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Sea Sand Sun Resort & Villas: A review

Last week I wrote about our recent stay at 5-star Bayphere Hotel on Najomtien Beach, south of the Thai city of Pattaya. Well, after staying there for three nights, we moved further south to another South Najomtien Beach hotel: The Sun Sand Sea Resort & Villas, a.k.a. Sun Sand Sea Resort & Spa. This is also a five-star hotel, but it is more exclusive (i.e. expensive) than the Bayphere. It has only 61 units spread over far more land, which allows for a beautiful tropical environment and plenty of privacy for guests.

A disclosure: My husband and I were sponsored for this stay by the Sea Sand Sun Resort and Villas. Nevertheless, they have no influence over what I write, and I have tried to be as unbiased as possible.

And another disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. This will not affect your price.

Text: Sea Sand Sun Resort & Villas: A review of this luxurious beachfront oasis. Image: the pool.
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Arriving at Sea Sand Sun Resort

We took a Grab car between the hotels: a 15-minute drive down the main highway that goes south from Pattaya. Turning into the grounds, we drove between green, wooded areas, which immediately gave me a good feeling about the place after spending so much time in cities.

The reception is more outside than in. It has a peaked wooden roof with open sides, shading an area of sofas and comfy chairs. its centerpiece is a beautiful sculpture of dancers or acrobats. The staff at the front desk urged us to sit down during the check-in process. They immediately served us sweet pandan juice in smooth rounded mugs. As we waited, we looked out on a shallow water feature surrounded by a lushly beautiful, flower-filled Balinese-style garden. It seemed jungle-like, but was clearly curated jungle – everything set to maximum effect. I love seeing the houseplants I grew up surrounded by, nurtured by my green-thumbed mother, thriving outside. Here they’re the size of trees.

A shallow rectangular pool surrounded by tropical greenery.
View from the reception building.

We couldn’t check in yet – the check-out time for both hotels is 12:00, and we’d left Bayphere at about 11:00 – but the staff had plans for us. First, they gave me a rundown of all the things they wanted us to try and we made appointments. This surprised me – I knew we were being sponsored to stay at the resort for two nights, but didn’t know they were going to include our meals and extras like an afternoon tea, a spa treatment, and a floating breakfast. But more on those later.

First, we got a tour of the grounds and I learned more about this resort – up to this point I’d only skimmed their website. Pattaya Sea Sand Sun Resort is a stand-alone hotel, not part of a chain. What looked like woods as we drove into the resort actually hides an organic garden as well as a solar panel installation. The garden supplies the resort’s restaurant and as much as possible they source the rest of the ingredients locally. The solar farm doesn’t supply all the resort’s electricity, but it helps. 

A long central pathway leads from reception all the way to the sea. It’s partially paved, and partially wooden boardwalks over shallow water filled with water plants. The plantings on both sides are thick and well-chosen, both in terms of how they look – tropical exuberance – and how well they hide the accommodations. None of this is old-growth: apparently much of it is less than ten years old, but some much larger trees here and there go back decades. From that central pathway, paths to the left and right lead to the rooms. 

A walkway straight ahead, far into the distance, with lush greenery on either side as far as you can see.

The resort operates electric golf carts which guests can summon whenever they need a lift. Staff members use them to transport luggage to and from the rooms, or to move supplies for maintenance and cleaning. We only used them at check-in and check-out because of our luggage.

The rooms

The 61 rooms at Sea Sand Sun Resort & Villas range from 55 to 200 square meters (592-2,153 square feet). Some are in blocks of four rooms, but many are free-standing villas with spacious suites, and all have private bathrooms. All of them are surrounded by thick foliage, making them feel like they’re far from anything.

  • The Garden Boutique rooms are 55 square meters and each has either a private patio or a private outdoor balcony. 
  • Garden Villas are the same size but they are free-standing bungalows with tropical garden views from small patios. 
  • Deluxe Pavilion Villas are 120 square meters and and are in blocks of four in each of four buildings. Each has a private balcony.
  • The Garden Suite with jacuzzi is 200 square meters with, as the name states, an outdoor hot tub.
  • The Pool Villa Suite (200 square meters) is pretty much the same as the Garden Suite, but instead of a jacuzzi it has a small outdoor swimming pool.
  • Lastly, the Ocean Front Pool Villa Suite, at 120 square meters, has both a small private pool and its own private beach!

Our accommodation

We stayed in one of the pool villas, 200 square meters in size including the outdoor space. Just for context, that’s more than twice the size of our entire house! 

The main indoor space has gorgeous understated décor with lots of wood and nature colors. It’s divided into a large living room area and the bedroom – the division marked by a simple step up. The seating area, decorated in muted shades, is furnished with two sofas and a low coffee table, and has large sliding glass doors to the outdoor pool. A desk stands in a corner of the bedroom. The flat-screen tv (including satellite channels) is attached to a clever movable wall that rotates enough so that you can watch tv from the living room or from the bed.

two sofas facing each other, Albert seated on the left-hand one. Between them, a low coffee table. Through the partly-open curtains ahead, the pool is visible.

There are outlets within easy reach on both sides of the bed as well as reading lights on both side tables. The bed is lovely and comfortable, with high-quality linens and non-lumpy pillows. The ceiling above the living room section is peaked and a large ceiling fan whirls very quietly in its center. The air conditioning is also nearly silent, emanating from a grill in the wall rather than a bulky air conditioner.

The bathroom area next door is essentially a long hall, with each part of the bathroom along it: a vanity, a closet (with a safe, bathrobes, umbrella, hamper, and a beach bag with beach towels), a luggage rack, the toilet room, the bathtub, and a double sink. The open-air shower is outside, through a glass door. One end of the shower is roofed over, the other open to the sky. A lockable door connects the shower to the pool area, so that you can shower straight from the pool instead of tracking water through the suite.

A large bed with white sheets and pillows, wood-panelled walls, an artwork above the bed with a leaf pattern, bedside tables on either side.

The design of the bathroom is striking in that both the bathroom and the toilet space have large windows to the outside, letting lots of natural light in. Yet privacy is completely ensured by a high white wall outside. The small space between the wall and the windows has very large terracotta pots holding tropical plants. The effect is very attractive and bright. (I should add that this hotel continues the current trend of using glass doors in bathrooms – I’m not a fan. Fortunately the glass door to the toilet room is partially frosted, so it didn’t bother me.)

The room also has a music system, free wi-fi, a coffee maker and a hot-water kettle with all the makings, a mini-fridge (with, not surprisingly, very high prices on its contents), and a hairdryer. There were toiletries as well – shampoo, conditioner, bath gel and soap – which seemed good quality. 

The pool, which I would guess is about 4 meters x 2.5 meters, is surrounded by wood planking. It’s 1.2 meters deep, so it’s not really for swimming – more for soaking. Jets and benches in the water at one end add a gentle jacuzzi effect, and two loungers stand next to the pool as well, shaded by an umbrella. Beside the pool is a small, raised area with a roof over a table and chairs for eating outside. The whole outdoor space is partly fenced and entirely surrounded by thick tropical greenery and the sound of tropical birds.

From under an open-sided roof, the whitewashed villa is visible as well as the pool.
Photo courtesy of Albert Smith.

The resort

Rejoining the main path down toward the beach, we first come to the pool. It’s a pretty design, with rounded forms, blue tiling, and surrounded by palm trees and other greenery. One section has jacuzzi-like jets just like in our villa pool. It’s not a hot tub – the water is cool, which in such a hot climate is all you would want. On one side is a pool bar, which I never tried because I enjoyed our private pool so much. At the end of the pool facing the beach, the water flows over, becoming a waterfall into the kiddie pool below. The effect is that it’s an infinity pool with a view of the ocean. 

A pool with lounge chairs and palm trees at Sea Sand Sun Resort & Spa.
The far end of the pool is a waterfall to the kiddie pool below. You can see the jacuzzi-like section where the water is bubbling at the left.

A few steps below that, and you’re on the beach. This is the very bottom end of Najomtien Beach. It has a graceful curve to it, lined with palm trees and a scattering of loungers. The water is very peaceful here, with only the gentlest of waves. The left-hand end of the resort’s section of the beach, as you face the water, is marked as a private beach. This isn’t exactly true. Anyone is allowed to walk along the beach, but the upper part, near the row of Ocean Front Pool Villa Suites, is in practice private territory just for the inhabitants of those suites. The resort’s length of the beach is carefully kept – cleaned every day. The staff even smoothes the sand regularly.

Looking south down the beach at Sea Sand Sun Resort & Spa.
Looking south along Najomtien Beach from in front of the resort. The village of Bang Saray is visible on the right.

The restaurant

Sea Sand Sun Resort has only one restaurant, called Horizon Sea View Restaurant. It’s open-air with a high ceiling with ceiling fans and looks out to the beach and the sea. Especially in the evening as the air starts to cool, it’s a very pleasant place for a meal and a drink. There are also tables down on the sand. If you want, you can special-order a romantic dinner for two under a canopy on the beach. 

The breakfast buffet includes all the items you would expect from a five-star resort: eggs to order, very good fresh breads, cooked foods of both the Western and Thai variety, and plenty of fresh fruit as well. They even had a woman making small smoothies to order. The only negative I could add about this buffet was that, like at Bayphere, the orange juice didn’t taste like it was pure orange juice. But the rest was pretty much perfect.

As for lunch and dinner, I was consistently impressed with the menu. They offer a mix of Western dishes like burgers, pizza, pasta and grilled meats, as well as a range of salads and soups. Even if you stayed here a week and ate every meal here, there’d be enough variety to keep you happy. But we didn’t have any of that. We went straight for the section of the menu that listed Thai cuisine, which was consistently excellent, well-presented and surprisingly affordable.

A bowl of soup in the foreground, blurred drinks, lights and dark sky in the background.
Coconut soup at dinner by the beach.

The food isn’t in the price range of the street food we’d been eating in Bangkok every day, but compared to Western pricing or even compared to most resort pricing, it was cheap. For example, a pad see ew, a stir-fried noodle dish that is one of my favorite Thai meals, is 250 baht with pork or chicken; 290 baht with seafood. That’s about €6.50 or US$7. In a typical street restaurant in Bangkok, the same dish, but with less elegant presentation, was between 60 and 100 bahts.

Book the Sea Sand Sun Resort.

sliced mango, a ball of green sticky rice, and a bowl of white coconut sauce.
Mango sticky rice is my favorite Thai treat.

Room service

Room service (villa service?) is also available, and we were treated to two different forms of this: an afternoon tea and a floating breakfast.

Afternoon tea

The staff delivered our afternoon tea to the shaded table next to the pool at our villa. The three shelves of treats looked pretty, surrounded by fresh flowers plucked from the garden. The bottom shelf held Thai-inspired savory items – I particularly liked the crispy dumplings. The middle shelf held the Western-style savory items like the traditional finger sandwiches. And the top shelf held sweets like macarons, custard, muffins and cake. The tea came in a pretty teapot, and it was quality tea. Like any afternoon tea, it was fun to try all these different sweet and savory treats. It felt tremendously indulgent to enjoy it next to our own little pool in this tranquil tropical setting.

Various very colorful sweets and savory items on two shelves.

Floating breakfast

I have to say that this form of room service led to a certain level of hilarity for my husband and me. It was delivered in a large oblong basket, unwrapped, and then deposited on the water in our pool. The tray held a truly sumptuous breakfast, with eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, tomatoes, cereal, toast, croissants, pastries, a variety of different tropical fruits, whole coconuts with paper umbrellas and straws, pots of tea, and also milk and orange juice.

A tray, seen from above, crammed with every possible breakfast item, times two.
Photo courtesy of Albert Smith.

The problem, and what led to the giggles, was trying to eat it. We could get in the water, but it was awkward. I mean, how do you cut into an egg using a fork and knife when the plate and the tray it’s on keeps moving as you move? It became clear very quickly that this would just not work. So we each took an end of the tray and deposited it on the wooden walkway next to the pool. Sitting with our feet dangling in the water, we were able to eat the food, though the hot foods like eggs and sausage were pretty cold by the time we got to them.

I asked the manager later about the floating breakfast, making a bit of a joke about how silly the experience was. She said that it’s really just an Instagram phenomenon. People order it to be able to take the photos. I guess it’s just an extreme expression of the stereotypical influencer: “Look at me, living the extravagant life!” Anyway, we found the whole thing amusing.

The Sea Sand Sun Spa

The Sea Sand Sun Spa offers a range of treatments. Albert chose a Thai massage, while I chose a more gentle oil massage. I had a couple of Thai massages last time I was in Thailand and they were not for me! We waited, again with mugs of pandan juice, in the serene environment of the spa reception, until we were called up.

Climbing a bright stairway, we came into a large room set up with two tables. It had floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides, one of which faced the pool area. I was a bit alarmed when we were instructed to change: Albert into a loose-fitting white pajama set, while I was given a pair of disposable underpants and a robe. Wouldn’t everyone outside see us? But no, the glass is shaded; we could see out but no one could see in. So we changed and our massages began.

Two massage tables, with large windows on greenery and the pool.
The massage room.

Mine was quite pleasant, gentle and thorough – these were 90-minute treatments. Albert’s, I found out afterwards, was a bit too rough. This was exactly why I’d decided I didn’t like Thai massage. I’ve heard that if you get them often, you grow accustomed to the roughness and it starts to feel good. This was Albert’s first time, and he found it painful. It was, he admits, his own fault. The masseuse asked him how much pressure he wanted and he said medium. He perfectly well could have told her to reduce the pressure, but didn’t. His advice: speak up until the pressure is right! 

It’s also unusual to have the masseuse, while you lie on your stomach, actually climb up to straddle you in order to get a better angle and apply more pressure. I’ve never experienced that before, and this time both the masseuses did so. That’s not a complaint, though, it does give a better angle when they’re working on your back. 

I guess what this means is that I can’t actually judge the quality of either massage. I assume they were good, and I enjoyed mine, but I can’t vouch for them.

My recommendations

There are a number of attractions you could see from Sea Sand Sun without even having to go to Pattaya city. If you like gardens, go see Non Nooch Botanical Garden. Columbia Pictures Aquaverse is very nearby. That could take up a whole day, as could the Ramayana Water Park, which is further inland. Buddha Mountain looks interesting to see, and it’s not far from the botanical garden.

But really, this resort is so lovely, you won’t want to leave it. We didn’t.

Lounge chairs with blue and white umbrellas on white sand with palm trees in the background.

The place that Sea Sand Sun Resort and Villas most reminded me of was another beautiful resort I was fortunate enough to stay in: East Winds Resort St. Lucia. Both are small-scale and independent, with tropical gardens surrounding rooms that offer lots of privacy. Both face the sea on the west, so that the sunsets in the evening are stunning. They both have excellent food and friendly staff, and both deserve a 5-star rating. (As an aside, these star ratings seems pretty arbitrary to me. East Winds is only listed as a four-star resort, but I can’t see how it is of any lower quality than Sea Sand Sun or Bayphere.)

The Sea Sand Sun Resort & Villas is the perfect place to stay if you don’t want to have to travel a long time – it’s only about two hours from Bangkok – and want a truly 5-star luxurious resort experience. You’ll have absolute privacy in a beautiful garden environment, with well-honed service, and watch a beautiful sunset every night from your delicious dinner on a Gulf of Thailand beach. For us, this was perfect, and it felt remote: far away from the city’s hustle and bustle. 

Book the Sea Sand Sun Resort.

On the other hand, if you want more people around you and a more social atmosphere, you might be better off at Bayphere Hotel Pattaya. Its bars and the ones on the beach in front of it seem quite lively. If that’s not for you, and you really want that blend of luxurious amenities and personal service that a small resort like this can offer, stick with the quiet oasis vibe of Sea Sand Sun. Of course, facilities that are this spacious and low density don’t come cheap, so your budget is a factor as well.

Text: Sea Sand Sun Resort & Villas in Pattaya, Thailand: An in-depth review. Image: small appetizers artfully arranged on a plate.
Pinnable image.

Getting there

Sea Sand Sun Resort & Villas is located at 78/4 M.8 Sukhumwit K.M. 163 Na Jomtien, Sattathip, Chonburi 20250 in Thailand. It’s about a half-hour south of Pattaya city center, and about 2.25 hours from Bangkok. If you pick up a rental car at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi (BKK) airport and drive straight to the resort, it’ll take about an hour and a half.

If you’d rather not drive, you could take a taxi from the airport or Bangkok. Beware, though: it’ll be expensive to ride that far. There are buses that leave from the airport to Pattaya city center, and from there you could take a Grab or Bolt taxi. (Download the apps ahead of time and enter your credit card details. That way you won’t have to negotiate with drivers or figure out tips on the spot.) From Bangkok there are a few trains and lots of buses to Pattaya. There are also vans, but I do not recommend them; they cram in the passengers and don’t leave on a set schedule.

Does this kind of resort destination appeal to you?

My travel recommendations

Planning travel

  • Skyscanner is where I always start my flight searches.
  • Booking.com is the company I use most for finding accommodations. If you prefer, Expedia offers more or less the same.
  • Discover Cars offers an easy way to compare prices from all of the major car-rental companies in one place.
  • Use Viator or GetYourGuide to find walking tours, day tours, airport pickups, city cards, tickets and whatever else you need at your destination.
  • Bookmundi is great when you’re looking for a longer tour of a few days to a few weeks, private or with a group, pretty much anywhere in the world. Lots of different tour companies list their tours here, so you can comparison shop.
  • GetTransfer is the place to book your airport-to-hotel transfers (and vice-versa). It’s so reassuring to have this all set up and paid for ahead of time, rather than having to make decisions after a long, tiring flight!
  • Buy a GoCity Pass when you’re planning to do a lot of sightseeing on a city trip. It can save you a lot on admissions to museums and other attractions in big cities like New York and Amsterdam.
  • I’m a fan of SCOTTeVEST’s jackets and vests because when I wear one, I don’t have to carry a handbag. I feel like all my stuff is safer when I travel because it’s in inside pockets close to my body.
  • Airalo is an e-sim card. You buy it through an app and activate it when you need it. I tried it on my trip to Thailand and it worked just like any other sim card, but without my having to fuss with physical cards.
  • I use ExpressVPN on my phone and laptop when I travel. It keeps me safe from hackers when I use public or hotel wifi.

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about Rachel

Hi, I’m Rachel!

Rachel’s Ruminations is a travel blog focused on independent travel with an emphasis on cultural and historical sites/sights. I also occasionally write about life as an expatriate. I hope you enjoy what I post here; feel free to leave comments!  Read more…
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