Thailand’s north has always beckoned the traveller with its smorgasbord of cultural, exotic and adventurous offerings. The discerning traveller however, was always left askance at how little the northern hoteliers had to offer.
Story by Luxury Society Team
If your idea of a five star hotel stay involves spectacular architecture worthy of a royal, Dhara Dhevi ticks all the boxes. There’s no denying this hotel, set in 60 acres of tropical gardens, is utterly spectacular and its Lanna-style architecture could easily fool you into thinking this hotel is a relic from another era — and perhaps a museum to a bygone time.
No longer though, a new breed of brave hoteliers have upped the ante offering lodgings that would please even the most demanding; the product as creative as it is differentiated.
The 3,100sqm complex is reminiscent of a Mandalay Palace, with a seven-tier lobby of carved teakwood and 18 treatment suites offering holistic treatments and Ayurvedic treatments.
For the past century, the rich history of Thailand’s Northern region has tended to be overlooked. Yet the North of Thailand has had a remarkable influence on many aspects of Thai culture, and in some ways, thanks to its isolation and reluctance to change, has retained some of the kingdom’s most important historic sites.
From the mid-13th century under King Mengrai, the North of Thailand became a kingdom unto itself, the “Kingdom of Lanna”, meaning the “Land of a Million Rice Fields”, with the city of Chiang Mai as the royal seat of power.
Experience: Life As Farmer
The Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai’s 60-acres offer ample space for the hotel’s 123 luxurious teak wood villas and suites perched amongst vast landscaped gardens and emerald rice paddies.
All the interiors have been sympathetically crafted by local artisans in keeping with traditional Lanna architectural styles. They feature extensive museum- quality artefacts, sumptuous Thai silks mixed with local hill-tribe textiles and magnificent original artworks.
In Photo: Horn Bar
Today, what we now term as the ‘Lanna’ rule refers chiefly to the period AD 1259-1558 when North Thailand, and in particular, Chiang Mai asserted itself as a centre of arts, culture and architecture, similar to the Italian city of Florence during the Renaissance, during an almost identical period of history.
In Photo: Farang Ses Restaurant
During this time the Lanna Kingdom absorbed influences from many cultures including Luang Prabang (Laos), Mandalay (Myanmar) and Jing Hong (China). Though the Lanna Kingdom would ultimately decline in the mid-16th century, since the 18th century Lanna style has been enjoying a renaissance, seen today in aspects of Chiang Mai life.
In Photo: Grand Deluxe Colonial Suite Terrace
In Photo: Colonial Suite
The exquisitely designed interiors seamlessly blend age-old tradition with modern convenience and signature guest-centric technology.
A room with views from Colonial wing
In Photo: Royal Residence – Bedroom
A selection of expansive Colonial Suites and Signature Residences provide elegant private retreats with their own exclusive facilities such as a personal spa, drawing room or piano lounge.
In Photo: Mandalay Residence
The magnificent Royal Residence includes a secluded Lanna-style palace complex with three private swimming pools, Jacuzzis and water gardens – luxuries that no other hotel in the region can offer.
As conceptual designer, Mr. Rachen Intawong – or “Tam” as he is best known – has played a pivotal part in the hotel’s construction since its inception, in 2001.
He sees Dhara Dhevi Hotel as a working museum, a place where traditional Lanna culture and Asian colonial splendour have been carefully brought together in harmony.
In Photo: Fujian
These essential elements contribute to an overall atmosphere of unparalleled luxury and serenity.
In Photo: The Dheva Spa is not to be missed.
“Ultimately, we have rebuilt the past so that some of those Lanna traditions can be kept alive for the future. Change is part of life, I accept that, that’s what Buddhism teaches us, but who says we have to lose our heritage in the name of change? ”, said Rachen Intawong