Published on September 22, 2007
Felix River Kwai Resort has space to sprawl and get its name to known.
Felix - meaning "happy" and "lucky" in Latin - might not be a prime choice for a resort's name. People are more like to think of Felix the Cat.
But with its quiet setting on the bank of a lovely stream in Kanchanaburi, the Felix River Kwai Resort has space to sprawl and get its name known.
Guests and weekenders stroll along a pathway, do tai chi on the lawn, and improve their backhands on the tennis courts with the historic "Bridge over the River Kwai" in the background.
"We really care about the surroundings," says the resort employee who's showing me around.
"There are only 255 guestrooms for the whole five hectares, and these large trees - Manila tamarinds, rain trees and bamboo - are probably older than some of us."
The resort is a cluster of low-rise buildings standing side by side and lettered from A to T. The property is criss-crossed by small canals and stone walkways lined with tropical flora. Vapours rising from the massage rooms and the whiff of fragrant flowers lend the place the mood of a lazy weekend.
All of the rooms have a stylish contemporary design: wood flooring and paintings on the whitewashed walls. You have two choices of views: the river or the equally lovely garden.
The best bet, though, might not be the most expensive: It's one of the river-view rooms on the first floor.
Here, with a door offering ready access to the quiet backyard, you can follow your whimsy - privacy or the wide-open space? Slide open the door: the silence of the garden lies in one direction, a cosy rocking chair in the other.
My room - a Superior Garden View - is second, or probably third, best in the accommodations hierarchy. It's as good as any you'd find in a standard luxury hotel, with a spacious bathroom with a shower and fresh toiletries.
The Felix has a large conference hall, and management is clever in keeping it well away from the leisure guests, who would perhaps just as soon not share the pool with the corporate types.
But the casual crowd is a good mix of Asians and farang guests and weekend drop-ins - who drive here from Bangkok with their mountain bikes racked up on top. The resort doesn't offer spa treatments, which is perhaps a polite way of urging the guests to go play in Kanchanaburi's great outdoors.
The resort serves a European breakfast of ham and eggs and an oriental version with boiled rice and a small set of side dishes. At dinnertime a floating restaurant awaits within view of the bridge, beckoning hungry souls with Thai and international cuisine.
Bottom line, with its grand and classy style, the Felix resort isn't as chic as a "boutique" hotel but - living up to its name - it can make anyone happy, even lucky, if they're looking for some elbowroom and peace of mind.