The Lanna Dynasty Immortalized
The Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai, Thailand
By Paul Rubio
to western history books, northern
At the dawn of the millennium, historians,
designers, and entrepreneurs collaborated on an elaborate and
ambitious plan to safeguard the region’s cultural heritage – a
bold, unprecedented step of cultural preservation in
The 60-acre Lanna inspired village took incredible determination, primary research, and foresight (and a decade of preparation). The result plays out like a living storybook fantasy, a curious “Once Upon A Time” transporting its readers to a sensual juxtaposition of an age of bygone and marvelous modernity. Passed the horse drawn carriages, towering temples double as common areas, infinity pools spill onto rice fields, and expert Thai artisans pass their knowledge onto curious visitors. Traditional wooden rice barns absorb the afternoon shade relayed from the spires of a resurrected replica of the ancient Royal Palace of Mandalay, now doubling as a 33,000 square foot spa. High-gabled Thai style homes constructed of polished teak wood line clandestine village passageways. Meticulously appointed colonial mansions reflect later centuries of “East meets West,” honoring a time of discovery and the marriage of two worlds.
Contemplative travelers experience a journey of self and explorative enlightenment. Every spire, every façade, every locally handcrafted structure of the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi tells a profound story. The rattling bridge at the resort’s entrance replicates a 13th century design to warn of intruders. The filled water barrels and wooden spoons positioned by the double-storied teakwood Villas were once typical of the region, selfless offerings of hydration and nourishment for traveling rice workers. Spa therapists offer traditional Thai massage augmented by indigenous techniques involving soothing tamarind bark instruments.
Luxury travelers revel in the haute minutia, privacy, and serenity of the resort. Teak carvings, lavish Thai silks, and hill tribe textiles accent technologically savvy accommodations and mesmerizing design interiors. A full fitness facility, private plunge pools, tennis courts, and a half dozen restaurants blend into the Lanna landscape, gracing the perimeters of surrounding rice fields and lush tropical gardens. The resorts most famed restaurant, “Grand Lanna,” serves divine upscale northern Thai specialties while elaborately costumed dancers chronicle Thai history and traditions.
The resort spectacular spans the entire