Imagine beach walks and golden horizons, a faint whiff of the ocean and the scent of romance in the air. That is Koh Samui for you: a gorgeous island that is one of the largest in Thailand. With its sun-kissed shores and tailored experiences, it has made a name as one of the hottest honeymoon destinations in Asia. What’s more, despite the boom in wedding tourism, the island has managed to keep its hospitality clean and green by capitalizing on natural beauty and affirming sustainability. From the finest eco-friendly resorts to the most romantic activities by the oceanfront.
Enter Anantara Lawana, an attractive beach resort close to Samui’s nightlife. It offers pool villas with great amenities along a fine stretch of sand, and is well-suited for couples and families looking for a chilled, tropical holiday. Its Tree Tops restaurant is one of the island’s most romantic dining experiences.
The resort is located on the north end of Chaweng; it’s far enough away to feel a world away from the somewhat seedy action on the main strip, but a close enough to walk to restaurants and shops. A tuk-tuk ride ‘downtown’ takes just five minutes and the airport is a 10-minute taxi ride away.
This smart and beautifully landscaped beach resort exudes contemporary luxury with Thai and Chinese design touches; there are over 100 villas and rooms rolling down a hillside to the sea. Rooms in two-storey houses and stand-alone pool villas provide a great sense of privacy, while the beachfront with its long pool, scores of deckchairs, a bar and restaurant terrace invites guests to interact.
The staff are friendly and forthcoming and will remember your name from day one. The 25-metre pool overlooks the beach and is the place to hang out with plenty of sun loungers, umbrellas and a bar that serves cocktails and comfort food. The stretch of beach in front of the resort is clean and the sea here is great for a swim at high tide and fine for a paddle around when the water is low. The library offers a decent selection of books on Thailand and several computers. The gym is compact, and daily complimentary classes of Thai Chi and yoga are popular. The spa has six treatment rooms and a steam room and offers ayurvedic Shirodhara therapy alongside more usual treatments.
Large, standard rooms are located on two floors in Thai-style houses – their design is partly inspired by traditional Thai bird cages. There’s a good sense of space and the ground-floor rooms come with plunge pools. The bathrooms are neat, and some are fitted out with open-air rain showers. Even better are the sumptuous pool villas, which are either clustered around large communal pools or come with their own private pools. Four-poster beds with mosquito nets and heavy wooden furniture convey a touch of class.
The seaside Ocean Kiss restaurant has two kitchens, with one dedicated to Thai food and the other to international fare. Sometimes there are barbeque nights and once a week there’s a Thai buffet, accompanied by fire jugglers and a live band belting out passable dance music and rock ‘n’ roll hits by the water’s edge. The breakfast buffet is generous and features a cold room where meats, cheeses, salmon and dairy products await hungry guests.
The culinary highlight is the intimate Tree Tops restaurant with just eight tables in their own raised salas; each is surrounded by tropical foliage and connected by wooden walkways, making it perfect for a romantic dinner. The food is great without being too fancy, and has an emphasis on Mediterranean and French dishes. The lamb rack is excellent, as is the beef tartare. It’s essential to book in advance. At this fine dining spot, island romance comes alive up in the tree canopies. Complement the set menu of your choice with a sip (or two or ten) from their exhaustive wine list. As the sun begins to set and the twilight covers the sandy patches in front of your eyes, the location becomes one of the most intimate spots to tell your better half how much you love them while glancing at the wonderful views across the Gulf of Thailand.
You can thank me later.
Only the best,