It’s difficult to write about a hotel that you love without sounding like someone has put you up to it. This review wasn’t planned, but having just spent three glorious days at the Anantara in Chiang Mai, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to share about one of my most memorable hotel experiences.
The Anantara Chiang Mai
The Anantara in Chiang Mai is a destination in itself, a superbly designed resort that feels more like a retreat in the heart of the city. It is a lush five star property edging the Mae Ping River, four stories tall and a celebration of space and flow that sweeps through every aspect of the building, beginning in the lobby and culminating in each of the 84 stylishly appointed suites. The architecture feels like a combination of Scandi sleekness and Japanese simplicity, and the decor is unfussy with clean lines and modular furniture. The original British Embassy, standing where it has for close to 100 years, is the hotel hub and the pièce de résistance, a colonial throwback to the days when M16 agents used to gather in the very same dark panelled rooms to discuss this and that about the security of Her Majesty’s Empire.
Ownership and management
The Anantara is owned by Minor Holdings that was founded by William E. Heinecke’s in 1967. Anantara Chiang Mai’s GM Syahreza Ishwara, whose bio includes stints at other blue chip establishments such as the Four Seasons in Jakarta, oversees an A team of individuals committed to ensuring that the hotel holds its uber ranking and unique selling points that set it apart from the competition. The company strap line sums up staff attitudes concisely – “beginning with passion, pursuing perfection.”
There are two dining options at your disposal at Anantara, both housed within the aforementioned former Embassy. The Restaurant, and The Service 1921 Restaurant and Bar entice with Asian, Chinese and Western cuisine and a menu devised by Executive Chef Songpol. The wine and champagne lists are comprehensive and I must say, a glass of Billecart-Salmon sipped on the verandah overlooking the river was the perfect start to the evening in the company of Mr. Ishwara, a gracious host.
Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas is constantly reinforcing its commitment towards environmental, social and cultural conservation. To accomplish this, Anantara has established in-depth policies, procedures and initiatives with respect to water and energy conservation and waste management amongst other things. The topic of plastic straws and single-use plastics came up, one of my personal eco issues, and I showed Mr Ishwara the glass straw that I carry with me wherever I go – I’m excited to see what happens in this regard (#refusethestraw).
The spa at Anantara is in another league. Try the Lanna Ritual, a 90 minute full body massage with plai, an anti inflammatory herbal oil used extensively in traditional Thai massage. The rejuvenating thirty minute chocolate scrub (conceptualised by the GM himself) was followed by an hour long massage and I left with my skin feeling silky, all tension released and my spirit uplifted. Although the spa must see many clients pass through its doors each year, you really do feel utterly special. My therapist Elle was outstanding and beyond considerate, as was Nan, who talked me through the various treatments when I arrived at the spa.
You can see now why I had to write this post, just to give you a taste of what you can expect at Anantara Chiang Mai.
And now, to bed. I bid you all a very good night… ราตรีสวัสดิ์.
My trip to Thailand is courtesy of the Thai Tourism Authority, and arranged by Lesley Simpson. All opinions are my own. All images by CT DIVA
Next stop: Chiang Rai