Lets be honest, Asia can feel a bit over-run with tourism at the best of times, and finding a location with the right balance of great hotels and service with at least some of the natural beauty preserved isn’t easy.
Several years ago, I stayed at Chiva Som, in Hua Hin, a globally renowned health retreat filled with international celebrities and CEO’s, people escaping the every day and looking inside themselves for health, calm and often meaning. It’s a beautiful haven, and a stay there consists of carefully constructed days of meditation, massage, reading, therapies from visiting experts, light healthy meals, and so on.
As part of my stay, I was instructed to take a walk on the beach each day, and that was when I fell in love with Hua Hin, and spotted the InterContinental Hotel on the beach front, vowing to return one day. I love Chiva Som, and will certainly go back, but this time I wanted a holiday with my children, and to indulge in some relaxation and great food, but I still wanted to keep fit.
Hotels rarely exceed expectations, particularly for journalists, as we are so spoilt in our jobs, but the Intercontinental Hua Hin was amazing at every turn.
Read below for the brochure-like descriptions, but the real difference with this property, is it is being run by a GM who knows his stuff.
There’s just enough senior staff who speak excellent English and are culturally aware and educated, that nothing is too much trouble, and everything you need is attend to, from local tailors to shopping adventures, night markets, horse riding (at the front of the hotel) and so on.
There’s nothing worse than staying in a breathtakingly, stunning hotel only to turn to the waiter and ask for a Cosmopolitan, and he blanks you. That wont happen here.
If your evening room service menu is mixed up, the GM receives a text about it from his staff, and he personally apologises the next morning.
Upgrading to the Club makes things all the better too, as for a menial amount, you receive afternoon tea, free wine and champagne for 2 hours of an evening, and a host of other benefits, the highlights of which for me were a rose petal infused bath, as well as private boxing lesson (on different days) – and for the first time in my life, I had our bags packed prior to departure. As any mother knows, this was as good as it gets.
In short, there is literally nothing about this hotel I didn’t like, and my 7 year old twins, were equally charmed with a kid’s club, craft sessions, a wii to play on, and a swimming pool they couldn’t get enough of.
Breathtaking architecture includes a pool bar, lounge chairs gently suspended over the pool, a restaurant opening onto the pool with beach views which all provides a delicate cocoon, so the whole place has a coastal, breezie feeling of calm.
Frangipani filled lagoons wrap around restaurant tables, echoing the the relaxed, coastal feeling.
A beach-front house two families can stay in is a popular choice for visiting royalty and other high profile names, but the standard rooms are equally charming. Suites offer a private pool. They’re rooms you can picture in a Ralph Lauren catalogue. White, clean, elegant.
The day spa is serene, balanced and filled with lemongrass fragrances and local music that evoke a feeling of peace and serenity.
A gym is open 24 hours and manned by staff the whole time, and boxing lessons, yoga classes and tai chi are available in group and solo classes most days.
If I have to find a negative, it’s the 3 hour drive from Bangkok airport, but it’s so worth it. I will be back.