Where do I begin ? I visited this hotel when it first opened around 7-8 years ago . It was such spectacular site that I completely got lost in its enchanting beauty.There were replicas of temples ,Pagodas and an actual rice field ( with rice farmers !) inside the vast hotel ground.
Fast forward to 2012 and upon my return I was shocked that what was once a pristine beautiful hotel is now a run down Disney theme park that is more shabby than super chic.
I booked a Villa for 2 with breakfast that cost me around 670 USD and also a round trip airport transfer which was around 76 USD. The correspondents between the hotel and myself via email was very clear and all my questions were answer promptly. The Reservation officer was so helpful in booking restaurants and giving suggestions that I had a great feeling about my one nighter at the hotel .
I arrived in Chiang Mai in the morning and was met with a representative of the hotel who showed me to my 'limo'- a stretch white Mercedes Benz decked out in a retro fashion . All very James Bond circa 1970s . I was greeted on my arrival with a Mali flower necklace , a cold towel and a cold drink . The check in process was swift and I was told that my room was upgraded to a Villa which made me a little confused as I had booked a Villa Room in the first place .
I was showed to my room and because of the vastness of the place we had to take a ride in a golf cart . That was when I noticed that something was a little off . The pristine white walls of the hotel are now covered in murky gray streaks . The intended unkempt lush tropical gardens now just looked like messy. The walls of the villas looked like they were in dire need of repairs .The red brick pavements were damaged and have been repaired but the workmanship looked so patchy that I began to question where I was . Was this really Mandarin Oriental or some broke down palace passing itself off as a luxury resort .
Upon entering my villa I was quite impressed . It was huge and split into two levels . The open air downstairs complete with kitchen and dining area and a swing . Lovely . The upstairs bedroom has a en suite bathroom with a whirlpool tub , separate shower and toilet . It was very big indeed . I unpacked my bag and decided to hit the gym before my friend's arrival in the late afternoon.
The gym is big and it was empty. There were various machines as well as a workout bench and row of free weights . The gym is next to one of the pools. I was told that this pool was more beautiful than the other pool which was just your regular infinity pool . I finished my exercise 1.5 hour later and decided to walk back to my villa which was not very far from the gym . I had bought some snacks from Starbucks from the airport in Bangkok and after my workout I was looking forward to munching them while sitting on the swing in the comfort of my villa.
I opened the villa door to my upstairs bedroom and I was shocked at what I was looking at ! A gigantic RAT was rummaging through my bag and Starbucks' goodies ! OMG " ARGGGGGGGGGGGGG " I yelled at the top of my voice prompting the rat to run towards me so I stomped my foot on the floor and it ran to the opposite direction ! I could not believe this. A BIG FAT RAT on the writing desk in my villa at the luxurious Mandarin Oriental ! OMGx10000 !!!
I called the hotel operator in a panic and asked her to send someone to catch Mickey who I assumed was still in my room . A gardener came and he asked me whether what I saw was actually a Squirrel as they have a lot of Squirrels on the property . I was so mad and that point and told him that I could tell the differences between a squirrel and a bloody big fat rat ! I was told that the GM would come to my villa shortly. The GM is actually a very pretty lady called Ms Champunuch who was very apologetic and told me that she would move me to another room. She informed me that they were rained out for two days straight due to a tropical storm and they had to use heavy duty pest control method to get rid of all the pests which evidently escaped into guestrooms !
She got me on her golf cart and drove me to my new room which is this lovely pool villa that comes with its own steam room and a huge four poster bed. Ms Champunuch also sent over some treats ( cakes and fruits ) to make up for my Mickey Mouse run in . My friend arrived a few hours later and we went to have dinner at one of the hotel's restaurants called Le Grand Lanna which serves traditional Northern Thai food and regular Thai food. The food was very nice and the staffs were very charming . We walked back and I realised that what was once a spectacular site is now a Disney-fied version of its former glory . It was almost like being in a movie set and not in a good way.
We had a pleasant sleep and went for breakfast in the morning . It was pitiful. There were many choices but I thought the presentation was just awful for a Mandarin Oriental. The fruits were left on trays without any covers and had swarms of flies al over them . The staffs were very helpful but I couldn't stop reminding myself that this is THE MANDARIN ORIENTAL ! For heaven's sake ! I have come to expect a certain standard from this chain . I have stayed at Mandarin Oriental all over the world and this breakfast to me would not look out of place at a naff resort hotel.
I checked out and they charged me the price of the villa , my round trip transport and my dinner with absolutely no discount for my encounter with a field rat which was fine. I could afford it but it's also safe to say that I won't becoming A FAN of this Mandarin Oriental .
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai is set on 60 acres of verdant tranquil grounds in the historical heartland of Northern Thailand. The hotel's unique design draws from the region's rich architectural and cultural heritage that flourished during the Lanna period, which lasted from the mid-13th century until the mid-16th century, and enjoyed a further resurgence in the last 200 years. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai Hotel Chiang Mai
- Mandarin Oriental Chiang Mai
- Mandarin Chiang Mai
- Chiang Mai Mandarin Oriental