Evason Hua Hin, Thailand: Family Thai Fun
Hua Hin is unlike most other beach resorts in Thailand: far from Bangkok’s bright lights and frantic all-night action, it’s very much a family holiday destination. As a seaside town it offers the best Thai seafood in the country, served by so many international restaurants that you’re spoilt for choice. On top of this, there’s tempting shopping, nightly street markets and Thailand’s first golf course. And roughly thirty kilometres south of Hua Hin, you’ll find the Evason Hua Hin Resort and Spa, set among twenty acres of beautifully landscaped tropical gardens filled with lotus ponds and waterways, the resort faces the Gulf of Siam.
Designed and operated by Six Senses hotel guru Sonu Shivdasani (of Soneva fame), together with his creative director, his wife Eva, the hotel was bound to be a success from the outset. They have moved away from using common old-fashioned stereotypical concepts and have created a mode of what Sonu describes as ‘intelligent luxury’. This embraces a ‘can do’ style and service ethic that is a pleasure for guests and considerate to the local environment and indigenous population.
Eight separate two-storey buildings set among manicured tropical gardens accommodate 145 luxurious guestrooms. There are also forty generous stand-alone villas each with a private pool. A number of interconnecting Evason and Studio rooms have been designed with families in mind and are filled with child-friendly furniture, a box full of toys and various board games for hours of entertainment (a Play-Station is also available on request).
All rooms have twin or king-sized beds covered in ‘tropical tog’ duvets, and a full-sized day bed that can be used as a sofa during the day. A third bed is available at night on request. Secluded pool villas, shaded by massive banana plants and coconut-laden palm trees, have the added benefits of their own butler, a private plunge pool and a sunken outdoor bathtub surrounded by a lotus pond – bath time has never been more popular. Fun is at the forefront of every mind, and at night housekeepers place sand-filled cotton lizards under pillows and bed legs to amuse the children.
High-quality dining at affordable prices is a major consideration at Evason, with a number of gourmet options for all tastes. The Restaurant serves a sumptuous buffet breakfast including popular local dishes in a semi al fresco location, to the sound of local musicians playing kaens, suengs and ranardaiks. The casual open-air Beach Restaurant next to the seashore entertains children with its windowed show kitchen operating a traditional wood-fired pizza oven. It serves gourmet breakfasts to the sound of the ocean’s waves, an à la carte lunch menu, and a special seafood menu at dinner which changes daily. Beside the pool a two-level, open-air bar offers a sophisticated snack menu – ideal for kids’ lunches at any time of day – and a special gourmet dinner menu. The Other Restaurant specialises in creative Asian fusion cuisine, and opens for dinner in either the chic air-conditioned dining room or al fresco courtyard for those who prefer to dine in the balmy tropical air overlooking terraced lotus ponds.
Evason’s holistic Six Senses spa is one of the prettiest in Asia and provides an extensive menu of relaxing and revitalising treatments in the five thatched salas each surrounded by tranquil pools. Inside the spa there are six treatment rooms including three especially designed for couples, two dry saunas and two steam rooms – it’s definitely a place for expert pampering.
Facilities for children are exceptionally good. Younger ones are supervised by qualified staff dedicated to providing an exciting list of locally orientated activities including umbrella painting, Thai language lessons, kite flying, beach nature walks, batik printing, junior yoga, soap carving and archery, to name but a few. They’re treated like little VIPs at Just Kids! – the hotel’s professionally managed club. Real thought has gone into what children will enjoy and, while they’re happy just to splash in and out of the pool most of the day, an hour or two of respite in the club is a welcome option for all parties.
Older children are offered such entertainments as elephant trekking, go-karting, tennis and swimming lessons. They can also enjoy the option of a sleepover – pitching their own tents, setting up sleeping bags and roasting marshmallows on the bonfire while singing ‘Ging-gang-goolie’ under the starlit sky. It’s easy to keep little girls out of the midday sun here. Down on the beach local Thai women cheerfully plait hair and paint nails under their shady canopies during siesta time. Throughout the day, staff walk around the poolside offering fresh water melon and ice lollies for ‘good children’ – and adults. And adults in search of adventure can choose from a lengthy list of unusual activities including tandem skydiving, a workout around Thanarat’s military camp, cave trekking, golf or leisurely sunset cruises.
Evason is an absolute hit for children and adults alike, meeting the needs of both in equal doses. Adults feel neither short-changed by the world-class standards of accommodation, food and spa facilities, nor uncomfortable having their little darlings running around barefoot in lolly-stained clothes chasing lizards. The only problem is that at the end of your stay your children will be utterly reluctant to leave – and so will you.
IDEAL AGE: 1–12
Holiday Highlight: At night the whole hotel is transformed by hundreds of flickering candles illuminating paths throughout the grounds, lending an atmosphere of sanctuary and calm after a full day with the children
FYI: Just Kids! club for children aged between four and twelve, open 24 hours