Training in paradise
The only one of its kind in Thailand, Phuket's Thanyapura Sport Hotel offers athletes the perfect place to prepare for competition
When the invitation arrives to spend a night at Thanyapura Sport Hotel, my first reaction is one of puzzlement. Sport Hotel? What does this say to you? To me, it rustles up memories of my college days, when along with my teammates, I would head up to Lampang, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai on a basketball tour around Lampang, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. We always slept in bunk beds and ate in canteens, eagerly downing rice, eggs and curries. Guard, forward, centre players and the rest of the team shared 2x6-metre military-style bath-tanks when showering. Luxury was not a word our coach was familiar with.
Fast forward to 2013 and the birth of Thanyapura in Phuket, a place where action meets leisure. Hidden away beyond the thick walls of rubber plantations in Thalang district, this is the country's first-ever sport hotel and it is much, much nicer than a college dormitory. It's carefully designed and specially built to suit elite athletes and professional sports persons.
"Triathlon, cycling, swimming, tennis, football, you name it," begins Nathaphat Asavathanachart, publicity manager for Thanyapura, as she shows me around the property. "With world-class tracks and fields, courts and pools, we can host and coach sport-minded weekenders and even professional players and athletes.
"The Canadian National Synchronised Swimming Team trained here for a month while preparing for 14th FINA World Swimming Championships in Shanghai," she adds.
The Canadians won the bronze and were no doubt extremely grateful to Thanyapura and the beauty of Phuket. Had they stayed longer, they probably would have snatched the gold.
Thanyapura brings together a world-class sport complex with comfortable beds. Here, naturally enough, you stay in your sport world.
Imagine you're a professional cyclist, say someone like 2008 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, back on the scene after a long legal fight, subsequent suspension, and hip replacement surgery. Your want to let your hair down and have a holiday but without giving up your practice routine. Thanyapura gives you Phuket with hilly yet scenic sections plus a world-class gym where you can huff and puff to your heart's content. You can also take time out to be a carefree beach bum as all Phuket's beaches varying from energetic and bustling Patong to sweet and peaceful Mai Khao are a short drive from Thanyapura.
Build it, and they will come.
Thanyapura is equipped with world-class sports and fitness facilities, among them a 50-metre Olympic-standard outdoor swimming pool, full-size International Rugby Board-standard rugby pitch, four Plexi-cushion indoor tennis courts with 600-seat grandstand and 500-metre cushioned athletics track with long and high and triple jump. You could even organise an unofficial Olympic Games here.
"The pool is good with ozone filtration system," adds Nathaphat. "Electronic timing system, coaches' observation window and 600-seater shaded grandstand are also equipped to match the world-class standard."
Beyond the swimming pool is a hotel with 77 guestrooms with names like Sport Room, Energy Room, Champion Room and Legend Room. All come equipped with wireless Internet, flat-screen TV set, safety box and fridge. What you won't find in Banyan Tree, Marriott and other resorts is the bicycle rack mounting on the wall. Serious cyclists sleep with their bikes.
I didn't stay overnight at Thanyapura, but its rooms did look far more promising than the bunk beds and the dorm I remembered from my basketball tour of the 90s.
DiVine Restaurant serves organic food with choices of Western, Asian and Thai cuisines plus a selection of fine wine. There is also Booster Bar - where you can stop over for snacks and energising drinks.
To relax tired muscles, you can make an appointment with the spa manager for a massage. Or consult the physiotherapist if your muscles are in trouble. Thanyapura combines several aspects of medicine including physiotherapy, traditional Asian medicine and modern treatment.
"Phuket draws many holiday-makers for its famous laid-back beach culture," says Nathaphat. "The island, a world-class beach destination, is also a sport destination, as many sport events such as Laguna Phuket Triathlon and Phuket Regatta take place here.
"We've built Thanyapura for the sports-minded holiday-makers and professional athletes who want to practise as well as tap into the beach lifestyle."
At a glance
High point: A fine hotel with world-class sport facilities. If you're professional sports person or amateur athlete, Thanyapura is the place for you.
Low Point: If you're not a professional sports person or keem athletes, Thanyapura is not your place. You'll probably be bored to death.
Find it: 120/1 Moo 7, Thepkasattri Road, Thalang, Phuket
Pay for it: For rates, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phone it: (+66 (0) 76) 336 069
Browse it: www.Thanyapura.com.