Spa Sensation Villas

From a refreshing facial or perfect pedicure to a complete mud wrap, from a salt scrub to hot stone therapy, spa offerings are many and varied. These villas offer more than a simple massage on the sun lounger (see Body and Soul) – they include dedicated spa services with trained staff and special facilities for a sensational spa treatment.

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Villa 1880

Villa 1880

Indonesia » Bali » Greater Seminyak » Seminyak

Wow. Wow. WOWWWWWWW. Villa 1880 took my breath away the moment I arrived — no mean feat for a seasoned and perhaps super-critical reviewer of luxury villas. What exquisite taste the owners must possess, to have created such an appealing vacation home … and filled it with such covetable furniture and curios.  This is surely a dream villa for anyone who appreciates inspiring design.

We loved the unique blend of old and new — how the 138-year old plantation house sat so comfortably (and seamlessly) between the contemporary buildings. And I admit swooning over the uber-photogenic interiors filled with achingly chic designer furniture sitting on extraordinary brass inlaid flooring. The media room was fabulously flamboyant with sprawl-inducive sofas covered in pink velvet, a cocktail cabinet …and whatever prompted them to think of a stuffed peacock?  Magic was in every detail — for example, our welcome drink was served in a hollowed-out pineapple, complete with bamboo straw, and breakfast included home-made strawberry jam, marmalade, and passion fruit preserve. And how sweet that half of the vanity in the kids’ bunkroom bathroom was set lower so little ones could reach the basin! (Though we were kid-free on our visit, we could imagine them cavorting around in the bunk room with glee).

But what made our experience truly special was the staff. On a tropical island awash with villas boasting well-trained staff, Villa 1880’s raises the bar. Gede the manager was so charming and helpful – and the same went for the butlers we met… even the gardener was chatty. And we cannot enthuse enough about Chef Adi — a rare find, passionate about food and with an inventive mind. The meals we had at Villa 1880 were absolutely superb — oh for another of his home-made panacottas! Ria the spa therapist was also excellent, with a decade working at Shiva Som in the Maldives….whatever you do, don’t leave without having at least one massage with her in the villa’s beautiful spa room.

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From $790 ++

Bedrooms 5

Sleeps 8-16*

Our
Rating 8.8

Real-time Availability

Villa Amanzi

Villa Amanzi

Thailand » Phuket » Kata

    Settling quickly into the relaxed and cosseted ambiance of Villa Amanzi, we soon found our own favourite places to relax and enjoy the private facilities of this well-laid-out villa (of which there are many). Amanzi is an extremely comfortable and easy base from which to make the most of Phuket's tropical charms.   

We spent much of our time just chilling, chatting and feasting at the dining sala overlooking the pool; interspersed with a peaceful read on the private balcony outside our plush master suite. We never lost touch with the dreamy beach views, which are definitely one of the highlights at this villa – blemished only slightly at night by a brightly lit sign for the Katathani Hotel.   

With ten years’ experience in her role, Villa Amanzi’s manager is ultra-efficient. The food was fresh and delicious, always served in generous quantities, and with a barbecue ready and waiting we are already planning a pool party for our next visit!  

For us, the only slight disappointment was needing to wear flip-flops rather than pad around barefoot on the rough sand-washed pool terrace: it certainly wasn't a deal breaker though. There are a lot of steps at the villa, but the extra indulgence of a sauna and massage room more than made up for any strenuous climbs, and there’s always the lift for when a day by the pool leaves you just too exhausted to walk up to bed!
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From $925 ++ Special 4br Rate

Bedrooms 6

Sleeps 8

Our
Rating 8.2

Real-time Availability

Villa Amanzi

Villa Amanzi

Thailand » Phuket » Kata

    Settling quickly into the relaxed and cosseted ambiance of Villa Amanzi, we soon found our own favourite places to relax and enjoy the private facilities of this well-laid-out villa (of which there are many). Amanzi is an extremely comfortable and easy base from which to make the most of Phuket's tropical charms.   

We spent much of our time just chilling, chatting and feasting at the dining sala overlooking the pool; interspersed with a peaceful read on the private balcony outside our plush master suite. We never lost touch with the dreamy beach views, which are definitely one of the highlights at this villa – blemished only slightly at night by a brightly lit sign for the Katathani Hotel.   

With ten years’ experience in her role, Villa Amanzi’s manager is ultra-efficient. The food was fresh and delicious, always served in generous quantities, and with a barbecue ready and waiting we are already planning a pool party for our next visit!  

For us, the only slight disappointment was needing to wear flip-flops rather than pad around barefoot on the rough sand-washed pool terrace: it certainly wasn't a deal breaker though. There are a lot of steps at the villa, but the extra indulgence of a sauna and massage room more than made up for any strenuous climbs, and there’s always the lift for when a day by the pool leaves you just too exhausted to walk up to bed!
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From $1,150 ++

Bedrooms 6

Sleeps 12

Our
Rating 8.2

Real-time Availability

Amilla – the Amilla villa estate

Amilla – the Amilla villa estate

Maldives » Maldives » Maldives

It’s official:  I’m in heaven.  This is the perfect island home, and I don’t ever want to leave!  Flying over coral islands strung like pearls on a necklace, and sandbanks that sparkle in the sunlight, I knew we were in for a treat long before we arrived.  By the time we stepped onto the jetty to a phalanx of staff welcoming us to our ‘island home’, I was head over heels in love.

The Amilla Beach Villa Residences really are very special – an ultra-luxe destination with a relaxing island vibe and a bountiful heart-and-soul spirit.  Of the eight villas within this elite gated community, the six-bedroom Amilla Villa Estate was my favourite.

There are simply no words or pictures to do The Amilla Villa Estate justice.  Absolutely everything was beyond-high-expectation perfect – the contemporary Asia-style architecture, the clean lines of the light-filled interiors, the oh-so-perfect pool, the amazing amount of privacy and space.

The moment we arrived we kicked off our shoes and slipped into the island groove: swaying in the hammock, sunbathing on the cool pool loungers, diving into the silken lagoon waters mask-and-snorkel at the ready.  Indoors, we indulged in the many treats that arrived as if by magic throughout the day. (Turns out the villa came with its own magician –Munaadh, our hugely engaging Katheeb (house manager) who enriched our stay immeasurably.)  Munaadh proved to be a mind reader, able to anticipate our every whim, and shared his unbridled passion for the island with us.  He also organised a fabulous seafood-and-champagne barbecue at home – one of many culinary highlights of our stay.

Sauntering along sandy paths through coconut groves, past ancient Banyan trees, we were amazed by the huge choice of activities available across this small island.  Sure, you can have the laziest, most relaxing vacation ever – I would gladly have spent my entire time at the sublime Javva Spa alone!  But the chance to go dolphin watching, sunrise fishing and swimming with mantas was too tempting.

A shout-out to the astonishing array of restaurants at the Amilla Fushi must be made – the amazing culinary experiences and mouthwatering menus were among the many highlights of our trip.  Sunset cocktails followed by a fresh-from-the-sea meal at the over-water Feeling Koi restaurant is an absolute must; I admit to piling on the pounds during my stay.

Celeb-friendly privacy, acres of entertaining space and the fair-share bedrooms make The Amilla Villa Estate perfect for a gathering of friends. There’s also lots to keep kids entertained beyond the beach and pool – including the resort’s extensive recreational facilities and kids club.

It’s easy to lose all sense of time in this paradise.  In fact, ‘island time’ really does exist here, as the Amilla visionaries set their clocks two hours ahead of Male so guests can enjoy extra hours of daylight; how’s that for superlative customer service?  A sign at the Empire Beach Club claims “Happiness is not a destination, it’s a way of life.”  What a perfect epithet for our stay!
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From $26,600 ++

Bedrooms 6

Sleeps 12

Our
Rating 9.3

Baan Paa Talee Estate

Baan Paa Talee Estate

Thailand » Phuket » Kamala

We've seen some villas in our time, but Baan Paa Talee Estate took our breath away.  The quality and scale of the villa; the wild beauty of its surroundings; the vast ocean panoramas from almost every room; the warm welcome from the exceptional staff and the creativity of the villa's skilled chef are all in a class of their own.  We were particularly happy to learn all about the villa and the surrounding area from the villa’s knowledgeable, guest-relations manager, who made our stay even more special.

Although Baan Paa Talee is spread across four levels of accommodation, we found ourselves drawn to two special spots: the reception lounge on the 'top deck' - so beautiful at sunset – was the obvious choice for evening cocktails before moving into the glass-enshrined dining room for another memorable dinner; and the whole pool area, which worked brilliantly with its options for lazing, swimming, soaking in the jacuzzi, enjoying a game of pool in the bar area, or cooling off in the media room with a favourite movie.

The bedrooms are really well arranged, offering total privacy if you want it (especially in the Ocean Villa), or flexibility for families in adjoining suites.  All are beautifully fitted and furnished and very comfortable.  Our stay was perfect and we can only hope we get a chance to return.
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From $2,370 ++ Special 7br Rate

Bedrooms 9

Sleeps 16

Our
Rating 9.3

Real-time Availability

Baan Paa Talee Estate

Baan Paa Talee Estate

Thailand » Phuket » Kamala

We've seen some villas in our time, but Baan Paa Talee Estate took our breath away.  The quality and scale of the villa; the wild beauty of its surroundings; the vast ocean panoramas from almost every room; the warm welcome from the exceptional staff and the creativity of the villa's skilled chef are all in a class of their own.  We were particularly happy to learn all about the villa and the surrounding area from the villa’s knowledgeable, guest-relations manager, who made our stay even more special.

Although Baan Paa Talee is spread across four levels of accommodation, we found ourselves drawn to two special spots: the reception lounge on the 'top deck' - so beautiful at sunset – was the obvious choice for evening cocktails before moving into the glass-enshrined dining room for another memorable dinner; and the whole pool area, which worked brilliantly with its options for lazing, swimming, soaking in the jacuzzi, enjoying a game of pool in the bar area, or cooling off in the media room with a favourite movie.

The bedrooms are really well arranged, offering total privacy if you want it (especially in the Ocean Villa), or flexibility for families in adjoining suites.  All are beautifully fitted and furnished and very comfortable.  Our stay was perfect and we can only hope we get a chance to return.
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From $2,900 ++

Bedrooms 9

Sleeps 20

Our
Rating 9.3

Real-time Availability

Baan Taley Rom

Baan Taley Rom

Thailand » Phuket » Natai Beach

Moments before we arrived at the beautiful Baan Taley Rom, we had to pause in our car to wait out a Natai Beach-style traffic jam: a herd of buffalo was being ushered across the road, destined for some luscious green grazing grounds nearby, we guessed. And so began our delightful immersion into rural Thai charm.

It was well worth the wait. Once we stepped through the villa’s elegant arched entrance we found a regal yet welcoming holiday home of contemporary style that offered a fine balance to the dazzling sea and sky views beyond. Sitting in splendid isolation on an acre of absolute beachfront land, Baan Taley Rom is a rare find in the Phuket area. With so much space to work with, the villa has an exceptional range of facilities: a glittering 25-metre pool, a fully equipped gym, a spa room, wide sundecks and landscaped gardens for outdoor play. Though the villa facilities alone offered plenty to keep us occupied, having a friendly team of staff on hand ensured that we were never left wanting. Gathering for a family-style Thai meal prepared by the villa chef while watching the tropical sunset paint the sea and sky a rosy-golden glow is an experience we will not soon forget.
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From $1,450 ++ Special 4br Rate

Bedrooms 6

Sleeps 8

Our
Rating 8.8

Real-time Availability

Baan Taley Rom

Baan Taley Rom

Thailand » Phuket » Natai Beach

Moments before we arrived at the beautiful Baan Taley Rom, we had to pause in our car to wait out a Natai Beach-style traffic jam: a herd of buffalo was being ushered across the road, destined for some luscious green grazing grounds nearby, we guessed. And so began our delightful immersion into rural Thai charm.

It was well worth the wait. Once we stepped through the villa’s elegant arched entrance we found a regal yet welcoming holiday home of contemporary style that offered a fine balance to the dazzling sea and sky views beyond. Sitting in splendid isolation on an acre of absolute beachfront land, Baan Taley Rom is a rare find in the Phuket area. With so much space to work with, the villa has an exceptional range of facilities: a glittering 25-metre pool, a fully equipped gym, a spa room, wide sundecks and landscaped gardens for outdoor play. Though the villa facilities alone offered plenty to keep us occupied, having a friendly team of staff on hand ensured that we were never left wanting. Gathering for a family-style Thai meal prepared by the villa chef while watching the tropical sunset paint the sea and sky a rosy-golden glow is an experience we will not soon forget.
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From $1,800 ++

Bedrooms 6

Sleeps 12

Our
Rating 8.8

Real-time Availability

Ban Suriya

Ban Suriya

Thailand » Koh Samui » Lipa Noi

Ban Suriya is one of those villas where, as reviewers, you find yourself looking for something negative just to tick the ‘Surprises’ box. We failed.

Our time passed far too quickly at Ban Suriya.  In fact, a month would probably be needed to enjoy the villa to the full. It's not only the salubrious surroundings that stand out, it's the way everything seems to go that extra mile to please.  There's not just a computer, there's an iMac packed with tunes that you can play through Bose speakers in the lounge and poolside sala (gazebo).  The gym is not only well-equipped, it has a fridge, and a plunge pool bigger than some other villas' main pool.  Even the DVD collection includes films you wish you'd remembered to buy at the airport.

Ironically, even with so many options we found ourselves drawn to the simplest – the tree house by the beach. The staff is clearly proud to be part of the Ban Suriya experience and the live-in manager was knowledgeable and keen to help us appreciate the villa's pleasures. Although each bedroom is noticeably different, with no one losing out, the master is clearly the most extravagant with its terrazzo bath tub and ensuite lounge. Clever design touches in the guest rooms like direct pool and jacuzzi access, indulgent semi-outdoor bathrooms and hand-picked, stylish furnishings ensure everyone is content, while those staying the twin bedroom by the games room and gym or cosseted in the beachfront pavilion also enjoy complete privacy and independence.

Eight people is probably the minimum number you would need to fully appreciate this villa (there's an option to rent four bedrooms outside peak season), otherwise you might struggle to appreciate its exuberance.
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From $1,400 ++ Special 4br Rate

Bedrooms 6

Sleeps 8

Our
Rating 9.2
Guest Rating 8.2

Real-time Availability

Ban Suriya

Ban Suriya

Thailand » Koh Samui » Lipa Noi

Ban Suriya is one of those villas where, as reviewers, you find yourself looking for something negative just to tick the ‘Surprises’ box. We failed.

Our time passed far too quickly at Ban Suriya.  In fact, a month would probably be needed to enjoy the villa to the full. It's not only the salubrious surroundings that stand out, it's the way everything seems to go that extra mile to please.  There's not just a computer, there's an iMac packed with tunes that you can play through Bose speakers in the lounge and poolside sala (gazebo).  The gym is not only well-equipped, it has a fridge, and a plunge pool bigger than some other villas' main pool.  Even the DVD collection includes films you wish you'd remembered to buy at the airport.

Ironically, even with so many options we found ourselves drawn to the simplest – the tree house by the beach. The staff is clearly proud to be part of the Ban Suriya experience and the live-in manager was knowledgeable and keen to help us appreciate the villa's pleasures. Although each bedroom is noticeably different, with no one losing out, the master is clearly the most extravagant with its terrazzo bath tub and ensuite lounge. Clever design touches in the guest rooms like direct pool and jacuzzi access, indulgent semi-outdoor bathrooms and hand-picked, stylish furnishings ensure everyone is content, while those staying the twin bedroom by the games room and gym or cosseted in the beachfront pavilion also enjoy complete privacy and independence.

Eight people is probably the minimum number you would need to fully appreciate this villa (there's an option to rent four bedrooms outside peak season), otherwise you might struggle to appreciate its exuberance.
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From $1,675 ++ Special 5br Rate

Bedrooms 6

Sleeps 10-14*

Our
Rating 9.2
Guest Rating 8.2

Real-time Availability

* Additional charges may apply for maximum occupancy
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