STAYED: VANA BELLE

Splayed out along a verdant hillside over Chaweng Noi Beach on Koh Samuis east coast lays one of the islands finest boutique resorts, Vana Belle. The name itself reflects the stunning location: vana meaning forest in Sanskrit and belle being French for beautiful. Indeed, the grounds are referred to as the Himmapan forest-an ancient mythical Buddhist forest full of mystery and wonder.

Guests at Vana Belle are greeted with a refreshing coconut and butterfly pea flower drink and a ceremonial hand washing symbolic of physical cleansing, preparing the mind and spirit to shed the baggage of the “real world” and transition into a more peaceful and carefree mind set.

Vana Belle is composed of 80 generously-sized pool suites and villas, all with dazzling views across the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Room sizes range from 86 to 172sqm so even the smallest rooms have ample space to sprawl out. Colourful, traditional style Thai artwork adorns the walls surrounding the classy furnishings and wooden accents. The management and staff have paid great attention to detail with fresh-baked cookies and quality coffee pod machines in each room, a drawer full of games in a bedside drawer, flat screen TVs, pleasing aromatherapy products, and a lengthy list covering nearly every amenity one could expect. A certified destination expert is at hand to assist in searching out other activities around the island or help you with just about anything.

The rooms are so luxurious and well-outfitted you may simply never want to stay outside – especially with 24-hour room service at your fingertips. However, if you do venture out you will find plenty to explore and experience nearby. Fronting the resort is a 180-metre strip of pristine white sand and tropical waters lined with beach chairs and umbrellas for guests as well as a sprawling sea-side pool. There are two restaurants serving distinctive Thai and Italian cuisines and a 24-hour fitness room to work off those calories. Speaking of food, the included breakfast is exceptional offering a wide array of options from fresh oysters and phenomenal baked goods, to local favourites and à la carte menu with rib eye steaks, foie gras, and much more. The Sunday brunch is renowned and attracts visitors from all over Samui. If you need to escape the midday sun, hideout in the posh library which sports a very impressive collection of books about Siamese history and culture. The bustling beach town of Chaweng is located a mere four kilometres away where there is plenty of shopping and nightlife year round.

Vana Belle has committed to reducing their environmental impact and has switched to paper straws, reusable glass water bottles and more. Some resorts in Thailand are beginning to adopt more sustainable methods and it’s good to see the early adopters leading the charge.

Visitors who experience the enchanting Himmapan forest at Vana Belle will forever feel the pull back to the land where divine luxuries abound.

9/99 Moo 3, Chaweng Noi Beach, Surat Thani, Koh Samui, +66 (0) 77 915 555

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