Secluded tropical settings. Pristine, private beaches. Views over the coconut palms to the Gulf of Thailand. Airy villas with personal saltwater pools. These upscale hotels in Koh Samui, Thailand’s second-largest island, are luxurious in every way.

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InterContinental Koh Samui Resort

Taling Ngam, Ko Samui, Thailand

The ultra-posh InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort is one of the most gorgeous resorts in Thailand. Its 70 villas, suites, and rooms all come with wonderful terraces and plenty of elegant touches (think goose-filled down pillows, wooden dining tables and chairs, separate rain showers, and exclusive toiletries). There are also seven swimming pools; large beach area (with nighttime bonfires); Water Sports Centre with paddle boards, catamarans, and kayaks; and several restaurants and bars. It's almost a world unto itself, drawing everyone from families to honeymooners. Yes, it's a pretty happening place, but most of the well-heeled guests staying in this more remote southwest side of Samui are looking for some peace and quiet.


Sandalwood Luxury Villas

Maret, Ko Samui, Thailand

The Sandalwood Luxury Villas sits at the top of a winding jungle road, in a secluded spot with panoramic views of the sea. Its 10 private luxury villas range in size from studios to four-bedroom units; all mix traditional Thai decor with marble, granite, and dark hardwood, and feature panoramic views of the sea in the distance. Add the hilltop infinity pool, full spa, Thai restaurant and cooking classes, and free breakfast to the list of outstanding features.


Santiburi Koh Samui

Mae Nam, Ko Samui, Thailand

The Santiburi Golf, Resort & Spa, with its 45 acres of palm gardens, is one of the poshest, most pampering resorts on the island of Samui, and possibly in all of Thailand. This five-pearl property, with its pristine and lovely beachfront, is located on Mae Nam Beach in the northern part of the island. The villas and one- and two-bedroom duplexes are Thai-inspired and contemporary, and come packed with amenities. There's a huge swimming pool, a kids' pool, a sports complex with a tennis court, Thai boxing, billiards, mountain bikes, and yoga, plus three fancy restaurants and several bars. The resort also owns the nearby championship 18 hole Santiburi Country Club Golf Course, where resort guests get tee-time priority.


Melati Beach Resort & Spa

Bophut, Ko Samui, Thailand

The Melati Beach Resort & Spa is surrounded by acres of jungle landscape, its teak and tile buildings open to waterfalls and warm ocean breezes. The secluded beachfront resort's 77 villas are large and airy with a neutral color palette dotted with Thai decorative accents, and furnished balconies or patios with outdoor soaking tubs. Downhill, the resort's grounds spill onto a white-sand beach with a bar and water sports. Melati also offers two outdoor pools, multiple dining and drinking options, a full spa, yoga center, and fitness center.


Le Meridien Koh Samui Resort & Spa

Lamai Beach, Ko Samui, Thailand

The 14 villas and 63 suites at this decadent boutique resort are decorated with a gorgeous teak-heavy Asian style and outfitted with high ceilings, terraces, soaking tubs, and rainfall showers. High-end extras like private infinity pools, open-air salas, ocean-facing second-story verandas, or fully enclosed courtyards might tempt some travelers to splurge on the top-tier room categories. The resort's chic infinity pool has a lovely ocean view, and though the quiet beach on-site is a bit narrow, the resort offers free shuttles to the nicer Lamai and Chaweng beaches. The price is competitive given the level of luxury, but some prefer nearby Rocky's Boutique Resort, which is a tad cheaper and a tad less luxurious.


Silavadee Pool Spa Resort

Lamai Beach, Ko Samui, Thailand

Picturesquely set on the coast of Koh Samui, overlooking the vibrant ocean on a peninsula just outside lively Lamai, Silavadee Pool Spa Resort is a luxurious retreat of sprawling villas, jaw-dropping ocean views, fresh Thai cuisine, and bamboo-fringed calm. In addition to the hotel's private beach and two serene infinity pools, all villas have private pools, and even lower-tier rooms have private terraces or gardens with ocean views, an outdoor hot tub, or both. Rooms feel authentically Thai, with local hardwood furnishings, bamboo screens, and breezy mosquito netting. The free breakfast and Wednesday cocktail hour show off the two restaurants' -- and rooftop and poolside bars' -- fresh, flavorful Thai and international cuisine. The extensive, acclaimed spa similarly demonstrates an East-meets-West approach. It's worth noting that the Silavadee is located a five- to 10-minute drive from Lamai, but the hotel does offer a free shuttle there four times a day, as well as one to Chaweng twice a day.


Six Senses Samui

Bophut, Ko Samui, Thailand

Set well away from the Chaweng action, this luxury villa property provides quiet, seclusion, and privacy -- though some Samui visitors might miss the proximity to the nightlife. All 66 units are private split-level villas with a contemporary rustic-chic aesthetic (vaulted woven-bamboo ceilings are a particularly atmospheric touch) and a seemingly endless amount of windows. Resort features include direct access to a white-sand beach, a stunner of an infinity pool, a Thai spa, an innovative fine-dining restaurant, and private butler service.


The Sunset Beach Resort & Spa, Taling Ngam

Taling Ngam, Ko Samui, Thailand

Hidden away on a quiet stretch of beach on Koh Samui's southwestern coast, the 21-room Sunset Beach Resort & Spa is an intimate and luxurious getaway far from the island's tourist hustle and bustle. All rooms are bright, airy, and tastefully outfitted in natural woods and traditional Thai crafts; all have outdoor space, the villas have outdoor showers, and all but the private garden villas have ocean views. The serene pool has a swim-up bar, bicycles are available to borrow, the spa has outdoor treatment pavilions, and the restaurant is top-notch. Even the second-floor gym has floor-to-ceiling windows with unobstructed ocean views.


Renaissance Koh Samui Resort & Spa

Lamai Beach, Ko Samui, Thailand

Situated on a hill overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, this luxe, mid-sized resort has multiple restaurants and bars, a full-service spa, two pools, and a fitness center -- but the highlight may be the small private beach. All 78 rooms are spacious and include balconies/patios, outdoor hot tubs, minibars, and flat-screen TVs. The overall vibe is refined but nonetheless relaxed, as the entire property exudes a tranquil feel. Wi-Fi and breakfast cost extra.


Nora Beach Resort and Spa

Chaweng, Ko Samui, Thailand

Like other upscale resorts in the area, Nora Beach Resort and Spa offers a beachside retreat with the comforts of home. Named after a traditional southern Thailand dance, Nora keeps Thai tradition alive through atmosphere and architecture. Complete with a pool, business center, gym, and spa, there’s almost no need to leave the property -- but if you do, daily shuttles to and from Chawang Beach simplify things. Nature reigns supreme, as seen in the vast number of gardens, shrubbery, and ponds built into the design. Dark wood furniture, traditional framed artwork, and exotic plants add to the ambiance.


Nora Buri Resort & Spa

Chaweng, Ko Samui, Thailand

Spread over a Koh Samui hillside that leads down to a private beach, Nora Buri Resort & Spa is a four-pearl resort outside Chaweng that caters to couples, families, groups, and business travelers alike. Its 144 spacious rooms have modern, Thai-infused decor with private balconies; the ocean-facing pool villas in particular are truly luxurious. Two infinity pools, a beach, three restaurants (one with nightly entertainment), and two bars keep low-key guests occupied, and the spa, fitness center, and water sports are requisite for this tier of hotel. Past guests have complained about the resort's somewhat isolated location (though there is a free shuttle into town several times a day).


The Kala Samui

Maret, Ko Samui, Thailand

The Kala Samui is an upscale boutique resort with a private sandy beach located between Chaweng and Lamai. The property has 32 spacious, wood-floored rooms with stylishly minimal decor and ocean views, as well as king-size beds, flat-screen TVs, minibars, free Wi-Fi, free water (replenished daily), and fresh fruit on arrival. Hotel highlights include a restaurant serving tasty fusion cuisine, an infinity pool, and a spa. There's little within walking distance aside from other resorts, but the hotel offers free shuttle service to Lamai and Chaweng. The hotel is perched on a rugged hillside with lots of steps that can be tricky for some guests  -- The Sarann, for instance, is a peaceful nearby property at the bottom of a hill and has a small fitness center, though lacks a nice beach.


Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Koh Samui

Lipa Noi, Ko Samui, Thailand

The trendy and modern Nikki Beach Resort is one of Koh Samui's hottest hotels and party spots. Located right on a private stretch of beach in Lipa Noi, on the island's western shore, the lively luxury resort was completely renovated in early 2014, and has two pools, one of which is open to hotel guests only. While the hotel's DJ-mixed, buffet-fueled Sunday brunches are renowned for their party atmosphere, the resort is relaxing during the rest of the week, with spacious rooms and villas with private terraces, cooking classes and movie nights, bicycles and kayaks, and spa treatments. Note that the restaurant and bar are expensive for the area and quality offered, and the party atmosphere isn't for everyone.