Chiang Mai really did surprise us. In part it was also due to the magical phenomenon that is the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi. Set in the outskirts of the city, the sprawling luxury resort has been modeled after the kingdom of Siam. They had successfully incorporated every cultural and historical element to render it authentic, all the while ensuring they never scrimped on luxury.
Getting around the sprawling property could have been difficult on foot. Which is why they had buggies to take us wherever we wished. With quaint bridges across the water bodies flanked by green patches everywhere, this place really did feel like we were checking in to our own personal paradise. The set up is so much like a true Lanna Kingdom, they even have a crafts village to keep the kids busy (and some adults as well).
The Mandarin Oriental offered us two kinds of accommodation; the Colonial Suites and the Traditional Villas. The suites were gorgeous, and (as we were told, usually most preferred by the Asians) while with the Traditional Villas it’s the Europeans who go ga ga. Both room types are breathtakingly gorgeous, but my personal favourite was the traditional villa. I just loved the idea of having two floors, and a large bathroom that winds around half a floor, as well as that gorgeous canopied bed.
Apart from a beautiful Spa that offers holistic health treatments, the Mandarin Oriental also has an infinity pool in a gorgeously Asian setting with lotus blossoms et al. It’s kind of quiet and great place to unwind.
One of the most unique (yet highly debatable) features of this resort is the recreated paddy field. They have workforce and some livestock roaming the grounds every day in an attempt to showcase the true spirit of rural Chiang Mai. However, personally, I wonder whether it’s self defeating in a way. While we loved being spoiled silly with the extravagance of the Mandarin Oriental, and while it is a self sufficient resort that leaves you wanting nothing else, we would most certainly encourage guests to step out and discover a bit of the rural land around for themselves. It is a treat for the eyes nonetheless.
Among the several restaurants at the Mandarin Oriental, our favourite was Le Grand Lanna, their opulent dining room with terrace tables where they serve up the often forgotten Lanna cuisine. Northern Thai food holds a lot of secrets and surprises, and we’d recommend it to anyone visiting Thailand. Read all about our experience at Le Grand Lanna restaurant here.
We’d recommend the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai especially for couples, and well families too. It’s a fabulous romantic getaway even if you’re travelling with kids, because these guys have enough to keep them occupied. And the staff is just so attentive and responsive. Heaven on earth if there ever was one.The Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi is a 15 minute taxi ride from Chiang Mai Airport. Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, 51/4 Chiang Mai – Sankampaeng Road, Moo 1, T. Tasala, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50000, Thailand Tel: +66 (53) 888 888 http://www.mandarinoriental.com/chiangmai/ Doubles from THB 16,799