Tuesday, 2 February 2010

kanchanaburi -- Royal River Kwai Resort: POOLING AROUND

Just look at this beautiful pool setting, would you? The perfect place to loll around on a lazy afternoon, read a book, and -- oh, my goodness, look at the time -- it's beer o'clock.

In many ways, the pool is the centrepiece of the Royal River Kwai Resort. Much of the low-rise resort is built either side of it, with 66 guest rooms in three wings falling away down to the serene flowing Kwai Yai River. And the landscaping. Lush, Lush, LUSH, with traveller palms, coconut palms, and all manner of flourishing tropicalia. Then, almost like an open-air Madam Tussaud's waxworks, are sculptures and figurines playing peek-a-boo from behind a bush, or proudly occupying a spot on the lawn. At the main entrance a row of concrete monks collecting alms. They've certainly gone long on providing ambience.

Which is why the standard rooms are a little disappointing. Oh, they're big enough, they've got most of the features you're after for a good night's rest (a bed being right up there on the list!), and some nice solid wood chairs and wardrobes, but somehow they fall a little flat. Maybe it's the bare concrete floors, a design effect which either comes off or it doesn't. Subjective. Or maybe it's the bathroom which look like they need a good update, even though the resort is only a few years old.

They also offer seven huge bungalows, too. A beautiful way to experience tropical living if you've got the extended family in tow (although I'd sooner put them in a separate wing and just enjoy the seclusion of the bungalow for a private romp).

But it's probably because the landscaping is so lovely it leads you to expect more from the rooms. Call me fussy. Go one, say it my face! It seems a popular spot for locals to hold their weddings. That gives you an idea. And I've rarely seen a place where so many guests are keen to have their photo taken in among the shrubbery.

From shrubbery to rubbery: The Runtee Spa though will have you back in the Zen moment in no time. Aromatic salt body scrubs, herbal steam treatments, rose petals in the tub. And wide open to the soothing swishing sounds of the water and the river breezes.

That Creedence Clearwater Revival song 'Rollin', rollin', rollin' down the river ...' pops into my head.(C'mon don't pretend that was before your time, sing a long with me!)

This place is certainly peaceful. That's its big drawcard. Just 3.5 km out of the burgeoning provincial capital of Kanchanaburi (itself only 2.5 hours from Bangkok) the Royal River Kwai delivers you from the often noisy late night town. And, better still, you're already on the main road -- the 323, one of my favourite roads in all of Thailand -- which takes you out to Erawan Falls, Tiger Temple, Heaven Lake and Hellfire Pass.

Or, you can just laze around the pool. Nothing wrong with that. Oh, my goodness look at the time -- beer o'clock already ...

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