April 19-22, 2006
We were walked outside the terminal by a representative of the Sheraton while the Thai Airways porter pushed our bags. He opened the door to the resort’s BMW M5 and we were off. The car had cold waters, packaged fresh wipes, magazines, and the day’s Bangkok Post. Of course at 10 o’clock at night it was too dark to read, and I was too tired in any case after sleeping 3 hours on my flight from Tokyo.
At this time of night there was no traffic at all and most of the drive is freeway. It was dark and we didn’t much of Pattaya on the way to the resort.
The entry way to the Sheraton was well-lit and there were plenty of staff to greet us despite the late hour.
Front of the resort in the daytime
Reception building and main building rooms
Our bags were taken away and we were seated at a reception desk and given cold towels and and a chilled lemongrass tea drink.
They took a credit card and told us about platinum benefits at the resort (excellent Platinum recognition!): the (extensive) breakfast buffet is free to platinums (otherwise 625 THB per person I believe, so this was a US$100 savings for the two of us over 3 days) and we were upgraded to a Deluxe Pavilion room.
We were originally booked on points, with the booking made in late 2005 while this was still a category 2 property (it’s now category 3). So moving from the main buildings to a large pavillion room is great.
This is more or less the resort’s version of a suite, it’s a large room with sitting area and large bathroom but no separate rooms, and there’s a large covered outside pavillion sitting area.
The resort had explained in advance to me by email that they don’t upgrade to their Deluxe Oceanfront Pavillion rooms, but the nomenclature is a bit misleading as our room had both a view of the resort and of the Gulf.
One commenter recently described these rooms as superior, in that you see everything lit up in the evening rather than just seeing the darkness at night. Still, next time I’ll probably spring for the oceanfront pavillion if only to see the difference. After all, this is Thailand, and the rooms are thus affordable.
As it was nearly midnight we retired to our room right away, and it was a very stylish room at that.
Here’s the bed:
The room had a nice couch and coffee table, and we were greeted by a platinum amenity of a nice bottle of wine and large fruit plate already in the room
This is the view from the room into the bathroom
Very stylish bathroom sink, although the faucet doesn’t extend far enough out thus splashing is inevitable
We started off the next morning at the breakfast buffet. The restaurant has both inside and outside seating. Here’s a view from the outside seating.
Breakfast was outstanding in variety and quality, and was our first real sense of just how good a stay this was going to be. They brought us the best hotel coffee I’d ever tasted. It was strong, bold, but not overly hot or burned. Delicious! And the orange juice had an interesting local flavor, definitely not too acidic.
The buffet consisted of an omellette station, cold fish, cheese, Asian options such as pad thai and dim sum, and American options like sausage and bacon. There was a cereal station and a fruit station, as well as assorted fruit juices. Service was prompt and efficient in addition to friendly. I had a bit of difficulty explaining on the first morning that I wanted half and half or cream with my coffee (I usually do have difficulty with this) rather than just milk — but they got the idea and I never had to ask again during my stay.
After breakfast we scheduled spa appointments and headed down to the pool.
The resort has three pools with the Gulf in the background
There’s a man-made strip of beach but rocks stand between the sand and the water. That’s alright, the water looks cloudier than what I like to swim in anyway.
When we walked down to a pool one of the attendants would ask our room number and from then on would know our names. They would immediately make up a lounge chair for us, covering each with two towels just so. The lounge chairs were interesting, each was actually a double so rather than being just two chairs side by side they were literally attached and you lay next to your sweetheart.
The attendants constantly brought by complimentary resort-branded water bottles, cold towels, and occasionally refreshments such as frozen pineapple juice.
Most of the time the pools were deserted, and you could always find at least one of the three that was.
W-style music is playing at the pools.
Though you rarely saw more than a couple of other guests the ones you did see were occasionally in line with what you think when you hear Pattaya — one morning at breakfast there was a white man in his mid-50s sporting a wedding ring and breakfasting with a teenage Thai boy still wet from a shower. And once I saw another middle aged man sitting at the pool with a young Thai girl, and there was clearly a language barrier between them. But for the most part the rest of Pattaya is a world apart in the resort.
Our days developed a clear routine — breakfast followed by pool or beach followed by spa treatments and then dinner. We never felt any desire to leave the resort. This is Thailand, so spa treatments are affordable — no $200 massages as at top places, or $100 like we’re used to at home — but everything at this property is impossibly expensive for Thailand, many treatments are ~ US$75 although daily 30% off specials are offered and we even spent 5000 THB one evening on dinner without alcohol (but the meal was worth twice that!).
The resort’s signature restaurant is called Mez. Reservations were recommended, so I called ahead. When we arrived I was asked whether we had reservations. It was rather bizarre, because there wasn’t another guest in the restaurant. I had asked for a table where we could watch the sun set, and there was one such table with a ‘reserved’ placard on it for us. (It was cloudy so the sunset was obscured, the other side of the restaurant would have been just as nice as it looks upon a man-made waterfall.)
The beachfront building consists of Latitudes lounge on the ground floor and Mez upstairs on the second floor. The beach restaurant is actually outside on the room of the building at pool level.
The sign for Mez at its entrance.
Inside the restaurant
Service at the restaurant was outstanding, a combination of both the excellent accomodating staff and being the only ones at the restaurant for the entire length of our meal. Clearly the décor and atmosphere matches more closely with a W than a Sheraton, and combined with the music at the pool and the high quality of facilities and service it really could be rebranded as such.
The food was expensive for the area, and combined with the resort probably being below capacity during midweek while we were there, no doubt contributed to its desolation.
Appetizers were at least US$10 (and as much as $20) and entrees about $17! Impossibly high for the area. And yet I was so satisfied I would never complain, and I’ve since commented that I wish this restaurant was replicated near my home in Washington, DC.
Here are the dishes from dinner:
We thoroughly enjoyed our three days here. This has to be one of the best resorts in Thailand, surprisingly enough since it’s branded a Sheraton. Service was outstanding, truly on par with anything I’ve experienced at a Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton. It’s an oasis within driving distance of Bangkok, no additional flight required, which makes it attractive, and it’s far enough removed from Pattaya itself that it doesn’t take on the character of one of the more unsavory parts of the country.
On the way out of the resort back to Bangkok we had the hotel car stop by the Hard Rock Hotel because I had promised to pick up a t-shirt for a friend.
The drive through the town during the day was a real eye-opener, the town itself wasn’t particularly well-developed and most offerings along the road were bars. Strolling down the road were balding, fat white men with young Asian women and men. We were extremely glad we stayed at the Sheraton, and not say the Marriott that’s closer in to town.
Here’s the Hard Rock Hotel Entrance
And the Hard Rock lobby
Even more photos after the jump…
Neat public restroom
Lunch in the main restaurant where breakfast is served —
– Papaya salad
– Asian chicken salad