Since backpackers first started arriving in the Eighties, the island of Koh Samui has entertained a steady stream of pleasure-seekers lured by palm-fringed beaches and turquoise seas. While it is still possible to find a shady tree under which to live out your tropical fantasy, parts of the island have suffered from rapid, and often haphazard, development.
There are hundreds of places to stay at prices to suit all budgets, from huts on the beach to five-star hotels. Most people converge on the east coast at Chaweng, with its neon lights and fake designer clothes. But if this is not to your tastes it is very easy to escape to the comparatively tranquil west coast.
Still relatively undeveloped, the beaches here are virtually empty and it is ideally situated for daily diving or snorkelling trips to the reefs surrounding the Ang Thong Marine National Park. It is also where you'll find Le Royal Meridien Baan Taling Ngam.
Le Royal Meridien Baan Taling Ngam, 295 Moo 3, Taling Ngam Beach, Koh Samui, Thailand (00 66 77 423 019; www.meridien-samui.com). Perched on the edge of a cliff, the hotel can't fail to make a dramatic impact on arriving guests.
The views out to the west are stunning - small islands disappear over the horizon into flat, calm seas. Ideally located to make the most of the incredible sunsets, the infinity pool is one of the best places to be at dusk.
If you truly want to get away from it all then this is the place, though there is a slight sense that they don't want you to leave. You have everything you need on site - three restaurants, seven swimming pools and a host of leisure activities.
If you do want to explore the rest of the island it's worth hiring a car, otherwise you'll be relying on the limited shuttle bus service.
Time to the airport: the airport is in the north-east of the island and you can catch a taxi there for approximately 500 baht (£7). The hotel will arrange a pick up for you, this costs US$30 (£19) one way. The journey takes about 45 minutes. There are regular daily flights to Bangkok international airport.
All the accommodation is in traditional Thai-style villas, with balconies looking out to sea. Choose between beach villas, cliff villas, deluxe rooms and suites or the exclusive Royal Villa Baan Napa (with personal butler) all of which are decked-out in dark wood.
Freebies: enjoy the bottle of wine and fruit on arrival in your room, plus toiletries in the bathroom. Everything else is discreetly charged to your account.
Keeping in touch: direct dial phones and satellite TV in the room and internet access is available on site.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Double rooms start from US$250 (£156) excluding breakfast, but there are lots of offers available.
I'm not paying that
Coconut Villa, 114/1 Moo 4, Thong Tanote Beach, Koh Samui (00 66 77 423 151), is further down the coast and has fan cooled or air-con bungalows with en-suite bathrooms and a swimming pool set in gardens by the sea.
Doubles cost from 400 to 1500 baht (£5.50-£21).Reuse content