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The Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai - Hotel Review


The Star Goddess of the Lost Lanna Kingdom

by Evelyn Chen

The pool at The Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai
The pool at The Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai


The Dhara Dhevi Hotel Review

Arriving at The Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai is like stepping into another world, one reminiscent of the lost Lanna Kingdom. This resort is not typically Thai, and in fact, it does not toe the typical hotel line either. Remarkably, this is one resort that has attempted to recreate the past — and succeeded.

To truly appreciate this ambitious resort, one needs to dive back into history: in 1296, Chiang Mai became the capital of the vast Lanna kingdom that stretched into Laos, eastern Myanmar and southern China. It was during this time that the distinct Lanna culture evolved, expressing itself in delicate local artworks and wooden architecture. The resort is the result of the painstaking effort by the owner to pay homage to this unique culture in Northern Thailand. Sanskrit for "Star Goddess," Dhara Dhevi was created as a royal village on sixty acres of verdant grounds. With an Lanna-style palace lobby at its core, Dhara Dhevi's meandering pathway takes guests on an interesting journey past traditional teak villas, colonial mansions, ornate temples and rice barns clustered among rice paddies. A choice of transport, horse cart or golf buggy, makes the ride through this estate all the more fascinating.

Hand-crafted Lanna-style interiors
Resort landscape
Hand-crafted Lanna-style interiors
Resort landscape

Dhara Devi has 58 Colonial Suites, 69 Private Villas and Theme Suites such as the Penthouse Spa Suite with a private spa. We stayed in the impressive Villa 12, a Mandalay-style double-story teak villa with a spacious living room below complete with TV, dining area, steam room, piano and a kitchenette with an espresso machine. Its sliding doors open to an outdoor Jacuzzi with a spacious deck. This provides a view of the rice fields and the occasional water buffalo at work. An outdoor staircase leads to an enormous bedroom above with a generously sized shower, changing area and a cozy study. Amenities are equally impressive, from a library of 1,200 music CDs, 5,000 books and 2,000 DVDs to a hip shopping village (Kad Dhara) with a charming café that sells ice cream and pastries. There are also free children's activities at the Lanna Kids Club as well as an Oriental Culinary Academy. But the pièce de résistance here is the Dheva Spa and Ayurvedic Centre where we enjoyed an Ayurvedic consultation and treatment.

Ornate temple-like structures
Sixty tropical acres of landscaping
Ornate temple-like structures
Sixty tropical acres of landscaping

While some critics were quick to swipe at the Dhara Dhevi's mishmash architecture when it opened its doors for business in December 2004, we could proudly claim that Dhara Dhevi has the biggest villas and best facilities amongst all luxury resorts we've visited in Asia to date. You will certainly not be disappointed on your exploration of the lost Lanna Kingdom.

The Dhara Dhevi
51/4 Chiang Mai
Sankampaeng Rd. Moo 1
T. Tasala A. Muang
Chiang Mai 50000 Thailand
66 53 888 888
www.dharadhevi.com

 

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P072506
(Updated: 09/03/13 CT)


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