The biggest growth markets for Hua Hin at the moment are China, India, and other ASEAN countries
The GM at Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa and Sheraton Hua Hin Pranburi Villas, Martin Raich, explains why the beach town continues to be an unrivalled holiday destination in Thailand.
by Anita Zaror
Hua Hin is the oldest and most traditional beach town in Thailand. But what has made it so popular since the reign of King Rama VII, in the early 1920s, till today?
According to Martin Raich, general manager of Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa and Sheraton Hua Hin Pranburi Villas, Hua Hin offers several pluses to visitors that other beach destinations in Thailand don’t:
“The proximity to Bangkok, only about 2.5 hours/200 kilometers, makes it a great choice for weekends and short breaks. For our longer stay guests, I think the fact that Hua Hin has a mix of old Thai charm and all the amenities that modern tourists expect, without the crowds of better-known tourist areas such as Phuket and Pattaya, is important. There is something to do for everyone, from royal palaces to water parks, beachfront restaurants to hillside vineyards. Not forgetting that Hua Hin has the Royal Seal of Approval, of course.”
The story of this royal seal dates back to 1921, when the head of the state railway, His Royal Highness Prince Purachatra Jayakara, built the Hua Hin Railway Hotel—today Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin—in the traditional architectural style of old Siam. Five years later, His Majesty King Prachatipok set the royal seal of approval himself by building a summer palace on the beach, which exists till today. Since then, that sense of elegance and style prevails in Hua Hin, and many of Bangkok’s aristocrats and personalities started building their own beachfront vacation houses there.
Until now, Hua Hin has been a popular destination for Bangkokians and Westerners. Do you foresee this trend continuing or changing in the future and if so, how?
Whilst Hua Hin remains popular with Europeans, especially those escaping the northern European winter, and Bangkok residents—both Thai and foreigners—we are already starting to see some changes. The biggest growth markets at the moment are China, India, and other ASEAN countries, as our Asian neighbors benefit from increases in wealth and more opportunities to travel for business and pleasure.
You are a golf enthusiast. Which courses do you enjoy playing at in Hua Hin?
In Hua Hin we are spoilt for choice with the number and variety of golf courses, all within about 30 minutes of the town. My personal favorite is Banyan Tree: the scenery is spectacular and the greens are so well maintained.
But its royal seal and sun-filled days, its eight kilometer-long beach, its fishing port charm and range of activities on offer, from water sports to golf, still wouldn’t be enough to justify Hua Hin’s nearly 70 years of popularity, if it wasn’t also for stunning resorts that offer a comfortable and memorable stay. And Sheraton’s properties in the beach town are good examples of that desired alluring experience that completes the picture.
“Sheraton Hua Hin Resort & Spa is a seafront resort with one of the largest lagoon style swimming pools in Thailand; 56 of our rooms have direct access from your balcony to the swimming pool, and our variety of indoor and outdoor function areas also make this perfect for weddings, conferences and other events. Sheraton Hua Hin Pranburi Villas, on the other hand, is our natural retreat resort; great for families, friends, and couples wanting to get away from it all for pure relaxation. All villas have their own private pool, and meals can be served in the comfort of your villa or in Dalah, our signature restaurant and bar,” explains Raich.
The current political situation has been challenging for the hospitality industry in Thailand. What measures have your hotels taken to counteract this crisis?
Both our resorts have not been affected as much as hotels in Bangkok city. We ensure that our guests are kept up to date with any events that may affect their travel to or from our resort. Communication and understanding our guests’ needs are of paramount importance to us at all times.