Ideally situated in Thailand's southwestern province of Krabi, Koh Lanta has long been a hotspot for backpackers. But unlike nearby Phuket and Phi Phi, the island has managed to go upmarket while retaining its slow, blissful vibe. Pimalai was the first of a clutch of luxury hotels to open on Koh Lanta in recent years and is arguably still the best.
Set in 100 acres of lush tropical gardens on the quiet southern tip of the island, it has direct access to a half-mile stretch of pristine white sand. Arriving by speedboat, you would never guess there's a largish resort hiding in the hillside's protected woodlands. 121 contemporary Thai-style rooms and new pool villas are virtually hidden amid the cashew trees; the spa is designed to blend into the jungle, with pretty thatched pavilions made of teak, bamboo and river stones. Guests, mainly 30-something couples, spend their days being pampered, chilling out by the fabulous infinity pools, windsurfing, kayaking. Beyond the resort, Pimalai offers hiking, elephant rides and trips to some of Thailand’s finest dive sites.