Unlike its name suggests, Asia Gardens is situated in Spain. To be more specific: in the sun-drenched region of Alicante. Slightly sceptical, as it sounds quite odd to stay in a fully Asian-style hotel in Spain. Yet, as soon as we enter the grounds of Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa, it feels like we are about to experience something really unique. The complex of buildings is built of red stone and is in perfect contrast to the luscious greenery of the surrounding gardens.
This 5-star hotel has already won many awards – in the category ‘luxury resort in Spain’ and as the best family hotel in the Mediterranean. Once inside, the welcoming feel of both the soft relaxing music and the home-made Thai lemongrass tea fit in beautifully with this almost mystical and serene experience. Having passed the vast lobby, our eyes are instantly drawn to an oasis of flora.
The garden of this resort is designed to create an Asian environment in a Mediterranean climate region. Over 200 different species of plants and trees have been planted, 80% of which are of Asian origin. That’s why we see here a wide range of stunning trees and plants, waterfalls flowing from one pond into the other and a variety of small paths meant for exploring the gardens. The collection includes rare trees with extraordinary names, like Drunk Stick, Elephant Foot, Jupiter Tree and the White Bird of Paradise. In addition to all these fascinating species, there is also a variety of fruit trees. These are complemented by a magnificent collection of no less than 40 different Bamboos. The hotel garden is also home to an impressive variety of palm trees, with over 50 different species. Another outstanding specimen is the huge Carob tree of over 200 years old. We see flowers everywhere, even though it’s October. No wonder, the hotel knows an average of 8 hours of cloud-free sunshine every day of the year, making it one of the sunniest spots in the whole of the Mediterranean region.
The gardens have been ingeniously designed; laid out at various levels, so you are unaware of the other guests staying at the hotel. Wandering through the gardens, you don’t have a clue of your exact whereabouts and it’s always a surprise what you’ll come across around the next corner. On day two, our daughter organises a treasure hunt. It turns out that we quite know our way around this unique hotel by now. Although it’s large, the hotel offers enough privacy. In the evening, dozens of lights give the feel of the fairy tales of One Thousand and One Nights.
We try the main pool, a series of interconnected swimming pools with pool steps everywhere. A part of this swimming pool is for exclusive use by VIP guests – great if you want some privacy. Yet, there is ample space to guarantee a relaxing stay by the pool. There are several stilt houses that can be booked for private use. Two swimming pools are heated, rather pleasant in October. One for adults only and one for the whole family.
This holiday is all for and about the ladies: I’m travelling with our children, my sister and her daughter. So, it’s a girls’ trip. A 12-year-old young lady is sure to play a trick or two, but she is immediately told off by the staff when she jumps over a wall. Safety first. The children’s safety comes also first at the kids’ club. During the summer months, the Junior Club organises fun activities for kids between the ages of 9 and 16, like Pilates POP, Modern Dance, AcroYoga and Taekwondo classes. Moreover, they can have dinner together in the evening.
All year round, kids from 4 to 12 years can enjoy themselves at the Pirates Kids’ Club, no doubt its name is based on the large pirate ship in the playground. Children under the age of 4 can go to the MiniClub, provided they are accompanied by an adult. There are theme parties in the evening and the children can enjoy their dinner together. During our stay, we see ghosts and bats everywhere as it’s Halloween. It is therefore no surprise our girls come “home” with drawings in this theme. Kids are welcome here between 11.00 and 13.00 hours and from 17.00 to 19.00 hours. From 21.00 to 22.00 hours, it’s time for the mini disco.
Our rooms are somewhat further away and it soon becomes clear why. In one of the corners is the kids’ club with the pirate ship as play area. The heated kiddy pool is also nearby. We fully enjoy our rooms, with beautiful sliding doors between the bathroom and the room. The beds are luxuriously large. Guests who prefer a bit more space and luxury can choose from several suites. The suites are high up and thus have a superb view of the sea.
There’s also lots to choose from at breakfast; varying from carrot drinks to champagne. The hotel amply caters for all tastes. As far as the children are concerned, they don’t get such delicious pancakes and eggs for breakfast at home. The staff is very nice and child-friendly; they try to make our youngest daughter laugh by making funny gestures.
Health freaks will be in their element in the hotel’s Spa. This fabulously decorated Asian-style Spa offers a wide range of treatments and 2- to 7-day programmes. And we must admit: the wellness retreats look very tempting.
The hotel counts no less than 9 restaurants. We opt for restaurant Koh Samui. Apart from delicious food, there are plenty of children here. The Zen Snack Bar (yes, really) is a good place if you want to eat by the pool. The In Black restaurant (adults only) is a good choice when your child is enjoying himself at the kids’ club.
Places such as Altea, Calpe, Jávea and Moraira are ideal for outdoor activities and marine sports or for sunbathing by the Mediterranean Sea. There are fine sandy beaches all around; Caja de Finestrat has wonderful golden sand and some good rocks to climb. Besides, it’s only a 10-minute drive. We went to Altea, a town with many sights and shops. Next time, we’ll make sure to visit the Chocolate Museum in Villajoiosa. Travelling inland, you can admire the beauty of the regular landscapes and the rich artistic and cultural heritage of towns like Elx, Orihuela, Alcoy and Benialí.
If you are looking for adventure: there are two 18-hole golf courses that are only a 3 minutes' drive from the hotel, the Terra Mítica theme park, marine sports (yachts and sailing boats with or without a skipper, water scooters and scuba-diving), helicopter flights, wine bodega and wine-tasting visits, nature and other adventure activities (horse riding, jeep safari, 4x4 drives in the Sierra Aitana, forest mountain bike trails, paragliding, canoeing, balloon trips).
# The many swimming pools, one for every day of the week. With deliciously comfy sun loungers for relaxing by the pool. Guests in the suites can enjoy the privacy of the VIP swimming pool.
# This hotel may cost a bit. Then again, the kids’ club and the activities for adults are all included. Such as Pilates, Yoga, a tour of the gardens and the afternoon tea at 17.00 hours.
# The beautifully designed gardens are an essential part of this unique experience; they offer all the peace and quiet for an undisturbed, healthy walk. More than 3,000 species have been imported. Oleanders, bamboos, palm trees, cotton plants, orange-and-purple flowers, trumpet flowers and a variety of pine trees where you can see the squirrels twice a day. The staff will give all the information you want.
This hotel is part of The Leading Hotels of the World.