Hotel Review: Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai (Part I)

Unrivaled Heritage, Luxury and Service

Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi is a luxury resort located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. A Crown Jewel of this premium hotel group’s ever expanding portfolio, the magnificent Dhara Dhevi sits on 60 acres of grounds in a scenic Chiang Mai location, and is only 5 km away from the city center. We were fortunate to stay at the resort for 6 days during our trip to Chiang Mai. Let me simply say that Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi is superlative – from luxurious accommodation to first class services; Dhara Dhevi has it all.

Magnificent Design

Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi features spectacular architectural design, which is said to be inspired heavily by the historic Lanna Kingdom. The Lanna Kingdom, which influenced the region for 300 years from the 13th century, has left a rich cultural and architectural heritage to the region. Her influence can be seen everywhere in Chiang Mai; and Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi carries her Lanna heritage with much pride, and brilliance.

Luxurious Accommodation

Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi offers a wide range of accommodation choices in the form of luxurious villas, colonial suites and signature residences. These accommodations – 123 in total – are housed in structures meticulously handcrafted by skilled local craftsmen in traditional Lanna architectural style. Along with the extensive collection of “museum-quality artifacts and antiques” (in the resort’s own descriptions) featured in every room, one could not help but be deeply absorbed by the exquisite Lanna ambiance.

Grand Entrance

Upon our arrival at the Chiang Mai International Airport we were greeted by two friendly hotel staff members and were led outside for a pickup by the hotel’s house vehicle  – a vintage light blue Mercedes Benz S1000 stretch limousine – very classy and a nice touch in keeping with the heritage image of the resort. In fact, many luxury heritage hotels in South East Asia and worldwide, appoint vintage car models as their house cars.

The drive to the hotel from the airport took about 15-20 minutes, and water bottles were provided in the roomy cabin of this classic Mercedes Benz limousine. As we traveled through the scenic and tranquil rural areas of Chiang Mai, or “Rose of the North” as known locally and internationally, we could not help but feel a bit of nostalgia (we visited the city long time ago); and quickly set our mind into vacation mode.

Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi made an overwhelmingly positive first impression. In fact, I would use words such as “stunning” and “breathtaking,” to describe the experience of seeing the resort in person. We have been fortunate to stay at some nice hotels and resorts around the world; and Dhara Dhevi still impressed us mightily with its splendid design and grand appearance. Here is a fabulous resort, built on an immense piece of land, and in the best Thai traditional fashion. No details have been overlooked – as is evidenced by the painstakingly handcrafted ornamental sculptures, which appear on every building. Yet with its tremendous presence, the resort would never be mistaken as pretentious. Unlike many of the so-called “ultra luxurious” resorts built today, Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi has that unmistaken kind of ease and confidence exclusive to top end establishments.

Check-in was quick and smooth and before we knew it, a beautiful young lady accompanied us to our Villa in a golf cart. During our ride we got a chance to examine the immaculately manicured grounds and those splendid designs populated within. Each building is uniquely designed and impeccably handcrafted with its own style; and yet they work together as a group in a harmonious way. We were in awe.

Supreme Comfort

We stayed at a Deluxe Villa – a 2-storey private villa whose design draws heavily on authentic northern Thai rice houses and is made out of teakwood. The best part of our villa was the large paddy field adjacent to our backyard terrace. Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi has some private, well-maintained paddy fields scattered across its large grounds and some villas – such as ours – are built around these fields. The villa opens onto spacious terraces on both levels. The second level terrace, which features a Thai sala (pavilion) with a nice covered area, is a perfect place to relax and enjoy a serene moment within nature. While sipping your favorite drink here, your eyes would also be rewarded with a panoramic view of the paddy field.

There are plenty of living areas both inside and out. The living room on the main floor is luxuriously appointed, and very spacious. The sleeping area, located on the second level, likewise, offers a nice blend of modern luxury and traditional comfort. An adjoining bathing area offers a large whirlpool tub, two separate shower stalls (indoor and outdoor) and two single vanities are located opposite each other. There is also a large walk-in closet with plenty of room to get changed.

The loft ceiling, made possible by a traditional Thai rice house design, is quite unusual – it is an exposed design and you could see all the magnificent teak wood joints and structures up in the air, which is at least 20 feet tall by my estimation and a treat to the eyes. The resort also provides a myriad of in-room lighting options catering to every mood and occasion.

Click HERE to go to Part II: Review: Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai