For some reason, we never felt compelled to visit this region. Perhaps we were put off by the thought of crowds of backpackers converging on the city and partying all hours of the night. However, this city draws travelers from around the world. Were we missing something? We decided it was time to explore the area for ourselves. On a recent visit, we spent four nights at Four Seasons Chiang Mai.
Located 45 minutes by car from the city center, Four Seasons Chiang Mai is in the middle of what was previously known as the Lanna Kingdom, which means “The Land of a Million Rice Fields.” The exquisite beauty of the land took us by surprise. Vibrant green rice fields abound, living up to the region’s past name as well as exemplifying its’ new nickname, “Rose of the North.” Although the property is a bit off the beaten path, a shuttle provided by the resort takes you back-and-forth on scheduled times so you could experience the hustle and bustle of downtown Chiang Mai.
Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai is in a country-like setting outside of the city proper. From the moment we entered the open-air reception pavilion until our fond farewell, we see stunning views and gracious service. The outdoor reception pavilion is ideally situated to provide the most remarkable first impression of the resort. Spacious Lanna-style pavilions overlook terraced rice fields and the mountains beyond in the beautiful Mae Rim Valley mesmerized us.
Our renovated room overlooked the working rice field. The esthetic is contemporary meets Thai countryside. The two-story dwellings in clusters of four, our pavilion featured high ceilings, polished teak floors, a bedroom with its sitting area and a private outdoor Thai “sala” perfect for taking in the exotic surroundings. One of our favorite ways to relax was to lounge in our sala while we watched the sun set over the rice field.
There are the typical luxury amenities, but one of the best things we took advantage of was the on-site loaner bicycle. There’s plenty of them, and they are well maintained. We chose the “do your own tour” of the surrounding countryside. A laminated map is on each bicycle. It was amazing! We were able to see a number of very local and authentic temples, taste traditional foods from a nearby restaurant, kiosks, and markets side-by-side with everyday Chiang Mai residents going on their daily lives. We love this type of immersion into the local area and are glad that Four Seasons Resort is outside of the city proper.
If you want to experience the ultimate in indulgence, The Spa is a palatial three-story villa designed in the ancient “Lanna” style of northern Thai temples. The Spa offers treatment suites for couples or individuals, with private changing and shower facilities. Spa treatments emphasize ancient Thai rituals and native herbs, spices, and oils.
The 20-meter (66-foot) infinity-edge swimming pool offers a remarkable view of the Mae Rim Valley across picturesque rice terraces. The Health Club, although small, features a nice selection of equipment. The Tennis Club offers two floodlit tennis courts and a Peter Burwash International (PBI) resident professional for private coaching. Golf is available nearby. The cooking school introduces guests, both novice and experienced cooks, to the art of Northern Thai cuisine. Designed by the Resort’s culinary team, the program offers guests a “hands-on” learning experience. Optional activities provided by the school include fruit and vegetable carving classes and a morning excursion to a Chiang Mai food market.
During our visit, we had the opportunity to enjoy dinner at the Chef’s Table (offered six times a week) and learn culinary secrets at the cooking school class. We shared our meal with one other couple. Located in an open-air pavilion, we dined on delicious Northern Thai cuisine and chatted with the chef. We always enjoy the close connection between the food we eat and its preparation. It somehow feels more real.
For a more traditional dining experience, Sala Mae Rim offers dishes from the northern region of Thailand. Terraces restaurant and the Elephant Bar are located beside the Resort’s main swimming pool and feature open-air dining with an expansive view of the surrounding rice paddy fields and the distant Doi Suthep mountain range. International cuisine is featured using the area’s local produce.
Four Seasons Resorts has a great children’s club program, and Chiang Mai is no exception. Young guests have incredible activities that immerse them into the local culture and natural surroundings. Some of our favorite activities include: kite making, learning about the local flowers, and creating a clay pot.
Four Seasons Chiang Mai is the perfect place for couples to get away for a lovely holiday. We happened to be at the resort for our anniversary, and it was perfect for our occasion. We enjoyed doing activities together such as discovering the local area together on a bike, dining at the chef’s table, and just relaxing amongst the natural beauty of the property.
Are you interested in a destination wedding? Consider an exotic, yet luxurious setting at Four Seasons Chiang Mai. The property offers probably one of the unique environments in the luxury category: a rice paddy field!
Tom and I had an enjoyable time at Four Seasons Chiang Mai. Although we had been reluctant to travel to the area as we felt it was a “backpacker” haven and thus “too touristy,” we practiced what we preached and veered off the beaten track. We enjoyed discovering the “true” Chiang Mai. The highlight of our trip was bicycling around the countryside and eating foods at places locals frequent. Would we return? We’re not sure as there are so many other great places in SE Asia. Are we glad we visited? Yes. Do we recommend a stay at Four Seasons Chiang Mai? Absolutely. It’s a great luxury resort for a couple’s getaway as well as for families. Whatever your heart desires, Four Seasons Chiang Mai will cater to your needs.
For 2018 & 2019:
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (Excluding Signature Suites and Villas. During April – September, there are additional benefits as follows: Upgrade from Garden to Lanna room only, subject to availability)
- Daily Buffet breakfast for up to two in-room guests
- USD 100 equivalent Spa Services credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full, not applicable towards products)