THE DEAL: RAYAVADEE, KRABI, THAILAND
Why It’s A Contender: Thailand is thick with spectacular, high-profile seaside hideaways with equally spectacular prices. Rayavadee, a Thai-owned resort near Phuket, offers luxury, excellent service and food, and one of the most breathtakingly romantic settings on earth. All of this comes at two thirds or even half of what you’ll pay at the big names. Set amid a 26-acre coconut plantation at the tip of the West Railay peninsula, and accessible only by boat, Rayavadee has two stunning beaches bordered by jungle-covered limestone cliffs.
The Rooms: There are about 100 two-story pavilions, plus a few two- and three-bedroom beachfront villas. Pavilions feature a serene upstairs bedroom and expansive bath with two-person tubs, showers, and the most fragrant rice-studded soaps in resort-dom. Downstairs is a rocking sofa suspended from the ceiling, a mini-bar, and a second bathroom.
More Reasons to Stay Here: The serene spa offers uniquely Thai treatments, and the gift shop has a superb and fairly priced collection of crafts from all over Southeast Asia. There’s also a restored 54-foot Siamese junk for excursions on the Andaman Sea.
The Deal: The 77 Deluxe Pavilions run from $425 to $670 per night, including a buffet breakfast and transfers via private speedboat from the Krabi airport.
Insider Tip: There’s really no need to book anything beyond the Deluxe Pavilions. More expensive Spa Pavilions include private outdoor Jacuzzis, which seem superfluous given the enormous pool and those beaches.
Caveat: Both beaches, like all those in Thailand, are public, so from mid-morning til around 4 p.m. or so you’ll share them with lots of day-tripping tourists. There’s plenty of privacy, though, around the pool and in chaise longues just off the sands.
The Details: 011-6675-620-630; www.rayavadee.com