A tranquil oasis perfect for families and even pets.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
If there’s one thing that we can take from the royals of old, it’s the concept of a summer retreat, leaving behind our travails with the hustle and bustle of the city; seeking rest and recuperation with the sea breeze. Hua Hin’s past, therefore, lends itself to such a respite, as the historical holiday home of choice for many of the country’s royals, and abode to a wealth of luxury beachside resorts.
InterContinental Hua Hin Resort is one such property, enticing travellers weary of the metropolis with their thoughtful design, array of sublime F&B offerings, and scenic prospect of the glittering Gulf of Thailand. “The concept of our brand is meant to be alluring. We take advantage of the glamour and local cultural wisdom we have, and interlink them with our service,” Joseph Della Gatta, the General Manager of InterContinental Hua Hin tells me. “Another important aspect that has helped create our unique essence is our location. The palace has greatly influenced the hotel’s distinct design and the food that we offer.”
“It’s a prime destination for Bangkokians to escape the city life in nature with lush, green surroundings,” Winfried Sanders, the resort’s Director of Food and Beverage agrees. “The InterContinental Hua Hin is closely linked with this element; it is elegantly intertwined with our hotel design, unique restaurant and bar positioning and wide array of choice.”
And indeed, as you walk into their intimate lobby, you’re immediately ensconced in luxe Thai sensibilities, but with a contemporary touch – carved wooden screens in dark wood are offset by their marble flooring and teal blue furnishings, while an installation of bronze, silver and gold koi fish swim suspended in time from the vaulted ceilings. Friendly and accommodating staff check you in while you sip on a refreshing welcome drink, before you’re led to your rooms through one of two walkways lined by frangipani trees, the air redolent with their quintessentially Thai fragrance.
The resort is divided into two wings: the original Beach Wing, nestled by the sea and home to most of their F&B offerings; and the newer, pet-friendly Bluport Wing across a bridge, which has direct access to the Bluport Mall and all 40 of whose rooms have stunning views of the sea from above. We stayed at the Beach Wing, a sprawling 12-rai space designed with luxurious, suite-style rooms in mind, and to that end, the wing has only 119 keys. “Hua Hin is popularly known as a family destination but it is also the perfect place for a romantic getaway, so I would say that our focus is families and couples,” Joseph tells me. And indeed, despite the expansive size of the pool (the iconic view of which informs many of the social media posts of this picturesque resort), it’s curated into distinctive areas for families to enjoy in, or for couples to relax under cabanas away from the heat, so that it never feels crowded or overwhelming.
While the resort has its own sandbar with even more seating options and its own intricate fire pit that is more than just decorative on those breezy beachside nights, just steps away are the golden sands of the Gulf, dotted with children frolicking in the waves or building sandcastles under the watchful eye of their parents.
When we walked into our capacious room, I was immediately taken by the thoughtful use of the space, with Thai-style dividers separating the bathroom, replete with a standalone bathtub big enough for two; and the bedroom and living space, with an eminently comfortable bed heaped with pillows that’s a step away from the outsized balcony. “The details and colours in the room portray a sense of royalty,” Joseph says, referring to the wooden furnishings and royal blue accents. Perhaps my favourite part of the room was the balcony, which had a majestic Thai daybed that is big enough for you to sprawl on and bask in the summer breeze like a true royal of old.
DRINKING AND DINING
Known for their delicious and plentiful F&B offerings, it’s hard to know where to start when picking a place to indulge during each meal at the resort. “Whether you seek fine dining, casual dining, stunning cocktails, excellent wines or crafted signature coffees – we have it all,” Winfried enthuses. “Moreover, each outlet is handled by great, service-minded team members who ensure guests have a personalised experience where possible.”
“The menu contains ancient, traditional Thai food that has become increasingly difficult to find. Some recipes have gradually seeped from the palace into society, and passed on from generation to generation with the utmost care and respect. Many have long forgotten them, but here, we cherish these recipes with pride,” Joseph adds on.
As someone who could easily spend eons lounging by the poor (and perhaps indulging in a holiday tipple or three), we started with the Pool Bar, which is within the pool itself, allowing you to dunk and drink at the same time. I would highly recommend their signature Tom yum mojito (THB 320) for those who want something a little more spiced, or perhaps their kiwi or passion fruit Tropical mojito mix (THB 370) for fruitier, but still local, flavours.
The Azure Restaurant & Bar is for “affluent families and couples,” according to Winfried. “It’s the “leading beachside spot in Hua Hin for premium Mediterranean seafood and refreshing drinks.” We had a choice of either dining at their replica heritage beach home, or at the oceanfront, at their buffet of fresh seafood on ice, with juicy prawns the likes of which can’t be found anywhere but by the sea. Our first night, we chose the latter; for the ultimate feet-in-the-sand experience.
If you have a hankering for something more Thai, Jaras Restaurant is the second iteration of the renowned outlet in InterContinental Phuket, established after the runaway success of the first. “It champions traditional Thai flavours presented with an innovative approach and features local, sustainable and premium ingredients,” Winfried tells me. The restaurant mostly offers 5-course and 8-course set menus, but guests have the option to order à la carte. While all the dishes were scrumptious and spiced extremely well, my recommendation is basic, and yet elevated by its preparation – their signature Hor mok khun ya, made from a recipe passed down by the owner’s grandmother, Jaras Pim herself.
Pirom, their all-day dining restaurant, is “a tribute to the very best cuisine from Thailand’s four regions.” Open daily for breakfast, they had probably one of the best hotel breakfasts I’ve experienced, and I’ve worked my way through a fair few. While we thoroughly enjoyed the Continental Breakfast options, the standouts were their Thai offerings, including Khao man gai and Guey tieaw live stations, the latter of which even had vegetarian options, to our surprise.
In the evenings, don’t forget to visit CoCco Bar, with what Winfried calls “the best cocktails in Hua Hin” and after sampling their signature drinks, I’m inclined to give the idea merit. Idiosyncratic and whimsical, the bar is lit up in purple and pink at night, with a DJ to set the mood and fun seating options, including in the pool itself. Definitely order the Pink me up (THB 390) cocktail, with pink peppercorn, which is sure to tickle you pink.
Finally, on the Bluport side, the newer Café de Khoi is what Winfried calls a “must-visit spot for friends and families looking for a true French bistro experience, with a strong coffee culture.” Pet-friendly and with a chic and sophisticated mien, sit on the outside patio to truly channel the Parisienne café vibe, replete with French tunes filtering through the air.
ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT
Beyond their drinking, dining, and lounging options, InterContinental Hua Hin offers a range of activities that can cater to any guest, from those looking for rejuvenation at the spa, to the more adventurous looking for excitement. Any guest of the resort will receive complimentary tickets to the renowned Vana Nava Hua Hin, home to Asia’s first-ever VR slide – and if you have the stomach for it, I would recommend that you take the plunge and experience the stomach-swooping thrill for yourself. A splashing good time, there are free shuttles to and from the park at regular times.
For the more sporty among us, there are CrossFit, Taekwondo, Muay Thai and Zumba classes every day for adults and kids alike at the Legend Arena at the Bluport Mall, as well as tennis courts for rent. The resort also provides entertainment for your furry family members, including dog training every Saturday, which is free of charge for hotel guests, and a dog swimming pool.
At the Bluport side, guests can also get access to regular martial arts bouts, with VIP seats for those who want to be on the frontlines of the action. Having attended their first ever MMA tournament during my stay there, I can attest to the fact that it definitely gets your blood pumping and is a truly unique experience. Finally, for classic car aficionados, don’t miss out on The Gallery, a showroom with meticulously-restored vintage cars, another homage to the classics that forms the beating heart of InterContinental Hua Hin’s ethos and distinct point of view.
ASK THE EXPERTS
We asked Joseph Della Gatta and Winfried Sanders for more of their unique take on what else makes the resort so special.
JOSEPH DELLA GATTA, GM of InterContinental Hua Hin Resort
Which elements of your resort would you recommend most to visitors, and which clientele do you believe the resort would appeal the most to?
Our facilities cater to a wide variety of demands. Jaras, for example, is a restaurant that bears plenty of stories that will fascinate guests, and dishes that will enthrall their taste buds.
Our hotel is well suited for both families and couples. We are well equipped to entertain children with our Kids Play Center, Planet Trekker, and pools for everyone to enjoy. The tranquil atmosphere we provide is romantic for couples who seek an escape from their busy lives; with private Jacuzzis in the rooms or romantic dinners on the beach.
Have you held any Indian weddings in your resort, and what are the ways that InterContinental Hua Hin can accommodate the unique needs of Indian weddings?
We have, indeed. Although it was only a small party, we plan to pay closer attention to this market in the future. We have a large area, fully equipped with food and beverage, as well as a professional banquet team
We have a lavish 325-square-metre ballroom, known as the Tamarind Ballroom, which offers a flexible space for corporate meetings, cocktails events or dinner banquets. It can hold up to 300 guests and one of its unique features is that it can incorporate the use of natural daylight, and has a rather scenic view. Our team of caring and experienced meeting and banquet staff will take care of your event from start to finish, with the specific expertise you need.
WINFRIED SANDERS, DOFB InterContinental Hua Hin Resort
Tell us a little more about the USPs of InterContinental Hua Hin’s renowned F&B outlets.
Café de Khoi provides a variety of premium coffees and classic French bistro dishes in a comfortable and engaging atmosphere. Meanwhile, Azure Restaurant & Bar is for affluent families and couples, with an ever-present upbeat vibe. For visitors to Hua Hin, CoCco Bar is the No. 1 beach bar to visit; a place for guests to lose track of time and truly indulge in their surroundings.
Meanwhile, at Jaras Restaurant, each dish comes with an interesting story, which is delivered with flair and an interesting drinks pairing. The staff weave a culinary story for guests, bearing intriguing facts and riveting details. Pirom Restaurant also has signature dishes carefully and respectfully prepared by our intuitive Thai chefs, having learned their craft with secrets and knowledge passed down from generation to generation. There, you can truly cocoon yourself in the tranquil and unpretentious atmosphere.
Being a seaside town, Hua Hin has access to some of the freshest seafood available. Tell us about how the property incorporates fresh and local ingredients in their offerings, and what they are doing to encourage sustainable dining.
Our chefs are working closely on sourcing the best local produce for our menus, and this is represented in all our restaurants and bars. For example, we work with Palisa farm for our vegetables and the local Thai Sturgeon Farm for our caviar and sturgeon fish on the Jaras menu. At Café de Khoi, we include locally-sourced, single origin beans from various suppliers all over Thailand for our coffees. What we do is encourage sustainable dining. Rich in flavour and nutrients, our food is a statement that it is indeed possible to provide a fantastic meal with local produce.