The Chiva-Som International Health Resort in Hua Hin was voted the 2nd best with high scores for accommodation and service/staff, while the leader in this category was the BodyHoliday of LeSport on St Lucia, which gained top marks for exercise programmes and facilities.
The Six Senses Spa at Six Senses Samui, was the winner of this year’s overseas hotels top spa, gaining credit for offering an individual approach and body treatments.
Italy was also ranked high for its culture and cuisine, while South Africa offers the best scenery and Turkey outdoes the competition for its value for money. Phuket was ranked 10th, but was given high scores for value for money and for hospitality; according to the magazine, the island resort was a place where one can find “luxury-on-a-budget and a friendly welcome”.
Four hotels here were listed among the top 20 best hotels in Asia and the Indian Subcontinent : Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai
(3rd), which has the highest standard comfort of accommodation, the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai
(12th), Anantara Phuket (14th) and Amanpuri in Phuket (17th).
Virgin Atlantic was the winner for long-haul holiday flights with top marks for luggage handling, convenience of scheduling and punctuality/efficiency, while Emirates provided the best in-flight entertainment. Singapore Airlines has the highest standards of service/staff and Cathay Pacific has the best loyalty reward scheme.
Among low-cost airlines, the lead was taken by Bmibaby, a British outfit, while Air Asia (3rd) received high marks for being value for money, and the UK’s Jet2 was noted for its child-friendliness.
Regarding the world’s best airport, Hong Kong International Airport bagged 1st position with top marks for design/layout and shopping/ duty-free facilities, followed by Singapore’s Changi International Airport and London Heathrow’s Terminal.
Next stop, Hua Hin
Due to its increasing popularity and rapid growth, the country’s oldest beach resort has several new
destinations and activities for visitors to enjoy Nestled by the Gulf of Thailand in Prachuap Khiri Khan, less than 200km south of Bangkok, Hua Hin, literally meaning “rocky beachhead”, was named after the rocks at the north end of the five-kilometre sandy beach. It became the country’s first beach resort after a rail line was laid in the 1920s and King Rama VII established his summer palace there.
For almost a century, it has been a popular weekend getaway destination for city dwellers, Royals and the elites. Today, it is one of the country’s most famous beach towns that attracts both Thais and foreigners for both holidays and long-term stays.
In 2010, accommodation establishments in Hua Hin reported 1,043,907 guest arrivals, of which 714,605 were Thais.
Among the foreigners, the top 10 arrivals were from Finland 14%, (44,480) Norway12% (41,652), Sweden 11% (37,657), Germany11% (34,947), United Kingdom 9%(28,613), Denmark 6 % (20,767), the Netherlands 5.5% (17,848), Australia 3.4% (11,133), Switzerland 3% (10,066) and Russia 2.8% (9,720), according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand Prachuap Khiri Khan Office.
As Hua Hin City has grown rapidly over the past few years, it has a lot more tourist destinations and activities to offer. Apart from visiting the Hua Hin Railway Station, the night-time food market and the Mrigadayavan Palace in nearby Cha-am, tourists can enjoy shopping and eating at the artistic Cicada Weekend Market, the retro-style Plearn Wan entertainment complex and two new floating markets. Or you can sip wine at a vineyard, 36 kilometres from the city.
If horse riding on the beach and climbing a hill to a temple are no longer tempting, Buddhist visitors may want to travel about 14km further to worship Thailand’s largest statue of Luang Phor Thuad at Wat Huay Mongkol. This temple is on the same route as the beautiful and tranquil Pa La-u Waterfall, an elephant camp and an artists’ village.