Thailand - Top 10 beachfront resorts - luxurious

so many modern, luxurious resorts on Thailand's beaches to choose from

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Those who can afford to build the most luxurious, can also afford the most stunning locations

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In this 'most luxurious' category we focus more on resort rooms, for it is here that guests have the highest expectations of being cocooned in comforts and luxuries that equal and surpass all that they might enjoy at home. The overall ambiance of the resorts listed here is certainly balanced into the equation, for most guests spend more of their time outside their rooms. Quality of service is the other critical factor, though this is a somewhat subjective topic, and one that can vary from day to day and person to person within the same resort. On our inspection visits to resorts we rarely get to sample the service, though it is safe to surmise that in Thailand, a country famed for its national culture of service, all of these top-name, true beachfront resorts offer superior levels of service.
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The fact that this list is has so many big international resort names is not so surprising. These big resort chains have reputations and drawing power that bring in a constant flow of relatively wealthy guests. There are any number of other luxury resorts along the beaches of Thailand, and it is easy to say that some of the individual resorts, while unable to compete in ultra-luxuries with the big names, might offer a more personalized or unique experience.
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While I have not stayed over-night in most of these resorts, the photos here show that I have done a thorough inspection of each, something I have a lot of experience in doing. True-Beachfront is thus confident that guests in these resorts will concur with our ‘most luxurious’ classification. The weakest part of this is list what is not included – there are so many other super-luxurious, true beachfront resorts in Thailand.

  1. Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood

  2. Conrad Samui, Koh Samui

  3. Trisara Phuket

  4. Four Seasons Samui, Koh Samui

  5. Phulay Bay, Krabi

  6. Hyatt Regency, Hua Hin

  7. Anantara Resort Phuket

  8. Sri Panwa Phuket

  9. Banyan Tree Samui, Koh Samui

  10. Sheraton Pattaya Resort, Pattaya

Soneva Kiri - alone at the very top end of the luxurious scale

In Thailand, a country now brimming with stunning, world-class resorts, it takes an amazing resort to be named at the top of this list of most luxurious beachfront resorts. Soneva Kiri is just that, amazing, and it commands superlatives at so many levels and floats on a cloud far above all true beachfront competition.
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It's apt, perhaps, that all guests of Soneva Kiri arrive by air, landing at a private airfield, while all others finding their way to this most natural and beautiful of Thai islands close to the Cambodian frontier endure long road and boat trips.
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Soneva Kiri is a collection of 35 luxury villas spread through a 150 acres of lush tropical forest. Each villa reflects the desires of a private owner, with no two alike. The design and construction with wood, stone and natural materials is superb, with the buildings fitting into the forest, not over it. While privately owned, each of the sumptuous villas is within the rental pool for those elite travellers who can afford the very best of virtually everything; and at around $3,000 per night, the best does not come cheaply.
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Guests of Soneva Kiri rarely meet anyone not part of the resort during their stay, though they might see a few smaller forest inhabitants scurrying across the forested trails through the resort's huge grounds. Koh Kood is one of Thailand's most remote and least developed islands, and Soneva is conceived to blend softly into the exceptional natural environment here.
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The best of virtually everything, it seems, is found here, and even the beach at Soneva Kiri is arguably the most beautiful on this island of exquisite beaches.
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Conrad Koh Samui; isolation on a grand sunset hillside

There is something about standing before a grand vista of ocean, islands and distant horizons that evokes a sense of awe and wonder in us humans. And such a grand natural spectacle blends oh-so-comfortably with the supreme luxury that Conrad Koh Samui serves from its amazing location.
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Koh Samui's new Conrad is both one of the most luxurious, true beachfront resorts on the island, and with its amazing location, one of the more daring and outstanding in the country. Quite far from this island's crowds and busy beaches, Conrad is also some distance from all shopping, dining and entertainment areas. The resort is obviously betting that superb luxury, tranquillity and a special seat in nature's grandstands viewing evening panoramas of setting sun and towering clouds over ocean and island will keep visitors enchanted.
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The day this writer visited Conrad for the first time an amazing storm rushed in across the horizon and, right in front of Conrad and camera, formed the perfect waterspout seen here. As if the drama of the storm clouds swallowing the islands one-by-one was not enough, that waterspout was the performance of a photographer's lifetime. Conrad's grandstand view over nature's most beautiful performances certainly enchanted this visitor.
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Trisara Resort; some call it Phuket's top luxurious resort

Many people have called Trisara the top beachfront resort in Phuket, an assessment that this writer concurs with – for many reasons. The fine luxuries of the bedroom and bathroom are all here – as they are in many top-end resorts. But at Trisara things go far beyond. The broad hillside over which this true beachfront resort is spread allows for both space and tranquillity. The pool villas are moulded into a veritable tropical forest, one that the developer went to extraordinary lengths to preserve. And of course, no private pool is exposed to the glare of eyes beyond, preserving intimate privacy. In fact, the whole resort is beyond outside eyes, for there is no view of it save that from a boat or airplane. Most visitors to Phuket simply don't realise that such a natural and tranquil place exists on this often-crowded island. That's another of Trisara's luxuries.
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The beach in front of Trisara is small, pretty and exceptionally private. At low tide it's too shallow for swimming – but that's the same for most tropical beaches and most in Phuket.
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Grand vistas over the Andaman Sea are another hallmark of Trisara, with every room and virtually every public space in the resort facing the daily spectacle of setting sun. The restaurant terrace is an excellent spot to enjoy the fall of the hot red orb below the Andaman horizon – with a cool red or white in hand, of course.
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Four Seasons Samui Resort; hidden on a beach that looks like the South Pacific

The name Four Seasons is another associated with sheer luxury, and Four Seasons Samui certainly upholds that reputation, plus some. This Koh Samui property has one of the most beautiful, and secretive, true beachfront locations on the island. Hardly anyone save the hotel's guests ever realize the resort is there, out of sight and hidden by hills on Samui's far northwest corner. The resort is built into the forest on two hill slopes that run down to one of the most beautiful little beaches on the island.
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Here we find an alluring combination of Four Season's luxurious interiors opening into lush tropical forest, with trails through the foliage leading to a beach that conjures images of the South Pacific.
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Phulay Bay Ritz-Carlton Reserve; the first Ritz-Carlton Reserve in the world

Powerful design can have a lasting influence over one's impression of a resort – be it negative or positive. The entrance to Phulay Bay Ritz-Carlton Reserve serves up one of the most powerful of all design impacts; radical, interesting design that no guest will forget.
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Move within the resort, however, and that experience is tempered by a thoroughly natural world, a super-luxury resort crafted into its patch of forest over-looking an island-studded sea.
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Enter the guest rooms, and again design comes to the fore, strong, attractive without the radical impact felt at first entry to reception. If the Ritz-Carlton name is associated with top-end luxuries of the old world, traditional kind, here their living luxuries are delivered in bold modern styles, often juxtaposed with strong colours. The views over foliage, pools and ocean enjoyed from most rooms add a calming dimension.
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Ritz-Carlton's out-of-the-way, true beachfront location in Krabi does not rely on the geographic drama of towering rock walls that have made this province so famous. Strange karst formations do provide the resort with a remarkable skyline, but within the resort the high points are tranquillity, peace and quiet within a natural environment – all great qualities when blended with Ritz-Carlton luxuries.
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Hyatt Regency Hua Hin; the luxury of space, tropical gardens and water

In confines of urbanity, beach resorts' the biggest problem – or luxury, if is has it – is often space, and by that criteria the Hyatt Regency Hua Hin is a big winner. Its 250 metre beachfront and huge area of manicured lawns and gardens are the biggest of their kind in central Hua Hin, Thailand's first real beach resort and favourite weekend destination of the Bangkok elite. The multi tentacles of the resort's swimming pool meander into the palm-studded gardens, and it offers an artificial beach, right by the real beach.
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Needless to say, guest rooms in this true beachfront resort offer plush luxuries at their Hyatt-style finest. Some have excellent ocean views. Public areas of the resort exhibit fine styling and exceptional lighting. However, luxury and opulence are abundant in many top-end resorts these days, and it's likely that the memories of guests leaving this resort will be dominated by plush green – that of the palms, lawns and lush tropical gardens that surround the inner luxuries.
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Anantara Resort Phuket; in a remote corner of Phuket far from the crowds

Of the many Anantara resorts that qualify as true beachfront and are mapped herein, this perhaps displays the most creative design and best integration into its environment. Land that is naturally low and swampy has been modelled into a mix of meandering waterways covered in lilies and grassy islands supporting accommodations. The result is a spacious, green and natural-looking water world. And that makes for a relaxing ambiance. The real luxury of Anantara Resort Phuket is experienced in its accommodations, all sumptuous villas wrapped around a private pool. The resort's huge area, the waterways and separate entrances all work to provide exceptional privacy.
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Anantara's public areas, and even the relaxation zone by the main swimming pool, also exhibit exceptional design replete with the pervading sense of opulence in a natural setting.
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Sri Panwa Phuket Luxury Hotel and Villa Resort; super luxury on a grand hilltop

Sri Panwa Phuket Luxury Hotel and Villa Resort is another of those quiet, elite establishments that hides behind gated doors while few people ever realize is there. But once inside we find a spectacular feat of construction, where luxury villas and pools cling to and overhang hillsides, and breath-taking views of ocean, islands, beaches and forest are seen in all directions.
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Here too the villas are privately owned, and rented for the majority of the year when the owners are not in residence. Villas come in amazing configurations and designs, often to maximize the views. All ooze super luxury.
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This true beachfront resort's public areas are no less beautiful or amazing, with grand views to the east and access to a small but pretty beach tucked in against the base of a hill that's a near-cliff.
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Banyan Tree Samui; on a beach so private that few people even know is there

Banyan Tree Samui is another of the top end, luxurious brands that has been able to secure a complete, private beach for itself. With the resort wrapped around the two hillsides that overlook beach and bay, it encloses the sand completely such that outsiders can only get to see this classic little coconut beach from a boat.
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The developers were smart enough, and had sufficient land, to leave the picturesque coconut plantation behind the beach in its natural state. This gives the heart of the resort the feel of tropical parklands, while public places like restaurants, pool and spa are built into the hillsides. The rooms of this true beachfront resort are generally higher up the hillside, with all enjoying excellent ocean and beach views.
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The interiors are all that one would expect of a Banyan Tree, creatively designed and thoroughly luxurious.
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Sheraton Pattaya Resort; enjoying sunsets with its back to the hustle & bustle,

Pattaya is a name synonymous with wild nightlife and raucous fun, not luxury. Sheraton Pattaya Resort , one of the newest true beachfront resorts here, breaks that image with its thoroughly luxurious property on the headland just south of Pattaya's main beach. This enclave of indulgence is just 10 minutes drive from the pulsating heart of Pattaya, but with its back turned to the noise and a hill between, it is a thoroughly detached enclave of tranquillity – and modern luxury.
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Rooms are all one would expect of a newly-built Sheraton; beautifully styled, replete with all comforts and luxuries expected of a famous international 5-star resort. Some offer private plunge pools, while most enjoy beautiful ocean vistas and sunsets over the Gulf of Thailand. Personalized butler services are available.
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Despite being dwarfed by a huge, much older neighbour, Sheraton Pattaya still has enough space to cultivate beautiful gardens and lawns through the heart of the resort. The low-rise buildings are largely enveloped by the trees, creating a very green atmosphere. Since there is little beach here, the resort has created a pretty and relaxing sand terrace by the ocean. But in Pattaya most guests wisely avoid swimming in the ocean and stick to resort pools. The Sheraton's three swimming pools on different levels have interesting designs that afford backwaters for privacy and shallow areas for children. In a modern Sheraton like this, you can expect no comforts to be overlooked.
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by John Everingham
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Want help planning the perfect beach holiday in Thailand? Free advice is available from True Beachfront’s expert, John E. He’s visited virtually every beach in the country with a hotel, and photographed over 1,100 Thai beachfront hotels in this site. E-mail john@beachf.com