From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:The party-happy sands of Chaweng are just over the ridgeline to the north of Banyan Tree's private, palm-lined bay, part of a hidden valley on the eastern shore of Koh Samui. In a feat of engineering and architecture, the villas dramatically ascend the hillsides on stilts, clinging to the slopes. The golf cartdriving chauffeurs mean it when they tell you to hold on. Each of the 78 villas has a sizable swimming pool outside and earth tones inside. No razzle-dazzle here. The real magic is in thoughtful detailsa built-in head cushion in the bathtub, perfectly focused reading lights, and not one but four rain-style showerheads. Best of all, the resort delivers a real sense of place, particularly in the restaurants' authentic Thai dishes, the confident masseurs in the spa, and, of course, this being Thailand, a genuinely hospitable staff. 2011 Hot List
Which room to book: Royal Banyan villas have wraparound decks with fine views. Try I06 if you like heights or D02 if you prefer the beach. Standard-issue Garden Pool villa A09 is a deal, with its sunset view over the water off the back of the resort.Subscribe now to Condé Nast Traveler for just $1 an issue! ›
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