The Big Six: Chic Thai retreats


Ritz-Carlton Phulay Bay, Krabi

Overlooking a quiet stretch of white sand on the island of Krabi, Phulay Bay is the first of Ritz-Carlton's new brand of luxurious "Reserve" hideaways. The result is impressive – there are private plunge pools and in-house butlers, while local artisans crafted much of the furniture and architectural features of the 54 villas and pavilions, each set in a garden.

Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, 111 Moo 3 Nong Thalay, Muang Krabi (00 66 07 562 8111; Doubles start at 15,000 baht (£310), room only.

W Retreat, Koh Samui

This all villa resort on the northern tip of Koh Samui offers a departure from the usual teak and thatch interpretations of vernacular Thai architecture. The work of Bangkok-based MAPS Design, the 75 guestrooms are the height of trendy tropical style – all straight lines, contemporary furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows. There are also fabulous views from the open air bar, where a resident DJ keeps the atmosphere lively and "Wowtinis" are served. The Tonic Bar serves healthier options.

W Retreat Koh Samui, 4/1 Moo 1 Tambol Maenam, Surat Thani (00 66 77 915 999; Doubles start at 13,189 (£271) baht, room only.

The Naka Island, Naka Yai

One of Thailand's newest retreats opened last month on Naka Yai island, near Phuket. Its 67 thatched villas, each with its own plunge pool, are dotted amid coconut trees on the southern tip of this tiny island, hitherto inhabited by fishermen and visiting day trippers. There are stunning views out over the emerald waters of Phang Nga Bay and guests are just a short hop from the much-photographed limestone rock formations of nearby Phanak Island.

The Naka Island, Tambol Paklok, Amphur Thalang, Naka Yai (00 66 76 37 14 00; Villas start at 10,683 baht (£220), including breakfast and transfers from Phuket.

Paresa, Phuket

Paresa perches above a picturesque stretch of Phuket's indented coast known as Millionaire's Mile and blends in seamlessly. Its 49 villas and suites are decorated in a modern interpretation of southern Thai architecture and are both stylish and restrained. Guests can also wallow in the spa's energy pool.

Paresa, Layi-Nakalay Road, Kumala, Phuket (00 66 76 302 000; Doubles start at 17,127 baht (£352), including breakfast.

Thanyamundra Resort, Khao Sok

This resort is in a serene spot in the lush highlands of southern Thailand. Its seven suites and two bedrooms are set across two traditional-style villas on a working organic farm surrounded by paddy fields, fruit trees and bamboo forest.

Thanyamundra Organic Resort, Khoa Sok, Suratthani (00 66 76 336 000; Doubles start at 6,570 baht (£136), including breakfast.

137 Pillars House, Chiang Mai

A beautifully restored 19th-century mansion on the banks of the Mae Ping River is now home to Chiang Mai's newest hotel. Set in an upmarket neighbourhood, it harks back to the elegance of its heyday when it was used to accommodate visiting foreign dignitaries.

137 Pillars House, 2 soi Nawagate Road, Tambon Watgate, Muang, Chiang Mai (00 66 53 247 788; Doubles from 7,674 baht (£159).