Confused on where we are? I’m catching up on the black hole of content from May of 2016 to April of 2017 — when I jumped forward to blog the summer of 2017 as it was happening. This post is from December of 2016 through February of 2017, when I returned to Koh Tao for the season, and I can’t wait to turn my detailed notes and journals into more blog posts Thailand and Bali next! My apologies for any confusion with the timeline, and thanks for sticking with me.
By the way, craving some Southeast Asia adventure in your life? My Bali Blogging + Entrepreneurship retreat is still accepting applications and my Thailand Dive + Yoga retreat in August has spots remaining!
When your life feels like it’s falling apart, there are a lot of different ways to cope. My personal favorite? The Eat Pray Love method — get on a plane, soak up a change of scenery, and let the revelations and self reflections ensue. So when my little sis was reeling from the shock and disappointment of a lifetime, I knew there was only one thing I wanted to do: get her on a flight to Thailand.
While I was excited to have her on my Thai home of Koh Tao for the holidays, surrounded by my little island family, I also wanted her to myself for a few days. So I decided to combine my sixty-day visit to the immigration office in Koh Samui with a few days of sister spa time, and booked her a flight straight down to the islands to meet me upon arrival in Thailand.
I knew exactly where to go: ever since I’d heard about X2 Koh Samui Resort, a modern, minimalist resort with unlimited spa treatments for all guests, I was obsessed. Let me just allow a moment for that to sink in: Unlimited. Spa. Treatments. Say what?!
Access to extensive spa treatments is quite literally one of the top reasons I live in Southeast Asia, so you can only imagine how I felt I’d died and gone to heaven a little bit. And with a spa menu ranging from manicures to pedicures to facials to body treatments to massages, we had a lot of pampering to cram into our two nights and three days in this quiet corner of Lamai Beach.
We arrived to a surprise: we’d been upgraded to a two bedroom private pool villa. Well, IF YOU INSIST! With such an incredible luxury haven fallen into our laps, we decided to make the most of it and vowed not to leave the resort once. Even better? Leave the villa as little as possible. (Which was made difficult for me by the presence of cute complimentary beach cruiser bikes for exploring the town, but still.)
That meant poolside room service delivery, on the double.
One thing that’s weird about blogging something so far in the past is I was just cringing while I was uploading these photos with plastic straws in them. I can tell from other photos from this trip that this was after I started traveling with my own set of bamboo straws or steel straws, but I do know it was hard to get into the habit of asking for “no straw,” I’ve become far more fastidious as time has gone on.
Still, I’ve found plastic straws to be one of the hardest single use plastics to rid from my life. Because drinks are prepared out of sight, you often don’t think about the straw until you see it in front of you and its too late, unlike a plastic bag which you can quickly refuse when you see a cashier reaching for it. And in Southeast Asia, between the language barrier and the general lack of education around plastic, even when you remember to make the request, it isn’t always honored. Still, while I’m really proud of the efforts I’ve made to reduce my single use plastic, I always have further still to go.
Our pact not to leave the property was made simple by the fact that there was a delicious, oceanfront restaurant on site, 4K (pronounced ‘Fork’). We were literally in stitches over some of the food descriptions on the menu, which you’ll just have to stay tuned to the LOL category of my next roundup for.
X2 is a Thai brand in Thailand, so needless to say, while they served local and international fare, the Thai food is where they really shined.
Really though, it was all about the spa. While “unlimited” is a bit of a misnomer — of course, you are limited by the amount of therapists on hand and the number of spa rooms available, and the demand from other guests — there is a guarantee of two treatments per day.
We tried as wide a variety as possible and while the manicures and pedicures weren’t fantastic — kind of a problem all across Thailand, though, to be fair — everything else was blissful. We tried things like body wraps and scrubs that I normally have trouble justifying the cost of, and barely got out of our robes the whole time. Getting to sign up for treatments without having to weigh up the price felt like the most incredible luxury.
While the Koh Samui location is unique in its all-inclusive spa offerings, X2 has resorts and hotels all over Thailand, each one a little different from the next. But across the board, the X2 brand is Thai-owned and operated, a refreshing break from the international chains that permeate Thai resort towns, and has a fun and fresh sense of humor.
The brand has a large following of domestic travelers, and you’re likely to share your stay with young, hip Thais on holidays of their own.
While December is high season in Thailand, the weather can actually be pretty temperamental. It rained on and off for the first two days of our trip, with the sun only finally peeking out on the day we had to depart.
Yet this is where that spa all-inclusive is really clutch. You don’t have to panic so hard about stormy weather spoiling your beach holiday when there’s unlimited massages waiting in the wings as your plan b.
Another product side note: the dope lipsticks we are rocking in this post? Olivia had delivered them from the USA, where a girl I went to high school with had developed a brand called Scorch. Scorch lip products are colorful, cruelty & paraben free, and made right in California.
I’m all about supporting fellow entrepreneurs, fellow women, and fellow Shaker High alumni, so this is a total triple threat. I’ve never been much of a lipstick girl, but since that first swipe, I’m totally hooked, and chances are if you see me rocking bright lips, I have Scorch to thank for it.
Before this trip, the spa all-inclusive was something so magical and mythical I thought it could only ever exist in my dreams. I’m almost afraid to start researching if others exist — if so, I might have to quit my life and blog as I know them and start fresh with a diary of non-stop massages until my money runs out. Is there a twelve step group for this?
Regardless, we left X2 Koh Samui Resort relaxed, rested, and ready to jump into the rest of our sister-cation. This may have been my first stay at an X2 property in Thailand, but I already knew it wouldn’t be my last.
Would you go to a spa all-inclusive?
HOLY CRAP! These photos are amazing! What a gorgeous place!
Right?! Not a bad sister trip!
Unlimited spa treatments sounds like a literal dream come true! I can never justify the high prices of massages/facials/etc here in the US, so this place might be a MUST visit for me!
One of the many reasons I spent so many years wandering around Asia 🙂
I’m doing so well declining single use plastic bags & bottles. My next step is to have bamboo / steel straws handy. I hadn’t thought about that, but reading it in this post & the ones from Egypt inspired me!
It’s so weird writing these retrospective posts and realizing how much my habits have changed! Wish I’d picked up some habits long ago…
Wow, fantastic place! I loved it!
Thanks for reading, Anna! x
I’ve just moved to Ghana and am really wishing I’d brought a steel straw with me. I did get a LifeStraw bottle (thanks to your rec!) which is cutting down significantly on single-use bottle consumption! But every drink seems to come with a straw, and I’m bad about asking them to leave it off before it’s too late. Trash is such a huge problem here that it’s all the more obvious the impact that my plastic is having on the environment.
One step at a time! I’m finally feeling like I’ve got the straw thing down, at least 90% of the time. It took a while, though! I finally now have a set of bamboo utensils that I always have in my purse so I don’t have to take single use forks, knives, spoons or chopsticks anymore. Woo hoo!
OMG unlimited massages?! Sign me up, immediately.
Right? What I’d give to time travel back there, right now!
WHoaa,,sister quality time! The picture of you both with legs on top is so cute. Agree, it’s still hard for me to completely remove straw from my life but trying my best for now!
I love that picture 🙂 And I love having a travel buddy who is always down for photo shoots!
Oh this looks divine Alex, very contemporary. Just like I like.
One thing I miss about Thailand, being back in the UK is the massages. Living on the little island of Koh Chang, I would make the most of my Saturdays off and nip into Kai Bae for a bit of reflexology or full body massage.I definitely can’t afford to do this each week here 🙂
I know how you feel! I was always a twice-a-week-massage kinda girl in Thailand. Here in the US it’s indulgent to do so once a month!
I want to plan a sister trip to Koh Samui!
Now you know the perfect place to go 🙂
My sister and I stayed at X2 last night after reading about it on your blog – thank you so much for the recommendation because it was incredible! We made full use of the unlimited spa treatments… also they now have paper straws you’ll be pleased to know!
Wow I love that! Both that you stayed there with your sister, too, and that they are going green 🙂 You rock, thanks for the smile!