lunch with fresh seafood such as Clay pot roasted Cod, blue crab salad and coconut risotto with lobster. For more casual fare, you'll find **CoCoRum, **a Latin American–inspired bar that's set back from the property's private beach. Here you can try ceviches, tacos (and even pizza) or rum tipples by the resort's sleek pool. The breakfast buffet, which is served atop the hill, with a spectacular view at KOH, is varied, fresh and not to be missed. Unlike many Western properties throughout Thailand, the chef here is not afraid to serve the kind of real Thai spice the south is so well known for (Larb tuna and palm heart salad are standouts). The stylish new pop-up restaurant The Beach House serves an appealing buffet two nights per week, with tables outside for up to 30 guests (complete with fire dancers on the beach) and different themes to spice things up. In-villa dining is also a popular option for dinner: from the privacy of your terrace, you can watch the many twinkling green lights from the fishing boats out navigate their way in the night, while sampling a delicious array of the chef's favorite recipes.

Lounge  at Six Senses Samui, Koh Samui, Thailand

Six Senses Samui

Founded by visionary hoteliers Sonu and Eva Shivdasani (of the Maldives’ Soneva Fushi fame), the Six Senses hotel company champions properties that have strong eco principles and a barefoot-chic aesthetic, and this hideaway on Koh Samui is no different. It’s romantic and secluded—the freestanding bungalow villas are folded into lush landscapes—but also less polished and more rustic than, say, the Four Seasons.

Occupying a hilly 20-acre property, the Six Senses Samui has 66 thatch-roofed bungalow villas, each showcasing an abundance of such natural materials as bamboo and teak and other untreated woods. The spacious floor plan, the sliding doors separating the bedroom and the large bathroom, and the huge floor-to-ceiling panels convey a feeling of openness, though the focus is the exterior spaces, including patios and decks with daybeds (most have small private plunge pools). Interiors evoke haute camping: some furniture is made of driftwood, the mosquito netting above the bed is not purely decorative, and lush jungle plants frame the outdoor shower. It’s the perfect place for an eco-friendly couple looking for a laid-back beach getaway. Most guests rarely leave the villas, preferring to order room service and lounge on their sundecks, admiring the sea views. Like the Four Seasons, the property is built into the steep hillside, so getting around without a golf cart is a workout.

If you can tear yourself away from the serenity of your lodging, there is a nice infinity pool on an elevated deck with glorious views, and a chill restaurant and lounge area where cushy daybeds are suspended from the ceiling, a groovy music mix plays and the staff takes orders for drinks and snacks. The food here is consistently well executed, and the menus offer a mix of innovative Western dishes and traditional Thai cuisine. Lovely on-property details include a viewing platform with rows of chairs for guests who come to take in the sunset while munching popcorn and sipping mojitos. On movie nights, films are projected onto a large screen by the pool.

Not to be missed is the excellent spa—an important component of all Six Senses properties; this one has seven indoor and five alfresco treatment rooms (though airplane noise can at times interrupt the peaceful setting; the Six Senses is close to the Koh Samui airport). The transformative Thai massages will leave you limber and invigorated.

Rooms to Get

It depends where on the property you want to be (close to the beach or close to the facilities, like the spa, gym and swimming pool). Note that only twelve villas do not have private plunge pools. Try to get one of the ten spacious Pool Villa Suites, which have outdoor lounging terraces of a generous size.

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