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offering (something we’ve seen a lot of in Thailand) would most certainly be wrong. The food here is very good indeed and the blend of cuisines is highly appropriate. Prices can be considered reasonable for a hotel of this class, although like anywhere in the country, it’s hard to find great value when scouring the wine list. The other dining option here can be found at the rooftop Clouds Loft, which is an ideal spot to gaze out on to the ocean while enjoying a range of Mediterranean favourites. While many will happily linger for a drink or two at the table post-dinner, the hotel’s Red Bar, a trendy hangout a short walk downstairs, offers an upbeat alternative on weekends when the resort is popular with Bangkokians. Clockwise from top: Dining at Clouds Loft; the Chill Pool at Red Bar; a Pool Villa bedroom; one of the hotel's reflection pools as seen from reception

Hotel de la Paix Hua Hin

OVERVIEW Located in the sleepy village of Cha-Am, a 15-minute drive from the resort town of Hua Hin, the beachfront Hotel de la Paix is the complete antithesis to the majority of large resorts that have sprung up along this stretch of coastline in recent times. This is boutique chic at its most alluring, which explains why the 79-room resort, which was formerly known as the Alila when under previous management, has proved a hit with well-heeled Europeans, entrepreneurial Thais and an increasing number of Hong Kongers, many of whom are venturing down with their golf clubs in tow.

ACCOMMODATIONS The almost industrial architecture by noted Thai designer Duangrit Bunnag that prevails throughout the resort is certainly radical, but it’s no less comfortable for that. Indeed, the Hotel de la Paix is among the most splendidly relaxed retreats we’ve ever stayed at, thanks in part to Khun Duangrit’s use of reflection pools and creative lighting. The entry-level rooms here, named Horizon Studios, are anything but simple and while their concrete walls and bare floors cry out high-end minimalist design, they’re tempered by an oh-so comfortable timber-framed bed and other soft furnishings. A flat screen TV, Apple TV loaded with an array of films and music, an iPod and DVD player round out the in-room technological gadgetry, while there is complimentary WiFi available throughout the resort. The bathrooms, like the rooms themselves, are large and feature Dornbracht rain showers, which make for a most natural bathing experience. With 260sqm of living space and a private pool, the resort’s Pool Villas are the rooms to choose for those wanting to really indulge.

DINING The hotel’s main restaurant, Motion, is a relaxed, poolside retreat, with the option of both alfresco and indoor dining. The menu features a blend of local and international dishes, although to suggest this was yet another mismatched fusion 60

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AT A GLANCE ROOMS A combination of entry-level Horizon Studios (large at 60sqm), Garden Terrace Studios (including outdoor private patio area) and vast Pool Villas (each with their own private pool and separate lounge and dining area). Rain showers available in all rooms. HIGHLIGHTS Strikingly minimalistic interiors and high-tech gadgetry is the name of the game. Home to a first-class spa, ornate public areas and innovative dining options. PRICE Online deals via the hotel’s website for September include stays for two (including breakfast) for as little as THB4,500 (HK$1,150) per room per night. Attractive three-night golfing and spa packages are also available online. GETTING THERE The hotel is a twohour drive (depending on traffic) from Bangkok’s main international gateway – the Suvarnabhumi Airport. CONTACT Hotel de la Paix, ChaAm, 115 Moo 7, Tambol Bangkao, Amphur Cha-Am, Phetchaburi; +66 32 709 55; hoteldelapaixhh.com; book@hoteldelapaixhh.com

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LEISURE FACILITIES The Hotel de la Paix’s Indochine Spa is rightly considered one of the region’s finest and provides a full range of facial and body treatments, including therapeutic massages, detoxifying scrubs and hot herbal compresses. The wife of this writer, who is certainly no stranger to Southeast Asian resort spas, declared her therapist the most thoughtful she’d ever encountered and compared the experience favourably to the spas found at Bangkok’s internationally-branded upscale hotels. Massages can also be arranged in the hotel’s beachside cabanas. While the stretch of beach that the hotel abuts is pleasant, most guests head to one of the hotel’s two pools to lounge under the sun. Sensibly, especially given the nature of the clientele that the hotel attracts, there is a kidsfree “Chill” pool as well as an “Active” pool that caters towards families. HKGOLFER.COM

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Richard Castka/Sportpix International (Black Mountain)

WHERE’S THE GOLF?

From top: A golfer tees off at the nearby Black Mountain Golf Club, one of the best-conditioned courses in Southeast Asia; sun loungers on the beach fronting the hotel; a view over the Active Pool at dusk 62

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Over the past five or so years, Hua Hin has emerged as one of, if not the best golfing destination in the Land of Smiles, with a number of new courses coming online. The pick of the bunch is the wonderfully natural layout at Banyan Golf Club, a 45-minute drive away. Built over a former pineapple plantation and designed by young local architect Piraporn Namatra, the front nine here thunders across relatively open country, while the closing stretch plays through a series of particularly lovely and heavily vegetated valleys. Another fine choice – and one of the best conditioned courses anywhere – is Black Mountain Golf Club (30 minutes), which has hosted numerous professional events in recent times. While the routing is perhaps a little contrived – the mountainous terrain the architects had to work with isn’t perfectly suited to golf – there are a great many fun holes out here, especially on the scenic back nine, while playability is enhanced by generous fairways and not overly contoured putting surfaces. The hotel’s golfing packages include rounds at both Banyan and Black Mountain, while the Jack Nicklaus-designed Springfield Royal and nearby Palm Hills can also be booked either before or during your stay. The hotel is also looking at creating a large putting green, inspired by the famous “Himalayas” at St Andrews, for hotel guests of all playing standards to enjoy. No completion date has been announced but one hopes their plans are realised, as the idea, like the resort as a whole, is certainly innovative. HKGOLFER.COM

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