When people asked me ‘what’s your favourite hotel in the world?’ my reply was always the “Centara Grand Resort”:https://www.centarahotelsresorts.com/centaragrand/chbr/ in Thailand’s Hua Hin. However, after my fourth visit, I’m not so convinced.
My previous review still stands, in that this hotel still exudes colonial charm, has excellent service, strong martinis in the Elephant Bar and a terrific breakfast.
So, what’s changed?
In previous visits, we’ve had no problem getting sunbeds regardless of the time we went out in the morning. This year, we found that at 8.30am, a huge number of beds had been “reserved” with books and bags, with the pool staff being complicit by putting out towels in return for baht. One day, I was so incensed that over 80% of the beds in the grassy area where we liked to sit, had been bagged, I emailed the manager. He replied to say that he understood the problem, but that they had a number of regular, long stay guests (at least a month), who liked the same sunbeds every day, and every year! This didn’t come as a surprise as at breakfast, we’d seen the same people sit at the same table, and probably eat the same dishes.
However, the manager promised to devise a solution to address the problem which appeared to be developing signs to put on sun beds to say that if they were not used within a certain number of hours, the possessions would be removed. Unfortunately, this didn’t materialise during our stay, and I suspect it was a ploy to fob me off!
We wondered why we’d not noticed this problem before, and eventually realised our previous visits had been at a different time of year – this was February, when people were escaping the European weather.
On the plus side, I enjoyed complimentary one-to-one lessons in fruit and vegetable carving, flower arranging, napkin folding and learned how to make a passion fruit salt scrub in the spa. It was exclusive, mainly because they were so poorly advertised. We also had a delightful tour of the gardens and the extensive topiary with the head gardener which made walking through the grounds even more interesting.
Hua Hin itself had not changed much in the last 4 years, although maybe there was more traffic down the narrow main street and mooted changes could transform the town with the pulling down of the iconic squid piers. However, many of the restaurants we’d enjoyed previously were still there along with some interesting new ones.
Would I go again? Possibly, but not between January and February.