“Nestled in the foothills of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a sanctuary.” – Lonely Planet; and nestled in the foothills of Chiang Mai is the Four Seasons resort – a jewel of serenity. The Four Seasons Resort sits in a valley with rice fields and has a small lake in the centre. As you arrive you are instantly captivated by the beautiful scenery. The lobby is located on a ridge overlooking the valley and the view assures you that you’ve come to a perfect place.
As any five star resort, Four Seasons has all the facilities and services that you might expect from such a resort. So what makes it so special? The Four Seasons resort is like a small village, like a scene from a fairy tale, captured just for your enjoyment. The designers succeeded in encapsulating the classic attributes of the historical Lanna-style architecture/culture and living in the tropics. Stunning scenery, friendly people, rice paddies, buffalos (yes, they keep real buffalos at the resort!), Lanna architecture, and the food – oh, the food!
The food served was amazing. For lunch, the restaurant staff served us typical Thai dishes; Thai barbeque, Thai sausage, Khao Soi, Tom Kha Gai, Som Tum, soft-shell crabs, sea bass, fried veggies with mushrooms – you know, the classic menu. For the last 16 years, living in Thailand, I’ve been eating this type of food on daily basis – but this was something different. The way the chefs prepared everything – excellent! I doubt that I have ever eaten better Thai food, and I doubt that I will ever come across a place that makes these dishes in the same way. Oh, Four Seasons, what have you done? I have been forever spoiled!
Jose Luis Ortiz Romero – the food and beverage manager is always present during lunch and dinner, constantly talking to the guests about their preferences and giving them recommendations. In the evenings you can always find some people from the resort’s management talking to the guests around the cocktail bar overlooking the swimming pool. Everyone who works at the Four Seasons is very friendly and approachable.
Four Seasons resort in not the type of place where you drop your bags, have a shower and hit the town. There are so many things you can enjoy by just staying at the resort and you will not miss anything from the local heritage and culture. Apart from the typical facilities found at any five star resort (swimming pool, hot tub, gym, etc.), Four Seasons offers some unique activities for a single guest, couples or families.
You can start with the morning yoga at the lake in the centre of the resort. Take a walk through the rice fields and gardens and pick some flowers with the chief gardener who can explain to you everything about the unique local flora. Enjoy bird watching. Participate in the flower arrangement activity with the whole family.
If you want to get your hands dirty – why not try rice farming and buffalo feeding. There are also Thai boxing and Thai cooking classes. Don’t worry, they are not held in the same room! If you travel with children, they are going to enjoy kids club, kids playground, and many other children activities supervised by professional educators.
After spending one day at the Four Seasons resort, it was clear that one day is not enough to experience all that Four Seasons has to offer. I also didn’t feel like I was staying in a resort. It felt more like a classic Lanna-era village with five stars facilities. Like living in any village, it was the friendly and warm-hearted interaction between guests and Four Seasons’ resort staff that made me feel like one of the locals.
Next time when I go to a really, really nice resort I will have to ask myself: “Is this nicer than the Four Season?”…. Let’s see!