Hotel de la Paix Cha-Am Beach Review
Hua Hin Hotel Reviews
Creative dialogues with nature through a symphony of line and form
Resorts have become much more than lush tropical hideaways that, traditionally, offer a dream vacation neatly packaged into a total leisure experience. Instead, they’ve also kept up with the same contemporary design and technology trends city hotels chase after. In some cases – like The Hotel Cha-Am, launched in February 2008 as Alia Cha-Am – the design component played such a fundamental role in the creation of a surprisingly different experience that it becomes an overwhelming ‘wow factor’. The inspiring style of this peaceful resort retreat takes on sculptural proportions that start to dazzle the moment guests arrive, supported by Feng Shui properties that are no less than absolutely perfect (or so I’m told).
Seemingly carved from a solid piece of granite, sweeping stairs rise from the ground to an imposing open-air lobby area with a long, rectangular bulkhead overhead. Looking out over the resort from here – with its long and narrow shape reaching out towards the Gulf of Thailand in the distance – a masterful composition of geometric lines and shapes makes up two low-rise buildings arranged on either side of a centerpiece reflection pond that eventually extends into an interesting structural element that appears to be an outdoor restaurant. It’s night-time though, and these are the first limiting impressions, accentuated by dramatic lighting and the occasional special-effects upwards burst of flames from the surface of the pond. Daylight will reveal much more – and many more surprises – no doubt.
Exploring the rooms and primeval habits
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m one of those people who explore every nook and cranny after check-in, open every door and drawer, give the bed a ‘test rest’ – even smell the shower gel and flush the loo. It’s not only to establish that all the essentials are covered (and in fully working order), but also a natural exploration of my environment and a symbolic, primeval gesture of marking my territory (especially the flushing of the loo bit, I imagine). This is an exploration that brings with it, in this case, many surprises and instant gratification. The contemporary ‘industrial chic’ style with its bare concrete walls and floors are suitably softened through abundant use of wood and soft furnishings in the spacious Deluxe Room. Ceilings reach up an impressive 3.5 meters, full-length window drapes revealing no less than three small balconies (no sea view though). A pure wool rug lies snugly under a coffee table and two upholstered chairs with somewhat of a retro feel.
There are 72 Deluxe Rooms and Deluxe Terrace Rooms, together with seven Pool Villas. Conceived as personal spaces where privacy is paramount, they are fully connected lifestyle retreats with mod-cons like home theatre system, personalized Apple TV and complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access. In the spacious bathroom, senses are heightened by an exclusive range of branded toiletries and a true rain shower experience (thanks to a 600mm x 480mm shower head) in an open-plan configuration. Pool Villa guests enjoy an unsurpassed level of luxury, with a landscaped, private garden and pool along with 297 square meters of exceptional living spaces. Villas feature a master bedroom, lounge and dining areas, as well as a room that can be converted into a second bedroom, nursery or study.
Wellness, relaxation and play, day or night
The work of prominent Thai architect and interior designer Duangrit Bunnag, the resort, albeit a monument of modernist architectural and design flair, blends in harmoniously with the serene environment. Gardens, courtyards and terraces balance privacy and connection with tropical surroundings, seamlessly interconnecting one experience to the next. Talking about experiences… The spa is an extraordinary space with natural light filtering down through the water of the pond above, and built around a thermal mineral pool. The wellness experience goes chic at one of the resort’s most distinctive features, the grownups-only ‘Chill Pool’ and ‘Red Bar’ next to the spa – a meeting point fur ultra-cool relaxation and play, day or night.
A second pool (dubbed ‘Active Pool’) bordering the beach makes up a splashing playground for all ages, with deck chairs and parasols scattered about. Refreshingly, guests are served not only complimentary water, but small skewers of sliced-up fruit too – a touch that goes down very well. The beach is clean and quiet, entirely devoid of vendors, the ocean’s water warm and inviting. Dining is another experience that takes on new levels, brought to life by the resort’s celebrity Kiwi chef and two signature restaurants: poolside dining at ‘Motion’, and ‘Clouds Loft’ on the rooftop alongside the reflection pool. Cuisine here is a creative journey through the flavours of Thailand and a few random stopovers around the world, including some comfort foods like pizza and hamburgers.
A tropical getaway that defies convention
The Hotel Cha-Am is a tropical getaway that defies convention, a contemporary lifestyle destination that holds appeal for especially those with appreciation for cutting edge design. Although children are welcome, it’s probably best enjoyed with a romantic other, close friends or even alone, if peace and solitude is what you’re after. Either way, cast aside any notions of a typical Thai resort.
Cha-Am: Retaining the charms of a fishing village
Once a sleepy fishing village, Cha-Am in the province of Petchaburi can be reached between two and three hours from Bangkok – depending on the traffic. Despite some development in recent years, it remains for the biggest part a serene coastal town on the sunrise side of the Gulf of Thailand, much quieter than neighboring Hua Hin. It’s been popular with well-heeled Thai families and city dwellers for some time now, partly due to the fact that it offers such peaceful surrounds and Thailand’s longest stretch of white sandy beach. Its many nearby attractions include temples, several royal palaces, a charming fishing village and bustling food market. The Hotel Cha-Am also offers a complimentary, twice-daily shuttle service to Hua Hin 20 minutes away.
Reviewed by Francois Oosthuizen