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A sea-side pampering spa experience (main photo by Joanna, others from Anantara Web Site).

I am typically a little suspect about high end spas in Thailand simply because you can go anywhere and get a quality massage for $8USD. However, being a spa junkie I am always open to try both high-end and low-end experiences, as you never know what you will discover. And sometimes, as Anantara Hua Hin has proven, it is completely worth paying more for.

After making the 200km drive from Bangkok, we quickly checked in and were whisked away to our room. Well appointed in a simple, yet elegant Thai style, the room featured a balcony nestled in lush palm trees and a large bathtub for two. Only there for a long weekend, I had booked a 3 day spa package of 4 treatments (10,000THB / $461SGD / $277USD).

Upon arriving at the tropical garden spa set among sprawling lotus-covered lagoons, I was greeted warmly and discreetly. A soft spoken and gentle aesthetician led me to Anantara Hua Hin’s distinctive spa suites. One of seven suites, my suite was set in its own individual garden courtyard, with a deep terrazzo bath (room for two if you have company!) and with an alfresco rain shower suspended in a bronze cage modelled after traditional Thai fish-traps.  The effect of the suite is sequestering oneself in an environment of pure luxury. And in this transporting environment a decadent experience begins.

My first day of the package included 2 treatments. A wonderfully thorough 60 minute Sea Salt Body Scrub followed by a 90 minute Aromatherapy Massage. I had started my treatment at 5pm so by the time the body scrub was over, I was escorted to the alfresco rain shower where I showered listening to chirping birds and seeing the brilliant pink-orange sky at sunset. Feeling fresh with my newly scrubbed, baby soft skin, I was then massaged with stimulating ginger oil. When I finally left the spa in a dream-like state, it was even more beautiful under the cover of night, lit by flaming oil lamps around the edge of the lagoon.

Days two and three of the package included a 60 minute deep tissue massage and a 60 minute Thai massage. Each treatment was equally pampering. In addition to the quality of the treatments, what really made a difference was the attention to detail – from being brought lavender infused eye pillows during the massage, to taking Chinese herbal-scented tea and tiny bits of dried pineapple, mango and cantaloupe in the garden after my treatments.

In Hua Hin, you can choose from a variety of world class spa experiences – from Chiva Som to the Barai Spa at Hyatt Regency. But you will pay 5-20x more for treatments than at the Anantara, and I would not say the quality of the treatments or aestheticians would warrant doing so. The Spa at the Anantara Hua Hin is truly a high caliber experience that manages to be a good value at the same time. And it is probably for this reason that the readers of Conde Nast Traveller UK rated it as one of their favourite spas worldwide in 2007 and the hotel itself made the Conde Nast Travellers Gold List 2009.

While I actually was a hotel guest at the Anantara, if you are staying elsewhere, I would recommend visiting the spa for a day spa experience guaranteed to transport you to a state of complete relaxation.

In fact, why don’t you try my perfect spa day at the Anatara Hua Hin

•    Morning: Jog on the beach followed by lazy buffet breakfast
•    Afternoon: Read a book by the beach and taking lunch of spicy Chicken with Basil and Garlic with a Singha beer
•    Evening: 1-2 hours of pampering at the Anantara Hua Hin spa
•    Night: Head into town and have a local seafood dinner on one of the piers, my favorite option is Chow Lay, you can easily recognize it as it one of the only ones jam packed with locals (a Thai friend told me about it). Order fresh grilled fish, squid and pitchers of icy cold Singha beer

If you can think of a better day than lounging by the beach during the day, pampering yourself at a spa in the evening and then enjoying seafood dinners by the beach at night, I really would like to hear about it.

For Anatara hotels…

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