From laughing children playing on waterslides in Phuket, to the tranquility and isolation of Krabi, to the royal splendour of Hua Hin, experiences in Centara hotels are imprinted on my mind, and always leave me with a smile on my face. Now with 32 properties in six branded categories scattered throughout the Kingdom (with another 11 in development), plus a growing international portfolio, the Thai-owned Centara Hotels & Resorts had its humble beginnings in 1983, with the establishment of the Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok.
While that hotel targeted business and MICE clientele, the chain has since become the leading family friendly hotel group in Thailand, encouraging families to spend quality vacation time together through incentives such as kids’ clubs, special teenage zones and ’kids stay and play for free’ deals.
But being approachable and affordable is no barrier to luxury. Centara’s most upmarket brand, Centara Grand, features landmark five-star properties in beachfront or prime city locations, with an emphasis on the inimitable Thai hospitality. Signature offerings include a Spa Cenvaree, a selection of in-house dining options and butler services for guests staying in premium suites and villas.
The newest of the Centara categories is COSI, with its first property, COSI Samui Chaweng opening on 1 December, 2017. This funky, modern lifestyle brand caters to millennials, the young–at-heart and tech-savvy, with a slew of innovations such as smart phone check-in, smart TVs with streaming connectivity, Wi-Fi throughout the property and USB charging facilities for fuss-free convenience. Here are some of my favourite Centara hotels and what they have to offer:
Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi
One of my most memorable holiday experiences occurred as I was departing this delightful hotel by boat. Tucked into a pretty cove and dramatically backed by towering limestone cliffs, the only access to this resort is via water, which is wonderful until you realise you’ve left your passport in the room safe. As soon as I discovered my mistake, the launch returned to the pier, where I was met by security and personally escorted to recover my wayward passport – a service indicative of the level of hospitality at the resort. And what a location, with dreamy views and an ambience of exclusivity – an absolute favourite.
Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui
Located on the ‘quiet end’ of beautiful Chaweng Beach, this charming resort captures old-school grace without sacrificing modern luxuries or conveniences. Features include an amazing beachfront bar (the perfect location to watch the sunset, cocktail in hand), a fabulous palm-lined swimming pool with a swim-up bar, a separate children’s pool, complimentary yoga sessions every morning and cooking classes. All that within walking distance of one of Samui’s best shopping centres!
Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin
Opened in 1922, this was Hua Hin’s first grand hotel servicing the first wave of Thai tourists, who followed in the wake of the beloved Royal Family who built summer palaces on the beach. Today, the hotel retains its colonial charm with beautiful, established grounds, a putting green, the atmospheric Elephant Bar adjacent to the open-air lobby and a restaurant called The Museum, featuring décor and mementos from the railway era. There are also four swimming pools, two tennis courts and of course, Spa Cenvaree, located in a tranquil beachfront setting.
Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket
Featuring its own waterpark with lazy rivers and slides, this signature resort is King of the Kids and a favourite with families visiting Thailand’s most popular beach destination. Set directly on the sands of Karon Beach, water sports are also a priority, with kayaks, windsurfing, sailing and snorkelling gear all available. This expansive resort boasts 262 rooms, suites and villas, all with balconies or terraces overlooking gardens, the pool or the ocean. Spacious villas also feature their own plunge pools, with guests qualifying for privileges at The Club such as access to a private lounge and private check-in.
Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives
Centara’s first foray into the international realm was in the Maldives, with this amazing resort built over the azure waters of South Ari Atoll. Timbered walkways link a chain of overwater villas with private sundecks and direct access to the lagoon, while the colonial-style lobby, restaurants and an infinity pool overlook the beach and the incredible, clear sea. Features include a PADI dive centre (for exploring the resort’s own reef and a shipwreck just offshore), an overwater fitness centre, a plethora of watersports options and daily spa treatments that make up part of the resort’s all-inclusive policy. Voted as the Maldives’ Best Resort for Families two years in a row, this is the perfect hotel for experiencing the wonders of this magical destination.
Centara Ceysands Resort & Spa Sri Lanka
Centara’s newest entry into the growing subcontinent market, this contemporary hotel boasts an enviable location on the Bentota Peninsula between a mangrove-lined river and the Indian Ocean, with the natural environment an important part of the overall hotel experience. There are several national parks nearby for close encounters with wild elephants, while river safaris reveal a traditional lifestyle based around fishing. The Spa Cenvaree focus is on Ayurvedic treatments using organic local products.
Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld
Centara Grand’s flagship hotel is a great choice for business and leisure travellers alike. Each room in the 55-storey hotel offers spectacular views across the city. The incredible, open-air RedSky Bar, and the CRU Champagne Bar on the 59th floor, one of the world’s highest al fresco Champagne Bars, both boast vertigo-inducing 360-degree views and are perennial favourites with Bangkok’s glamour set. The outdoor swimming pool, located on the 26th floor, has a sun terrace, Jacuzzi and pool bar, while there is also a state-of-the-art fitness centre offering yoga and pilates. In the meantime, some of the best shopping in Bangkok is just steps away – what more could you possibly desire? •
Photography by Centara Hotels & Resorts.
• Centara Hotels & Resorts: centarahotelsresorts.com