Known as the “Land of Smiles”, Thailand is an eastern wonder in the corner of the Earth that offers boundless reasons to fall in love with its natural beauty, historical riches and cultural treasures. Touted as one of the world’s most romantic destinations, a quick island hop over to Phuket is an absolute must when visiting this exotic bucket-list destination.
I was fortunate enough to experience this magical locale in the most luxe way possible; as a guest at Baan Banyan Villa, a privately-owned rental property where contemporary meets traditional Asian styles, blending perfectly with its natural environment. Pictured above framed by Baan Banyan Villa’s majestic namesake, the gorgeous banyan tree that graces its property is just as spectacular as its top-rated onsite staff complete with a private chef, a villa manager, and two housekeepers, all providing us extraordinary service beyond our imagination.
Upon arrival we are greeted outside by the entire staff and offered a beautiful flower garland called a malai, presented by our villa manager Bood as a form of good luck and respect followed by receiving a mind-blowing tour of Baan Banyan Villa - our stunning “home away from home.”
Nestled into the hillside of Kamala Bay with breathtaking ocean views surrounded by nature with uninterrupted views of the Andaman Sea, this ultra-chic villa that accommodates up to 12 guests was our luxurious landing pad for three wondrous days to enjoy with my husband all to ourselves.
Built on multiple levels to take advantage of its expansive incredible setting, the idyllic design created an aphrodisiac privacy from every angle. Having always stayed at five-star resorts and never experiencing “villa life” up until now, my state of “pinch me, I think I’m dreaming” was on constant replay as I reveled in my new vacation reality, feeling utterly spoiled in my newfound eye-opening appreciation of the “luxury villa” concept.
After our one foray off property to enjoy the beach at nearby boujee-style Café del Mar Beach Club, we couldn’t manage to tear ourselves away again from our villa paradise. The rest of our stay we blissfully lounged in the lap of luxury enjoying the expansive infinity edge pool, ending each day with a Thai massage poolside serenaded by the gentle breezes and crashing ocean waves that intoxicatingly surrounded us.
The travel industry continues to change, and so too do the mindsets and expectations of the luxury traveler. Where the five-star hotel was once the luxury experience that we all craved, who knew that life is better in a villa?
In addition, we were eating like royalty, with our private chef preparing utterly scrumptious cuisine with portion sizes enough to feed a large family, dining on delectable exotic fruits for breakfast, fresh caught white snapper; a delicate fish common to Thailand, expertly deboned for lunch, and humongous prawns and crab for dinner, all complimented with an array of mouthwatering Thai dishes with a presentation unsurpassed by any fine-dining establishment.
Motivated by its impressive gym with beautiful native stonework carved right out of the mountain we worked out daily and then being a bath lover, I rewarded myself by enjoying the larger-than-life jacuzzi tub in our master suite, bathing while taking in the magnificent ocean views.
There, in almost a meditative state surrounded by so much beauty, feeling blessed and completely spoiled I thought to myself, “Now this is the way to travel.” Baan Banyan Villa features the best of Thai hospitality traditions in an idyllic luxury villa environment and I will treasure this “livin’ la vida villa” experience as one of my all-time favorites and coming from me, that speaks volumes.
Linda Cooper is an award-winning TV host, producer, and writer serving as a brand ambassador to worldwide travel on her national luxury lifestyle series Travel Time with Linda and as a contributor to several lifestyle and travel publications. Her specialties include television and in lifestyle publications include the travel; lifestyle; luxury; tourism; hotels; restaurants; food/wine; fitness; spas; and retail shopping industries.
Season One of Travel Time with Linda aired nationally on AXS TV Network, winning a 2018 Telly Award, and is now available on Amazon Prime Video. Season Two returns to AXS TV Network featuring “Bucket-List Destinations,” airing nationwide in the USA Sunday mornings 8am ET and soon also available on Amazon Prime Video.