The beautiful family-owned Tongsai Bay on the island of Koh Samui is a hard place to leave.
Just ten minutes from Koh Samui’s international airport, your driver takes a gentle right turn and heads towards 25 acres of tropical lushness. Welcome to the Tongsai Bay, which sits on a hillside shrouded in greenery overlooking a quiet and sheltered bay.
The pale golden sands of the beach are before you, while the resort’s cottages, suites and villas are almost hidden among the trees. In this familyowned charmer of a hotel, there is a place for everyone: families, couples — honeymooners especially — and groups of friends. You need never leave its shelter, but there is much of the island to explore when you are ready and rested. In the meantime you can enjoy the gardens, the beach, the two pools — one is adults-only — the restaurants and the Prana Spa, where each of the treatment cottages is built for two, with two massage beds, a herbal steam room, outdoor shower and relaxation area.
The Tongsai Bay is particularly popular with honeymooners as it offers romantic seclusion yet access to beach activities, restaurants and the outside world. Families love it and return regularly; in fact, some who enjoyed it in childhood now return with their own children. They come from Bangkok and as far afield as Birmingham and Brussels, as well as expats from Singapore and Hong Kong.
It is warm all year round, with a tropical monsoon climate. High season is from November to March and the wettest months are September and October.
This is where traditional Thai therapies combine with local ingredients: herbs and honey, clay and spices. Try a coffee and honey scrub or a white clay and turmeric mask. While you can opt for the energizing benefits of a traditional Thai massage, you can also have an aromatherapy or deep muscle massage, a head and shoulder version or a relaxing foot massage.
For a true pampering experience, have a special programme such as the Samui Dream, two hours of skin nourishment with a sun-soothing body mask and facial, plus a relaxing aromatherapy massage.
Difficult though it may be to tear yourself away from Tongsai Bay, a visit to the nearby Big Buddha (so called because it is 12 metres high) is almost a rite of passage. Or take an elephant trek through the jungle, where there are some spectacular waterfalls.
If you only take one tour, it should be the all-day visit to Ang Thong National Marine Park, which provides a spectacular view of the entire area and surrounding islands. It also allows plenty of time for bathing, snorkelling and lunching.
Either go for the Thai Way — over two hours of steam, scrub and massage using traditional Thai herbs and therapies — or the signature Return to Prana couple’s treatment. Inspired by the love story of a king and princess, it purports to help couples return to their natural vitality and energy. It begins in the herbal steam room, then there are scrubs using turmeric, lime juice and ginger for the man and jasmine, honey and sesame for the woman. This is followed by an aromatic milk bath, followed by a prana oil massage.