Winter sunshine getaway: Asia Gardens Thai Hotel and Spa is paradise in Spain
Although I have seen plenty of shops hinting towards Christmas and the festive season may appear to be creeping up, I still think October is a little premature to be snuggling up to the fire and tempting the cold snap. In fact, seeing as we have been experiencing a milder few weeks on British soil and blustery autumn has only recently arrived, I have actually been in a lingering summer mood.
This was probably encouraged by the anticipation of sneaking off for a final swansong in the South of Europe. A last blast of heat was bound to provide a welcome reminder of those August highs in London and help to break up the long pull towards December.
Just two and a half hours away from our capital city is a real hidden gem that enjoy temperatures in the late 20s and early 30s for most of the year. Asia Gardens is an utterly idyllic and extremely luxurious retreat that is situated 25 minutes taxi ride from Alicante airport.
This area of Spain can be overlooked at times, but with weather that rivals a Thai or Caribbean climate – minus the humidity – it is the perfect destination for those seeking a short burst of sunshine over the coming months.
The hotel and spa is a luxury destination that has been especially designed to give guests an authentic Thai experience. As soon as you arrive, the striking, high-reaching wooden architecture of the main reception welcomes you into a world full of Asian delights. Lush tropical gardens include sweeping palm trees, enchanting floral bushes and soft green lawns; quite a contradiction to the sparse and mountainous hillside that you drive through to arrive at this oasis.
Swimming pools are a key feature of the hotel (there are seven in total!) and they are intertwined with the gardens, which have been beautifully landscaped to offer impressive views of the resort. Balinese-style accommodation overlooks a plethora of crisp white sun umbrellas that are positioned at various points around the infinity pools.
As soon as I arrived, I was keen to get a spot by the pool. Clear blue sky and scorching sunshine was a welcome change to the overcast and mild British weather than hung around at the start of this month. Finding a spot to relax and soak up the rays was far from challenging as the hotel almost over caters with regards to the provision of discreet areas and copious sun loungers. Several of the pools are also adult only, which guarantees a calm environment.
The outdoor facilities are truly stunning and lounger service means you don’t even have to get up to order a delicious cocktail or chilled beer. In fact, you also don’t have to venture far for a bite to eat at lunchtime as you can reserve a table that overlooks the water at the Mediterranean restaurant.
The gardens are a key part of the venue and offer a strong sense of privacy. To explore the resort further, you can wind your way through tropical plants to reach the various bars, restaurants and rooms within the complex. Each room is furnished to the standard you would expect when staying in accommodation that has been awarded five stars. Intimate garden areas are attached to many of the rooms and enable you to relax in even more secluded surroundings.
The hotel is ideal for a long weekend away and, during such a trip, dining at Asia Gardens is a must and there is more than enough variety within the opulent boundaries to keep you entertained. In fact the Thai restaurant is so popular that it also attracts diners who are not staying onsite to venture up the hillside from the towns beneath.
The sophisticated and chic setting of this restaurant enables guests to enjoy Al-fresco dining and I was quick to reserve a table on the patio, even though you may need a light shawl to cover your shoulder come darkness. The menu offers delicious traditional Thai dishes such as green curry, noodles, spring rolls and tempura, and it is not overly spicy for those who aren’t a fan of chilli. The wine list includes a broad selection of local and fine wine, with the house white proving a particularly refreshing choice.
The Japanese Restaurant that is located within the impressive reception building is also well worth trying. The sushi is expertly prepared and arrives with a glass of Moet & Chandon Champagne.
I chose to enjoy a lazy weekend in the sunshine but there are also activities on offer to those embarking on a pre-Christmas health kick. Complimentary Yoga and Pilates classes are available to guests, which are testament to the tranquil environment as they occur on the main lawns and near the pool area. A Thai Spa with expert masseuses, as well as two adjacent 18-hole Championship golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus completes the package.
While I certainly had no desire to venture away from the resort, if you want to explore some of the nearby area, the local Mendoza wineries and charming fishing village of Altea, where you can discover all kinds of local artisanal produce, are recommended.
It is difficult to pick fault with Asia Gardens as it really does offer everything you could desire when booking a peaceful and luxurious getaway to winter sunshine. It successfully imitates the environment that you would experience at one of the premium holiday destinations in Thailand, yet it is only a couple of hours away from London.
This gem is unlikely to stay hidden for long.
Watch a preview of Asia Gardens Thai Hotel and Spa on Sloaney TV…
Extend your winter weekend break with some additional luxuries
If you are planning a weekend break to Asia Gardens, flights depart from London Stanstead on a regular basis. The airport is only 45 minutes from Central London and there is a First Class cabin on the Stanstead Express. An early flight will give you the maximum amount of time abroad but getting up in the middle of the night and journeying to the airport can be a real hassle. Instead, dinner at your favourite restaurant in London and staying an extra night at the airport can make a world of difference.
There are a limited number of hotels in Stanstead; however the Hilton is just a six minute shuttle ride away and offers a convenient place to stay. This hotel also has an indoor swimming pool, steam room, sauna and whirlpool among its facilities and the bar serves Pommery Champagne and a host of other drinks late into the evening.
While Stanstead is a relatively small airport, it does contain a No. 1 Traveller Lounge. This offers a comfortable place to relax prior to your flight and includes a selection of daily newspapers and premium publications, such as the Harrods Magazine, that you can read at your leisure. The No.1 Traveller Lounge also offers guests a complimentary food and beverage menu, which makes it a convenient place to stop for breakfast prior to boarding.
Reservations for the Asia Gardens Thai Hotel and Spa can be made either online or by calling +34 966 818400
Stanstead Express tickets can be bought online
Reservations for the Hilton Hotel at London Standstead can be made on their website
No. 1 Luxury Traveller can be booked in advance online