Having worked in or written about hotels for the best part of one’s entire career, it is unusual to be overly surprised or impressed by a new hotel or resort. But the X2 Kui Buri, located near Hua Hin, Thailand, (pronounced ‘Cross To’) has managed to do both. The bravery of the concept, combining chic, minimalist design with a highly remote, natural setting, can at first be difficult to appreciate.
Set on the scrubland links between a rugged, sandy coastline and the main North-South road and railway beyond, the landscape does not seem Thai. In fact the tall pine trees among which the resort is set remind one of Northern Europe – and that is not where the similarity ends. The subtle, low-rise complex of stone, wood and concrete comprises a collection of tastefully designed villas, linked by wooden decking pathways, almost hidden among the trees. In all but the weather, the resort could be in Switzerland or Sweden.
The 19 villas and 4 bungalows are built from craggy stone and sheer wood, maintaining a natural feel, and from the outside look unassuming. Yet it is inside that the resort’s class tells. The stone inner walls join huge floor-to-ceiling glass doors that give each room amazing light and open out on to a sun terrace complete with good-sized private pool. Inside the rooms the minimalist design does not compromise the facilities. The expected minibar, cable television, free WIFI etc are added to by small touches like a selection of books, CDs and a choice of pillows (which are changeable on request). The bathrooms feature both indoor and outdoor showers.
Everything in this resort is open-planned, allowing as much of the outside world in as possible. The buildings are an extension of their surroundings and vice-versa. The 4K bar/restaurant is a large area overlooking the coast open at two sides to reveal the panoramic seascape. The food is excellent, with a good selection of locally caught seafood on offer.
The X2 Kui Buri is certainly not a place for those who seek excitement. The limited inventory means the resort is never overly busy, nor are there any facilities close by (Ao Noi, a sleepy fishing port, is the closest town, some 5km down the coast). But for those wanting a relaxing break away from Bangkok, this couldn’t be better. The natural surroundings, simple design and friendly yet unobtrusive staff make for a serene environment to work or simply unwind.