by Adrienne Arieff
Here are a few of my favorite spas and resorts in Thailand. And don’t forget to try a Thai massage—they alone are worth the trip.
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Sri Lanta Resort
Koh Lanta Yai Island, Southern Thailand (on the Andaman Sea—arrive via ferry from Krabi or Phuket)
Sri Lanta, located on the remote, untouched island of Koh Lanta Yai, is a simple, Zen-inspired resort fully in tune with nature: envision wood-and-grass thatched pavilions, open-air baths, and pebble paths lined with soothing fountains. The atmosphere is laid back; the vibe, up-market hippy. Guests (mostly thirty-somethings) come to Sri Lanta for its morning yoga and meditation sessions, its open-air spa (which seemingly floats on water), and its shaded beachside pavilions.
Sunbathe by the hotel’s black-tiled swimming pool, located right on the beach—or soak up the sun on the hotel’s large lawn. If you get hungry, Sri Lanta offers the open-air Surya Chandra restaurant—try the sushi and iced cappuccinos. The resort also offers excursions, as well as activities like jungle trekking, snorkeling and diving trips, and catamaran sailing and windsurfing.
Muang Kulaypan Hotel
Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui (on Thailand’s eastern coast)
Drive past it on the busy road through Chaweng and you could be forgiven for thinking this was a state school rather than a pioneering boutique hotel. But behind the concrete-stilted foyer into the court, where tall palms sway gracefully above green lawns and a black-tiled pool, you’ll find a unique hotel whose design blends Zen form and Southern Siam lifestyle .
The hotel’s two low concrete wings stretch toward the white strip of Chaweng beach. After the claustrophobic bustle of town, Muang Kulaypan is an oasis of calm and spaciousness. Step inside the bedroom and your jai yen (calm heart) is fully restored: smooth wood, low beds, cream walls, and a cleansing aroma of eucalyptus blend in a paradigm of air-conditioned Oriental minimalism greet you. But before you chill out completely, check out the private beachside pavilions, where funky fusion dinners are served to the ripple of Thai music.
Phuket (just fifteen minutes from the airport)
Trisara is bordered by an unforgettable tropical forest and looks out over a private bay on Phuket’s quiet, undeveloped northwestern coastline.
This remarkable five-star resort has twenty-four secluded pool villas (each with its own private pool, outdoor shower, and private courtyard), all surrounded by gardens. Prices are high ($575 to $3960 a night, depending on the season)—but definitely worth it! Go single or with your sweetheart—you’ll have a memorable vacation either way.