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Banyan Tree Phuket, Bang Tao Bay 

33 Moo 4 Srisoonthorn Road
Bang Tao Bay , Phuket
Tel: 866 822 6926 (toll-free)
Tel: 66 76 324 374
view web site ›'s insider take:

Between its resorts in the Maldives, the Seychelles, and here, Banyan Tree has nailed the fine art of lounging by the sea. It's got the beachy ambience, but it's also rife with we-take-care-of-you amenities (if Amanpuri is booked up, you'll be quite happy here). The big difference is location: The Banyan Tree is part of the 988-acre gated Laguna Phuket complex, seven resorts that share amenities but sacrifice a bit of exclusivity. These 115 luxurious villas, sandwiched between the beach and a par-71 golf course, have sloping pavilion roofs and other nods to traditional Thai architecture. The lobby is a marvel of water and light, with an open roof and a decorative, pebble-bottomed pool. If you're here to relax, request one of the 13 Spa Pool Villas, which have an open-air sunken bathtub, outdoor shower, and in-room space for spa treatments. Or go for the ultimate upgrade to one of the 24 one-, two-, and three-bedroom Doublepool Villas, Banyan Tree's resort-within-a-resort next door. Guests of both properties share facilities like the spa. Golfers should also take the short drive up Highway 402 to Blue Canyon Country Club, which is said to have the best 18-hole course in Thailand (66-76-328-088). Restaurant options include Thai, Mediterranean, and spa-minded; Banyan Café is the casual choice, though when we visited, the kids' menu had an item called Finding Nemo's Fish Nuggets—which just seems wrong.—Updated by Cynthia Rosenfeld

Appeared in the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List, a directory of the world's best hotels and resorts, in 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007

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