Sunday, 14 March 2010
Little things always impress me (yes, thank you, the hecklers down the back ...)
Like the Bose iPod docks in the rooms of the new InterContinental Hua Hin Resort. They speak of thought that has gone into making the guest experience as harmonious as possible. I could've spent all day just reclining in the standalone bath tub, up to my ears in foaming bath gel, with my iPod on shuffle mode.
But then I would've missed the opportunity to swim a few laps of the multi-layered pool. Multi-layered pool, Lloyd -- are you out of your mind? Well, yes, I am, but the pool actually descends in cascading tiers down to the beach front. Jing jing! But best of all, in the centre of it are three jacuzzi areas, one of which is cold, one which is warm, and one which is ball-boilingly hot. Like an outdoor Japanese or Korean bath house. Brilliant!
The InterCon is endearing in that way. From the jazz oozing from the speakers in the lobby, to the jazz trio who belts out their tunes adjacent the restaurants at night, thanks to the Thai owner's personal penchant for jazz, it's a hotel which has very quickly fitted into the groove of Hua Hin. Perhaps because it is the first international chain in Thailand to appoint a Thai lady -- Pattama Yoshimura -- as general manager? (If the name sounds Japanese, that's because she's married to a Japanese.)
Seen from the air, the resort is shaped like a fish. The Wooden Palace's architecture is redolent in the contemporary design here: teak louvre shutters and filigree patterns in the wood and iron work elsewhere. And the sprawling lawn leads the eye down past the pool to the beach beyond. Gardeners are still wheeling massive fully grown palms into place, and the odd drill and bandsaw is still being used in anger to put finishing touches to this stylish getaway, which is still in the 'soft opening' phase.
So their pool villas are not operating yet. Their presidential suite (actually a self-standing two storey house on the beach) is not open yet. Their Thai restaurant is not open yet. But Felicita, their Italian restaurant is, and Chef Giussepe is in his element here. 'Hua Hin is a fishing village, so the seafood markets here are very good,' he says. Still he imports a lot of fresh seafood, like mussels from New Zealand.
He dishes up a gourmand's delight of tuna carpaccio, black mussels in riggatoni, black angel hair pasta and crab meet, plus cinnamon-topped gnocchi. Even 24-year-old balsamic sauce (he should've checked the use by date, really!). All washed down with a sparkling Italian wine. And rounded off -- round being the key word here, as I loosen my belt -- with three flavours of gelato.
So if that's any indication, the F&B story here is going to be very very strong indeed.
Which will be music to the ears of anyone looking for a really stylish, but not stuffy, high-end getaway in Hua Hin. And just like any good jazz musician, they rarely hit a wrong note at this InterCon.