There’s no doubt that Pattaya was one of the most popular weekend destinations for Bangkokians and travellers seeking respite from the capital alike, 15 to 20 years ago. The two-hour drive from Bangkok was (and still is) effortless, and this beach town had all the trappings for couples and families on a short break. Unfortunately, Pattaya has gained a bad rep for being a sex tourism hub in the past decade, and you’ve got to agree that its beaches aren’t all that special. In short, there’s not much motivation to travel down if it wasn’t for work, Qing Ming (Chinese Tomb-Sweeping Day), or Wonderfruit.

Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa Review

That said, we recently gave Pattaya a second chance by spending a lazy weekend at Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa, the latest addition to Marriott International’s portfolio in Thailand. Located in the Na Jomtien district – just a few minutes drive south from the main city attractions – there’s a surprising sense of tranquility upon arrival, as though as I was not in Pattaya, but somewhere more elegant and serene like Hua Hin.

Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa Review

While enjoying the iced lemongrass juice that was served earlier as a welcome drink, I took a moment to admire the giant art installation in the centre of the high-ceilinged, open plan lobby. Resembling water drops in a crystal bubble, it complements the resort’s sophisticated architecture and contemporary décor that are mainly inspired by the art and culture of local fishing villages. Natural elements like water, rocks, seashells, woods, bamboo weaves, as well as Thai silk are combined, to emphasise the down-to-earth yet luxurious nature of this retreat.

Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa Review

Also by the lobby is R Bar and its floating lounge, which looks fairly similar to the signature setup at Woo Bar by W Hotel in Samui. Despite the lack of originality, I have to admit that this is one of the best spots in the resort to appreciate sunset and the ocean view, especially with a bespoke cocktail made with local Thai spirits in hand.

Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa Review

R Bar

Picking a perfect room type at Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa can be quite challenging because there seven categories between the 257 rooms, and each particular one has their own perks and drawbacks in terms of space and scenery. While I did enjoy the seascape from my Deluxe Balcony Seaview room, the more fun option – but also more limited in quantity – are the rooms with pool access that allow guests to dip into the water within steps of their patios.

Deluxe Balcony Seaview

For those traveling with kids, Renaissance’s Family Suites are furnished with a cute set of bunk beds that even adults would die to sleep in for a change. If you’re in the mood for an upgrade, the duplex Pool Villas have their own swimming pool, rattan swing chair, and plenty of space in the living room. It’s a shame there is only one Beachfront Pool Villa, but you may as well book the Beachfront Jacuzzi Villa if you don’t care to swim anyway.

Beachfront Pool Villa

Unpacked and refreshed, the first stop I made was to the spa. The private treatment room for my appointment had an amazing zen vibe, and there again, was a view of the ocean. I opted for an oil massage, and the therapist let me pick my own oil with an energising aroma. Next to the spa, fitness center is always open, as well as the their steam and sauna rooms. I skipped the gym and strolled my buoyant body to find something edible.

There are many prime restaurants in Pattaya, but if you are in for total relaxation, then dining-in isn’t such a bad idea. 609 Kitchen is their all-day dining restaurant serving up Asian and international fares with buffet spreads at meal times and an a la carte menu throughout the day. Personally, I prefer their beachfront restaurant, Pebbles Bar and Grill, which serves premium seafood and steak cuts.

Pebbles Bar and Grill

What’s special about this dining room is that you’ll find the team of chefs cooking your food in an open grill kitchen, and they always find a way to surprise their guests throughout the night. The yellow and purple salmon crème macarons were shockingly scrumptious. Their desserts, Strawberry Delight for Two and the Deconstructed Thai Eaton Mess were made and constructed directly on their naked glass table tops. And yes, you also eat it from the table just like that.

In short, if you’re looking for a quick break from Bangkok, you can do a lot worse than Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa. With comfortable rooms, a lovely pool at your disposal, and more than decent food options at reasonable prices, you don’t even have to leave the property!

Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa is located at 9/9 Moo 3, Na Jomtien, Pattaya City, Sattahip District, 20250, Thailand, p. +66 38 259 099.

Top image by Narisa Pokunchanan, all other images courtesy of Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa.