Koh Samui Family Tours

Thailand Luxury Hotels

Bangkok is the third most popular city in the world for travelers and Thai hospitality and world-class properties have a lot to with it. Below is only sampling of dozens of world-class luxury hotels in the country, from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, into the Golden Triangle, and southern islands which have the most amazing beach resorts in the world. We have definite opinions based on two decades in Thailand and will recommend the right hotel and rooms for your travels.

BANGKOK


Our Bangkok trip follows in W Somerset Maugham’s footsteps, spending two nights at the world famous Mandarin Oriental Hotel, staying in a river view room enjoying splendid views over the Chai Praya River. The Mandarin Oriental is perfectly located for many great sights, including Wat Po and the Temple of the Dawn. Also close to hand are great craft shops, exquisite waterside restaurants and an indulgent spa.

Directly across the river, the Peninsula offers stunning, high-tower views over the river and city and the option to avoid Bangkok's legendary traffic with private helicopter transfer from the airport. Children will be thrilled with a private tour of the hotel's aeronautical museum, closed to the public.

 

Honeymooners may want to consider the newer, stylish Siam up river near the Grand Palace which has a more intimate setting and modern decor.

The Peninsula

Peninsula Bangkok by Helicopter
A Grand Entrance: Arriving by helicopter to the Peninsula


The Peninsula consistently ranks as a top three property in all of Asia, but the hotel has been our favorite in Bangkok over many years for several reasons including its riverfront location, stunning high tower views, and spacious outdoor grounds. The Peninsula is ideally located, with convenient boat dock for cruising to Bangkok's riverside attractions, including the Grand Palace, Chinatown, flower market, and temples. It's a perfect hotel for families, but there is also a pleasant piano lounge and fabulous outdoor dining along the river. The spa was extensively renovated and is the finest in the Bangkok.

Peninsula Bangkok Grand Terace Suite

The Peninsula has a large pleasant outdoor pool with Thai-style lounging pavilions. There is also a modern fitness center. The incredible tower views of the river and to downtown are unparalleled by any other hotel in Bangkok. For those with curiosity about the Oriental, which lies across the river, a direct ferry takes three minutes and we recommend enjoying afternoon tea in the Author's Lounge (below).

Top end dining options include Mei Jiang for fine Cantonese cuisine, Thiptara for Thai on the outdoor veranda surrounded by majestic banyan trees and lush tropical garden for a captivating dining experience by the river. As with other Peninsulas, room technology is state-of-the-art, with most aspects of room functions and hotel services seamlessly controlled by an tablet with simple, easily-learned interface.

The Peninsula is consistently rated a top-three property in all of Asia and with it's unique, high-tower balcony rooms with views over the river and city and provides The Oriental with genuine competition (we recommend the Peninsula for those with younger children over the more staid Oriental). For more active, older children, the nearby Anantara Riverside has larger resort grounds and swimming areas.

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The Siam

Too young... too hip for the Oriental? Bangkok's most celebrated hotel opening in years, the stylish Siam has finally trounced the Oriental as the city's finest property. This new and immaculate 39-suite luxury retreat features individually designed rooms and pool villas with lofty ceilings, original turn of the century oriental artwork and antiques, with dedicated butlers on the eastern banks of the Chao Praya near the Grand Palace.

The Siam Bangkok Hotel Exterior
The Siam, Bangkok, Thailand

The vibrant waterfront location offers mesmerizing views of the bustling river action, which we can hop into from the property's private pier. Bensley Design Studios, who have done work for the Oberoi and Oriental, have created a setting of understated elegance without the fuss of the Oriental and like luxury properties. Jules Kay observes "The art deco influences are reminiscent of the European architectural styles adopted during the reign of King Rama V during the 19th and 20th centuries."

Facilities include a fully equipped gym with Thai boxing ring, outdoor yoga terrace, luxury spa, riverside infinity pool, and private pier for river excursions. Consider this property as a more intimate and newer alternative to the Oriental, a top recommendations for honeymooners.

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Mandarin Oriental

The Oriental is like Graham Greene—you can't visit this part of Asia without hearing about either one. The legendary 1887 hotel is the Raffles of Bangkok with world-famous service that is equally part of the Oriental experience. Few other hotels in the world inspire such loyalty of past clients (the hotel is famous for remembering guest's preferences decades after their last stay). Now with an adjacent, modern tower, most rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows looking directly onto the bustling river tableau. If prestige is paramount or you're curious to experience what the fuss is all about, then by all means this should be your first choice in Bangkok.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok Author's Lounge
Mandarin Oriental Author's Lounge

The busy lobby is a popular meeting point for the city’s social and business elite and world-class restaurants include Le Normandie for gourmet French cuisine, Lord Jim’s for the city's finest seafood and Sala Rim Naam for traditional Thai cuisine featuring a nightly classical Thai dance show. Before or after dinner, the atmospheric Bamboo Bar features live jazz.

Two outdoor pools, and via a quick ferry ride across the river, are the hotel's tennis and squash courts, premier health and beauty spa, children’s day care center, and renowned cooking school.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok image collage

The standard of personal service is incomparable, marked by a personal butler, many who have served here for decades, who efficiently manage your every whim.

Alesso enjoying the Mandarin Oriental pool
The Mandarin Oriental and Peninsula feature the ultimate midday oases for kids to escape the typically high heat and cacophony of the streets. The Oriental ice cream cart which cruises the pool area, features fresh hand made cream.

Our take: The Oriental boasts the longest serving staff of any hotel in the world, with many on the job for decades. Take advantage of their local knowledge, they are a valuable resource. The best breakfast in Bangkok with fabulous views on the river, try the Thai style omelet. Even if not staying here, we recommend a visit for afternoon tea service in the splendid Author's Lounge or drinks at the Bamboo Bar (above).

CHIANG MAI


Chiang Mai boasts three renowned world-class resorts, replete with Asian styling and famed Thai service. There are also a few noteworthy boutique-level properties.

Dhara Devi

Dhara Devi fields, Chiang Mai

Formerly the Mandarin Oriental, The Dhevi is Chiang Mai's finest resort—even over the vaunted Four Seasons—an extraordinary, 60-acre property a few miles east of the city. The best of the 123 lodgings are the dramatically designed and lavishly appointed villas grouped around meandering streams and idyllic rice paddies (above). Most villas feature massive teak beams, Asian artifacts, and modern amenities.
Dhara Devi Chiang Mai biking
The palatial Grand Deluxe Villas are enhanced by spacious living/dining areas, huge master bedrooms with adjoining studies, teak-floored baths (double vanities, whirlpool tubs, walk-in showers), and terrace plunge pools and Thai-style lounging pavilions.

Dhara Devi, Chiang Mai dining

Four splendid specialty restaurants (French, Mediterranean, Chinese, Thai) are complemented by the Oriental Culinary Academy for cooking lessons. Amenities include a split-level pool, tennis and squash courts, a health and fitness center and a the city's finest spa (18 treatment rooms), evoking the architecture of a modern Mandalay royal palace. Suite, from $740; Grand Deluxe Villa, from $1,450. 
Web: www.dharadhevi.com

http://www.indochinatravel.com/images/icons/exhibits_programs.gif View a slideshow of the Dhara Dhevi

Four Seasons

Four Seasons Chiang Mai fields
Renowned, world-class property on par with the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, this enchanting resort oasis lies in a picturesque valley, 20 minutes north of Chiang Mai. Landscaped gardens, water lily ponds, and terraced rice paddies surround the 98 large and distinctive guest pavilions and villas. These feature spacious teak-floored bedrooms, separate dressing areas, oversize baths (garden soaking tubs and shower stalls), and inviting gazebos.
Thai and Continental restaurants are augmented by a casual café and charming Elephant Bar pavilion and excellent cooking school. Amenities include a 65-foot infinity lap pool, tennis, a fitness studio and sophisticated spa. Championship golf is available nearby. Upstairs pavilions offer rice paddy views. Childcare and kid's activities offered daily 9am to 5pm for children ages 4 to 12. Pavilion, from $965; Villa, from $1,450.
http://www.indochinatravel.com/images/icons/family.jpgRead more about the Four Season's gecko Children's Club for ages 4 to 12)

http://www.indochinatravel.com/images/icons/exhibits_programs.gif View a slideshow of the Four Seasons Chiang Mai

CHIANG RAI

Four Seasons Tented Camp

An hour and half north of Chiang Rai and world's away from the cacophony of Bangkok, the tented Camp is situated in the remote mountains and furthest reaches of the Golden Triangle.The sublime "jungle camp" is set on a lush hillside with views through the jungle off into Myanmar and Laos.

Four Season's Tented Camp Chiang Rai

With only just over a dozen luxurious "tented" rooms, the tented camp is one of the most exclusive retreats in Asia, featuring hand crafted teak furniture and floors with safari chic amenities such as two-person hand-hammered copper bathtubs, leather-and-hardwood bush chairs, paddle fans and hardwood desk. Tented rooms are air-conditioned with indoor and outdoor rain showers, spacious deck area, and travelers will experience the warm and attentive service the Four Seasons and Thais are known for.

Four Seasons Tented Camp room

The camp also has free-form pool, whirlpool, spa pavilion, and dining venues, including a panoramic treetop bar and wine cellar, serving Thai, Laotian, Burmese, and Western favorites. Private meals can be arranged, including a picnic in the jungles further afield, candlelight dinner with Thai music, dinner atop a neighboring peak, and a private sunrise breakfast with the elephants at the Camp Peak.

Baby elephants at the Four Seasons Tented Camp Thailand

Resort experiences feature elephant trekking (learning to bathe, feed and drive an elephant, before climb aboard for a ride through the jungle), Mekong River excursions, journeying on a riverboat to meet local hill tribes, and a new herbal adventure in which the camp chef and a botanical expert take you foraging into the Camp’s natural surroundings, where you’ll learn about—and gather—a variety of plants used for local cuisine and traditional medicine.

Three-Night Adventure Packages for one or two, all meals, open bar, camp activities and airport transfers included. Other packages available in conjunction with Four Seasons Chiang Mai. Note: Children under 10 years not allowed without prior permission of G.M.

Our take: For shorter trips, consider either the islands or this jungle oasis for your down time, but not both. If you are looking for more for a combination of resort with local culture, we have better recommendations where to spend your time. Let us plan an overland drive drive from Chang Mai, a scenic four-hour journey through the mountain valleys of the north, pausing at temples and villages along the way.

 

Le Méridien

This Starwood resort is the city's finest, located along the river. The resort sits on a tranquil 26 acres of land occupied by two magnificent, century-old Raintrees on the banks of the Kok River, and close to town. The stylish riverside spa is the perfect place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing, with a range of revitalizing massages, facials and body treatments by experienced professionals.

Le Méridien Suite Room, Chiang Rai, Thailand
Le Méridien Suite Room, Chiang Rai, Thailand

Italian is featured at resort’s signature restaurant, Favola, situated on the river's edge. Spend part of your day soaking up the sun aside the large outdoor swimming pool, surrounded by lavish landscape gardens, and a gently meandering river with views of the mountains beyond.

PHUKET

Amanpuri

Phuket's finest resort. The renowned, visually stunning Amanpuri is terraced into palm-shaded hillside above an exquisite white-sand cove (only an hour by air SW of Bangkok). The entire enclave conveys a beguiling Thai-Buddhist ambiance. A maze of walkways and steep stairs provides access to the 40 luxurious all-suite accommodations. In addition, there are 30 multi-bedroom Villa Homes.

Amanpuri Private villa pool
Amanpuri private villa

Two informal open-air restaurants offering Continental, Thai and Italian cuisine flank a serene 100-foot freshwater pool. Other facilities include tennis, a sophisticated indoor/outdoor spa and a fitness gym. Championship golf is available nearby. Scuba diving excursions and cruises to the Phi Phi Islands and dramatic Phang Nga Bay can be arranged on the resort's fleet of charter yachts and speedboats.

Amanpuri Beach

A romantic and cosmopolitan sanctuary. Two- to Six-bedroom Villas with private pools on request. Consider the Six Senses Sanctuary (below) for a more remote property.

Our take: Aman or Six Senses, Phuket or Samui? Weather? Give us a call and we'll help oyu make the right choice.

Six Senses Sanctuary

Opened in 2010, the Six Senses "sanctuary" provides a compelling alternative to the Amanpuri. On the rural island Koh Yao Noi (an hour off shore from Phuket) is now the most exclusive resort on the islands.

Six Senses Sanctuary Koh Yao Noi Thailand pool villa

The wellness theme permeates the resort and is the ultimate stress escape as one visitor notes: "days quickly fall into a rhythm of treatments, organic food, workout sessions and alternative therapies from iridology to blood analysis. The day is followed by perfect rest and deep, deep sleep. It can be hard to get to early morning yoga or kayaking because the bed is so comfortable." The rooms feature signs made with coconut husks, sugar palm leaf thatching, earthy tones, textured walls and natural light. There are 61 villas and two ubervillas - the Enclave and the Retreat on the Hill that are palatial compounds.

Six Senses Koh Yao Noi Pool Villa

Our take: Privacy and wellness are paramount at this remote resort.

KOH SAMUI

Napasai

An Orient Express (Belmond) property, recently-remodeled (2011). The Napasai is located on a tranquil part of the island at Maenam, on the quieter Northern coast of Samui—one of the most unique and private locations with magnificent ocean views.

Belmond napasai Koh Samui Villa ocean view

Napasai is a more intimate and value choice than the other top pick on Samui, the luxurious Four Seasons (on the other side of the island) and over the rustic Anantara. As is the Orient Express style featuring local traditional motifs, the 69 spacious rooms and suites are tastefully decorated in traditional Thai cottons and silks, wood and bamboo. The large baths are pleasant for relaxing after a long day of exploring the surroundings or water activities. Choose from a luxurious 2 bedroom Private Villa with pool, a Beachfront Family cottage (sleeps four), a Spa Cottage, a Beachfront Cottage (one bedroom) or a Seaview Cottage (one bedroom) for more dramatic views of the area.

Belmond Napasai Pool Villa

Thai cuisine, or seafood prepared with French. With a cooling exotic drink, relax at the bar or by the large free-form pool. The pool area is a standout, spacious with stunning views over the water and private beach.

Our take: This sprawling resort feels quiet even when full, with generous outdoor spaces for privacy. On the least busy coast of Samui. The Napasai also features the best gym of any other resort.

KRABI

Rayavadee

Krabi's, if not one the country's finest resorts situated at the heart of the stunning Phranang Peninsula on the edge of Krabi Marine National Park. Rayavadee is nestled discreetly amidst tropical gardens and coconut groves against a backdrop of sheer cliffs, lush jungle foliage and the clear waters of the Andaman Sea.

Rayavadee Resort Aerial View

The secluded 28-acre resort is an oasis of lush gardens, meandering paths, ponds and just over one hundred stylish lodgings in idyllic setting are a perfect couple's or honeymoon escape, although families can be accommodated. Circular two-story pavilions feature spacious living rooms with full bars, entertainment centers, large bedrooms and baths with soaking tubs and walk-in showers. Family pavilions have two bedrooms; spa pavilions include outdoor Jacuzzis; hydro-pool pavilions have private pools.

Rayavadee Resort Pool

Four beach side villas each have a large pool, a master suite and one or two guest bedrooms. Krua Phranang, one of four restaurants, serves traditional Thai dishes. A luxurious spa provides a complete range of treatments.

Our take: One of the most striking settings for a resort in the world, more remote and remove from more developed Samui and Phuket.

Private Villas

Thailand offers an unparalleled selection of private villas on the islands. Contact for the perfect place to accommodate your family, friends, or a sublime end to your Thailand honeymoon (below, Samjuna private villa on Koh Samui).

Samjuna Private Villa Koh Samui

 

 

Ready to plan your perfect Thailand trip? Contact us in San Francisco at (415) 731-4377 or in Bangkok at (66-81) 455-9990

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