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Written by Aaron Brigatti  
Saturday, 13 March 2010

Well holiday-time - wahoo - 2 and a half weeks of bliss - 2 weeks of which I was in Thailand! 

The flight was long, and I would have to say if it wasn't for the fact that it was a night-flight, I would have gone crazy!  The plan (Thai Airlines) was really old and had not been modernised, so only the basic amenities (blanked and pillow) and the central big screen was provided for entertainment.  For such a long-haul flight (12hrs long), I would have expected that the individual seat-based entertainment unit was standard - but I was wrong!  Anyway, will address this under a separate blog entry!!!

We arrived at the hotel in the Hua Hin location, after a 2½ hour drive from Bangkok, and after being welcomed with a complimentary welcome drink and towel, we were quickly checked-in and taken to our room.  We were fortunate to take advantage of my HHonors Diamond VIP status, and managed to obtain an upgrade to a Suite on the 9th floor.  It was quite busy during our stay (especially the weekends, must have been something to do with the Hilton January 50% weekend Sale) so we did miss out on the upgrade to the 12th-16th Deluxe or Club floor rooms.  Then again, the Suite was fantastic and beautiful view across the Bay, fantastic in the early morning and late evening sitting on the generously-sized Balcony.  The suite was an impressive size, with a separate living room with a Sofa and TV and Bedroom.  We definitely took advantage of this space!

The hotel itself was very clean and it was a very enjoyable stay for the 10 days we were in Hua Hin.  The service was fantastic, with a turndown service each evening, and plenty of amenities provided during our stay (water, newspaper and toiletries).  In fact lets just say we maximised the ameneties throughout our stay...which were replenished twice a day.

We enjoyed the access to the Exec Club Lounge on the 17th Floor, although we decided to take advantage of a more comprehensive breakfast in the main restaurant located on the ground floor.  Great choice with Japanese Sushi, Thai/Asian fusion and Western cuisine available, there was even a smoothie bar which was a pleasant surprise.  Service was very attentive and all of the staff were very polite.  In fact, we were a little crafty (cos we were very hungry), that after we had the main Breakfast at 7am and enjoyed the morning sunshine for a few hours, we took a second late Breakfast at 10.30am in the Exec Lounge :)  It took care of lunch at least - became our Brunch of the day!

We continued to took full advantage of the Club Lounge during the day and evening, when we wanted to grab a drink and enjoy the snacks throughout the afternoon and evening.  There were a "Happy" drink (they called it a Happy Hour) period from 6pm to 8.30pm, where Alcohol and cocktails were served at the Club Lounge, which was very pleasant, with attentive table service provided.  Shame that alchohol was only served between this time.  The only issue we noted with the location of the Club Lounge is that the entrance (with the Exec Check-In desk) was shared with the entrance to the Sky Bar and White Lotus Chinese restaurant - both located on the 17th floor.  This meant jo-bloggs people sometimes entered the Club Lounge thinking it was the Sky Bar, and then realised that they weren't meant to be there, when the staff asked them for their room number or HHonor status. 

We didn't really take advantage of the other parts of the resort, so cannot really comment on the Lunch or Dinner in the main restaurant, the Pool bar or the Chay Had restaurant located between the Beach and Pool.

Even though the resort was busy throughout our stay, and full on the two weekends when we were there, there was still plenty of space on the pool-side and grounds - so finding an available sunbed wasn't an issue at all.  We had a routine that I went down around 6.30am marked our sunbeds (towel and books) and then returned to the room to freshen up and prepare for brekkie.  There was a policy that enabled the recreation staff to clear sunbeds if there weren't used for 90 minutes, but I don't think they enforced this, but this was a very welcome policy to avoid sunbed-blockers.  The recreation staff were very attentive and offered assistance with putting down the beach-towels and dealing with the Parasol.  Coming back to the Beach-Towels, there was a plentiful supply and there were provided without any significant restrictions.  This meant you could easily obtain 2 towels per person, which seemed to be the way the hotel operated by default.  This enable you to avoid getting burnt on any exposed areas of the sunbed itself.

The resort was literally "on the beach". There was a public beach in front of the resort, right on the Bay, although the part where the hotel was located was relatively small in comparison to the beach further down along the Bay.  The beach was quite intimate as the hotel was located at one of the beach, so there were very few people actually using the beach, and it felt part of the resort (although remained public).  The resort did create a "man-made beach" equivalent just up from the beach, where some sunbeds were located, where we stayed throughout.  So you could overlook the smaller public reach for the safe surroundings of the resort.  There was a wall dividing this area and the beach.

The beach itself was very long and a pleasant walk (or run) if you fancied taking in some of the sights along the beach.  You had to find your way through some of the beach-eateries / sun-beds placed further down from the resort on the beach, but once you made your way, the beach opened up with a wide-stretch to walk without being interrupted.  There were sellers on the beach, but they didn't bother you if you politely said "no" to them.  Mutual respect!

On the front side of the resort, there was a Brewery on-site and a Bar/Pub located on the main-road side of the resort.  Unfortunately, this was acquainted with an interesting "mix" of seedy clientele, similar to a number of the other bars in the side streets close to the resort, which was a bit of a turn-off.  We ended up having some evening drinks in the Club Lounge and going for a stroll through the town to "avoid" being part of this mix.  There were a number of restaurants and bars walking distance from the resort entrance, with tailors, jewellers and other shops too.  The favourite of ours were the pier restaurants, about 6 of which were located together, we tried about 2-3 of these, and the food was very good, and priced reasonably.  The atmosphere in these pier restaurants was very enjoyable too, and it was good enjoying the evening view on the bay itself.  There were a number of massage parlours close to the resort, and these were very reasonable (300bhts (~£6 GBP) for a fully body or foot massage), and we tried a couple of places which I would say were very similar in quality and price.  We enjoyed a late-afternoon massage every day!  Wonderful and very relaxing.

Further in the town, there was a couple of "Night Streets" and the main busier "Night Market", which were both walking distant (about 15mins) from the resort.  You could always catch a motorised (and reasonably priced) "Tuk Tuk" from the rank near to the front of the hotel if you fancied this, rather than the walk.  The Night Market had restaurants, clothes stands, tourist gift stands etc.  The usual stuff you would expect, but was quite relaxing to walk down and experience.  Unfortunately around the hotel resort, there was a couple of streets which lets just say I will term as the "Seedy Area", was a bit of a turn off enjoying the night scene due to the weird characters here.  Old men and young Thai gals.  This area is where a significant number of the pubs are located and a few "cheaper" massage parlours.

I think this is one of the best Hilton locations we have stayed at, and would come back here again!  All in all a nice stay in Hua Hin :)  Pleasantly surprised, thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable - and at the very least took full advantage of the Diamond VIP status which I expect I would lose at the end of March 2010!  Ba-hum-bug!

We returned to Bangkok to spend a few days being an active tourist, before returning to the UK. As I missed seeing the sights during the previous trip in December 2008 (due to the politic unrest then), we took the opportunity to see a few sights, and enjoy the stay at the Centara Grand in Central World near to Siam Square.  It was a nice area, and we had the main shopping malls on our doorstep.  Although we weren't really in Thailand for "shopping", we did but a small number of items, and just enjoyed the sights that we wanted to see.  We visited China Town, the Wat Pho (lying Buddha), the Floating Market, and a few more massages to add to the mix.

The return flight (a day-flight) was horrid.  Same type of basic entertainment facilities made it a tough and long (and uncomfortable) journey.  But we made it back safely, and now have got a few days before I go back to work.  Grrr....  Onto the planning of the next holiday! :)


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