A lush island retreat with distinctly Thai sensibilities.
Thailand’s Koh Samui has come a long way since its days as an undeveloped 1960’s backpacker refuge. Now? Travelers come not to disappear, but to indulge in the comforts of a modern paradise. For better or worse, that means resorts have taken over the island’s shores. While some are overwrought, Belmond Napasai gets it right by subscribing to the philosophy that less is more. Peering over the North Coast’s picturesque Baan Thai beach on 17 acres of tropical gardens, thatched-roof villas and suites are scattered between patches of cashew and coconut trees, hibiscus and bougainvillea. The interiors have a traditional, pared-down aesthetic, done up in dark wood, bamboo, and Asian textiles. Private balconies are outfitted with built-in daybeds and overlook the sea. Days here are spent wandering the tropical grounds between pick-up matches on the badminton and tennis courts, kayaking the Gulf of Thailand, and lounging by the infinity-edge pool. A range of on-site classes—leather carving, Thai-style boxing—showcase aspects of local culture. So too do the beachside Moo Kata barbecues, where chefs cook up platters of meat, seafood, and vegetables in a famous Thai hot pot.