Sitting at the top of the bay

Hilton Pattaya's award-winning formula keeps getting fresher

From 14-34 floors above Beach Road, no further explanation than the half-moon, palm fringed bay is needed for Pattaya's perennial popularity among travellers from near and far. In golden afternoon sunshine, the sparkling salty turquoise expanse bears testimony to the efficacy of the seaside city's expensively procured water treatment infrastructure, as do not a few stick figures bobbing around colourful buoy-bordered swim areas cordoned off against darting jet ski bounders and bouncing speedboats trailing high-holstered paragliders or fast-ferrying day-trippers to pristine isles on the near horizon.

Of course, it's not a view that everyone can enjoy because the vantage point belongs to Hilton Pattaya, the city's latest five-star flagship, already counting some 33 awards to its name. This 34 storey redoubt of all things indulgent, that claims the glam CentralFestival Shopping Complex as its pedestal and the precise midpoint of the seaside city's spectacular half-moon strip of lemon yellow sand as its exclusive address, is where upscale wining, dining and chilling, overnighting, baywatching and instagramming are at in Thailand's still most famous resort.

And unlike certain other denizens of this hedonistic corner of the realm, it does it naturally. There is nothing tarty about this fresh-faced party girl decked in a palate of muted whites and sand tones. There's even something of the barefoot luxury thing about the place with its faut bamboo clad exterior making it look like some giant beach hut, its minimalist interior design and de{aac}cor and even the welcome glass of purple butterfly flower tea direct from its eforea spa, though more a suggestion than a fact. This is, after all, a Hilton. In other words, a welcoming beacon of refinement for discerning travellers on business and leisure missions on the Eastern Seaboard.

Nevertheless, the panoramic view of the seaside strip, across the speed boat and paraglider criss-crossed strait to tiny islands and the wide blue yonder is given pride of place by way of views from every room, restaurant and bar, not to mention the salt-water infinity-edge lagoon pool, the massed ranks of fitness machines and a leading candidate for Pattaya's most momentous ballroom.

Indeed, not only has the hotel lucked out with its location but its software is outstanding too. Building a 5-star hotel is one thing. Building it in the middle of a town where people mainly come simply to party and commanding rates several levels above the usual is another, but Hilton Pattaya has been very wise to hire only young professionals with solid experience without yet being jaded and bursting with ideas to fine tune its existing concepts and launch new ones. Folks like Harald Fernstein, now moved to Conrad Bangkok, Food and Beverage Director, Simon Bender and Flare Maitre D Sunny.

Hilton Pattaya thus rises above its surrounds both literally and figuratively. Arrive in the airy white lobby at level 16 of the hotel or level 7 of the mall, where chiffon shimmies across the ceiling in remarkable likeness to surf on the sea and you feel on top of the world with breathtaking bay views at your behest through floor-to-ceiling windows and water gardens invitingly arrayed with giant clambshell beds from which to drink it all in while sipping an outsize mai tai or taking classic afternoon tea.

Sitting on a broad outcrop opposite reception is the wending pool garden where you can swim out to the edge until there's nothing between your sight line and the beach. It is indeed cool to be in this pool or lounging beside it.

The rooms are also arrayed for more than just sleeping with each bed positioned so that you can watch big screen seascapes by day or night while propped up on your fluffy, satiny pillows, including frequently spectacular sunsets. Many also come with large balconies with sunken baths where for a modest increment on your room rate the bath master will set you up for an evening ablution with natural essences and flower petals like some movie mogul in the Hollywood Hills.

They don't stint on the peripherals either, with the exclusive Peter Thomas Roth bathroom range, including handy mouthwash considering all the eating you're likely to be doing. The hotel is also well wired with complementary Wifi in public areas, all FB outlets, including the pool and good broadband offered at a small extra charge in the rooms.

As intimated, the dining's especially good, starting with Edge, the all day restaurant that presents massive breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets with a view at reasonable rates. Tuesday lunch is pizza and pasta day but you don't have to wait until then to order something thin and crispy from its flaming pizza ovens. In fact you can summons one any time to be served in your room or perhaps beside the pool. This being five star treatment, room service is 24 hours which is just as well in case you decide to venture out into the night.

However, there is plenty to keep you inside the hotel beside the multimedia. The jewel in HP's crown is Horizon, a three part restaurant and bar with indoors and outdoors dining and nightly DJs from 7pm. From 34 floors above the gulf you not only see the sea for miles but, by night, are surrounded in a carpet of condo lights and neon pointing all the way to Walking Street.

The food here befits the privileged locale with an inspired menu of original dishes that combine something new and different with comfort food beyond compare, with multiple culinary influences ranging from the Middle East to France and Italy to Asia.

Or for something more classic, there's always flare, bedecked in an underwater aquatic style and with finest surf and turf on the menu, all as worked out between chef and maitre d, Sunny, who has a special knack of finding out what you want and making sure you get it.

No wonder the lucky few stay for a month or more. With the mall below, the sea before and rampant hedonism all around, it's worth hanging around as long as possible.

It's all enough to recall the Ottis Reading classic, Sitting on the dock of the bay, a lilting summery tune that makes you yearn for the sea and which could easily be this hotel's signature tune. Except that it wouldn't be the dock but the iPod docking stations found all over the hotel because Hiltons have to think of everything. And strangely enough, it's all a perfect fit for Pattaya.

333/101 Moo 9, Nong Prue, Banglamung, Pattaya Chonburi 20260. Tel. 038 253 000

About the author

Writer: Noel Maclean
Position: Holiday Time writer