Heading to Thailand? Whether it’s an island escape in Phuket or Krabi, or you are heading to the hills of Chiang Mai, there is a luxury resort that’s perfect for you. There’s a saying in Thai – sabai-sabai – which roughly translates to ‘everything is good’ and you’ll find it to be true if you stay at one of (or all) of these incredible places.
Meliá Phuket Mai Khao
The resort: This sparkling hotel nestled on the north-west coast of Phuket is an easy 15-minute drive from the airport. It features sprawling, oasis-like villas, cooking classes that anyone can excel at and an idyllic spa facility with a range of relaxing massages and treatments.
Nearby attractions: Mai Khao Beach is a tranquil seven-mile stretch along the coast known for its sleepy, laid-back nature. Experience true local culture by visiting community projects. Buffalo Hub, for example, is a charming, sustainable set-up where farmers are finding new uses for buffalo outside of their traditional rice field labour such as using their dung for fertiliser and as a gas for cooking. At the beach you can dig for your dinner using traditional nets to try to catch the elusive sand crab – a local delicacy and treasure.
Wow experience: Peppered along Mai Khao Beach are vegetable farms where you can pick Pak Lin Han. This rocket-style, leafy veg is unbelievable in Tom Kha Gai, a traditional soup bursting with flavour. Make this dish in one of Meliá’s cooking classes then sit back and enjoy. It’s a great way to end the day.
Banyan Tree Krabi
The resort: Snuggled alongside Dragon Crest Mountain National Park, Banyan Tree Krabi is its own little paradise, with stunning views of the islands in Phang Nga Bay. Take to the water and get involved in a range of activities such as stand-up paddle boarding or snorkelling, or book your spot in one of their Bird’s Nests – a circular seated area for drinks or dinner with incredible views of the water.
Nearby attractions: No trip to Krabi would be complete without visiting the magical islands in Thanbok Khorani National Park. Koh Hong, or Hong Island, is a short 20-minute ride from Banyan Tree and is best enjoyed first thing in the morning. Catch a traditional longboat from the resort which will take you in and around towering limestone cliffs dotted with lush jungle. On Hong Island you can swim in turquoise waters, sunbathe on pristine white sand, or get your heart rate up by hiking to the viewing platform for an uninterrupted 360-degree view.
Wow experience: Continue on to Hong Lagoon in your longboat for a sight you will never forget. You may face a bit of boat traffic getting in – the arched, narrow entrance is one of the most ‘Instragrammable’ spots in the area –but it’s well worth the bragging rights and will have your friends shrieking with envy.
Banyan Tree Koh Samui
The resort: Situated on the south-eastern peninsula of the popular holiday island off the back of Lamai Beach, Banyan Tree, Koh Samui, is the epitome of luxury. Here you’ll feel you’re in a world of your own. At first glance, its luxurious villas look like small tree huts dotted in among bushland which seems to ensconce them completely. Yet they manage to convey a complete sense of privacy while offering unbelievable views of the entire property and ocean.
Nearby attractions: If you’re after a bit of adventure and some time in the sun, walk down to Banyan Tree’s private beach and snorkel, paddleboard or kayak to your heart’s content or simply stay in your villa and float around in your 35sq m infinity pool.
Wow experience: The Rainforest is a signature feature of Banyan Tree’s spa facilities and focuses on a series of hydrotherapy treatments which guests, assisted by staff, experience in a certain order. Ice scrubs, saunas, steam rooms, jet massages and heated stone loungers are just some of the therapies on offer and will have you walking on clouds all day long.
Meliá Chiang Mai
The resort: This towering new hotel is situated right in the thick of city life and has easy walking access to the old city, night markets and temples. Take in the stunning city vistas at Mai The Sky Bar on the 21st floor or unwind and relax at the open-air Tien Pool Bar. Nearby attractions: Chiang Mai, set in the mountainous north region, is a three-hour flight from Bangkok and is a central hub for the avid explorer. Start your day with a walk around the city. You’ll find many stalls full of incredible aromas and produce, including the famous mangosteen, a juicy, flavourful fruit which I would describe as part mandarin, mango and lychee all in one.
Nearby attractions: For history buffs, Chiang Mai abounds in rich culture and history and there are many beautiful temples scattered throughout. Head up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a Buddhist temple built in the 19th century. Take part in Buddhist ceremonies and customs or simply admire the towering golden stupa in the centre.
Wow experience: After your day of activities, pull up a chair at a local restaurant and ask for a bowl of the local dish – Khao Soi. This delicious, chicken noodle curry soup will have you travelling back to the city every year for this dish alone!