Private pool villas, giant children's clubs and sailing lessons are among the many appealing features of the new resorts that have opened in Thailand during the pandemic. As the country relaxes entry requirements so that vaccinated tourists no longer have to present a PCR test on arrival, it’s a good time to check out these new accommodation options.
Melia Chiang Mai
While Chiang Mai boasts excellent boutique accommodation, it has a distinct lack of large five-star hotels compared to Thailand’s other tourist hotspots. Spotting this gap in the market, Spanish luxury hotel chain Melia recently opened the 260-room Melia Chiang Mai.
One of the city’s tallest buildings, Melia is topped by Mai the Sky Bar, which offers Instagram-worthy views across Chiang Mai into the distant countryside from its location on the 22nd floor. One floor below is Melia’s deluxe club lounge, The Level. The space is reserved for guests who choose to stay in the 31 square-metre Level rooms, the 44-square-metre Level premium rooms or the 62-square-metre Level suites.
The entry-level Melia rooms are priced at Dh240 ($65) per night, including breakfast, making this an affordable five-star stay. Adult guests will appreciate Melia’s gym, five dining venues and Yhi Spa, which has six private treatment rooms. Children, meanwhile, will rejoice over something very few Chiang Mai hotels offer — the Melia’s Kids Club.
Centara Ao Nang Beach Resort & Spa Krabi
Ao Nang may be Thailand’s best tropical getaway, thanks to its long, pretty beach, dramatic limestone peaks and modest level of development. It offers sufficient shopping, dining and entertainment options, without its natural setting being spoiled.
No hotel here has a better location than the enticing new Centara Ao Nang Beach Resort & Spa Krabi. Hidden down a short laneway, nestling up against the beach, it’s close enough to Ao Nang’s main street to be convenient, but distant enough to be serene.
Centara’s four-star, low-rise resort has 179 rooms, each with a balcony or terrace. Starting from Dh230 ($62) per night, rooms are generously sized, from the 44-square-metre deluxe rooms to the 56-square-metre pool terrace, which has its own private pool. Rooms surround either the hotel’s huge central pool with water slides, or a smaller pool with views across Ao Nang beach to nearby islands.
Flanking the larger pool is Centara’s Piazere Pastaria Italian restaurant and all-day Verandah venue, which serves a hearty buffet breakfast. Centara’s Beach Bar offers an array of Western and Thai dishes served metres from the ocean. Guests can work off these calories at the hotel's well-equipped gym, melt into a wellness session at its Cenvaree Spa, or watch their children frolic at the children's club.
SAii Laguna Phuket
The five-star SAii Laguna Phuket resort commands more than 200 metres of one of the best beaches in South-East Asia, Bang Tao. Soft sand fringed by palm trees gently slopes into Bang Tao’s consistently calm and translucent waters. There, SAii guests can swim, snorkel and even take sailing lessons.
Or they can laze by SAii’s cluster of swimming pools, which hug the beach and are flanked by a huge children's club and four dining venues. Bean/Co offers fresh pastries and coffee, the oceanfront Mr Tomyam specialises in Thai food, Locavore hosts a sumptuous breakfast buffet, and Miss Olive Oyl serves creative Western and Thai meals.
SAii, which opened in early 2021, has rooms that are elegant, functional and huge. Starting from Dh260 ($71) per night, they offer 43-square-metres of indoor space, as well as a balcony or terrace that provides sprawling beach, swimming pool or lake views. That increases to 104 square metres for the opulent one-bedroom suites, which start from Dh1,200 ($327). While bathing in SAii’s unique sunken bathtubs, guests can use bespoke toiletries they’ve created themselves at the resort’s MIY Aroma Lab.
Novotel Marina Sriracha
For tourists in Bangkok with no time to fly to Thailand’s southern beaches, Sri Racha and Si Chang Island are great alternatives. The former is a lively oceanside town 85 minutes’ drive south of downtown Bangkok, while the latter is the closest island to the Thai capital, only 10 kilometres off the coast of Sri Racha.
In early 2020, Novotel opened linked properties in these two locations — the 235-room Novotel Marina Sri Racha and the Novotel Resort Si Chang, which has 40 rooms and villas. At 25 floors tall, the oceanfront Novotel Marina Sri Racha offers transfixing views from its spacious rooms, plush rooftop bar and restaurant, and the fourth floor infinity swimming pool, cafe and children's club.
Starting from only Dh180 ($49), the four-star Novotel Marina Sriracha offers superior rooms, deluxe rooms, junior suites and family suites, and Marina Bay suites, all of which have 55-inch smart TVs. It also has a jetty where guests can catch a speedboat directly to Novotel Si Chang.
Melia Phuket Mai Khao
Located in north-west Phuket, Mai Khao is one of Thailand’s cleanest, prettiest and quietest beaches. Guests at the five-star Melia Phuket Mai Khao, which opened in January, can wander past the property’s ocean-facing pool and across a lush lawn with a tree swing and bean bags, straight onto this white sandy beach.
Yet Melia guests may feel little need to leave their enormous rooms, many of which boast a private pool set in a chic, Mediterranean-style courtyard, with whitewashed walls and hedges for privacy. Melia’s accommodation ranges from the 78-square-metre one-bedroom suites to its 85-square-metre one-bedroom pool villas.
Guests that do venture out will find a great gym, a huge second pool in the centre of the resort, an indoor kids club brimming with toys and Melia’s Yhi Spa, which has a long list of wellness treatments. Offering further indulgence are Melia’s Elyxr cafe, its Mediterranean Gaia restaurant and Sasa, which serves the resort’s breakfast buffet. And if you’re feeling especially active, Melia Phuket Mai Khao offers horse riding and yoga on the beach, as well as cooking classes.