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“Fondcome Village-yet another victim of the credit crunch”

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Huarn Jana Boutique Resort
Ranked #298 of 386 Hotels in Chiang Mai
Reviewed 22 November 2009

We stayed at the Fondcome Village Resort for a couple of nights during our visit to Chiang Mai in November 2009. On arriving at Chiang Mai Airport we learned that, contrary to the info on the hotel website and some of the reviews posted on the place on TA where it is described as being 10 mins away from the airport, the hotel is actually a good 25-30 mins away, on the other side of town. Expect to pay between 250-400 baht for a ride up to the hotel, depending on who you ask. Anyone planning to stay at the hotel is advised to organise a pickup by the hotel, which, at 200 baht, will work out far cheaper.

We arrived at the hotel,slightly bemused by the fact that the hotel was a bit further away from Chiang Mai than we had expected,to find the place practically deserted (apart from the staff of course). Besides us, we only saw 2 other guests during our stay at the Fondcome so business must be pretty poor in the current economic climate. The whole hotel wore a tired look and it was obvious that parts of it were being left in a state of benign neglect, possibly due to the lack of guests at present.

We had arrived quite early but our room was ready and the staff were happy for us to check in early. As with all the places we stayed in SE Asia, the staff were extremely friendly and attentive throughout our stay the the Fondcome.

We were subsequently shown to our accommodation, which, although a regular room in a five storied block, was called the 'Yin Tai Villa' for some reason. In any case, a villa or a typical 4 star hotel room it wasn`t. The room was very nicely decorated (with what I later learnt were traditional Northern Thai tribal bits and bobs) clean and had everything one would expect in a, well, hotel room (kettle, hairdryer etc) but the finish was nothing special and definitely not of a standard one would expect in an upper end hotel. The bathroom was adequate, had a bath with a shower over it but once again, signs of neglect were evident here as well. For instance, the grouting around the bath had turned pitch black in colour with mould and no attempt had been made to repair it.

The room also had a balcony which, in addition to the creek that meanders through the grounds of the hotel and hills beyond, unfortunately overlooked some sort of workshop and the nearby busy road, which did not make the view altogether pleasent.

The hotel also has a swimming pool which, despite being quite small, looks quaint due to the way its constructed, and inviting. Although the hotel claims that it is constantly cleaned by some natural means which sounded like eco-friendly mumbo jumbo to me, it was not clean when we got to the resort and the staff confirmed that it had not been cleaned (possibly due to lack of guests).

The most annoying bit about our stay was the lack of any international TV channels in the room. We only had a few terrestrial Thai channels and when we spoke to the front desk about this, we were told that English TV Channels were only available in suites and we were invited to upgrade to a suite (at a hefty additional charge of course), which we declined. We found this to be unacceptable in a hotel which has aspirations of being a four star property and the management should rectify this.

Breakfast was included but had to be ordered a la carte, which we quite liked as we could ask the chef to prepare the dishes to our vegan tastes. Breakfast was excellent and the level of service exceptional. We would recommend the pancakes and the fried rice, which were both excellent. However, here too there was some evidence of the hotel cutting corners- for instance, the pancakes were supposed to be served with honey but instead came with honey flavoured golden syrup- I don`t know how much money the hotel saves by doing this but it does not do their image any favours. We did not have any other meals in the hotel restaurant but the menu looked good and the prices fairly reasonable (plus they have a good chef).

There was no internet access in the room but the hotel allows guests free internet access in the restaurant (and have 2 PCs for this purpose) and also has free wi fi in the restaurant.

The hotel describes itself as a resort in a secluded spot just outside Chaing Mai- I think they have got the bit about being outside Chaing Mai right but the hotel is not 'secluded' by any means. Its in a rural location and backs out to some hills but the room we stayed in was adjacent to a main road and the fact that it is in quite a rural spot meant that drivers do put their feet down. As a result, I was woken up on several occasions by the noise of cars speeding past during our stay there.

So why am I giving the hotel three stars, despite all the drawbacks I have just mentioned? For starters, we were extremely impressed by the level of service, which was by far the best we have received during our visits, past and present, to Asia. The staff appeared not too worried about the lack of guests at the hotel and were totally focussed on ensuring that we had a good stay. They couldn`t do enough for us and were all over us like a rash (but in a pleasent way). What was also obvious was the attention to detail, even in the way the rooms were done up (I can`t remember any specific examples now but there were many). Despite all this, we never felt under any pressure to tip them, as it sometimes happens at hotels,say, in the Middle East.

I also have to point out that the we stayed in the most basic room at the hotel and a walk around the hotel grounds made me realise that they had several exquisitely appointed (and needless to say substantially more expensive) rooms/villas to the back of the property, and therefore further away from the road. I am sure a stay in one of those rooms, together with the level of service you receive, will be far more enjoyable than the stay we had.

Having said that, the hotel's location, a good 25 mins drive from the centre of Chiang Mai, is a major drawback as far as guests are concerned. By booking the hotel, we were hoping to stay somewhere outside the hustle and bustle of the city but yet within easy reach of Chiang Mai but unfortunately this was not the case. There is no public transport or private hire (tuk tuks, taxis etc) available in the vicinity and guests who do not have their own transport are therefore entirely reliant on the hotel van for getting to Chiang Mai. This may not be a huge issue for people who plan to spend most of their time in their rooms but it was quite tricky for us as the entire purpose of our visit was to explore Chiang Mai. The hotel operates a free shuttle service twice a day, once to the Chiang Mai night safari and the night market, but both trips are in the evening and only the night market run takes you into town. Any trips into Chiang Mai outside these times are charged at 100 baht per person each way (including pick up and drop off at airport). It may not sound a lot but believe me it does add up during your stay. On some occasions, we were able to avail of the free pickup back from town at night, which saved us a bit of money. Don`t even think of catching a tuk tuk or a taxi back from town as it would work out much more expensive than using hotel transport.

Although described as a resort, there is no a lot to do in the hotel itself but it is close to the hills and there may be mountain biking, trekking and the like to do nearby.

Chiang Mai is a wonderful place to visit and we personally like it much better than Bangkok but it was clear during our stay and conversations with the locals that the tourists numbers visiting the city have dropped dramatically this year and hotel trade and the hospitality sector has suffered heavily as a result. Consequently, there are many hotels in Chiang Mai itself offering extremely competitive rates for rooms of a similar standard to Fondcome, with various extras thrown in. Tourists are more reluctant than ever to part with their cash and I feel that, unfortunately, it would be places like Fondcome which, despite its exceptional staff and service, that would suffer the most in this downturn due to the inconvenience of its location and no obvious advantages or USPs over other places in town.

I would recommend Fondcome to anyone who is willing to splurge on one of its better rooms and does not mind the expense of getting into town as the service you receive will make it well worth it.

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank km_77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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25 - 31 of 77 reviews

Reviewed 19 October 2009

Having attend numbers of seminar in Chiang Mai and frankly grew bore of the downtown hotels, I thought I gave Fondcome Village a try. My first reaction was beyond words! I never thought such hotel could exist for this kind of price. The rooms are modeled after the architecture of the Northern rural tribes. Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to stay in "the cave" (Yes, the room looks like a cave, feels like a cave, but with modern room accommodation and utilities). It is a sight to behold just for the idea of its construction alone. I stayed in the "warrior room", which is built on the top of the hill like a fort, complete with ancient armors and everything for authenticity. I know I sound like a kid who just came back from an amusement park but that is how the resort makes you feel. It makes you admired who ever built it for giving it a sense of playfulness without being absurd. Seriously, the whole place just makes you smile! There is a minor concern though. I can't imagine staying here without my car. It is not far from the town but it is certainly far from public transportation. Well, I guess that is the price of seclusion.

  • Stayed: October 2009, travelled solo
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1  Thank LT_Tensai
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 September 2009

When we first arrived tat Fondcome, we were truly disappointed with what we saw...
Please read on...
- The suite that our friends booked changed with us who has the basic hotel rooms!
- The swimming pool looks like it has not been used for a long time!
Here's the TWIST!
I must admit that we were so wrong about this wonderful place. Fondcome Village Resort truly reflects it's name!
The Resort was built with so much passion and love! I'll go into details after this...
First thing I learnt was that the "suites" was built like a "room in a cave"! It was designed like how the Tribe's Chief used to live in. It was natural and you could see the sky!
The toilet was built in a very natural manner with a man made bathtub that really makes you feel very relaxed while soaking inside as it was built with you leaning back in a very relaxed manner. You have a 45 degree slant angle that keeps your head up but in a very relaxed manner. You could sit inside the tub the whole day, or probably sleep there!
The view of the sky in the morning (thru the "sky light") is one of my most exciting moment in the morning when i wake up. I have never experienced this feeling all my life. Waking up in a airconditioned room with the view of the sky! To make it more pleasing there is a tree next to it that still gives you shade and not direct light.
The switches in the room are cleverly made with branches. At first, you even need to check every possible branch to see if there it is a switch!
My friend who exchanged with us wanted the room back after hearing how we enjoyed the nights. We obviously declined them!
We had the honor and previledge of meeting the owner of Fondcome, Mr.Uruporn Indhabhandhu. He told us his love story with his wife and why the "moon" is there every night... reminding of their telephone calls while they were apart. The used the moon as their common sight whilst talking!
I especially love this part of his reason for having Fondcome....
"Every book i read about hotel management/hospitality says that we need to build the hotel that reminds them of their home. That is the way the guest will feel at home...BUT...
you come to Cheng Mai, and you are my guest! I need to show you my home! For you to enjoy what you don't have at home!
Hence, he built Fondcome like the way the Thai Tribe people live!"
We enjoyed his half hour introduction to us. The next day,we saw Fondcome as a Village. His Village and we were all his guest! The swimming pool was used by us every day and the beautiful thing about this pool is it is naturally treated.When we swim in the pool after a tired day of sight seeing and shopping, the water refreshes us immediately! Once in the pool, you really don't want to leave the pool.
The body is so refreshed after the swim. The depth is safe enough for our kids to swim inside too.
In the end, guess how many of us were in the pool (that we were initially disapointed)? All of us! Husbands, wives, kids and even the elderly!
We stayed there for 4 nights and take it it from me, a guy who has travelled and lived in many many grand hotels and its likes...
I felt like i did not want to leave the hotel!
I came back to Malaysia and told all my friends about this hotel and till now... no one believes that there is such a wonderful and natural hotel. No one has ever heard of anything like this before and it is indeed hard to believe!
If you ever stay in Fondcome, I hope you'll meet the owner. He tries very hard to speak english with us but that made us even more thankful for his introduction to us!
Believe me, Foncome made Cheng Mai a more beautiful to stay!
Cheers to all the people who not only works there but to the people who built that place with passion!

regards;
Peter Wong, Sylvia Looi, Amanda Wong and Nikita Wong
Derek Cheah, Angeline, Sonia and Bryan,
Raymond and Joanne Chow
Julie Papoo
Anna Loh

  • Stayed: September 2009
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1  Thank peterwong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 August 2009

Fondcome Village is an amazing place to stay. I was there for 2 nights and stayed at Kon Muang (farmer) villa, the room was unique, the view was stunning and the service was great. I wish I could stay there longer, but I had already booked another place in town ;( The hotel is a bit far from the city (about 10 minutes to the airport), but that's not really a problem since they provide free shuttle to night market, walking street and night safari. The food at Huay Chang Kaew Restaurant was delicious, I like spring roll stuff with cheese and banana. The hotel also provide free wireless internet in the restaurant which is great. I highly recommend this place to anyone who is looking for a unique place, reasonable price, great view and great service.

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled with friends
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Thank BKKShopaholic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 July 2009

From the first moment we were collected from the airport the staff couldn't do enough for us from being driven around,to helping organise our days activities the staff were very efficient and helpful, and extremely friendly. there are lots of cute little pet rabbits left to roam the grounds, its is situated next to a river which is lovely!
We treated ourself to a massage here and I would highly recommend this here as with the setting it felt so relaxing and tranquil.

The food was very nice some of the best we had in thailand, and the bannana pancakes for breakfast are a must try, the chef was very friendly and polite he even came out to speak to us whilst we dined one night which was very nice of him,

The hotel is situated about 5-10 mins out of the the main town but this is nice as its very peaceful,

As for chiang mai itself it was one of the highlights of the holiday and would be recommended to all, on one of the days we went to baanthai cooking school where we were greeted by a very friendly staff, our teacher's english was excellent and she was very knowlegeable, if you've been to thailand before you'll know this is the best food in the world and we were taught how to make it as they do, we were given a book full of different recipes, me and my partner were taught so much of which we are cooking most of the time still,

for one of our other days out we went to Tiger kingdom, this was a nice experience but you only need to spend around 2 hours here and it costs around £10-15 each person to go in with the medium sized tigers, there are allot of staff with you all the time so you feel very safe,

The night safari at chiang mai was also a lovely experience, and finished off with a brilliant laser show over the large lake, this wasn't very expensive and was a nice way of spending a night,


Chiang mai itself on a night time had one of the best markets we went to in thailand, and we went to allot!! it had a wide range of people with their own crafts and skills, from jewellery to soap carving. you felt less hassled than most markets,

overall I'd say 3-4 days is an adequate time to spend here but I'm sure we only scratched the surface of this lovely place, oh and chiang mai sausage is very nice!!



Overall a LOVELY hotel and will definately stay here again!

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank calumYork
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 June 2009

Unique design for each room type. It's totally reflect the different ethnic in Lanna which has good cultural blend. With Greenery Landscape surrounding by canal and mountain, i really feel comfortable and find peace of mind. Food also good. Try some local food. It's yummy. They have great chef here. Resort situated not far from Chiangmai town. it will take around 15-20 min to get back from the town. I would like to recommend to anybody who seeking some quiet place to relax and stress relieve.

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled with friends
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Thank Cycil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 June 2009

I've been to Chiang Mai for the first time and randomly chosen Fondcome Village resort for my resort destination. As reviewing in the website of the resort, I and my friend immediately chose this place as it's such an awesome place. There were many themes of room which you could not find it easily in this entire world. In terms of hospitalities, just one word to say "superb". All staff was very nice and warmly welcome that you could touch the warmness of real local people. Another things which I won't forget to mention is the Chef. We were so impressive and remember that we ordered a dish which was not in the menu but with his kindness, he made a gorgeous local dish for us and of course, absolutely beautiful.

With four nights at Fondcome, it is one of the most happy time of me and my friend. We got more than leisure and relaxation.

Love you, Fondcome!

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled with friends
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Thank iextraordinary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Huarn Jana Boutique Resort

Address: 333 Moo 11 | T.Namphrae, Chiang Mai 50230, Thailand (Formerly Fondcome Village Resort)
Region: Thailand > Chiang Mai Province > Chiang Mai
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #298 of 386 Hotels in Chiang Mai
Price Range: £29 - £55 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Huarn Jana Boutique Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 50
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Huarn Jana Boutique Resort, a special hotel of arts, culture and nature is located on Hang Dong - Samoeng Road a famous tourist route in Chiang Mai, only 15 minutes from Chiang Mai International Airport and 20 minutes from city center. Ther hotel is settling in a lush valley of Doi Suthep-Pui National Park with a natural stream running through the back. There are 50 unique guest rooms that designed in various styles inspired by Lanna, Sibsongpanna, Tai Yai, tribal arts and cultures. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Fondcome Village Hotel
Fondcome Village Chiang Mai

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