Anantara Resort & Spa, Hua Hin, Thailand
A view of the Anantara resort's lush greenery from one of the guest rooms
Anantara Resort & Spa, Hua Hin, Thailand
The torch-lit pathway leading to the infinity pool at Anantara
Anantara Resort & Spa, Hua Hin, Thailand
A view from the balcony of one of the suites, overlooking the beach
- Golfing Groups: A selection of the finest golf courses in Thailand; a range of post-golf activities; luxurious accomodations; superb dining and drinking options.
- Romantic Breaks: Beautiful beach-side setting; romantic and luxurious hotels; his-and-her activities; extensive options for pampering.
GOLF OFF THE BEATEN TRACK IN TANTALISING THAILAND
Mention Thailand as a luxury vacation destination and most worldly travellers will nod along sagely: for some years now, Thailand has been home to some of the finest spa resorts and luxury hotels in the world. Combined with thousands of years of culture and history; scarcely believable paradise islands; accessible jungle trekking; an appealing and distinctive cuisine; and a laid-back atmosphere that permeates everything and everyone who lives there (or visits), it would be easy to argue that Thailand is one of the best beach and spa holiday destinations in the world. However, Thailand is so much more than this. For the golfer, in particular, the low-profile nature of Thailand's golf courses relative to its more obvious tourist assets is something of a bonus: don't go telling everyone, but Thailand has some of the best golf courses in the world.
Hua Hin (pronounced Warheen), is a gently bustling beach resort town 120 miles west of Bangkok airport. As such, it is an easy-to-reach destination for the international golfer arriving into Bangkok. It is a quaint amalgam of the ancient and modern, where crowded street markets stand in the shadow of splendid hotels overlooking the beach. It is also home to numerous excellent golf courses for those looking to do more than just lie on the beach for two weeks.
Click here to see a local map.
Hua Hin offers numerous opportunities for the dedicated hedonist and if he's of the golfing persuasion the delights border on the Utopian.
There are eight clubs within a 30 minute drive from Hua Hin. They offer a disparate mix, from the gentle and picturesque Royal Hua Hin Club that is among the oldest in Thailand, to the more muscular versions devised by modern architects such as Jack Nicklaus, whose Springfield course is the flagship of the region. The Posh Golf Travel selection are the pick of the bunch.
Imperial Lake View Golf Club
Twenty minutes from the centre of Hua Hin, halfway to the city of Cha Am, lies the Imperial Lake View golf club, part of a resort set in 1,200 acres in a valley at the foot of a mountain range. The views, as you might imagine, are spectacular.
There are 27 holes designed by Australia's Roger Packard and the initial 18 have a links-land look about them; they're ruggedly beautiful and you'll need to step up a couple of gears if you played Royal Hua Hin first. It's a big driving course with plenty of water and if you're feeling your oats you could tackle it from the back markers and know you've had a work out.
That, though, is recommended only for the hot shots. Ordinary folk should try the more forward tees, of which there's a choice: they're quite fruity enough for most. Packard is obviously fond of bunkers and large greens, which are a hazard in themselves, but it's a fun course and is in tip-top order. It's easy walking or there are carts.
Majestic Creek Country Club
Also about 20 minutes from the Hua Hin is the Majestic Creek Country Club, recognised as one of the pearls of Asia. Laid out in 2,000 acres, of which 200 form a nature reserve, it has a charmingly old-fashioned aura about it, with cobbled cart paths, tee areas surrounded by gardens, specimen trees of every type, all in a lovely setting with a backdrop of mountains and natural areas of rough and swamp land.
Majestic Creek was designed by a local man, Dr. Sukkitti Klanvisal. It is symphonic in its tempo and movement, and if length of shot is part of your armoury then playing from the back tees will bring considerable challenge, too. However, for those of a less muscular disposition there is a choice of tees that bring a more cerebral challenge, a lovely counterpoint. Some of the green configurations will leave you wide-eyed and there's no little illusion in the form of fore-shortening cross bunkers and subtle swales and mounds to create dead ground or hide part of the target area, making a shot appear more difficult than it is.
It has a charmingly old-fashioned aura about it. One feels that Harry Colt and Alister Mackenzie would have approved of the good doctor's endeavours. It is as beautiful as it is enchanting: hand-laid cart paths, tee areas surrounded by gardens, specimen trees of every type, all in a lovely setting with a backdrop of mountains and natural areas of rough and swamp land. 'Tis a sight to soothe the soul.
Springfield Country Club
Equally eye-boggling, although for quite different reasons, is the Springfield Country Club and its course, designed by Jack Nicklaus. It too is only minutes from Hua Hin, in fact it's part of a self-contained beach resort that would be ideal for those with lively youngsters.
As you'd imagine with such a pedigree, the course is out of the top drawer. It's a regular stop on the Asian PGA Tour and the venue for the annual Tour School but it was designed primarily as a resort course. The average Joe Hacker won't be intimidated if he tempers his ambition and selects a suitable tee. There are five sets, from the knee-knocking tiger tees down to the learners' blocks that give entree to a truncated course.
So even for beginners it's great fun, as a new Nicklaus course can be since age mellowed his design philosophy. The fairways are wide, although there's a correct side on every hole; the greens are equally magnanimous and bunkers and water proliferate. Nothing is hidden, all the demands are visible, the options numerous.
Add superb conditioning, a gorgeous setting and an opulent clubhouse and you'll see why many rate Springfield one of the finest clubs in this golf-mad nation.
For those seeking thrills beyond the feeling of a well-struck 3-iron, kite-surfing and kite-boarding are big news in Hua Hin. Lessons and equipment hire are available on the beach.
Watersports are limited on the main beach at Hua Hin due to submerged boulders (from which the town derives its name). However, a range of watersports (including jetski hire, banana boat rides, waterskiiing, parasailing, and sea kayaking) are available very close by at at Khao Takiab. Hua Hin's location in the Gulf of Thailand also makes it well placed for boat pleasure cruises and sea fishing excursions. Ask your hotel concierge to make bookings for you.
Elephant rides and treks are available at a camp approximately 3km outside Hua Hin (towards Pala-U in the Kaeng Krachan National Park, where waterfalls can also be found).
Thai massage and Thai cooking lessons are widely available. Ask your hotel concierge for advice on the best establishment to visit based on your requirements - standards can vary.
Muay Thai (Thai kick-boxing) is the national sport of Thailand. There are several stadiums in Hua Hin where you can watch Thai fighters compete. If you're sufficiently energetic after making light work of the local golf courses, then Muay Thai lessons are a great way to get fit. Ask your hotel concierge to make bookings for you.
The Hua Hin night market is an entertaining way to spend the evening dining on local cuisine and shopping for souvenirs.
ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN
Depending upon the age of your children, most or all of the non-golfing activities referred to above will be suitable to entrance them for hours on end.
WHERE TO STAY
One of the finest hotel groups in Thailand, and a member of the Small Luxury Hotels Of The World, the Anantara in Hua Hin is designed to resemble a traditional thai village - albeit one with 5 star facilities and world-class facilities available on demand.
It is a beautiful hotel, set next to the beach and within walking distance of the attractions of Hua Hin. Only a short car transfer from several of the leading golf courses in the area, non-golfers can luxuriate in the Anantara's spa or lush gardens whilst golfers savour some of the best golf in Asia.
Six Senses Hideaway
Recently voted 4th best spa in the world by the readers of Conde Nast, and winner of more awards than seems strictly necessary for one hotel, the Six Senses Hideaway really is rather special.
There are 55 luxurious pool villas, each with its own personal pool in a walled, landscaped garden. Private spas are available in each of the villas (except the Duplex Pool Villas, which have a shower and steam room plus a treatment area). All villas feature king-size beds and open-air bathrooms and bathtubs. You want luxury and golf? This is it.
Golfing Groups and those on a Family Vacation may prefer the casual luxury of the Sofitel Centara Resort. It languishes in expansive gardens running down to the beach. Stylish and serene, it was built in 1923 as a stop-over on the Bangkok-Singapore railway. Extensions completed in 1986 are in seamless sympathy, all polished wood and brass, where impeccable service is the norm.
There are 207 colonial-style rooms and 42 villas with every luxury and balconies overlooking the beach and the gardens, which after dark are a cascade of fairy lights suspended from giant topiary. There's a nightclub for those with energy left at the end of the day, and all is contained within a gated estate.
Most international travellers will have to fly into Bangkok to reach Hua Hin. If you do so, it's well worth stopping for a night or two in Bangkok. It's a city of extreme contrasts, rich in history and provides a fascinating introduction to this glorious country. The best place to stay is undoubtedly The Peninsula. Go for a Balcony Room or Suite to really kick-start your vacation with a hit of glamour, and consider endulging in one of their "Enticement" packages.
Depending upon the hotel that you choose to stay at, you'll have a range of dining options in-house. Hua Hin also provides a broad range of local restaurants, and very informal dining at the local night market. If eating in the town, it's always best to ask your concierge for recommendations based on your requirements.
WHEN TO GO
Thailand has three main seasons per year. The rainy season is May-Sept and should be avoided. The coolest period, and best for golf and touring, is October-February. March and April are hot.
TIPS TO ENHANCE YOUR HOLIDAY
The international airport is at Bangkok, which is 120 miles from Hua Hin. The hotel (or your tour operator) will arrange a private transfer for you. However, a good way to start your vacation would be to stay in Bangkok for a day or two to explore the city before transferring to Hua Hin.
The hotel reception will help organise transport to the golf clubs and day trips but seeing the town is simply a matter of walking through the resort gates and wandering...
Packing Tips & Dress Code
Smart casual dress is acceptable everywhere, as is bottled water. Shorts are suggested for golf and a hat is imperative in summer. The locals are extremely polite by nature and a suitable response is much appreciated, as are small tips for services rendered.
The national currency of Thailand is the Baht. For current rates of exchange, click here.
English is widely spoken within tourist resorts and in Bangkok. However, venture further afield and you will need some basic Thai to get by. If you are planning to get off the tourist routes (or if you want to really endear yourself to the locals, who are immensely proud of their culture), it is possible to learn some basic phrases quite easily. Click here for more details (or here if you're based in the UK).
The national code for Thailand, and then the local code for Hua Hin, is +66-32 (then add the local extension).
HOW TO MAKE YOUR RESERVATION AT AN ANANTARA RESORT
OTHER OPTIONS TO BOOK YOUR VACATION
Request a Quotation or Use Our Recommended Golf Tour Operator
PGT can negotiate discounted rates and bonuses for our readers. Simply contact us giving details of preferred dates and your requirements and we will contact the resort on your behalf.Alternatively you could
Book Through A Tour Operator
If you require a total holiday package including flights, transfers, accommodation and golf reservations PGT will recommend the tour operator who serves the resort or destination of your choice and negotiate any possible discount available.