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Wednesday 13 April 2016

A lovely hotel where you can avoid the excesses of Pattaya

The notorious Thai resort town of Pattaya has a stench about it it; both literally and metaphorically. 

The drains in downtown Pattaya City stink to high heaven, particularly on warm days (of which there are many). Think the combined aromas of warm shit, stale beer, perfume, urine and drowned cigarette stubs.

Walking Street is worth avoiding
Pattaya City is a playground for tourists, largely from Russia and China, and it is common to see middle-aged men walking hand-in-hand with teenage girls en route to places called "Bone Club" or "the Little Hole." It's not a place for families, or young lovers.

Walking Street, Pattaya's most notorious strip of bars, go-go establishments and massage parlours, has its own stench - one of desperation. Here you can find girls with families to support urgently seeking a tourist to buy them a drink - and with whom to establish a deep and meaningful friendship within 15 minutes.

To be fair you'll find the same thing in Bangkok, Phuket or Koh Samui, but Pattaya just seems so much more tawdry. In the rest of Thailand there is an edge of humour, here just desolation. 

Witness the overweight 40-something Mauy Thai boxers, well past their prime, trying to put on a show for the tourists by punching and kicking each other in a bar on Walking Street. 

Maybe I caught Pattaya City on a bad day, or maybe it caught me on a bad day - but going to Thailand and opting to stay in central Pattaya strikes me as a bit like going to England and opting to stay in Hull, or choosing Toulon as your lone destination in France. 

To be fair, the area surrounding Pattaya has many world-class attractions and you are just 75 minutes from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport; there are clean, sandy beaches rather than the oil-slicked ones on the resort strip; world-class golf courses and impressive spa facilities.
The beachfront pool at the Movenpick 

Many visitors will probably want to visit Pattaya City at least once during their stay, maybe for shopping or a massage, but my tip is to stay away from the hustle and bustle - and hustlers - by finding a hotel at Na Jomtien Beach; a new resort strip that is just a 20-30-minute shuttle ride away.

Choose carefully; not all of these hotels are suitable for Westerners; some cater exclusively for Russian and Chinese guests. 

I just spent three days at an outstanding new five-star property right on south Na Jomtien Beach, the Swiss-owned Movenpick Siam Hotel Pattaya. 

Why the owners have opted to use the name Pattaya in their hotel name is mystery - it will surely only scare lots of family vacationers away. 

Which is a pity as the Movenpick, open only two months, is a very fine property indeed, modern and efficient with terrific staff and great facilities.

Movenpick rooms are delightfully stylish 
Dining options, for instance, range from T55, a New York-style steak house; Twist, an all-day dining option with both Thai and western dishes; the La Costa Pool Bar (excellent for a cold beer and a chicken satay) and snacks in the Red Coral Lounge (think a global wine list and artisan gins). A tapas-style eatery is close to completion, and there is also an excellent executive lounge. 
Waldorf Salad as an artwork at T55
Wifi is fast and free throughout the high-rise property and Wave Spa is a lovely, and peaceful, spa facility. For a property that has only been open a short time things work remarkably smoothly and the buffet breakfast has to be in the top five I have seen in terms of both range and quality. 

The buffet breakfast is outstanding
The pool overlooks the pristine beach and is delightful; there is a well-equipped fitness centre and rooms mostly have ocean views.

The Ocean Marina Yacht Club is just a short stroll along the beach and the three golf courses at the Siam Country Club are just a short drive away as is the Phoenix Golf Country Club as well as temples and theme parks. 

There are 256 guest rooms, suites and pool villas, all well-thought-out and luxurious, and younger guests will enjoy a free chocolate and desserts buffet served every day from 4-5pm as well as the kids club and kayaks on the beach.

There are also shuttles four times daily from the resort to Pattaya City. But let's not go there. 

Movenpick Siam Hotel Pattaya, 55 Moo 2 Sukhumvit Road, Na Jomtien, Sattahip, Chonburi, Thailand. +66 33 078 888. 


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