There are a great many things to love about Thailand. From the hustle and bustle of Bangkok to the endless eats and treats to be had, whether it's a shopping spree of epic proportions or sunbathing on a pristine beach, the Land of Smiles certainly never lacks for quality R&R. And moving up in Thailand's rankings of must-visit cities is Pattaya, a once quiet fishing village now taking shape as the new hub for business and leisure — or bleisure, as the millennial travellers are calling it.
Besides the annual Wonderfruit Festival and an established clubbing scene that defined Pattaya as party central to the regular tourist horde, the city has been transforming its landscape into a lifestyle destination where luxurious waterfront living meets MICE congregations (that's meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions, if your acronym dictionary hasn't been updated). Capitalising on this up-and-coming demographic, Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa is the latest venture by the Marriott group, opened in September of 2017 and designed to be a service-oriented resort that caters to both world-class business events and cultured recreation in equal measure.
Ideally sat in the tranquil Na Jomtien district in Pattaya and bordering the country's eastern coastline, the hotel is a modern construct that's re-writing the rulebook on what it means to be an all-inclusive getaway. Curious to know how business splices with leisure? We chart a weekend stay at this beachside retreat.
A 9am flight out of Singapore and a two-hour land transfer from BKK airport later, you've properly arrived at the doorstep of the Renaissance Pattaya. Check-in is a breeze and then some, as the friendly staff bids you a VIP welcome with coconut drinks and a quick shoulder massage while you take in the open design of the Art Basel-esque lobby. Not to mention the view it provides straight out to the blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand.
Of the 257 guest rooms available — which include highly in-demand pool access rooms and family suites for group travellers — you'd have lucked out if you rolled the dice and landed on the sea viewing side. The alternative looks out over the lush mountains of Pattaya instead, which is just as impressive depending on your preference. Each room is stylishly well appointed, stocked with amenities and decorated in a calming palette of blues and earthen tones that beckons you to take a quick shut-eye. Ahh, 10-minute cat nap time.
Refreshed and hungry enough to eat your own weight in food; mosey on down to 609 Kitchen where an all-day dining menu featuring a selection of international cuisine awaits. Of course, to start your Renaissance immersion the proper way, go for the restaurant's Thai dishes, with a must-try being the signature sticky rice with mango dessert that comes with a dollop of amazingly creamy coconut ice cream.
Your pressing basic needs now tended to, it's time to work, work, work. A walking distance away is the function hall, seamlessly integrated into the resort yet unobtrusively (and cleverly) built to the side with its own drop-off and entrances, allowing the Renaissance Pattaya to effectively multi-task between both work and play personas simultaneously. All five meeting rooms are fully equipped with the latest tech, so you know you need never worry about shoddy audio/visual, lagging Wi-Fi issues or even a lack of power outlets.
And once the formal presentations are done and dusted, you're following up with your colleagues outside where a handful of cosy nooks reminiscent of co-working spaces create a more conducive environment for close-quarter discussions. There's also a coffee machine within reach, if you need a shot of caffeine to boost your flagging energy levels.
Dinnertime has rolled around, and everyone's gathered at Pebbles Bar and Grill, where fine cuts and handcrafted cocktails are on the table. Seafood's also another great option if you're not big on red meat, prepared with fresh catches daily. Before you beeline for the food though, take a breather and mingle out on the verandah to catch a glimpse of Pattaya's fiery sunset over the open sea. A hearty meal in good company and plenty of sharing plates later, it's time to call it a night. You've got Day 1 in the bag.
Starting off early and strong, you're hitting the treadmill to get the adrenaline pumping. If you're determined to see your entire fitness regime through (no pain no gain, plus you're feeling the guilt from loading up on buttered snow crab legs the night before), the 24-hour gym is furnished with everything for every discipline, be it pilates, yoga, boxing or lifting weights. You know you love the sensation of burning carbs in the morning.
Post-workout and shower, you're on the hunt for a well-deserved breakfast. 609 Kitchen is where you'll want to go back to if it's the full kit and caboodle you're hankering for, as the restaurant also turns out an extensive breakfast spread in the morning. There's a cheese and charcuterie selection, an assortment of yoghurt and fresh fruit, an egg station, continental breakfast dishes, and Asian choices such as congee and dim sum. But if you're opting for something light, there's always the Deli next door for a good ol' muffin and some joe.
Time to catch up on leftover work from yesterday. Instead of shutting yourself away in your room, you've decided to finish up emails and proposals while lounging at the many recliners along the infinity pool because the sprawling ocean view every time you look up from your MacBook totally equals #inspo. Plus the poolside bar is handily available if you're feeling the need for some H20 or a tropical punch. Your schedule for the next 120 minutes once work is out of the way? Sit back, sunbathe, and take a dip. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
Congratulations, you've completely transitioned into the relaxation part of your bleisure weekend right and proper. Your afternoon swim was just the appetiser, because you've booked yourself an appointment at the Renaissance's day spa, where you're looking forward to succumbing to the skillful hands of your masseuse. It was a tough call choosing the traditional hot stone massage over a rejuvenating facial, but now that you're limp as a noodle getting the tension kneaded out of you, this right here is heaven.
Because getting pampered is pretty hard work, you're rating a 'ravenous' on the hunger scale and looking to start on dinner a tad earlier. Since it's a veritable feast you've got a taste for, 609 Kitchen's your go-to as its breakfast setup has been transformed to serve up an evening spread that rivals its daytime buffet. You get a DIY salad bar, pizzas and pastas made fresh and piping hot, on top of a meat and roast rack and familiar comfort food the likes of broth with noodles and Thai-style fried satay.
Though you're well and truly stuffed, you're not quite ready to call it in just yet, so the conversation moves one floor up to the R Bar where a round of drinks is dispensed among friends. Between chatting about everything and nothing and enjoying several laughs, the night winds down with a nightcap or two.
Sleeping in a bit more on the morning of your departure, you contemplate ordering room service while you putter around getting your luggage in order. But with the great weather outside, heading down for brekkie by the pool — replete with a fresh-pressed pineapple juice served up in the pineapple — sounds a much better way to greet the day.
A run-through of your packing checklist shows you've got everything in order. You take one last look around your crib for the past two days (and maybe flop on the too-comfortable bed as a parting shot) before you hand over your keycard and bid the Renaissance Pattaya goodbye. For now, that is. Because after this gold-star experience, you're putting down bleisure trips as a sure thing in the future. Business unusual, you will be back.
Book a stay at the Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa here.