Anantara Hua Hin Resort – A Review By Punam Mohandas
The Anantara Hua Hin is a cluster of low-roofed, Thai style pavilions, set amid acres of lush greenery and lotus ponds. It is quite a large, spread-out property, with little wooden bridges connecting to the rooms and plenty of trees, bushes, wild orchid plants and manicured lawn spaces.
The lobby is open from the sides, with lazily whirring fans and long cylindrical lamps hanging from the ceiling. Heavy teak furniture comprising diwan style, is accentuated by long tables. There is a beautiful wooden dragon suspended over the Reception desk area.
The Anantara Hua Hin offers a key inventory of 190-rooms, classified as Premium Garden View (32sqm) Deluxe Garden View (34sqm) Premium Sea View (32sqm) Junior Lagoon Suite (40sqm) Anantara Garden View Suite (64sqm) and Anantara Sea View Suite (64sqm)
All the rooms offer sunken stone bathtubs (except the Deluxe Garden View category) and spacious patios delightfully cooled by ceiling fans. All rooms are similarly outfitted, although the Premium Sea View rooms, with patios that overlook the beach and sea, have more space given over to the sleeping area, with smaller bathrooms and no separate shower cubicle.
The Garden View Suites offer peeping views of the sea through the trees. The seating space, furnished by a long diwan and wooden drinks trolley, is separated from the bed space by a TV cabinet, with the TV facing the bed. The wardrobe and luggage area is a separate space, across from the bathroom. This room category offers a really long balcony space.
The Junior Lagoon Suite has polished wooden flooring, with neutral coloured drapes and a woven rug hanging behind the bed. However, some thought needs to be given to the study desk, which has no table lamp, which defeats the purpose! Also, the chair provided is too low for the height of the desk. The verandah overlooks the lotus pond and offers some quiet, reflective time. The bathroom is quite spacious and has twin washbasins. In-room amenities include a large screen television; weighing scale; tea/coffee maker; platter of fresh fruits; four complimentary bottles of drinking water; mini bar; electronic safe; iron and ironing board; bathrobes; umbrellas and beach (rubber) slippers.
Housekeeping staff, in a playful mood, go the extra mile for a personalized touch and like to spell out a ‘welcome’ with leaves on the bed, and towels twisted into elephant shapes.
F&B options include the 120-covers Issara Café for breakfast; Baan Thalia, the 38-covers Italian speciality restaurant (dinner only); Rim Naam, the 28-covers Thai cuisine outlet (dinner only); the 34-covers Sai Thong by the beach for seafood barbeques; Loy Naam, the pool bar and the 62-covers Sala Siam near the lobby that offers drinks, canapes and tapas, accompanied by a live band daily except Mondays. Of course, there is also the 20-covers Lagoon Pool Bar by the smaller swimming pool overlooking the lotus pond that serves the Happy Hour finger food and drinks from 5-6pm daily. The hotel can also organise a romantic dinner for two in a curtained cabana set-up on the beach.
Recreational facilities include a gym, tennis court, Kids Club, two swimming pools and a restful library room towards the far end of the lobby, with one computer station for complimentary guest use.
From the larger pool adjoining the Issara Café, it is a short walk across the lawns to the beach area.
Plenty of sun loungers, cane armchairs and a couple of hammocks available. Moreover, the hotel can assist in organising water sports or a day of golf. The Anantara also organizes free yoga classes every morning, while Thai cooking classes (at a charge) held in an open sala, must be booked in advance. It is also possible to hire bicycles at the rate of 500baht per day.
Apart from this, there is the in-house Anantara Spa, with three twin and two single rooms, two steam rooms, as well as a salon. The signature treatment involves the use of warm oil, turmeric and sand, with the massage concentrating on the meridian line.
Convention facilities comprise four small rooms (two that can have the central partition removed to become a bigger hall) and can accommodate from 60-120 pax theatre style. Wedding functions are usually organized outdoors on the garden space overlooking the sea.
What the Anantara likes to term as a “lagoon” is actually a meandering lotus pond running through the hotel. With such dense, verdant foliage, pest control should be of a high priority; surprisingly, although it appears to be quite controlled outside, there are mosquitoes in the rooms. Of course one can request Housekeeping to spray the rooms, but a suggestion would be to place aerosol sprays as well as mosquito repellent skin sprays/ointments within the rooms. The sound of traffic at night is also quite audible.
Most of the young ladies at the Front Office are friendly and helpful. Housekeeping staff are extremely efficient and pay attention to replenishing toiletries, teabags and suchlike. F&B service standard is of a high order at Issara during the breakfast rush with Khun Tor, the assistant F&B Director, himself standing by to take food orders and serve guests. It is attentive at the beach side too, however, staff at the swimming pool can do with a higher level of training. It would also be a nice touch of hospitality to offer guests complimentary drinking water at the beach/pool, as many resort hotels do.
Sadly, the kitchens appear lagging – the junior chefs seem overwhelmed at breakfast time; the Indian dishes are just about edible; and the pizza I ordered is one of the most incompetently prepared ones I’ve had, with a dry base, hard crust and pale yellow cheese that was definitely not mozzarella.
The Anantara Hua Hin is at a distance from the town and night market and provides a shuttle service at 50baht per head. It is, however, close to the Fisherman’s Pier and the Maruekkhathaiyawan Palace, said to be the world’s largest golden teak palace.
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 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 the shuttle picks you up.
Getting to the hotel can turn into a complicated exercise, as it does not conform exactly to the postal/geographical address. Your best bet is to have the taxi driver call the hotel for directions or, alternatively, use the hotel shuttle.
ANANTARA HUA HIN RESORT
TEL: +66 3252 0250
FAX: +66 3252 0259
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.