Much has been written about Pattaya’s notoriously party-minded Walking Street, but to think the chaotic stretch of neon lights and nightclubs defines this otherwise quiet beachside city would be just plain wrong.
Pattaya, located along the eastern gulf of Thailand, is a perfect postcard of peace and genuine escape from the capital city of Bangkok. A sentiment perfectly captured by the recently reimagined, remarkably relaxed Amari Pattaya.
A five-star resort, opposite the stretchy golden sand that seeds North Pattaya waterfront, Amari Pattaya is perhaps one of the best expressions of the brand’s family-friendly ethos, with a sprawling pool area, two distinctive wings, and some truly attractive, spacious guest rooms.
The North Pattaya waterfront is perhaps the reason for my positive impressions of the city. I had never been prior to staying as a guest of the hotel, with many friends always referencing Walking Street, as if the notorious red light district was the city’s blueprint. They were wrong, and I was glad to stay in a part of Thailand that felt like it moved to the slow-groove of island time.
Pattaya’s airport-themed mega mall Terminal 21 Pattaya is only a short distance from the resort, and it’s only a quick drive to get to the meatier part of town, where cafes rule by day and bars buzz at night.
The beach is key to this location, and the resort positions guests directly across from the silky golden sands off Beach Road. It’s also reason why the guest rooms have such a magnificent, theatrical view (more on that below), and why Pattaya’s popular water sports are easily accessible.
During the day, there are a few locations that will take you far away from Pattaya’s rowdy reputation. These include the jaw-dropping Sanctuary of Truth, which is perhaps one of the most ambitious and intricate structures still being built in Thailand, and the Parody Art Museum, which is essential for families, presenting irreverent takes on classic paintings.
An enormous free-form pool is the most memorable feature at Amari Pattaya, and it’s around this an entire playground for both adults and children is built. With the pool snaking around the grounds, curving under bridges and even making room for a few waters slides, the multiple child-play areas shoot off to the side, smartly positioned so adults can watch over their kids without having to interrupt their own relaxation.
Even one of the outdoor bars allows for full view of the kids playground, which is made up of splashing water features, numerous slides, and other engaging (and safe) activities.
There’s a dedicated kids centre, The Treehouse Kids Club, that takes things a even further with treasure hunts, painting, video games, singing, dancing, trains sets, and two PS4 consoles loaded with kids games.
The whole kid-friendly aspect is clearly no after-thought here, and it’s seamless incorporation into the resort experience is the strongest all-ages concept I’ve seen at a property in this price range.
Adults are just as well-catered for. The in-house spa uses a variety of locally inspired signature products in well-planned and customisable treatments, although the reception where you have your usual post-tea wind-down after a treatment doesn’t feel like much of an escape from the rest of the resort. The best hotel spas feel truly tucked away from the rest of the property.
The signature FIT centre provides just enough gym equipment and a decent amount of space to get any holiday workouts in. Having the treadmills face that aforementioned beach view was a wise choice, providing plenty of motivation for those trying to chisel.
Amari’s Executive Club Lounge on the 19th floor also gets by on its incredible view, with a private selection of food and drink that feels truly cut off from the rest of the resort. Head here for the usual complimentary snacks and a respectable selection of wine and cocktails.
Food and Drink
Amaya Food Gallery, the same brand that’s found at all Amari properties, is expressed here in a rather straight forward fashion.
The long and wide dining space is large enough to host many guests at once, keeping wait times to a minimum while the breakfast or lunch buffet, for example, focuses on a large range of western and local options. The food here is decent but suffers for the sake of quantity, with nothing really standing out aside from items like soft pandan-filled buns and fresh salads.
Aqua Eatery & Bar edges towards the pool area with scattering of seats, perfect for those looking for a few quiet cocktails (or mocktails) away from the noise of Amaya Food Gallery. During the day, it’s the go-to for grown ups that want to sink a few tropical inspired concoctions between swims, and maybe even fit in a BBQ seafood platter.
The newly reimagined guest rooms are where I feel Amari exceeds the most.
The resorts remodelling has introduced the much larger and family friend Amari Suites tower, all located in an entirely new wing. Although the resort’s main tower features the brunt of its 297 guest rooms, and it’s still the most convenient seeing as everything else is in the building.
My Grand Deluxe Ocean View Room was supremely comfortable at a generous 63sqm, gorgeous with its open-plan marble bathroom flowing swiftly from the bedroom, with a simple divider splitting the large plush bed from a sizable bathtub.
The bed, facing floor-to-ceiling windows peered out to that eye-widening view of Pattaya Bay with numerous boats and hang gliders filling up the scene during the day. Needless to say, opening those curtains in the morning and waking up to the energetic vista is special.
A small balcony, forgettable hanging on the side of the room, looked over the property’s pool, but felt much too cramped and basic to provide any comfort.
Although Pattaya feels dislodged from time, staff are speedy and take care of any requests without delay. Even on a particularly busy day when Amaya Food Gallery actually had a wait time, staff would zip around fast in an attempt to make any wait time as short as possible.
Reception is also very efficient, with the squeaky-clean, high-ceilinged lobby offering plenty of places to sit and plan the day ahead. Perhaps most telling of the resort’s well-balanced approach to all-ages hospitality, one of the check-in desk even has an adorable step ladder for kids who want to check themselves into various kids-club activities.
Amari belongs to ONYX Hospitality Group, whom I readily associate with high value hotels given my recent stay at their budget-friendly OZO Phuket. They seem to have a knack for settling on very reasonable price points and balancing that with accommodations that provide guests with a level of comfort far beyond the price range.
That impression is still very much in-tact after my stay at Amari Pattaya.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Address: 240 Beach Rd, Pattaya City, Bang Lamung District, Chon Buri 20150, Thailand
Contact: +66 38 418 418
The writer stayed as a guest of Amari Pattaya. All opinions are that of the writer’s.