Review of Banyan Tree, Koh Samui (and a day trip to Ko Tao!)

Situated on the hills surrounding a beach-front cove, Banyan Tree, Koh Samui is every bit the picture of your relaxing Thailand getaway.

We stayed in one of the Deluxe Pool Villas, which come with, you guessed it - your own private dipping pool overlooking the lush green gardens and beach. The villa layout was spacious, with a private entrance, separate indoor and outdoor living areas, bedroom and a huge open bathroom equipped with double vanities, rain shower and soaking tub.
Looking out from the living room to the private pool
Luxurious bathroom
The bathtub!
Despite the stellar accommodation, the service at the hotel was, I felt, below the five-star standard that one would expect from the Banyan Tree brand.

First, there was a rocky start to our stay at check-in, when reception were unable to locate our booking. This was after we had made a phone call from Bangkok a few days earlier to confirm our arrival.

Then, there was the failure by hotel staff to assist with restaurant bookings for dinner. We had heard great things about the onsite restaurant, Saffron, but were unable to sample it on this trip due to it being fully booked. This one we take most of the blame for (poor planning) as we did not realize that we had arrived not only during peak season, but also in the middle of a Koh Samui food festival. However, it would have been a nice gesture if the staff had thought slightly more creatively, and perhaps considered providing dinner from the restaurant in our villa.

And finally, the concierge was unable to assist us with bookings for a boat charter to nearby Ko Tao, famous for its crystal clear water for snorkeling. In the end, due to my excellent Google skills, we managed to arrange for a private charter (which turned out to be spectacular!).  

For those who like privacy - a private boat charter is highly recommended!
The beach - which can get crowded with tourists
Looking back at the umbrellas on the beach
The water is beautiful and clear
Ko Tao
The advantage of a private charter is being able to navigate away from the crowds
Swimming areas
Happy camper
If you are planning on a side trip to Ko Tao while visiting Koh Samui, be prepared for an early start - we were up at 6.00 am! I would also recommend going for the private rather than group charter if you can, as this will enable you to beat the crowds to the best snorkeling and swimming locations. 

Just before sunset on the beach
Lounging on the beach
Overall, I think the Banyan Tree Koh Samui is an excellent choice for a destination wedding or to celebrate that special occasion. If the service had been on par with the facilities, it would have made the perfect weekend getaway. 

  1. Plan ahead. It pays to make dinner reservations and spa treatment bookings as early as possible so you don't miss out!
  2. I highly recommend a day trip to Ko Tao, with its tropically warm and clear waters, especially if you are staying for more than a few days.
  3. If you are flying from Singapore, I would recommend travelling with Bangkok Airways, who have direct flights to Koh Samui (flight time is less than two hours). 
xx Amanda


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