Par for the course

Thailand July 06, 2016 01:00

By Chusri Ngamprasert
The Nation

6,251 Viewed

With its easy access to the greens, Banyan The Resort Hua Hin is an ideal getaway for the golfing set. Spa enthusiasts would do better to look elsewhere

Less than 15 minutes by car from downtown Hua Hin, Banyan The Resort Hua Hin is such a favourite among the region’s golfers that it was recently voted one of the best golf resorts in Southeast Asia.
Though not connected to Hua Hin beach, the resort offers a scheduled shuttle bus service to the beach and into town for those who prefer to sun and shop rather than teeing-off. For golfers, the spectacular 18-hole championship Banyan Golf Club is connected to Banyan The Resort by a private road, making for a quick and easy hop from bed to green.
Cars are not allowed in the resort area so guests are asked to leave their vehicles in the parking lot and either ride the resort bicycles or request a ride from the 24-hour buggy service. 
The open air lobby is spacious with bowls of tropical fruits on every coffee table for guests to enjoy while waiting to check-in or check-out or for friends and golf partners to arrive. We take a seat on one of the sofas and within seconds are being offered cold towels and cool drinks.
Our villa 1009 is located at the far end of the resort close to the residence area. The tropical flower arch, which serves as the front gate is lively and welcoming while the green front yard with its flowering white Plumeria tree seems like a nice place to have a picnic.
Decorated in contemporary Thai style, the villa has two en-suite bedrooms, one with a king size bed and the other with twin beds, plus a living area, dining area, kitchen, terrace with four daybeds, outdoor shower and a private Jacuzzi connecting to a large common lagoon-style pool.
The front door leads into the living area with the master bedroom on the left and the second bedroom on the right. The king size bed dominates the master bedroom, which also boasts two small separate closets and a roomy bathroom with a connecting door to the outdoor shower. It suits me perfectly as there’s nothing I like more than a large bathroom.
The living area is generous with one long sofa and two armchairs. There are flat screen televisions in both living room and master bedroom but the signal is terrible yielding nothing more than a grainy picture. Switching off the TV, I try to connect to the complimentary Wi-Fi to check my mail. Here too there is a signal problem, and I am only able to use the Wi-Fi for 10 minutes before losing it. I smile at the idea that the resort might want us to spend our mini-break away from all kinds of screens and spend the afternoon on the daybed instead curled up with a good book.
Just before 4pm, I head to the spa and fitness centre, which is just a block away from my villa. The resort has turned one villa into the spa and another into a fitness centre. The practicality is understandable but I find it disconcerting to hear the phone at reception ringing and people walking in to book their spa treatments while lying almost naked on the spa bed. The therapist is professional and the products she uses are fine but the layout of the en-suite bedroom-turned-treatment room with two spa beds is too crowded to make the treatment really enjoyable. When the therapist leaves the room at the end of the session, I wait until she closes the door before getting up, preferring to protect my privacy and not reveal myself to the people in the adjacent reception area. Despite the fine massage, the ambience is more like that of a school locker room.
The atmosphere of the Coral restaurant, the resort’s all-day dining facility, changes according to the time of the day. In the morning, the restaurant is packed with families and people on company outings and is so busy that I see guests being led to the tables for two beside the main entrance, which offer a view of the line of columns leading to the outdoor hot meal station. In the evening, the place is more serene and is the best time to soak up the atmosphere. 
At 7pm, the night is still young so we head to Hua Hin town to meet an old friend and return to the resort around 11pm. To my surprise, as we park our car in the parking lot, a golf buggy is slowing down and stops in front of us. 
“Welcome back to the resort. May I have your villa number please?” says the friendly driver. 
Now that’s what I call service.
High point: Peaceful hotel with helpful staff. Great place for golfers with easy access to the 18-hole championship Banyan Golf Club.
Low point: No beach. Tiny spa and fitness centre. 
Pay for it: Visit the hotel’s website for the best deals.
Find it: 68/223 Mooban Hua Na, Nong Gae, Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin, Thailand
Call it: +66 (0) 3253 8888