Privacy abounds at Akaryn resort in Koh Samui
Koh Samui is sometimes held up as an example of all that's gone wrong with tourism in Thailand - with its overdevelopment, environmental problems and general tackiness - but there remain havens on the island where you can find shelter from the sarong vendors and thumping dance music.
The Akaryn Resort & Spa, in Bophut, on the north of the island, is such a place. One of only about half a dozen resorts with a private beach, the Akaryn is a seven-minute drive from the airport and five minutes from the tourist centre Chaweng, but it's a world away - at night, all you hear are the sounds of nature.
It's located on serene Hanuman Bay, named after the Hindu monkey god. Although we didn't see any of his simian cousins, we thought we heard some in the forests - but this was during one of the downpours that hit most afternoons, so we speculated that they just as likely could have been frogs.
The frog could be said to be the unofficial symbol of the Akaryn - apart from the amphibians you'll probably see hopping about there's also the so-called "Akaryn frog" in each room. The carved wooden creature is used to communicate with staff: leave it outside your door to request privacy, or on the bed to request a change of sheets.
The Akaryn's 34 polygonal suites and 18 1,076-square-foot villas are spread over a gentle slope that climbs up from the private beach. They resemble a stylised, utopian Thai village, and navigating the paths that wind through the leafy resort feels like you're on a little adventure every time.
We stay in one of the seven-sided pool suites, which have been designed with couples in mind: the bathroom's open rain shower, for example, would make it unsuitable for bunking with your mum. The decor is all understated luxury with an emphasis on Asian chic: chunky Thai wooden furniture, a four-poster bed, mood lighting, iPod dock and a flat-screen television.
During the day, light floods into our suite through the floor-to-ceiling windows, which slide open to allow immediate access to our little plunge pool. Each suite and villa comes with a private pool - the versions at the suites would be better described as jacuzzis, however. Once the fan palms, frangipani and bougainvillea are better established, guests will be able to enjoy their own private oasis while taking a dip
The private pools are a big selling point, but the jewel of the resort lies front and centre: a 20-metre-tall almond tree surrounded at its base by elevated wooden decking. Guests lounge about on beanbags in the shade reading, snoozing, sipping cocktails or making use of the resort's free Wi-fi.
On some afternoons, the bean bags beneath the tree are moved to make way for complimentary yoga or Pilates lessons. The guests simply move to one of the resort's three restaurants: Ochos (Spanish fine dining), The Legend (royal and old-world Thai) or The Edge (international).
The same tree also plays host to the highlight of our stay. On hearing it's my companion's birthday, the staff surprise her with a private candlelit dinner set up on the wooden decking beneath its broad branches.
As we are served Thai favourites such as tom yum goong and pad Thai while insects buzz around and waves lap against the private beach, we actually burst into laughter and ask ourselves how life could possibly be better. At that moment, we cannot imagine how it could.
Akaryn Resort & Spa
63/182 Moo 5, Tambon, Bophut, Koh Samui; tel: + 66 (0) 77 914700; akaryn.com
Several carriers, including Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways fly from Hong Kong to Koh Samui's international airport, where you'll be collected by a driver.
Pool suites cost from 5,500 baht (HK$1,400) per night, including breakfast.