Amari Hua Hin – A Review By Punam Mohandas
The Amari Hua Hin does not have a very prepossessing façade, however, the interiors are cool and refreshing. The lobby is an oblong-shaped room, done up in white and deep blue that somehow gives out a very welcoming vibe. An overhanging decoration in red, supposed to resemble wild coral, is suspended over a large, white orchid arrangement to one end of the room. Wall shelves have artefacts like horse busts, large-sized chess horsemen and pawns. Scattered white cane chairs have cushions bearing horse head imprints as do the lampshades; the horse is considered the symbol of Hua Hin as it is possibly the only beach town in Thailand that offers horse rides on the beach.
Most unfortunately, the Amari Hua Hin is not situated along the beach, although it is a short five minute walk away and the hotel also organizes buggy rides to take guests across. Due to this factor, the Amari Hua Hin is billed as a 4star hotel, although most of the services it provides are akin to a 5star property.
Accommodation consists of 223-keys, divided into two basic categories. The Deluxe rooms are sub-divided into Hillside View, Ocean View, Pool View or no view. The Suites offer Pool, Ocean or Hillside views and are further sub-divided into one or two bedroom suites.
The Family Suites have two bedrooms (one with twin beds) and a common shared bathroom that has twin washbasins, with two huge round mirrors of differing sizes (rather like a Venn diagram) above them. The decor is fairly same throughout, with coir matting and large screen TV’s in each bedroom. The master bedroom has a small sitting space with sofa and cane rocking chair, while the twin-bedded room has a study desk. Flower printed bedspreads and throw cushions make a sober contrast to delightful, printed cotton drapes in a biscuit hue with yellow and green flowers patterned across it. All the suites have small walk-in closets and all twin bed rooms (except connecting rooms) have a really wide daybed that can easily accommodate a small size adult. There are no bathtubs in this category; the eight one bedroom suites are the only rooms which have bathtubs.
The rooms differ only in respect of the view offered. All rooms have balconies and are done up in similar décor of neutral hues and light brown, with coconut coir matting and framed black-and-white photos of the Hua Hin of yesteryears.
Room amenities include two complimentary (glass) bottles of drinking water (four in the suites) although guests can request for additional bottles; tea/coffee maker (espresso machines in the one bed suites) minibar; large screen LCD TV; DVD player; iPod docking station; electronic safe; umbrellas and jet spray as well as rain shower in the bathroom. Any additional requirements, such as iron and ironing board or toiletries, are available on request. A suggestion would be to have clothes racks on the balconies to dry swimwear on.
F&B options include the 210-covers Mosaic, open only for buffet breakfast; if there is a larger crowd, the adjacent ballroom can be used to accommodate the numbers. Mosaic has huge, hanging cane baskets from the ceiling that disguise the lights. Black and grey seating is offset by a red wall panel studded with black crustaceans. Breakfast is a spread of Asian as well as international food items, accompanied by Thai fresh fruits. The 32-covers Coral Lounge is just off the lobby and a surprisingly large space, so that more seating can be added if required. Happy Hour with drinks and canapes is arranged here complimentary between 6-7.30pm for those who have booked the Executive Lounge package; other guests can also avail of this service at a charge. This outlet is usually open until midnight but due to the on-going World Cup tournament, it is operating 24-hours. The Reef Deli caters for lunch and dinner (a la carte service only) and has 30-covers indoor and another 40-covers outdoor, with casual as well as more formal seating. The Aqua Pool Bar has 50-covers including the sun loungers and serves drinks and snacks.
The signature outlet, Shoreline, is a separate building across the road and not part of the main hotel. It offers 110-covers, comprising indoor seating with calming white interiors and lazily circling ceiling fans, as well as tables set up on the patio overlooking the beach. This restaurant is extremely popular with non-resident guests as well. I must state that the chef here is quite a whizz; the seafood platter, which is the most popular choice on the menu among diners, was grilled to perfection, while the scallops on a bed of spicy greens native to Hua Hin, threw the tastebuds into a frenzy of delight. To end this feast was a marvel of coffee cream brulee served with a thin cover of caramelised sugar, atop which rested diced strawberries and a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Indeed, the food at the Amari Hua Hin was of a generally pleasing standard throughout.
There is free wifi across the hotel and guests can connect up to two devices simultaneously. Convention facilities include the Ballroom that can be partitioned and can accommodate 300 pax cocktail style. This room is done up in sea green and grey with the similar ceiling artefact of simulated coral, this time in white. Apart from this, there are four smaller rooms titled Imagine I, II, III and IV, which can accommodate between 10-100 pax (opened up) theatre style.
Recreation facilities include two swimming pools, the smaller of which is by the Shoreline restaurant and which closes at 6pm, so that staff can lay out the dinner service. The larger pool is actually quite humungous in size, measuring 40 metres in length by 12 meters in breadth. A beautifully planned water body with a sloping floor (rather than the standard ladders) so that one walks into it, it has a couple of bamboo rods suspended high up with water gushing out of them into the pool, giving the sound of a rushing waterfall. The pool is flanked on one side by a garden area where guests can play either tennis or volleyball.
To the side of the pool bar is a kiddy pool with the same gently sloping floor, shaded from the sun by overhanging tree branches.
The Fitness Centre is small but compact, with all the usual equipment, however, there are no sauna/steam facilities. There is a Kids Club within this zone, with toys, games and a television. Children are supervised here through the day at no charge however, activities such as glass painting, candle making and suchlike are on a chargeable basis. The Amari can also organise babysitters in the room at a charge.
The Breeze Spa has the unusual and lovely fragrance of wild turmeric wafting through it. A mosaic stone chipped floor offsets blue covered sofas and a hammock chair. There are six treatment rooms (one double) offering only showering facilities, no bathtubs.
The signature treatment is the Hua Hin Tropicana package of 2.5 hours, involving first a fresh pineapple body scrub, followed by a Muay Thai massage albeit done with sandalwood and rosemary oil, after which a hot compress made of Thai herbs is applied all over the body. The treatment is rounded off by a facial done with rose quartz and a jade roller. There are also treatments on offer that are mood-based; I opted for a Rejuvenating massage, where the masseuse, Khun Su, used a combination of essential oils such as sandalwood, geranium and rosemary. Surprisingly, she started with the head rather than the feet, lulling one into a sense of dreamy anticipation. She is very skilled and used long, deft but gentle strokes to ease away muscle knots. The entire experience was one of the most soothing massages I have experienced. The Amari also offers some of its spa products for sale.
The Amari Hua Hin is very popular among Thai domestic tourists as also large groups. The Front Office team is smiling and helpful, while F&B is attentive and courteous. Most of the staff speak English. Housekeeping service is efficient. Pest control can be improved on.
The trendy Cicada market and the newer Tamarind market on Fri and Sat evenings, are just a five minute walk away from the Amari Hua Hin. The hotel organizes a complimentary shuttle service to the Market Village mall and Hua Hin night market. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take the local songtaew for 10baht or else, a tuktuk or private taxi to make your way around town. Other places of interest are Pranburi with its forest park and the largest mangrove forest in Thailand; the Hua Hin winery; the absolutely quaint railway station, Cha’am beach, half an hour away or Khao Takiab with its mountain views. There are also two water parks; one just across the hotel in the Holiday Inn complex and for which the Amari offers its guests discounted tickets and the other a distance away, at the Black Mountain Golf Resort.
Almost all major international airlines fly into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. Once in Bangkok, there are a myriad transport options of getting to Hua Hin: the beach resort has its own airport and the flight time from Bangkok is about 30-minutes. You can get a bus from the airport too at approximately THB300 per person. A taxi will cost THB2500 and take 2.5 hours. Please note that minivans DO NOT leave from Victory Monument anymore. You can get one from the Ekkamai bus station for THB180 per person; the trip takes 3.5 hours, while the bus from Sai Tai Mai Terminal is at approximately the same price and takes almost 4.5 hours. You could also take the train from Hua Lampong station; cheaper, but the journey takes almost six hours and tickets sometimes require to be bought in advance. If you decide on the van, ask the driver to drop you off at the Clock Tower in Hua Hin and you can coordinate with the hotel so that its shuttle service picks you up.
AMARI HUA HIN
Tel: +66 32616600
Fax: +66 32616699
Punam Mohandas asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author.