Asia & South Pacific

The Allure of Thailand

written by | Posted on December 1st, 2009

A trip to Thailand, the wonderful kingdom smack in the heart of Southeast Asia, is memorable merely for the wonders that lie within its borders. Add to that the fact that for generations Thailand has been recognized as one of the most exquisite singular destinations on earth, and you have a potent mixture for the country’s reputation for romance and exotic charm. It’s not surprising then, that this magic land has been chosen as the Sexiest Romance/Honeymoon Destination in Asia in Recommend’s Readers’ Choice Awards for the third year in a row.

Chanchai Doungjit, director of Western USA and Latin America for the Thailand Tourism Authority in Los Angeles, says, “This award only proves what we have maintained for a long time—that Thailand is an amazing destination as well as an amazing value where the high level of hospitality and gracious service provided by the Thai people to their guests enhances our beautiful natural scenery.”

Doungjit says tourism is booming, thanks largely to travel agents who always have recognized the magic within the country. “It seems that every week we are being told of a beautiful state-of-the-art hotel or resort opening somewhere and everyone has that special touch of Thai hospitality. This is certainly the destination for anyone looking for a special place to make a commitment with a wedding, to celebrate a new partnership with a honeymoon, or for those who just want to reconnect again away from the hustle and bustle of the everyday world.”

Indeed, from the lush green belt to the north, to the balmy beaches in the south, Thailand exemplifies everything that’s alluring and beckoning about romantic destinations.

Consider Hua Hin, the oldest resort in the country, and a mere 2-hour train ride from bustling Bangkok.This royal resort may be the best spot for couples to sit on the beach and enjoy being alone.

You won’t find large hotels here because the king—who has a residence nearby—a stunning palace of teak and marble aptly named “Far From Worries”—has dictated that he wants the area to remain small and containable. As a result, Hua Hin represents the quiet counterpart to resorts like Phuket and Pattaya.

Travelers seeking a more active vacation should consider Ko Samui, a small island in the Gulf of Thailand bisected by a mountain ridge with miles of unexplored beaches and towering coconut palms everywhere. It’s only about one hour’s flight from Bangkok.

There are scores of hotels, resorts and restaurants offering activities like elephant rides to a waterfall, climbing to the head of a four-story Buddha or long hikes to explore the island’s breathtaking environment. The mood in this romantic, secluded Eden is gentle.

In keeping with the exotic and dreamy aura permeating Thailand, Marriott—recipient of the Readers’ Choice Award for Best Resort/Hotel Chain in Asia—recently opened an exquisite resort and spa in Phang Nga province in southern Thailand on the shores of the Andaman Sea about one hour from Phuket. The 298-room Marriott Khao Lak Resort and Spa is a harmonious blend of luxury and nature. It sits on Khuk Khak Beach with guestrooms arranged in four primary wings running along the beach.

June M. Farrell, v.p., international public relations, Marriott International, says, Thailand is a natural choice for the new resort. “It goes without saying that Thailand ranks as an important destination for Marriott,” she says. “On a macro-basis, there are few destinations anywhere that have a tourism infrastructure as highly developed as that of Thailand.”

Khao Lak has opened to such raves that Farrell says it could easily become the jewel of the chain’s 15 properties currently operating in Thailand, with another eight under construction. In addition to its seven first-rate restaurants and bars, the resort offers Thai-inspired guestrooms with balconies or decks with direct access to the pool area.

“We’re excited about working to help ensure Thailand stays as one of the premier travel destinations in the world,” Farrell says.

Travelers to Thailand will also find extra delights when choosing Singapore Airlines—selected as the Best Airline for Business Travel in the Readers’ Choice Awards for the second consecutive year—to visit the country. The company uses plush A380 Airbus, a 471-seat double-decker aircraft that has been described as “a private sanctuary in the sky.” It features business- and first-class suites with sliding doors, adjustable roller blinds and luxurious leather seats upholstered by Italy’s Poltrona Frau. Come bedtime, the cabin crew deploys a full-sized bed with plush pillows and duvet for passengers.