A personal destination review from Stacey Walton General Manager of Banyan Golf Club.
Located 220km South of Bangkok along the Gulf of Thailand lies what was once a quaint fishing village – Hua Hin, with a local population of less than 100,000 people in the province of Prachuabkirikhan has emerged as one of Thailand’s most desirable golf and holiday destinations over the past decade. It’s no wonder Hua Hin won Best Golf Destination in Asia by IAGTO this year.
I first discovered and fell in love with Hua Hin 15-years ago before Black Mountain and Banyan Golf Club were built whilst I was working for Hilton International Hotels. Back then, I would play golf with my colleagues at Springfield Golf & Country Club designed by Jack Nicklaus, Palm Hills Golf & Residences, Majestic Creek and Imperial Lakeview which were built during the golf boom period of the 1990’s and are well designed and stand a good test of golf to this day. All of which are public resort courses – affordable and accessible.
One of my favorites is Royal Hua Hin – this was the first golf course to be built and the oldest 18-hole international standard course in Thailand which is only 5 minutes from downtown. The golf course was commissioned in 1924 to accommodate the interests of the British railway workers and Thai aristocracy living in the area. Royal Hua Hin sits right next to the town’s railway station. The course designer was a Scottish railroad engineer. It is quite common that monkeys would pay you a visit on holes 3 & 4 and steal your golf ball.
Black Mountain and Banyan Golf Club opened within a year of each other in 2007 & 2008 which have both been recognized with numerous golf industry awards with Golf Digest, Rolex and Asian Golf which included Best Golf Course in Thailand, Best Golf Club Experience in Asia Pacific and have staged International tournaments with the European Tour, Asian Tour and MENA golf tour between them. Both clubs are highly regarded as the regions premier golf resorts with the highest of standards of quality in golf course conditioning, clubhouse hospitality and residential properties for sale. Ambassadors of golf in Hua Hin include Thongchai Jaidee (THA), Johan Edfors (SWE), Rikard Karlberg (SWE), Simon Yates (SCO), Jazz Janewattananond (THA) and Hua Hin locals Prom Meesawat (THA) and Danthai Boonma (THA) to name a few. With 9 great golf courses to play in Hua Hin you can pretty much play golf all year round in Thailand with its sub-tropical climate. I am from the UK so a big attraction for me to live here in Thailand is the weather and sunshine all day long.
Hua Hin has all the International luxury 5-star hotels along 20 km of coastline with many local Thai restaurants and upscale dining. The seafood and local Thai cuisine in which my favorite dishes are Tom Yum Goong, Som Tam and Massamam Curry with a Singha Beer. At the weekend, my family and I occasionally treat ourselves to a seafood BBQ at one of the top hotels or a lazy Sunday Brunch. I am also partial to a good steak and a smooth Italian red. Andreas Restaurant and Prime Steakhouse are both outstanding worth of Michelin Stars in my opinion.
My daughters and I enjoy Black Mountain Water Park and the new Vana Nava Water Jungle at the Holiday Inn Resort during the school holidays. There is a low key but still vibrant nightlife with bars and clubs open all night until the early hours which isn’t for me personally as I prefer pubs in which there are a couple of Irish bars I like to go to in town. Overall, it is the warmth and friendliness of the local Thai people that makes it such a special holiday destination. The comments I receive regularly about our caddies and team in the clubhouse makes me a proud general manager for it’s the very essence of hospitality that our guests leave with a smile and just want to keep coming back.
We are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Banyan Golf Club, Hua Hin this year a milestone and contributor to the growth and development of golf tourism in this fantastic town.