Cape Dara is a beachfront resort overlooking the ocean in Pattaya. The hotel has 264 guest rooms, six food and beverage outlets, a full-service spa, two outdoor swimming pools, and a private beach. A popular beach resort, Pattaya is the closest beach resort to Bangkok.
The Trip from Bangkok …
Following several days in Bangkok, my traveling companion and I were booked into a hotel in Pattaya for two nights before returning to Hong Kong.
We booked passage on a shuttle, which was supposed to pick us up at our serviced apartment in Bangkok, the Oriental Residences, and deliver us to our resort-hotel in Pattaya.
The two-hour journey took much longer than we had expected if you factor in the fact that the shuttle arrived at our Bangkok hotel nearly one hour behind schedule.
There really had been no need to rush. I really could have had another cup of coffee in the cafe. Actually, I could have had another two or three more cups of coffee in the in that charming cafe, which I had been loathe to evacuate.
The bus finally arrived, and we clambered on board. We were finally on our way, or so I thought. We still had to pick up a few more passengers before heading out of the Big Mango.
After picking up a few more beachgoers, our shuttle made its way onto the toll road out of town – but not before hitting a massive traffic jam. Apparently, there had been an accident. When we hit the outskirts of town, however, the traffic improved, and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way.
You know you are approaching the ocean when you see seagulls flying overhead. Even on an overcast day, the sky looks different. It becomes increasingly translucent. Surely it is just over that next rise in the road … Or the next … Or the next …
Shortly after our arrival in Pattaya, we turned left onto a narrow road eventually pulling into another transfer point, except this one was much smaller than the previous one. There were numerous hotel shuttle buses waiting for us, and one of them had the name of our hotel painted on the side: Cape Dara!
- BTW, Dara is not pronounced the way you might expect. The accent is on the second rather than the first syllable. So it should be pronounced “duh-RAH”, rhyming with hurrah!
Taxi vs. Shuttle …
If I had it all to do over again, I would have gone by taxi, which is how I got to the airport three days later at the end of my trip.
It really depends on what you value more: your time or your money. And let’s face, time IS money. Unless you are a committed backpacker (which I am not, and never was), I would have to say that every penny saved was a minute lost.
Let’s face it, a drop-dead gorgeous resort with excellent facilities was waiting for us. I would much rather have been spending that wasted time lounging by the pool than sitting in that cramped shuttle bus!
While taxi drivers in Thailand can be notoriously unscrupulous, if you book one online (which I highly recommend), you know exactly what the fare will be, and there’s far less drama. If you’re not sure how to do it, you can always ask the hotel concierge for help.
Also, if you divide the taxi fare in two, it’s not really all that expensive. If we had done so, we could have been able to spend at least 90 more minutes at that drop-dead gorgeous resort!
The Arrival …
Maybe that long drawn out trip from Bangkok wasn’t such a bad idea after all. And that trek through the non-descript back streets of Pattaya (where in the world are we going?) only intensified the excitement I felt when we finally reached our destination.
The air was fresh, and an ocean breeze greeted us as we walked into the open-air lobby, which had direct access to one of the hotel’s two swimming pools and the beach overlooking Pattaya Bay beyond.
It was a pleasant surprise at check-in to learn that my traveling companion and I had been booked into separate hotel rooms. He got a massive 123-square-metre family suite, and I got one of the hotel’s six private pool suites.
My Room …
I stayed in room 4105, one of six private pool suites, which was located on the ground floor overlooking the beach. It measured 40 square metres, which would be comparable to many flats housing a family of four in Hong Kong.
My room was decorated in soft beige and cream earth tones with the occasional turquoise blue accent.
There was a king size bed, a comfortable lounge chair with a footstool, a 40 inch LCD television, and a spacious work station with plenty of room to spread out my reference materials.
For a travel blogger like me, this is one of my primary concerns. I spend a lot more time at my computer in my room than most of my readers could ever imagine.
The Plunge Pool …
Because I was housed in one of the six suites with plunge pools, I could relax in a lounge chair, which left part of my body submerged under water.
The View from My Plunge Pool …
The view of Pattaya Bay from the comfort of my plunge pool was spectacular. I could also check out the action at Twinkle, the pool bar, which is open from 10 am to 12 midnight.
The Bathroom …
The bathroom was clad in cream coloured marble. There were a walk-in shower and a large bathtub.
The bathroom had a floor-to-ceiling window with a privacy screen, but it wasn’t necessary since I was occupying the room alone.
The Mini Bar …
The mini-bar had a Home Barista coffee maker, the kind with little capsules with concentrated liquid coffee inside – very posh!
There was also an electric tea kettle for heating water and complimentary bottles of drinking water.
For snacks, there were two half cans of Pringles. The refrigerator had bottled water, beer, Coke, and Sprite.
The Executive Lounge …
Located on an upper floor, Club Dara – as the hotel’s executive lounge is called – has spectacular views of the Pattaya’s beaches and Pattaya Bay.
Access to the lounge is restricted to guests staying in Dara suites, Dara beachfront suites, Dara private pool suites, family suites, top star duplex suites, and the 855-square-metre Top Star Private Pool Residence.
I have to admit: I love having access to the executive lounge when I’m staying at nice hotels. There is a sense of intimacy. The staff greet you by name. And cocktail hour is the highlight of the day.
Cocktails were served from 5 to 7 pm. After unpacking and exploring the resort, I returned to the lounge for mojitos and snacks as I watched the sun set into the Andaman Sea.
I returned to the Club for breakfast the next morning. In addition to a mouth-watering selection of hot and cold dishes on the buffet tables, eggs and other dishes were cooked to order. I opted for Belgium waffles with maple syrup, and they were delicious.
While I could have had breakfast at Radius, the resort’s all-day-dining restaurant, I preferred the more intimate atmosphere of the executive lounge.
I did, however, go downstairs to do a photo shoot. Images of the breakfast buffet will be published in my review of the restaurant in a future post.
The Food and Beverage Outlets …
Radius – the all-day-dining restaurant at Cape Dara. A full restaurant review is coming.
Ming Xing – the Chinese restaurant serving modern Cantonese cuisine and dim sum. A full restaurant review is coming.
Mellow – a cafe and bakery, Mellow serves breads and pastries ranging from quiches to cookies to cakes as well as coffee, tea, and juice. Food and beverage can be consumed on site or taken away.
Sphere – the hotel’s lobby lounge, Sphere serves signature cocktails to the tune of soft music throughout the evening. I LOVED the mojitos! It is open from 5 pm to 2 am.
Walala – a beach bar, Walala serves cocktails, non-alcoholic beverages, and lights meals. It is open from 10 am to 7 pm. The perfect spot to watch the sun set into the Andaman Sea?
Twinkle Bar – food and beverage can be ordered from Twinkle and consumed in the shade of an umbrella by one of the hotel’s two swimming pools. It is open from 10 am until 12 midnight.
The Cooking Class …
The hotel arranged a cooking class for us, teaching us how to prepare Phad Thai Noodles with Canadian Lobster, which we then consumed for lunch. The recipe is coming.
The Beach …
The hotel is located along a private beach. You won’t be bothered by ambulant pedlers of foot massages or tacky souvenirs.
The Swimming Pools …
The hotel has two outdoor swimming pools. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
The Fitness Room …
The hotel has a fitness room with treadmill, Matrix fitness equipment, free weights, balance balls, and other equipment.
The Verdict …
The hotel had everything going for it: comfortable accommodation, excellent and varied food and beverage outlets, great views, a private beach – what more can I say?
I live in Hong Kong so I have high standards when it comes to Chinese food, and I thought the food at the Cantonese restaurant was excellent. Not only that, the interior decor was very, very stylish!
I particularly enjoyed the cooking lesson that was arranged for us and will be sharing the recipe – with lots of pix – in a future post.
As a result of my very enjoyable stay at Cape Dara, I’ve decided to make another trip to Pattaya. My ticket has already been booked. And this time, I will be going directly from the airport to the hotel!
The Location …
Pattaya is the closest beach resort to Bangkok. It is located on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) southeast of Bangkok, the nation’s capital.
How to Get There
Pattaya is roughly a two hours’ drive from downtown Bangkok. Unless you want to drive, you can travel to Pattaya by shuttle, bus, or taxi.
If two or more of you are traveling together, I would recommend going by taxi – providing you can get the fare negotiated in advance.
If you are going directly to Pattaya from overseas, the good news is that it’s relatively close to Thailand’s busiest airport. And another airport, which is even closer, is starting to attract international service, as well.
A third option is Don Mueang International Airport, which is considerably more distance. The drive takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Suvarnabhumi Airport is served mostly by international airlines as well as domestic airlines flying to foreign travel destinations.
U-Tapao was traditionally used for travel to domestic travel destinations, but it is starting to attract major airlines flying to international destinations.
Qatar Airways launched service to the airport in December 2017, and other airlines are sure to follow suit shortly. This will make Pattaya an even more attractive travel destination for overseas beachgoers.
Don Mueang is used mostly for domestic flights and by budget carriers.