I have a new favourite hotel in Thailand and it’s the new Holiday Inn Vana Nava Hua Hin which is Holiday Day Inn’s first water park resort in Asia.

Earlier this year in February, the hotel was launched with much fanfare on Thailand’s idyllic Gulf coast, featuring various Thai celebrities performances and even a fireworks display to round up the night. I was there during the launch and here are some pictures I took:

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I enjoyed my first stay at the hotel very much. So much so that I returned again earlier this month. This time, I traveled to the resort with three kids – my son Asher, and my friends’ two daughters, Kelly and Kate, in a party of 4 adults and 3 kids, packing ourselves into a rented Toyota Fortuner SUV from Avis.

Depending on traffic conditions, the drive from Bangkok to Hua Hin is approximately 200km and takes around two and a half hours one-way, making it an attractive vacation destination for those who would like to explore outside of Bangkok for a holiday.

Hua Hin has always been a popular tourist destination for the locals since the 1920s, when it was hand-picked to be the first resort town of Thailand by H.M. King Rama VI. The seaside town offers a beautiful view of the sea and respite from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok city centre.

Rooms and facilities

What I like about the hotel is it’s holistic approach as a one-stop family resort hotel. The hotel features 300 rooms and suites, including a series of interconnecting rooms and KidSuites, with special rooms decked out with bunk beds and play areas.

Pictures of the room I stayed in:

Awesome view of the railway train track and beach from my room:

Children aged 12 and under can stay and eat for free, and all guests are offered free Wi-Fi and unlimited access to Vana Nava Hua Hin Water Jungle, the water park. Admission to the water park and the hotel room is via a RFID wrist tag that is issued to each staying guest. You can also use the tag to pay for F&B and hotel services, making it convenient for you to stay wallet-free and free of keys or room access cards while you enjoy yourself at the water park.

Some pictures I took at the water park:

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The RFID wrist tag which can be used to access the water park, pay for stuff within the hotel, unlock your hotel room door and even rent a locker for free:

Other than the water park, guests can also unwind in the resort’s own extensive facilities, including a dramatic 26th floor infinity pool, the Tea Tree Spa, a 24-hour fitness centre, kids’ club and children’s pool.

The kids quite enjoyed themselves at the kids’ club when we left them there in the morning after breakfast so that the adults can have some free time of our own. They didn’t want to leave when we went back to collect them.

As the highest hotel in Hua Hin, the hotel offers 360-degree views from the rooftop and guests can watch stunning sunrises over the Gulf of Thailand in the east, and enjoy golden sunsets over the hills in the west. The rooftop pool is a great spot for instagram-worthy shots. Here are some shots I took during sunrise:

Dining options

Dining and entertainment options include the all-day Plamong Restaurant, casual Pool Bar, and the stylish Vana Nava Sky Bar, Restaurant & Observation Deck, which offers spectacular views across the Gulf.

Plamong Restaurant – where breakfast is served

Designed by Bangkok-based consultant Ashley Sutton, the mastermind behind some of Asia’s most famous bars including Maggie Choo’s and Iron Fairies in Bangkok and Ophelia in Hong Kong, the hotel also features a dramatic glass-bottomed deck 110 metres above ground.

For those looking to book the hotel for large events like corporate meetings or a wedding, the development offers 950 square metres of flexible event space, including five function rooms and one of Hua Hin’s largest ballrooms.

Water slides and more

Boasting 20 world-class slides and attractions surrounded by over 200,000 trees under the concept of a “water jungle”, the water park has welcomed close to a million visitors since and it is one of the biggest names in water parks in Thailand.

There are lots of stuff to do at the water park for all ages. When I asked my son what he like best about his trip to Hua Hin, he replied without thinking that it was staying at Holiday Inn Vana Nava because of the water park!

Visits to the beach via shuttle

For visitors wanting to explore the local area, Holiday Inn Vana Nava Hua Hin provides a complimentary shuttle bus service to Hua Hin Beach, which is less than 10 minutes’ drive from the resort. Alternatively, the Hua Hin area, home to some of Thailand’s top golf courses, wineries and national parks, provides great opportunities for local exploration.

If you drove to the hotel, complementary roofed parking is available just outside the hotel and beside the water park. There are several shopping malls nearby like Bluport Hua Hin and Market Village Hua Hin which are all just a short 5 minutes drive away. Other attractions like the Hua Hin Railway Station, the beaches and Plearnwan funfair are all a short drive away of no more than 15 minutes.

When driving back to Bangkok from Hua Hin, if you are heading directly to the airport to return your rental car, do factor in traffic jams which may increase your drive time from two and a half hours to five hours. It’s always better to be early than to time it too close, given Bangkok’s unpredictable traffic jams.