Arriving at Dhara Dhevi is magical. When driving up the driveway to the main entrance, you begin to see the scope of the facility and the absolutely unique architecture and charm of this hotel. We stayed 3 nights here and really just began to explore its 60 acre landscape.
We had arranged pickup and return to the Chiang Mai airport and it was flawless and our driver provided cold towels and water for us on the 15 minute drive. Upon arrival, we were greeted warmly by name, seated in comfortable chairs, and provided lots of information while checking in. We were very pleased by the service and hospitality.
We booked the hotel when it was under the management of the Mandarin Oriental group. Before our arrival the hotel reverted to its original ownership which has plans to further develop the property. The facility is showing a few signs of wear and tear and the upkeep must be huge. But, there were workers everywhere, and we hope that the hotel will continue to be a top level luxury hotel.
We had booked a villa with whirlpool and were taken by golf cart to the villa. It was a two-story affair near the pool and had its own swim pool which was on one level lower than the main pool. Unfortunately during the day and evening, we experienced significant privacy problems from the bar next door and from the pool. A large family was screaming and jumping in the pool, but worse, came to the edge of the pool and stood staring at us while we tried to relax on our patio feet away. We could not use the outdoor whirlpool because of their constant staring. (I might add that this family also caused an issue in Farang Ses restaurant that evening – see my separate review under Farang Ses in TA). This villa did not have a bathtub, but only a shower which required us to walk outside to use it. We could not take a shower without people in the pool seeing us going to and from.
To their great credit, when we mentioned the privacy issue the next morning, we were immediately moved to a two-story villa with plunge pool which had great privacy and more room. We were very pleased by the prompt reaction of the staff to our plight. We greatly enjoyed the villa the remainder of our stay. One tip if you are staying in a villa: bring a flashlight as the rooms, as mentioned in previous reviews, are very dark. In our first villa, in the evening, it was difficult to see the stairs or furniture placed in the way without a light. Even with the lights on it was difficult to read. Our flashlights made a difference.
Housekeeping was excellent, the villa clean and beautiful. It had an outside staircase that was used to get to the second floor bedroom and bath. There was a steam shower on the main floor as well as a plunge pool on the patio. A small kitchen with coffee maker was a wonderful touch. There was a lovely wooden gazebo overlooking the rice paddies outside the villa. The bed had mosquito netting and the hotel does provide an herbal bug spray as well as fog the grounds three times per week. We did not experience any mosquito issues.
Dhara Dhevi consists of many villas, colonial suites and residences. Everywhere you turn there are beautiful buildings, carvings, temples and gorgeous landscaping. You are transported from the outside world the minute you step in. And for transportation on the property, you only needed to ring for a golf cart and one appeared in minutes with a friendly driver to take you wherever you wanted to go within the grounds.
Breakfast every morning was a buffet with a huge selection and wonderful fresh fruits. It provided a nice beginning to the day. We tried Farang Ses the French restaurant one evening (see my separate review in TA) and it was the only real disappointment of our stay.
The shops at the hotel, including a tailor, jewelers and bakery were really wonderful and very fairly priced.
This was our first time in Chiang Mai and we took taxis from the hotel to town or to Doi Suthep in the mountains. This was the only concern that we had because the hotel is a distance from the city, and one cannot hail a taxi or find a taxi stand on the streets. There also was a language barrier. It was necessary for the concierge to negotiate with the driver to come back to pick us up once we were in town. They always did (even 5 hours later) and were reasonable, but it would have been nice to have a number to call or a car and driver from the hotel. The hotel did not mention that one was available, but perhaps they are. At our hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia following this stay in Chiang Mai, they provided a local cell phone with numbers plugged in to the hotel, concierge, driver, and 30 minutes local calling etc. This provided us with peace of mind. We would suggest that the Dhara Dhevi consider this as an option for travelers like us who wanted to visit the city.
Overall because of the wonderful staff and beautiful grounds, we enjoyed our stay at Dhara Dhevi. The people make the difference.
- 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