By profession, I am a trainer. I have a wide range of background experience but people development (and managing people development) is where my heart and skill lies. When Tawn’s boss found this out, I was invited to join part of their team for a weekend training session in Hua Hin. Their industry is Public Relations, their training was about creating client value, and they needed someone to play the role of a prospective client for some of the training exercises.
Hua Hin is a popular beach resort about a three-hour drive southwest of Krungthep (Bangkok). It is the home of His Majesty the King’s beach palace and so is a much cleaner and more desirable place than, say, Pattaya. In the past few years Hua Hin has also become much too popular and is now overgrown with high end hotels and fancy resorts. In other words, it has gone upscale and lost the inexpensiveness and carefree charm that made it a fun getaway spot for locals. Still, it retains its good weather, nice ambience, lovely beach, and tasty seafood. So who was I to refuse an all expenses paid two night trip to a beach resort there?
I’ll write more about the food in the coming days, but let me share some pictures of the resort. The resort, called Baan Talay Dao (“Home of the Sea and Stars”) centers around an authentic 90-year old teak wood house in which the training was held. It is a smaller resort, family owned and operated, and has probably been in operation for years and years. With the sprucing up of the rest of Hua Hin, it looks like they made a lot of effort sometime in the past few years to freshen up the resort’s facade and it now has a “boutique” look and feel.
The property includes a combination of town-house style two-story buildings along with individual villas closer to the beach. The buildings are well-maintained and the landscaping is very lush. Inside the rooms, though, you can see the age of the facility. Not because things aren’t well maintained – they are – but simply because of the amenities offered and the roughness of the construction. I’ve seen this a lot in these boutique resorts in Thailand and that is why the price is $50-150 less a night than, say, the Intercontinental, the Sheraton, or the Marriott.
There is a full-service restaurant downstairs from the teak house and you can either sit in the shade underneath or out in the open air overlooking the beach. Their breakfast buffet is pretty impressive for a small resort and the dinner I ate the first night – a curried seafood dish called hor mok talay – was one of the best things I’ve eaten this month.
Hua Hin is on the western side of the Gulf of Thailand hidden against a ridge of mountains on the narrow isthmus that is shared between Thailand and Myanmar. The benefit of this ridge of mountains is that the frightening storm clouds that blow over them tend not to drop their rain on Hua Hin, instead continuing up the Gulf and gathering more force before dropping their rain closer to Krungthep. This made for some very pleasant (and pleasantly breezy) late afternoons and early evenings as I enjoyed the relatively cool temperatures and watched the clouds, excpecting them to let fat drops of rain fall on me in response. Thankfully, this didn’t happen.
The two days of training were pleasant. I had met most of Tawn’s colleagues on several occassions before (he wasn’t at the training, though) and so it was a pleasure to spend more time with them. Not only did I learn a lot about the PR industry, which was fascinating, but I discovered that as a group they are the biggest foodies (sea-foodies, to be precise) I’ve met in Thailand, which is why I’ll write about the food in a later entry.