Hyatt Regency Hua Hin & The Barai – A Review By Punam Mohandas
The Hyatt Regency Hua Hin & The Barai was recently refurbished, and an updated review post-refurbishment can be found here.
The Hyatt Regency at Hua Hin is conveniently located; close enough to the town and night market, and far enough from the madding crowd to allow for respite and relaxation. Set on a 250-metre stretch of beachfront, the 213-key hotel boasts of 12.5-acres that comprise low-rise buildings amid verdant gardens, water bodies and three swimming pools, with another 4.5-acres for the Barai Spa alone.
The lobby is unpretentious and welcoming, with a home feel. Large Thai paper lanterns provide the lighting instead of ornate chandeliers that would be out of place in a setting of swaying palm trees and the endless sea. Plenty of scattered seating spaces are offset by old style ceiling fans rotating lazily while large vases of white orchid bunches complete the minimalistic picture.
All 130 Hyatt Regency guestrooms are spacious and airy, and come with the usual fitments of mini bar, electronic safe, LCD TV, coffee/tea maker, iron and ironing board, etc.
The Regency Club rooms were renovated last year at a cost of THB 120-million. There are 75-rooms in this category, which includes suites and the Presidential Villa. All rooms are large and bright, with Thai wooden flooring offset by a beige colour scheme. The upper floor rooms come in options of either an extended enclosed seating space overlooking the gardens or else an outdoor balcony, while the ground floor rooms have private patios. Regency guests are treated royally, with one massage treatment of their choice at the Barai Spa during their stay, an exclusive lounge and a private swimming pool; this area may not be accessed by guests from the standard hotel wing. The hotel strives to maintain a discreet air of exclusivity for its patrons and therefore, each broad category of rooms has its own swimming pool and designated relaxation area overlooking the beach.
Housekeeping service is almost faultless; the amenities are replenished daily, no matter whether there’s still some shampoo to go or all the cotton buds haven’t been used. The only observation is that, with a property as spread out as this is with such lush landscaping to boot and, given the fact that we are in the tropics, pest control ought to be done with more frequency than the current twice-weekly.
F&B options are charmingly located either by the pool or else, surrounded by the gardens. Talay Thai features home-style Thai food; Figs is where the buffet breakfast is held and which then serves Italian and seafood the rest of the day; You and Mee is by the pool and offers Asian noodle specialities through the day as also features a poolside bar; McFarland House by the sea offers Thai and Western cuisine served tapas style, as well as a bar and, for late evening drinks, there is the Fountain Lounge in the lobby. The Regency Club Lounge (only for Regency Club guests) serves a continental breakfast every morning – guests are also encouraged to walk across to Figs for an American breakfast spread – complimentary drinks through the day and an extensive finger food spread, including a variety of desserts, for Happy Hours during 5-7pm daily. F&B service, especially at Figs, could do with some definite improvement.
Conference venues include halls that can accommodate 40-pax, to the Grand Ballroom that can take up to 400-pax. Outdoor events for a maximum of 500-guests can be arranged on the hotel’s premises.
Recreational facilities include a well-equipped gym with steam rooms, tennis court, and a free-form swimming pool shaped like a meandering river, with a water slide. Additionally, the hotel can organise water sports such as kayaking and wind surfing. There are several golf courses located fairly close to the hotel. Children (between 4-12 years) enjoy their own Camp Hyatt, with plenty of activities such as Thai boxing, beach soccer, sand castle making, T-shirt painting, indoor games and more, and spa experiences as well! Babysitting services are also available.
And of course, there is the spectacular Barai Spa – the more that is said about it, the less it will be. Both the properties – the Barai and the Hyatt Regency Hua Hin – belong to the same owner, however, the spa is managed independently albeit according to Hyatt standards. The Barai can truly give a run for its money to its world-renowned neighbour, the Chiva Som spa resort (quite simply one of the best in my opinion.) I was more than pleasantly surprised by the Barai; considering it is part of a chain hotel, it nonetheless manages to evoke a complete spa experience, right from the Salarai or water court, to the sandy Tranquility Court. Conceptualised around the four elements – water, fire, air and earth – the journey begins as you enter through the tall Thai teak wood doors, into a vast open-air area with elliptical patters ‘drawn’ into the sand, around which are sun loungers meant exclusively for the Barai spa villa guests. You then pass into various halls and rooms through winding narrow corridors, almost as if you were walking into the centre of the earth, with stained glass panes in colours representing the elements casting off filtered sunlight. Every room, indeed, every space, has ‘open’ skylights through which natural light pours into the spaces. The music, the oils, the aromas, can all be individually tailored to create moods and emotional impacts, while the treatments have been designed around the basic qualities of the four elements. There are 18 treatment rooms, three of which are couple rooms. Each of the 18-rooms are enormous, with an outdoor private soaking pool, rain shower and day-bed that can be used for Thai treatments. The therapists are well qualified in their respective streams; none of the run-of-the-mill masseuses.
Additionally, there are eight exclusive and uber-luxurious residential suites where guests are pampered beyond belief with daily complimentary therapies, aromatherapy steams and milk baths. These suites measure between 126-149 square metres; the ground floor ones have outdoor plunge pools while those on the upper floor have spacious balconies. The Barai Suite has a humungous bed that measures 3mx2m! Treatments can be conducted in the suites itself and there are separate beds for Thai as well as oil massages. Meals can be served en-suite, although the McFarland House is meant almost exclusively for their use. The residential spa guests also have a private swimming pool, separate from the rest of the hotel guests.
Almost all major international airlines fly into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. Once in Bangkok, there are myriad transport options of getting to Hua Hin: you could take the train from Hua Lampong station, cheaper, but the journey takes almost six hours and tickets sometimes require to be bought in advance. A taxi will cost between THB2500-3000. The minivan from Victory Monument costs THB180 per person and takes three hours, while the bus from Sai Tai Mai Terminal is at approximately the same per person and takes almost four hours. You can also get a bus from the airport at approximately THB300 per person. There is a daily hotel shuttle service, leaving the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok at 2pm and departing Hyatt Regency Hua Hin at 10am. The journey takes under three hours and the cost is THB600 per head. Hua Hin has its own airport and the flight time from Bangkok is about 30-minutes.
HYATT REGENCY HUA HIN
TEL: +66 32521234
FAX: +66 32521233