The grande dame of Asian wellness resorts has just completed the third stage of its four-part facelift since opening in 1995. Die-hard regulars – some guests stay every couple of months – will notice that common areas have been refreshed and rooms and suites have been modernised, but their famous intensive wellness retreat programs and refined, low-calorie spa cuisine remain unchanged. Your only job is to decide if you want to focus on weight loss, exercise, spa treatments or mental wellbeing and let the small army of attentive staff – there are five to every guest – take care of the rest.
The town of Hua-Hin, a 3.5-hour drive south of Bangkok, was once a favourite seaside escape for the former Thai king, however you’re unlikely to see much of it as guests are encouraged to stay on site for a fully immersive wellness experience. The resort’s shared beachfront is a good spot for a sunset stroll if the tide is low.
The resort’s 54 rooms and suites can be loosely divided into two categories – standalone pavilions that sit within the resort’s tropical gardens, and smaller, condominium-style oceanfront rooms and suites grouped around the pool and outdoor dining area. Each has now been renovated in a tasteful blonde colour scheme of local teak, silk and bamboo and two of the Thai Pavilion Suites now feature glass-walled salas with a central dining table and cushioned seats which provide a space for a private meal or tranquil contemplation.
Food and drink
Guests are offered two eating options – freestyle or restrictions of 1000, 1200 or 1500 calories per day. Depending on your allowance, choose from a selection of tiny but tasty dishes from one of the two restaurants: the Thai-style Taste of Siam overlooking the beach or the more formal Emerald Room (pictured above) with its newly renovated jade-green interiors and breezy terrace. A typical meal might be a matchbox-sized scoop of coconut pudding with dragonfruit and cantaloupe for breakfast or curried barracuda for dinner. Saturday nights are about loosening the reins – a little bit – with a buffet-style barbecue and a glass of wine.
For business travellers
Chiva-Som is the antithesis of work – you’re there to focus on you, not a spreadsheet. Communication devices are banned outside of guests’ rooms – yep, even for selfies – so if you simply must shoot off a work email or two it’s best to do it at the beginning or the end of the day before you get moving.
For wellness travellers
Wellness is what Chiva-Som does and the retreat options are extraordinarily detailed, with programs that focus on everything from fitness to facial rejuvenation. The fitness centre and medi-spa have both been renovated to include state-of-the-art equipment and treatments and the Re-Functional Studio is newly decked-out with bodyweight-based training equipment for rehabilitation and mobility. The resort is also offering a new Golf Enhancement Package that aims to help players improve their swing.
The fab factor
Quite simply, you will leave Chiva-Som lighter and healthier than the day you stepped off the plane.
Best for: The wellness obsessive
Number of rooms: 54 including 30 rooms, 10 Thai Pavilions and 14 suites
Rates from: A three-night retreat in an Ocean Room starts at 54,000 THB per room per night for twin occupancy plus taxes and service charges.
Wi-fi: Fast and free but only allowed inside guest rooms.
Parking: Complimentary on site.
Address: 73/4 Petchkasem Road, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77110, Thailand
Telephone: +66 32 536 536