While Hua Hin continues to attract the bulk of the attention – and as a consequence, most of the investment – Pranburi, the sleepy fishing town next door is slowly gaining traction. As the Royal beach resort and the largest town in Prachuab Khiri Khan Province fills up with local and international tourists on long weekends and holidays, those with a little more time on their hands are more likely to drive the extra fifty or so kilometres and enjoy a totally different experience at a resort in Pranburi.
Today, Pranburi is perhaps what it’s more developed next-door neighbour was like a decade or so ago with a smattering of resorts, the odd sea-front restaurant and very little traffic. Although development is increasing, especially looking out to the Gulf of Thailand, the overall feel of the town is still very laid back and peaceful. Even a trip to the local fresh market is serene, while a walk along the magnificent beach is generally quite a lonely affair.
Virtually all the resorts and residential developments are along Pak Nam Pran Beach Road and this is where we would spend our next three days at one of the best resorts along this stretch of the Gulf, Aleenta Resort & Spa, Hua Hin – Pranburi. Here we would be bathed in glorious sunshine and experience life in the lap of luxury as we relaxed in our private plunge pool gazing out at the mesmerising blue water that seamlessly met the clear blue sky.
As a member of the Small, Luxury Hotels of the World, Aleenta meets all the criteria: it is small and it is luxurious. With only ten luxury suites in the main resort, each one unique and all with beautiful sea views, guests are assured total privacy. There are more suites a short walk away in the Frangipani Wing, where the large common swimming pool overlooks the beach and sea beyond.
We were assigned an Ocean View Suite with its own private doorway that leads to a small garden and the entrance. Upon entering the suite, our eyes were immediately drawn to the floor to ceiling French windows and the gorgeous garden and sea view beyond. Each villa has its own iPod music player and no television, so TV junkies beware. The outdoor shower room, toilet and bathroom is stocked with natural toiletries made from essential oil extracts and exclusive to Aleenta. We had to remind each other to close the door otherwise we’d be invaded by mosquitoes.
In the centre of the suite is a large double bed that takes up most of the available space and is incredibly comfortable. We decided to keep our curtains open otherwise dragging ourselves out of bed in the morning would have been so very hard to do. There’s also a comfortable lounger as well as a table and two chairs outside next to the plunge pool and two sun loungers that jut out on to the garden that’s just above the beach. As with most guests at Aleenta, we only stayed in our suite at night, as all day was spent at the pool, on the sun loungers or eating in the fabulous restaurant.
You feel somewhat cut off from the outside world at Aleenta and this is not a bad thing really. The resort does not publish a telephone number, so the amount of incoming phone calls is very limited and this adds to the peacefulness of the resort. Also, guests are mature and so tend not to carry mobile phones with them, but those who do feel the need to keep their finger to the pulse are discreet enough not to hold a conversation that the whole resort is privy to.
In the open-air reception area there is a notice board that informs guests of the daily activities from Tai Chi on the beach at sunrise to all-day adventures to local tourist attractions and night-time trips to Hua Hin night market. Above reception is the restaurant and bar with a small pool and sun loungers off to one side. Above the restaurant is KA Spa that offers both open-air and air-conditioned treatment rooms.
The food at Aleenta is top-notch with Asian and Western dishes equally represented, but being so close to the Gulf of Thailand, seafood is, of course, the main feature. The resort has a dedicated team of Thai chefs, led by Chef David Heidemann, a German who has introduced a SLOW food concept that is back up by a small organic farm. Chef David hopes to one day grow all the vegetables and herbs as well as a selection of fruits used at the resort in the farm.
Aleenta is the perfect retreat for loving couples and many local and foreign honeymooners make sure to book their stay here, while there have been couples who have actually tied the knot at the resort. If you want to get a true perspective of the resort, then spend a few minutes reading the guest book in the reception to see how those who have stayed at the resort enjoyed themselves.
For the more active guests, the resort provides bicycles so that you can explore the nearby vicinity, while there are also river boat trips along the Pranburi River. However, most people we came across at the resort were happy to go with the flow and spend time by the pool or on the beach. Either way, a few days rest and relaxation at Aleenta will leave you feeling renewed and refreshed.
Aleenta Resort & Spa Hua Hin – Pranburi
Pak Nam Pran Beach Road
Tel: +66 (0) 2514-8112