10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Sexy, stylish and so hip it hurts...
"Walk into the newly opened Banyan Tree Samui with a view which stuns you with a taser-like ease. The private sandy bay is enveloped by sweeping hillsides, studded with stilted villas and coconut palms
Welcome drinks downed, a rollercoaster buggy ride to the villa is the start of the fun.
If you truly want to put on the show to the public, the villa is your stage. With floor to ceiling glass along the entire length, the view from the loo is splendid! The youthful resort hasnât quite entered its growth spurt so foliage privacy is minimal. Hillside neighbours are your audience so be sure to draw the blinds!. Everything is bright and shiny. Complimentary snorkels and flippers are positively jumping out of their boxes. i love that the GHD plugs straight into a universal socket! Lovinâ it.
Down at the main pool, the scene is serene, beautiful people lounge in designer bikinis, as enticing waters dazzle in the private beach down below. Sun loungers are a throne of pamper-dom with towels, ice-cold hand revivers, drinks and when-you-think life canât get any better we are offered a petite four of crackling warm apple strudel. I succumb to the unladylike behavior of stalking the staff to get a second offering; yes I do have my gripes.
Fabulous stay with amazing retstuarants (Saffron) and the islands only Rainforest Spa! check out : [--]"
- Travel date: Sun 10th of October 2010
Just love this side of Thailand
"Was very happy to have a chance to visit the new resort on Samui. I had been to the island about a year before and was rather disappointed with the accommodation options we found. Banyan Tree was far more to my liking.
I've stayed at a few of their properties, and they do vary a bit which makes it hard to compare. This one being so new was a little bit special. We didn't find time to go snorkelling or take the catamaran out for a sail, but did try the rain forest experience and spent a bit of time in the hot-tub. I love the villas and being surrounded by the palm trees.
The other thing I loved was the food at Saffron. I adore Thai food and always look forward to getting out on the street to indulge, so was realyl surprised to find a five-star resort with Thai food of such a great standard. Usually the Thai food is tamed down and modified for european tastes, but Saffron was both sophisticated and exciting. Just waht I like about Thai cooking.
We arrived on a lovely clear morning and the view of teh resort was one to remember. I imagine that in the years to come the gardens will grow up a little more and the resort will be perfect then."
- Travel date: Tue 5th of October 2010
Fantastic resort, especially for a romantic getaway
"Stayed here for 6 nights in the Royal Pavillion Villa and was upgraded to the Spa Villa. I'm sure how much of an upgrade this was as the views from the Pavillion Villa were probably better and the villas themselves of equal size / amenities (I never used the extra room on the Spa Villa).
Anyway, the resort itself is absolutely brilliant - from the moment we arrived in the evening and were ushered up the torchlit driveway to our welcome drink and cold towels, we knew the resort was something special.
Setting - beautiful private bay, tasteful villas blending into the hillside, gorgeous and practically deserted private beach (not fine sand but still great).
Villas - these really couldn't be improved upon. Each has an enormous pool and hot tub, the bathrooms have awesome 2 man baths and huge rainfall showers. The bedrooms and living rooms each have flatscreen tvs in and Ipod dock etc... . Easily the best accomodation of any five star hotel I've ever stayed in (including the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok). Our villa (H02) did have over a hundred steps to get to the door but we really didn't mind (I secretly suspect that we were "upgraded" to this villa because we were both young and not too out of shape!) - although I think this is the only villa in the resort with this many steps (or any steps at all in fact).
Service - polite and efficient, nothing is too much trouble. I didn't encounter a single chippy or unpleasant individual throughout my entire stay. Room service basically transforms your veranda (or sitting room) into a decorated restaurant - quite incredible. Buggy service on demand (If you're high up like we were you'll use this to get anywhere). Very helpful business room staff sorted our flights out in Thai and were generally wonderful!
Food - the breakfast buffet is the best I've ever had - everything from sushi to fruit salads to cheese and hams to full fried english breakfast to thai stirfries to pancakes to waffles included. It was so delicious we often ate so much we only had a very light lunch (if any) - but given the midday heat this was a really nice way to pace the day's food. We didn't leave the resort for food on any day because there was actually enough variety and quality without having to do so. That said, the SandS beach bar - whilst beautiful and great for a late night drink - was noticeably worse quality than Saffron and The Edge. Also, one evening we had at the Edge, we were the ONLY people in the restaurant which I didn't actually mind as we were outside and service was so discrete but some might.
Spa - fantastic, spent fair amount of time there with my girlfriend. Huge selection and fund Jungle hydrotherapy centre! Particualy recommend Jazz and Eve, and the asian blend massage!
So no doubt about it 5 star all round - we got engaged there and my biggest worry is what to do on the honeymoon (prob just come back ;)!).
That said, if I can offer some constructive criticism, it would be as follows (but please bear in mind this should all be seen in the context of an overall FANTASTIC review):
1) Infomation - there is too little on the website on this resort to help choose villas. It should be made clear that there is not really much difference other than view. More photos and floorplans would be nice. Also, there IS a map showing the layout of each villa and this should be put on the website to help people choose.
2) Food - if there was a weak spot, this was it. Breakfast and room service were brilliant, but Saffron was variable (sometimes wow, sometimes just ok) and SandS needs serious work - I had a tuna steak there which was tough as boots despite being rare and seafood "ceviche" is in fact a cooked seafood salad! Probably just teething problems - and after I left my food it was kindly removed from the bill and the chef came out to apologise. The Edge was great tho.
3) Resort - this is not a bad point, but people should know that this is a very secluded resort. Unless you make a serious effort, you could go a whole day and not see anyone else (other than at breakfast), as even some of the restaurants were empty at night. This was exactly what I wanted but thought best to flag to other people - tho' bear in mind I was here in low season. Some people may find the idea of being villa bound and having to order a buggy to get anytwhere an issue (but I didn't).
4) Movies - the on demand movies were limited (perhaps 3/4 good films) which over the course of the week was a pain. The resort provides a DVD player but no DVDs, and it doesn't play DVDs from different regions. Limited TV channels too but such nice weather outdoors would only be an issue if you got rained in :) TV / music controls were not intuitive (really) - had to get the guy to come and help even though I'm technically competent. Odd constant clicking noise when pluging my music into the Aux-In on the hifi.
But in general - fab resort, best I've ever been to. Will definitely come back!"
- Travel date: Mon 4th of October 2010
A Top Class Resort
"We enjoyed a 5 night stay in September in a garden villa. To give a bit of detail on the resort:
Rooms - the Villas are large and brand spanking new. You enter your villa site via a private entrance and pathway. Inside, there is a living area with large sofa (rather comfy), flatscreen tv, minbar (with tea/coffee making facilities) and coffe table. The next room (the middle of the 3) is the bedroom - great comfy bed. Finally the bathroom features an enormous bath (fit for 2) and a rainforest shower which I loved - the showerhead is on the ceiling and must be near 2 feet long. Outside you have a 7 by 5 metre pool (stunning), 2 beanbags, 2 day beds and a table and chairs with parasol. It would be hard to improve on the accomodation and comfort, all of which are first class, as you would expect at this price level. Privacy levels are good as well. The other, more expensive, villas seem very similar in size and spec - the only real difference appears to be the view.
Resort - the setting is undeniably impressive. Perched on steep slopes overlooking the sea, there are great views from all areas. We did not try the Spa but we did spend time in the rainforest experience place which we enjoyed greatly. As noted elswhere, if you are located a fair way from the breakfast place, or if you are heading out at night and dont want to arrive sweating and overheated, the golf cart service is a good feature. That said, we mainly moved around on foot (in that respect the garden view villas are great as you are much closer to the spa, swimming pool and beach than you would be in the hilltop villas).
Restaurants - the prices were pretty fair actually. Around 70 GBP in Saffron for a 3 course meal for 2 people (excluding alcohol). Wine is excessively priced but this is more a Thai tax issue than a Banyan Tree issue I suspect. The food in Saffron was great, as is the setting, and it was decent value. Reckon on paying around 40-50 GBP per head in the other restuarants for the same amount of food (mains being around 10-15 GBP). We also ate at the Edge (food was fine but the restuarant quite empty when we went) and the Beach restaurant (again, nice food and a nice setting).
Room Service - good value for sure. Around GBP10 (for example) for a burger. Pleasingly the Banyan tree prices quoted are all-in and include service and taxes - no getting a bill and finding that the true cost is actuallt 20% higher than you think. The only quibble I would have was that the service was a little fussy (a guy brings the food and leaves it outside while he painstakingly sets a table) and the food going towards being cold by the time it was served and the guy left.
Service - excellent, slick and professional throughout.
Cons - not many I am pleased to say. I think my main criticism would be a lack of information on the resort. The website includes few photos and even less information on the facilities and restuarants. It would be nice, for example, to have a couple of virtual tours of the rooms and perhaps the menus for the restuarants. This issue applied as well when we visited - we wanted to find out before booking what the menu in Saffron looked like and what the prices were. Given the location of the restaurant (atop the hill and a long way from the villas) you cannot readily wander up during the day to check with them, so you rely on the info in your room. Sadly however, the hotel guide in your room does not give any detail at all on the food available so it is something of a guessing game when you book as to what type of food there is, and what price it is. We ended up asking the front desk for info at breakfast - they did not even have a menu so we just had to book and find out when we went in the evening. This is, for me, an easy thing to fix and I hope they would take this on board.
Overall, minor quibbles aside, this is a top class resort. Pricy, but worth it, especially as there is little need to ever leave the resort."
- Travel date: Tue 28th of September 2010
A totally enjoyable holiday
"We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Banyan Tree Samui and do feel obliged to write this review. Having informed the Villa management that we were celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary, we were congratulated by an upgrading of our villa type (by many grades), a lovely cake with chocolate toppings, a bottle of red wine and a congratulations message nicely spelled out with flowers on top of our huge double bed in the bedroom. The hospitality and thoughtfulness was beyond anything we would have expected.
We don't really have to say much about the excellent services provided by the staff of Banyan Tree which is now almost a norm at any of its branches. What's more about Banyan Tree Samui was the kind of anticipation displayed by the staff there. Whenever we sent out or stated a request it would trigger a series of follow up actions by the staff, where applicable, without the need of telling them to do so.
The environment and the view of our villa were absolutely fantastic. Charges (transportation and meals) were very reasonable. We dined at the Saffron (the hilltop restaurant) on the night before our departure and were surprised to find that our dessert (a complimant of the restaurant) was made from mango and sweet rice beatifully decorated in a heart shape. We were told that this was to celebrate our wedding anniversary - a very sweet memory that we would never forget.
Our son is getting married next year and we would highly recommend that he and his wife should have their Honey Moon at Banyan Tree Samui. We are also thinking of revisiting this lovely place in the not too distant future."
- Travel date: Mon 27th of September 2010
"Just back from this hotel and I'd rate it the best I've stayed in, including other 5* hotels around the world. The setting is fantastic with, the site is set on the slopes of steep hills down to a private cove with sandy beach. The villa's are all similar and really it's for the view that you pay extra. We had one of the Royal Banyan Villa's which have an amazing view as they are the highest villa's looking over the resort and the beach.
If your there for the sun, you need a high villa as the lower ones are in shade by early afternoon.
The villa's are very well kitted out and you just step into the infinity pool from bedroom.
It's a bit odd at first getting a buggy everywhere, but they are very efficent and usually at villa 10mins after asking for one. The service levels are fantastic.everyone of the staff are friendly and can't do enough to help.
There are two main restaurants, Saffron and Sands. Saffron is a modern Thai style and Sands is on the beach with fish/steaks etc, both are very good and where the best meals we had on Koh Samui.
Breakfast was in another Restaurant The Edge, breakfast was really good with a fntastic range available.
The Spa was very nice and all treatments where very good. The Rainforest is a European style wellness centre and is very well laid out.
We loved every minute of our stay and I'd highly recommend this resort."
- Travel date: Sat 25th of September 2010
"This is a new resort near Lammai beach. The resort is build on a hillside which means getting around on foot can be tricky. Golf carts are readily available to take you from place to place which felt slightly restrictive at times.
The planning thats gone into the resort is amazing but there are one or two villas with very average views. We were shown to one on our first night. It seemed to be overlooking staff quarters and a car park though it was supposed to be 'garden view'. We quickly asked to be relocated which they did very efficiently. Hopefully as the planting on the resort matures this issue can be fixed.
The villas themselves are simply beautiful with separate living room bedroom and bathroom. Luxuriously fitted with large picture windows in each room and private pool.
The staff were excellent, especially the spa staff. Three very good restaurants and 30mins from Fisherman's Village at Bhoput.
Being Banyan Tree it's not really a kids place and I would think that close supervision of kids would be needed in places. The pool for example has quite a steep drop down to beach level. But there seem to be quite a lot of activities for kids and adults alike. The gym is very well equipped and there's a small yoga room too.
The view from the lobby bar is very special. Overall the whole resort is pretty breathtaking and made for a fabulous and relaxing week break."
- Travel date: Tue 7th of September 2010
Beautifull hotel & Excellent service
"Even though the resort was brand new (only 1 month operating), and without any recommendations from other travellers, we chose this resort based on past experience we had on other Banyan tree resorts and hotels. In addition their brochure was very attractive!
We have stayed for one week in this fabulous resort in a garden pool villa.
It's difficult to describe the beauty of the resort and the villa itself!
The villa was very spacious, modern and stylish with a touch of Thai style. Amazing bathroom with bathtub and huge rain shower room...Absolutely gorgeous! Not to mention all the amenities...
The frontside of the villa was all covered by huge windows that allows you to have fantastic view. No worries about your privacy, curtains were made to cover-up your villa whenever you wanted!
There were 2 lakes nearby our villa and at night you could hear the frogs... :-)
The resort was quite big so the internal transportation was made by the staff with a buggy car! You just had to call them and usually after 5 minutes they were there.
Our villa was very close to the spa, to the beach and to the main pool, so we usually use the buggy only when we were going to the breakfast area or to the lobby. I find that the buggy car was pretty funny!
I loved the fact that each room had free internet access, but even if you didn't have your one pc, in the library there was a laptop for the use of their guests.
Breakfast was amazing (situated up hill with view to the private beach of the hotel) with huge variety of food and i never find something was missing.
The room service was fantastic too, even for a small snack in your villa!
The resort had 2 main pools, one for children and another one for the adults. The staff were there to provide you all the time with towels and cold water.
The Spa (even though quite expensive) it's worth the trouble.
But... except the beauty of the resort, the impressive was the service it self!
That was the best service i ever got!
The staff was always gentle and discreet and ready to help you with everything.
I remember once we took the canoe for a ride and when we returned the staff run to the beach to provide us with cold water and cold towels to refresh our faces!!
What was also great was the free of charge every-day activity organized for their guests.
A very warm thought was also the little gift (left every night at our villa bed) and the plate of delicious "sweet bites" for sweet dreams...
One thing someone must definitively try are the 2 restaurants of the resort. The "Saffron" with Thai style signature food, the best we have ever ate in Thailand and the excellent "Sands" where someone can eat international but also thai cuisine.
Great food, great quality, great scenary!
Both restaurants had very reasonable prices (2 persons: 2 appetizer, 2 main courses+ dessert around 2500bt) compare to other restaurants in koh-Samui. The only thing we regret is that we didn't eat every day at the hotel!
Koh-Samui didn't thrilled us at all! We find that the beaches were ok but nothing special. The people were friendly but always try to take advantage of tourists (we are not all rich Western Europian/American), and the food not so cheap as they use to say about Thailand.
The only reason to return to this island is definitively only this fabulous resort!"
- Travel date: Thu 26th of August 2010
The bar has been raised
"My wife and I stayed at the Banyan Tree for a week. Our second holiday without our three children, we were looking for a truly romantic and relaxing holiday. The Banyan Tree did not disappoint.
We had a slight hiccup upon arrival. We had booked an ocean view villa but felt that our allocated villa was not exactly ocean view, well, if you lopped the top off a few coconut trees! We could see the ocean tangentially from the balcony, but had envisaged sea views from the boudoir! The staff were wonderful and sorted out a move to a much better situated and more private villa with fab views.
The villas themselves must have raised the bar for Samui. We stayed at Sala Samui a few years ago, which we enjoyed let me say, but this leaves it for dead. I would estimate that the villa is circa 250sqm in and outdoor, divided into sitting/lounge room with latest flat screen TV and sound system incl Ipod dock, huge bedroom with gorgeous king size bed, and lux bathroom with deep tub, genuinely for 2, complete with headrest, a separate rain shower that could fit 4, and dual acccess outdoor sala with 'pod' seating for 2 and overhead fan (note that not all ocean villas have this - our first villa had Bean bags and no outdoor shade area at all). All rooms have floor to ceiling views and the level of appointment is high. The villa pool is about 7m long and you drop right in from the bedroom. Add a willing partner and you seriously could never venture out of your villa.
The villas (78 in total) are gathered in a horse shoe shape around a small but pretty and well maintained private beach, raked daily as though a bunker on an exclusive golf course. The beach is not great for swimming due to the large number of submerged rocks. The terrain is quite steep and results in some very impressive engineering, as some villas cling to steep rock inclines whist others are nestled into the hillside foilage. As a result, there can be a significant difference in privacy villa to villa.
In view of the terrain, most travel within the resort is via chaffeured golf buggy. There seems to be a 15 min service pldege when you call reception, and arrival time was frequently less. If you are impatient, as we can be, sometimes it may be a tad annoying to wait. When you get on, hold on, as the hills can be steep.
Breakfast and room service were very good and, for the latter (breakfast being included in our rate), reasonably priced. The hotel offers an amazing lunch box deal which utilises some of the food not consumed at breakfast and adds some very good sandwiches. For 500B, order 1 for 2 people as it is huge. One very small gripe is the coffee. Whilst adequate, why is it not sublime like so much else here? Throw out the current brew and give illy a calll!
There is also reasonably high speed wifi free throughout the resort, a very well equipped gym and free use of all marine equipment and new mountain bikes, which we used for a 2hr spin around Lamai. Get a car, as not much within walking distance, and you can park free at the entrance.
Staff are very well trained and have exceptional english by Thai standards. The ratio of staff to guests must be very high and nothing is too much trouble. Sometimes the level of attention can get a bit embarassing.
If this all sounds a little too perfect, well, it is pretty damn good. The Peninsula in Bangkok may still, just, have more polished service, but for a beach resort only recently opened, this is an impressive debut. It will be interesting to see if W and Four Seasons can match it. For the moment though, I'd be surprised if there is better on Samui."
- Travel date: Sat 21st of August 2010
Really cool and gorgeous
"I went with a few girl friend when the resort just opened. Loved the design and how the resort was built around nature. Had a huge boulder in my villa and was surrounded by the coconut trees. Villa was well designed, so that you can access the pool from the bedroom. Definitely romantic!
Food was great and staff were all smiles. The view from the bar is really to die for. One must try is the hydrotheraphy spa - my 1st! Loved the hot sauna followed by the ice chips rub down. The vitality pool was the best!
Didn't like the steepness of the slopes as it was quite scary going by buggy. Will recommend the villas closer to the beach/lobby area."
- Travel date: Mon 26th of July 2010