Perched on a ridge near the northern Thai town of Chiang Rai, the Anantara Golden Triangle Resort and Spa overlooks three countries—Thailand, Laos and Myanmar—and two rivers, the Mekong and the Ruak.
The resort’s 77 contemporary Thai-style rooms and suites are in the Chiang Saen and Mae Sai wings. All guest rooms have balconies with daybeds, tables and chairs, and stunning views over the terraced gardens and surrounding jungle. General Manager Bodo Klingenberg ([email protected]; 011-66-53-784-084) says the finest views of the Mekong and the Ruak, which form the borders of the three countries, are from the Chiang Saen’s Three Country View Anantara Suites, Nos. 205, 206 and 207. We say if you have clients who like to look out on, and be close to the pool, then book them into the Chiang Saen wing.
Teak floors and furniture, soft cushions and muted Thai silks abound, and the bathrooms have terrazzo tubs with showers and single sinks. Top Touch: We liked the way the TV is revealed by rolling back a Lanna-style painting on the wall (in the 14th century, this area was part of the Lanna Kingdom, also known as Kingdom of a Million Rice Fields). Nice Touches: For a change of bed linen, guests pop a miniature elephant on the bed, and the gourmet turndown treats include tartlets, macaroons, chocolate dips and apple crumble.
The Deluxe and Three Country View Deluxe rooms are 688 square feet each, and the Anantara Suites and Three Country View Anantara Suites touch 904 square feet (and have espresso machines). The suites have separate showers and terrazzo tubs, desks, sitting areas, swivel TV cabinets and can sleep up to four. There are 32 connecting rooms and all rooms are Internet-enabled via cable (there is Wi-Fi in the public areas and guests can use the complimentary PCs and iPads in the bar).
Contact Klingenberg or Reservations Manager Wachiraporn Suprakarn ([email protected]) for VIP requests. Klingenberg suggests booking ahead for the peak season, from December 19 to January 7, and Thai holidays, such as the Songkran New Year.
Luxury travel advisors should contact Chief Experience Officer Thanyaporn ‘Tuk’ Mingklin ([email protected]; 011-66-53-784-084) to arrange airport transfers (Anantara’s helipad will open early next year, and Chiang Rai International Airport services private jets and is 90 minutes by car from the resort), cooking lessons, the Dining by Design private dining on the property, excursions and child-minding services. Tip: Advise clients to stay at least three nights to get in as many activities as possible and enjoy the spa. When they get back we bet they’ll tell you they wish they had stayed longer, and want to return.
The Anantara experience is all about nature, relaxation—and elephants. John Roberts ([email protected]) manages 34 elephants, and their mahouts, in the Elephant Camp. The camp, an integral part of the resort, organizes three-day mahout training courses, trekking and bathing with elephants of all sizes and ages and nature walks. Note: Guests can dine privately in the baby elephant area, and see the little jumbos sleep.
The spa has five twin treatment rooms with balconies. We recommend booking those with steam rooms and outdoor tubs (two have outdoor Thai massage/yoga mats). Soaking in a hot tub and looking out at three countries does not happen every day!
|The infinity-edged pool looks down over the tree canopy toward the Mekong River and up to the green hills of Myanmar and Laos.|
Spa Director Kattaleeya Bue-to ([email protected]; 011-66-53-784-084) suggests the signature treatment, the 200-minute Poo Loey Lanna Experience, and says to reserve ahead as peak times, from 4 p.m.-8 p.m., can be heavily booked for hair and beauty treatments. Don’t miss the Yoga Experience, which includes an elephant ride to and from yoga classes followed by a massage.
There is a gym, indoor squash and outdoor tennis courts, and anyone with anthropological, botanical, zoological or ornithological leanings will enjoy touring the environs. Klingenberg says a favorite excursion is a border-crossing to Laos to visit the Hmong and Panna hill-tribe villages, temples and a former royal site with stupas and Buddhas. There also is a stop for a noodle lunch in a riverside village. Nearby, Chiang Rai is famous for its shopping area, which is full of ethnic fabrics, carvings, quality antiques and home décor. Note: Items can be shipped back home.
Great food is a pivotal part of any trip, and Executive Chef Paitoon Surawongpaiboon hits all the right notes with Thai dishes and local Lanna specialties, such as the yellow noodles with chicken in coconut curry served in the Sala Mae Nam. He is also a dab hand with the international favorites in the Baan Dhalia, where spaghetti parmesan is prepared tableside and served in a whole parmesan wheel, making it as easy on the eye as it is on the palate.