Occasional odors from the lagoons surrounding the property
Ocean can be rough during the low season
Enormous property can be difficult to navigate
25-minute drive to Patong Beach
Banyan Tree Phuket is one of the larger five-pearl resorts in Phuket, with over 100 guest villas on sprawling garden grounds that can be difficult to navigate. Manmade lagoons and the Andaman Sea provide beautiful water views. Villas are spacious and include luxurious details like private outdoor spaces with hot tubs or pools, designer furniture, and pillow menus. Features here are more akin to what you'd find at an all-inclusive in the Caribbean than what's usually on offer in Thailand: cooking lessons, boat rides, a kids' club, several restaurants, a sandy beach, a freeform pool, yoga, a golf course, bikes, and even a baby elephant for photo opps. Downsides include high prices and an often red-flag beach during low season.
Unlike a lot of five-pearl properties in Phuket, the Banyan Tree has a bit of a chain vibe (albeit an extremely luxurious one). Much of the resort is centered around a manmade lagoon (which occasionally emits odors) and the on-site baby elephant, cooking lessons, and longteel boat rides feel more touristy than authentic. The enormous grounds are richly manicured with lush flowers, towering rubber trees, and maintained bike paths. Golf carts are on hand to shuttle guests to and fro. The lobby is located in a large pavilion with high wood ceilings and wicker furniture. Reflection pools and pagoda architecture add interesting touches. Many of the guests are couples, but families are a common enough sight as well.
Banyan Tree Phuket is located directly on the Andaman Sea on the Eastern coast of Phuket. The property is so large that there's not much of interest within safe walking distance. Expect a 25-minute drive south to the nightlife of Patong Beach and a 25-minute one north to Phuket International Airport. Parking at the resort is free.
Flawless villas with gorgeous outdoor spaces and tubs; some have pools
The villas are true highlights at Banyan Tree Phuket. Double Pool villas are built around the lagoon. Guests enter each through a private entrance surrounded by stone that leads into a long, covered outdoor hallway accented with abstract sculptures on both sides. A spacious living room has floor-to-ceiling windows and wicker loungers that face the outdoor infinity-edge swimming pool and hot tub combination. Wooden chandeliers hang overhead and glass circular tables provide a place to enjoy in-villa dining. The bedroom walls in these villas are made completely of glass (with doors leading out to the pools), so that it can almost feel like the beds are floating. Thick curtains and outdoor stone walls provide plenty of privacy. The enormous bathroom in each is placed at the opposite end of the villa. A black soaking bathtub large enough for two is placed in front of windows overlooking the lagoon. Double sinks, a wicker lounge chair, and private water closet make the space fully functional for a couple. There's a semi-private water closet and one of the largest rainhead showers we've seen in Thailand. Bath salts and toiletries are provided. A cozy living area includes a day bed topped with colorful pillows and a flat-screen TV and DVD player. Wi-Fi is free.
Fun extras include a pillow menu, scented incense, and the option to have baths filled with colorful flower petals.
Relaxing spa, freeform pool, fitness center -- and even a baby elephant
The spa at Banyan Tree Phuket is highly decorated and relaxing. An open-air pavilion with black columns painted with gold flowers, floating flower petals, and plush day beds provide an excellent place to chill before or after a treatment. Couples treatment rooms and an outdoor tub for two complete the romantic vibe. There's a gorgeous outdoor freeform pool (with a swim-up bar and hot tub) surrounded by a sophisticated pool deck set with sun loungers and umbrellas.
A fitness pavilion provides cardio equipment and weights. Yoga, tennis courts, a golf course, and bikes to borrow are additional fitness options. Staff organizes a wide variety of activities such as Thai language classes, cooking demonstrations, and tours of the local night market. Rides in traditional Thai boats on the lagoon are popular. Kids can hang out in the Turtle Club, where a "ranger" guides nature walks and supervises games indoors. Wi-Fi is free throughout.
We kind of feel sorry for the baby elephant on property, but it's definitely a unique feature and makes for some cute pictures.
The dining and drinking options at Banyan Tree Phuket get good marks for variety and quality, though prices are on the high side and breakfast isn't included in most packages. Banyan Cafe overlooks the golf course and serves a casual breakfast along with light lunches and early dinners. The Lobby Bar & Wine Rack is the place for an after-dinner cigar and glass of wine. Private lunches and dinners can be arranged with prior notice. The Pool Bar is adjacent to the swimming pool and includes a swim-up bar. Light snacks and cocktails are on offer. Saffron serves upscale Thai food for dinner with a resort casual dress code. Tamarind serves gourmet Japanese fare for dinner on a gorgeous outdoor, covered patio. Watercourt is the most casual option; it's where a breakfast buffet and dinner are served, along with a la carte options. In-villa dining is also available.
The beach at Banyan Tree Phuket looks like an idyllic tropical paradise, set with sun loungers and umbrellas facing the clear blue Andaman Sea. Depending on the time of year, the water can be rough so guests are advised to heed the flag system (red means "don't swim"). There's a lifeguard on duty during the day and vendors sell everything from jewelry to snacks. Small shops (not affiliated with the resort) sell beach toys and gear.
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