Two Retreat Hotels in Chiang Mai

Pride Travel’s CEO Marc Kassouf discovers the Rarinjinda Wellness Spa Resort and Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi.

Nothing can prepare first-time visitors to Thailand for the intricate touches and attention to detail that permeates every aspect of the country’s hotel industry. Visitors often find that the star-rating system understates the quality of the guest experience, and many hotels in Thailand are consistently rated among the top properties in the world by experts and travelers alike.

The pool at the Rarinjinda is a secluded haven cloistered from the outside. (c) PRIDE Travel/S. Nathan DePetris

Rarinjinda Wellness Spa Resort
This boutique luxury four-star property located in Chiang Mai provides ambience and a haven of wellness in a historic building. Service is a main focus, and there’s also nothing standard about standard rooms at the Rarinjinda.

In-room, standard amenities such as high-end toiletries, bathrobes, complimentary Wi-Fi, slippers, fruit and water are provided in addition to unique amenities, such as the burning diffuser of essential oils that permeates the scent of lemongrass as your enter your room, having been lit half an hour before your arrival. Other thoughtful inclusions are a tea service with delicate green Japanese-style bone china. Then, there’s the cold moist hand towel that guests are handed when they are welcomed, coordinated in typical Thai fashion, with the same scented essential oil as the one burning in your room.

And space, the ultimate luxury at any property, is not spared here.Rooms feature an expansive bedroom with L-shaped chaise lounge seating areas, a large bathroom with a spacious shower, a tub and a large sink and, finally, there is a balcony with soft-cushioned benches overlooking the interior pool and courtyard. Silks accent the plush cotton European duvet of the bed. Thoughtful touches include sliding partitions for the bathroom and closet, all wood and expertly crafted. The bathroom has window partitions which open up the space, connecting the tub and bathroom area to the room and by extension to the balcony and light outside through the floor-to-ceiling, sliding-glass doors.

All guests should indulge in a half-day or a full-day of treatments at the spa, where the treatment rooms are an experience unto themselves. Perched on the rooftop of the hotel, these exclusive treatment villas are larger than average hotel suites and offer panoramic views through walls of glass amid rock gardens and flowing fountains. Measuring almost 1,000 square feet, the rooms are furnished with a treatment table, a sitting area, a full bathroom, a jetted tub, a private balcony and an outside area, as well as privacy walls strategically placed to allow clients to enjoy the grounds in privacy. This is the epitome of a destination spa, and its well worth the visit to Chiang Mai just to enjoy this spa. The resort’s spa is open until midnight and takes package reservations until as late as 10 p.m.

Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi

A grand entrance into the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhavi. . (c) PRIDE Travel/S. Nathan DePetris

For classic luxury and elegance, book clients into the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi. Nestled among the grounds of what looks like a world heritage site, the Dhara Dhevi actually created a replica of a northern Thai imperial city, complete with working rice paddies and irrigation canals, to immerse its guests in the richness of the local culture. Stays at this property create unparalleled experience and life-long memories.

Your clients can travel back in time while staying in luxurious all-suite accommodations in low-rise buildings or the exclusive villas, which showcase crafted woods and classic decor. Villas on the property are free-standing homes on two levels, with a living room, a kitchen and a study on the ground floor. A master bath and a bedroom is on the top floor. Most villas offer a tiled, jetted plunge pool and a deck that overlooks the rice paddies of the resort, which are farmed daily by employee farmers and the rice is donated to charities. The standard rooms are actually classified as suites, and rightly so. Suites start out at more than 1,000 square feet, on average, and feature jetted tubs with chromatherapy lighting.

The resort offers all the amenities one would expect from a full-service, five-star Mandarin Oriental, and is a true destination resort. The onsite spa features 18 treatment rooms, its own cafe, boutique and a spa academy for both therapist training and hotel guest courses. Golfers can find three world-class courses just a few minutes drive away. For the culturally curious and for culinary aficionados, the resort holds workshops on crafts and Thai cooking regularly.

Book your clients at this very unique experiential property, and they will experience a cultural and crafts village, shops arragned like a town and expansive grounds that span more than 60 acres.

Rarinjinda Wellness Spa Resort
Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi
Golden Agents program
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Western USA

Travel Insider
Marc Kassouf is the owner and CEO of Pride Travel which specializes in catering to the needs of gay and lesbian clientele. Kassouf holds numerous industry certifications, most notably by Cruise Lines International Association, the Travel Institute and various destination visitors’ bureaus including Thailand, Japan, and Korea. He sits on two board committees of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association. Kassouf has traveled to nearly four dozen countries and has sailed on more than 60 cruises.

First published: TravelAge West magazine, May 16, 2011