At the gates of a Siamese village, the melodic sound of beating hardwood welcomes you to the outer courtyard. There are still some semblances of the modern world here--parked cars, and people on cell phones--but these things quickly drop away as you move deeper into the property. At once, you're flanked by massive structures, decorated in true 16th century Lanna style: temples, markets, palaces, and even a foreigner quarter for trade. The cool air has a faint touch of jasmine, and the sound of streams along lush rice fields tickle your ears. Before your mind has time to fully adjust, your body knows it has arrived. Welcome to The Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi.
What you should know before you make this journey is that this is not a hotel, it is not a mere resort, it is a city. One can choose to play the role of a foreign visitor by staying at The Colonial Suites, which are located conveniently near the lobby, shopping arcade, and restaraunts. These "colonial quarters" are fit for the most discerning dignitaries, each of the entry level suites offer a 60 meter space, with two bathrooms (one in-suite), and a seperate living area. Or, for a more local experience, opt for a luxury teak wood villa. There are numerous types on the property, all modeled with different Lanna cultural distinctions in mind. Each of the villas are two-story homes, and include a whirlpool tub, separate rain shower, outdoor decks, and a sala. Many also come equipped with plunge pools, private pools, steam rooms, kitchens, and unbeatable views of the in-property rice terraces. There are also signature residences in the works, like the Penthouse Residence which offers a personal spa or Royal Residence which is a self contained 6 room palace where privacy is key and luxury is the law.
When it comes time for dining, the famous Le Grand Lanna can not be passed. This restaurant was a popular spot even before the property was conceived, and serves cuisine from Northern and Central Thailand. Other options include Fujian, a Chinese restaurant located in a Sino-Portuguese style mansion, Farang Ses for French fine dining, as well as Akaligo, for breakfasts and a la carte dinners with Mediterranean and Italian cusine. Afer dinner, drop by the Horn Bar for a well made cocktail in the company of rare masks. Of course, if you don't want to leave the comfort of your room, the Dhara Dhevi has a private dining option. Forget what you know about room service, and indulge in an exquisitely presented dinner, complete with place settings, meals served by course, and private butlers. Other options include afternoon tea, private picnics, or in villa barbecues.
The Dheva Spa and Wellness Cener is a beautifully massive structure. Made out of ornately carved dark teak wood, and taking 3 years to finish on it's own, the building replicates Myanmar's striking Mandalay Palace in both size and style. Treatments are extensive, with the highly recommend Ayurveda packages taking center stage. While many of your favorite types of massages and beauty treatments can also be found in the menu, guests looking for something unique can look into the Vichy showers, Watsu Pool, Hammams, or The Rhassoul, an ancient Arabic cleansing ritual.
The real draw of the Oriental Dhara Dhevi lies in the details. With only 123 rooms and villas on 60 acres of land, you might often feel like the only guests there. The property's owner has an eye for antiques, and choose to furnish the resort with many authentic pieces from his collection. These elements breathe life throughout the city, from the public water gardens and libary, to the most personal aspects of guest rooms.
Indeed, the antique style and quiet beauty can lend an almost haunted aura. Summoning the 200-year-old spirits of ancient Lanna, tends to do that. For the faint of heart, take heed, The Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi only invokes good things. You'll find that after one stay, remnants of the experience will follow you, appearing in the sweetest of dreams until your next return.
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To maximize your stay at The Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi remember to not miss these three points: Book a private villa with a view of the rice paddies, take time to get aryuvedic consultation with customized spa treatment, and have at least one private dinner in the comfort of your room.
Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai
51/4 Chiang Mai - Snkampaeng Road,
Moo 1 T.Tasala, A. Muang,
Chiang Mai 50000 THAILAND
+66 (53) 888 888