Singaporebrides | Editors' Notes
Rediscover Your Elements at The Barai
Sometimes, a day at the spa is just not enough to help lift your body, mind, and spirit. The Barai Retreats three-to-seven-day programmes are exactly what you need to feel fully rested and balanced.
Hua Hin, Thailand’s oldest beach resort, lies along the west coast of the Gulf of Thailand, and is just 200 km south of Bangkok. While the more popular beaches of Phuket and Koh Samui were only recently discovered and transformed into popular vacations for tourists, Hua Hin was discovered in the 1920s and still remains a favourite amongst the Thais. After King Rama VII discovered the beach and fell in love with the place, he built the Klai Kangwon Palace where he can escape from boisterous Siam and be “Far From Worries”. King Bhumibol still resides there today.
These days, Hua Hin retains its majestic calm, even though modern construction has begun to spring up along the pristine 8-kilometre long sandy beach. In between residential homes and backpacker inns, you will find luxurious hotels, resorts, and apartments for those who have come to call this place a second home. Developing at its own leisurely pace, the winding roads that stretch the length of Hua Hin boast a great variety of shops, restaurants, and weekend night markets.Landscaping at Hyatt Regency Hua Hin © Hyatt Regency Hua Hin Beachfront at The Barai
Right behind the arts-and-culture Cicada Weekend Market sits the Hyatt Regency Hua Hin. A three-hour drive from Suvarnabhumi Airport, this resort hotel has its own 250-metre long beach—the longest of all Hua Hin hotels—and is spread over 16 hectares of landscaped foliage and ponds. The hotel also plays host to The Barai Residential Spa.
On the morning I was to visit The Barai to experience their recently-introduced Retreats programme, a car pulled up at my hotel in Bangkok. A chauffeur from Hyatt Regency greeted me with a smile and a packed lunch box. I had prepared to take a nap during the three-hour road trip, but the changing scenery outside the window and the chauffeur’s jovial chatting made the journey so much more pleasant.
When I arrived at The Barai, the sky was clear and there was a cool breeze in the air. “Perfect weather today,” greeted Maria, Director of Sales and Marketing at Hyatt Regency. Together with my personal butler, we walked to my suite, which was just around the corner. Apart from the award-winning destination spa, The Barai provides eight residential pool and balcony spa suites, adjacent to the Hyatt Regency Hua Hin.
Behind the great wooden doors at the entrance of the suite lies the 149 sq m spa suite. The anteroom is flanked by tall, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, with a corner taken up by a Thai bed so you can schedule a private massage session. The room leads into a spacious bedroom, where you will be greeted by a luxurious, oversized bed customised for the The Barai. Beyond the majestic bed, his and hers vanity rooms and walk-in wardrobes, and a private shower and steam room. And lastly, sitting regally at the end of the suite, a soaking bath large enough to swim in. I was so taken in by the space that I had begun to worry about feeling lonely throughout my three-day stay at The Barai. But I found out soon enough that I had absolutely nothing to worry about.The Barai Suite Anteroom © The Barai The Barai Suite Bedroom © The Barai The Bath My itinerary
I sat down immediately with my butler to plan an itinerary for my stay. To put my body into relaxation mode for the rest of my stay, she recommended a Relaxing Aromatherapy Facial to ignite my senses.
The Barai designed three Retreats programmes combining luxury accommodations, customised spa experiences, exquisite health cuisine, and spiritual growth. Travellers looking for cultural discovery can go for “Thai Touches”, which focuses on spa, spirit and cuisine. The health-conscious can opt for the “Healthy Luxe” programme, which was designed to offer well-rounded wellness focusing on spa pampering, health, and fitness activities. Couples like you who want a luxurious holiday or honeymoon should definitely get on the “Couple’s Harmony” programme. Together, you can design your own couple’s retreat, from the spa experience to dining options and activities, so you can enjoy your time in this sanctuary privately.
The beautifully-designed Barai Spa transported me to a different world altogether. “Barai” comes from the word, “baray”, which is a large man-made reservoir created by the ancient Khmers for use in their daily lives. The barays was an important source of life that brought happiness and peace to the people. Inspired by this, and the heritage of the Khmer architecture in the 11th century, renowned Thai architect Lek Bunnang made sure the glory days of ancient Khmer reflected not only on the outside, but also within its gorgeous red walls.The Salarai © The Barai The Barai Spa Entrance A Passageway at The Barai Spa The Wall of Stars
If The Barai experience is a journey, then the architecture of the spa is your guide. For me, the experience was a rather emotional one. Your journey begins with a series of stepping stones, designed so that you become mindful of each step you are taking. The steps lead to the Salarai water court—the baray—before you turn a corner into the Wall of Stars. If you had stepped in here right before sunset, like I did, you will experience how cut-outs had been made in the walls to capture the light in constellations that reflect on the walls. It’s rather captivating.
The Barai design also includes a wonderful tribute to the Apsara, a beautiful nymph in Hindu and Buddhist lore. While making your way to your treatment room, you can spot “her” everywhere. At the end of your spa journey, you will be led into the Court of Tranquillity, a secluded swimming channel and sand court where yoga and meditation sessions are held.A glimpse of the Apsara’s skirt The Barai Post Treatment Tea The Barai Treatment Room Private Outdoor Treatment Area © The Barai The Vichy Shower
There are 18 private treatment rooms at The Barai, each featuring a private outdoor soaking pool, rain shower, and changing rooms, as well as three double suites for couples, which offer hydrotherapy treatments. Each programme includes accommodation, daily spa treatments, daily meals, and access to spa and fitness centre facilities.
Apart from spa treatments, there are also a wide range of lifestyle activities, fitness programmes and cultural experiences, like a private yoga class, a Thai cooking class, a Thai massage session, and a Herbs class, which was where I learnt to make my own Thai herbal compress.Thai Herbs Class Making the compress My customised Thai herb compress to keep
You are also spoiled for choice when it comes to dining options. I had most of my meals at McFarland House, a restored 19th century pavilion steps away from my suite overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. Or you can take a short walk over to Hyatt Regency for western fare at Figs Restaurant, and authentic and scrumptious Thai food at Talay Thai. My mouth is watering just thinking about the dinner I had with Maria that night at Talay Thai. We over-ordered, obviously, but it was such a wonderful experience chatting and laughing over spicy tom yam goong and young coconuts.Tom Yum Goong served in a Coconut Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab Thai Dessert Platter
I don’t believe in being all spa-ed out, even though I had almost five hours of facials, baths, massages and even a splendid Vichy shower during my two-nights’ stay. Who says no to bliss? On both nights, I requested for my butler to prepare a milk bath in my suite just before bedtime. I put on The Barai’s music selection, which is piped-in throughout the suite, and fully appreciated the space I had grown accustomed to. It would have been perfect for two, but I made sure I had explored every inch of the room.Milk bath in my suite Preparing for my last massage
On my last day, my butler arranged for one of the lovely spa therapists to come to my suite for an hour-long massage before my check out. What a way to leave me longing for more! I left The Barai amidst hugs, promises to return, and reluctant backward glances at the place where I found my personal heaven.
Even until today, when I lay in bed and close my eyes, I can so clearly see the labyrinth of bare, red walls, coloured to enhance the sunset. It doesn’t help that I was given a signature candle from The Barai, simply because I had mentioned in passing that I loved how the suite smelled. Its scent wafts over from my bedside table every now and then like a portal key, transporting me back there.
Until my next visit—which will happen—I have The Barai on my mind every night.
A three-day programme at The Barai starts from THB 42,000 for a stay in a Club Room at Hyatt Regency Hua Hin, and from THB 72,000 for a stay at The Barai Residential Spa. Prices are subject to 10% service charge and 7% VAT. For reservations and further information, please contact THE BARAI on the hotline at +66 2254 6200, or email [email protected] Visit the website at www.thebarai.com.