Changing the Landscape

X-5The Hyatt Regency Hua Hin and adjoining The Barai Residential Spa redefine the essence of beach resorts. Words by Mark Bibby Jackson.

The whole point about staying at a beach resort is the beach, right? Think again. The Hyatt Regency Hua Hin challenges conventional wisdom. Despite its 200-metre long beachfront – claimed to be the longest of all Hua Hin hotels by management – the appeal of the resort lies away from the sea.

Spread over 16 acres, the Hyatt Regency is set in beautifully landscaped gardens replete with mature trees and exotic plants. Apparently ninety nine trees were preserved during the construction period, many of which are marked more in keeping with a botanical garden than the grounds of a hotel.

The benefit of such an approach soon becomes apparent. While most guests battle it out for the sun loungers lined in rows as close to the beach as possible, the spacious grounds provide ample cover for relaxing in the shade of a tree with a bestseller.

Trees are not the only thing preserved at the Hyatt Regency.

007 Outdoor treatment area-1Away from the gardens, McFarland House is a two-storey beachfront Thai pavilion built in the 19th century. The original vacation house for George Bradley McFarland, a doctor who was given the land by Rama VI for his contribution to Thailand’s medicine, the building has been restored and transformed into an airy beachfront bar and casual dining area. It was recently recognised as a building of architectural heritage by the Hua Hin Municipality’s Office.

I soon find myself enjoying a cocktail and some Asian tapas here, as though transported back in time as well as away from the madding crowd in downtown Hua Hin.

If it’s seclusion that you crave, the Hyatt Regency has the ultimate offering. Opened in 2007, The Barai Residential Spa is a self-contained spa resort in its own right. “A destination spa offering a journey of discovery, where the art of architecture is the guest’s visual guide,” claim the owners with traditional website PR hyperbole – though for once not totally without foundation. Walking along the narrow corridor that leads to the 18 treatment rooms, swimming channel and relaxation pool, is like travelling to Marrakesh or Rajasthan. The cobalt blue interiors are more in keeping with Jodphur than Thailand.

003 Salarai_day-1The adjoining Barai Suites were voted one of the top ten pool villas in Thailand by Wallpaper magazine. Combining the four elements, “the goal of this journey is a delightful feeling of peace and tranquility deep within the inner self,” the website continues in similar vein. Certainly it is one of – if not the – most amazing spas I have visited in Asia. My only regret was that my budget did not extend to some pampering self-indulgence for myself.

My escorted trip around the Barai over, I return to the shade of my tree where my paperback still awaits. Most of my fellow guests are clinging to their sun loungers desperate to soak up the last vestiges of the sun. I doubt they will venture far away from the beach, which is a pity because the Hyatt Regency Hua Hin is much more than just a beach resort.

Hyatt Regency Hua Hin

91 Hua Hin – Khao Takiap Road,

Hua Hin

Tel: +66 3 252 1234

[email protected]