Discover what makes the resort so sun-believable.
By Ashima Sethi
Having been born and brought up in Bangkok, Cha-am and Hua Hin were always my family’s top choices when it came to a weekend vacation. We’d pack our bags, pile into the car, and set off on a leisurely two and a half hour drive down towards Phetchaburi province, which is home to some of the country’s most prized coastlines. Located on this stretch is SO Sofitel Hua Hin, a modern beachfront resort equipped with spacious accommodations and a plethora of facilities, making it perfect for all types of guests, whether it be groups of friends, families, or even those hoping to plan a memorable celebration.
The approach to the hotel already offers a good idea about its whimsical nature. Guests are greeted by a towering statue of a white rabbit that sits adjacent to the lobby. Nicknamed ‘The Timekeeper,’ it is a symbol of the stopping of time, allowing guests all the freedom to enjoy their vacation without concern about what hour of the day it is. Now, I’ve been to many hotels in and around Bangkok but the design of SO Sofitel Hua Hin is very unique with plenty of art, stellar architecture, murals, and statues to spot during your stay, beginning with the statement staircase up to the outdoor lobby area and the reflective pond beyond it. Architect Duangrit Bunnag, interior designer Donatien Carratier, and fashion designer Moo Polpat Asavaprapha, are just some of the names that have lent their talent towards making the resort a truly unique place.
The warmth of the staff is something that stood out to me from the very beginning of my stay. The check-in team were polite and attentive, treating us to a delicious cold herbal tea while we filled out all the necessary forms for our stay. We were then ushered by golf cart to our accommodation, which was one of the hotel’s SO Comfy Rooms with views over a lush garden. The room offers over 60sqm of living space complete with their signature Sofitel MyBed, high ceilings, cutting-edge smart TV and sound system, and complimentary in-room minibar. However, if you ask me, the best feature of the room is the spacious bathroom, equipped with a free-standing bathtub and a stellar rain shower that makes bath time so much better. Beyond this room, the resort is also home to several other room types, encompassing the SO Family Room with a bunk bed for children; SO Family Kids House, which boasts a separate annex with toys and games; and different types of pool access rooms, suites, and private pool villas.
ACTIVITIES FOR EVERYONE
There is so much to do onsite at SO Sofitel Hua Hin, which I believe is one of the resort’s biggest draws. The resort is home to three pools, the beachfront SO Pool with sunbeds and cabanas; the Solarium Pool, located in the centre of the resort with colourful umbrellas for lounging; and finally, the Signature Pool. The biggest one, its main highlight is the Wibit Inflatable Pool Adventure Obstacle Course that runs down its middle. Have you ever watched Wipeout? It’s similar, and perfect for some fun in the sun.
Next to this pool is the resort’s dedicated tennis, basketball, and pickleball courts, as well as the 2.2km bicycle track that meanders around the grounds. If you enjoy cycling, however, the track joins another one that will take you over 33km around the Cha-am area, a great option for sightseeing and taking in views of the surrounding landscapes, coconut farms, and rice paddies. If you seek adventure, the SO Explorer programme is the resort’s ‘activity concierge’ that can organise treks to nearby mountains, a visit to the bat caves, visiting the local fisherman’s colony or night market, and much more. If that’s not enough for you, the resort also offers a 3,600sqm, SO Wonderland 18-hole Adventure Golf Course that takes you through an enchanted forest. I tried this over an afternoon and had a great time.
For the little ones, there is also the Kids Tent where fun activities are organised in a safe setting, this includes craft activities, yoga, playing in the ball pit, watching a movie, and more. The tent also has a playground outside with swings, slides, and even a life-sized chess board! All equipment rentals for onsite activities are complimentary, but if you’d like to participate in water sports such as jet-skiing, the team can organise it for you for an extra charge.
FITNESS AND WELLNESS
For those who enjoy prioritising exercise on vacation, the resort offers a 24-hour compact fitness centre called SO/FIT that boasts state-of-the-art equipment from Technogym. Here you can participate in cardio, strength training, and more. Located next door is the SO/SPA, which offers a menu of treatments that combine elements from ancient traditions with new-generation approaches and equipment to provide a holistic wellness experience.
FOOD AND DRINK
No holiday is complete without quality cuisine and SO Sofitel Hua Hin has plenty of it. To better understand the food on offer, I had the opportunity to sit down with Frederik Farina, Cluster Director of Culinary, who tells me about the various venues.
From this conversation and our own experiences, we learned that White Oven serves an impressive breakfast buffet every day stocked with Western and Asian delights including fresh soup noodles from a live station, an egg counter for customised offerings, and even chole bhature paired with authentic masala chai that was prepared by dedicated in-house Indian chef, Bhanu Pratap Singh. Throughout our stay, Chef Bhanu really went out of his way to prepare delicious Indian cuisine for us, including a standout dish of tandoori prawns and a creamy butterchicken paired with flaky garlic naan.
For all-day dining, the restaurant also has a menu of authentic and fusion Thai dishes, with a focus on local produce from Cha-am. For sunset, I recommend dining at Beach Society, which is a beach club during the day and an elegant eatery by night. Here, we tucked into seafood appetisers, pasta dishes, and hearty mains, including our choice from their steak selection. The beachfront setting offers beautiful views of the water and is a great place to enjoy the sea breeze.
Beyond these two signature restaurants, there is SO Sundae for light bites, dessert, and delicious ice cream and popsicles. The resort also introduces dining experiences regularly, spanning meals featuring seafood caught by local fisherman, an elevated take on moo krata.
The grounds house both indoor and outdoor venues with some of their leading options encompassing the SO Ballroom, a modern take on a pillarless event suite with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow plenty of natural light to flood in, cutting-edge audio-visual equipment for all your multimedia needs, and the capacity to fit up to 150 guests. If you prefer and outdoor soiree, the resort’s 285sqm Event Lawn is very versatile and can accommodate all styles of celebrations ranging from cocktail-style gatherings to banquet dinners and stage performances. Similarly, the resort’s beachfront area can also host parties. There are also a plethora of smaller venues for more intimate settings including the Social Room for smaller meetings and The Galerie, a multifunction room adjacent to the pool.
The resort is more than capable of hosting Indian weddings due to the sheer amount of choice available in regards to venues, each versatile enough to be tailored to specific types of events. Moreover, the resort offers a lot of flexibility across all aspects, and its size is advantageous for full buyouts that offer the utmost freedom over your events.
An Interview with Shubham Chandra,
Cluster General Manager
With so much choice in regards to properties in the area, what are some of the most unique aspects of SO Sofitel Hua Hin that our readers should know?
Our resort is positioned advantageously in many regards. We’re only a leisurely 2 hours’ drive from central Bangkok and we’re located half an hour before the rest of Hua Hin. We have segments for all types of markets from families to couples and even members of the LGBTQI+ community. The versatility and diversity of our spaces is immense, making the property an ideal choice for all kinds of weddings, including Indian celebrations. There is also so much to do onsite, which is a big key for success as our clientele are very multigenerational.
What makes the property so fitting for events, not limited to just weddings but also anniversaries, birthdays, family reunions, and so forth?
The inventory of the resort is very apt, we have 109 rooms and can cater to events upwards of 250 people. We can cater to people of all age groups as we have ground floor rooms for elderly guests, and we have children-friendly rooms equipped with fun amenities and the grounds boast loads of activities for travellers of all ages. A wedding, at its essence, is a family-friendly event so our resort being positioned as a family-friendly resort has its advantages. Overall our rooms are spacious, which is advantageous for things like luggage and groups of travellers.
Our buildings are also designed in a way where we can still have a 50 room wedding group and they can have their own side of the resort and the event can be cleanly divided from the rest of the property. We also have pool villas for private parties and a plethora of multi-dimensional event settings ranging from lawns to restaurant-front terraces, our beachfront, ballroom, and more. With any event, flexibility is key and we understand certain things like parties not being stitched around a certain time, wanting to bring outside contractors in, privacy for your guests, and so forth.
Moreover, we are a team who understands the value of events. I spent 26 years working in and around India gaining experience about hosting Indian weddings and the rest of the team brings a wealth of experience with them regarding events, too. We focus on offering unique ways to celebrate, on personalisation, and fostering a sense of belonging among our guests.
What are some examples of how you are continuing to develop the property?
We are always committed to the developing and adapting the property. We continue to implement new products and experiences in order to enhance our guest experience. Examples of this the recent introduction of the one-of-a-kind Wibit Adventure Float and SO Wet ‘n’ Wild that has water sports for guests to enjoy. We understand that breakfast is a key part of the vacation experience, so we expanded the White Oven terrace to elevate this while providing plenty of options for local and international cuisine. We continue to collaborate with the local community through initiatives like a night market and Fisherman at SO, where we invite local fisherman to present their seafood at the resort.
An Interview with Frederik Farina,
Cluster Director Of Culinary
Can you walk us through some catering policies at the hotel, would guests be allowed to bring in outside talent for events?
It is a case-by-case basis as catering is highly dependent on space and storage. However, we are very flexible and we understand that some guests would like to bring in their own food supply. We also have spaces where we can accommodate satellite kitchens because when anyone does bulk cooking, especially for Indian cuisine, you need large vessels and live fire, so this is definitely a possibility.
There has been a rise in food trends we’ve been witness to recently, such as embracing sustainability and focusing on healthy cuisine. Have you incorporated these into the approach to food here?
We continue to do market surveys to better understand what’s trending. We are up to date on health trends, and focus on sustainability by supporting local producers. During the crisis time, we shied away from excessiveness and kept focus on the things that count, optimising our cuisine to avoid waste.
The hotel has collaborate with brands like After You for pop-ups, is this something that will continue in the months to come?
The partnership with After You has been successful and is one of our longest pop-ups. Beyond this, we also collaborate often with known chefs from Bangkok and other parts to do a one week or 10-day showcase, and we continue to learn from them. It draws in other visitors, the value attached to these collaborations is immense and we have a lot more planned.
SO Sofitel Hua Hin
115 Moo 7, Tambol Bangkao, Amphur Cha-am, Phetchaburi 76120 Thailand
Tel: 032 709 555
Facebook and Instagram: @SOSofitelHuaHin