One of the more difficult tasks confronting architects and hoteliers in Thailand today is how to create buildings that blend into the natural countryside while housing 21st century facilities. This unique fusion was attained with the creation of the Ayatana Hamlet & Spa resort, nestling in a quiet soi just off Suthep Road behind Chiang Mai University.
The Ayatana comprises three buildings of contemporary Lanna style architecture surrounding a swimming pool and tropical gardens, with Wat Padaeng, a 400 year old Buddhist temple forming a tranquil backdrop. The extensive use of wood, natural stone, red bricks and flawless plasterwork combine to create a feeling that one is in the home of a wealthy friend rather than a modern, boutique hotel.
The accommodation comprises 26 superior rooms, 5 deluxe rooms, 3 junior Ayatana suites, and 2 Royal Ayatana suites. All rooms and suites at the Ayatana carry authentic wall murals depicting life in ancient Lanna villages, and painted by students from the nearby Chiang Mai University. The furnishings are hand-made by local artisans from the Hang Dong area. Solid wooden beds with comfortable mattresses are decked out in crisp, cotton sheets draped with Thai silk runners. Carved wooden chests house television sets, DVD players and mini-bars, while each room has a personal safe. Bathrooms are surprisingly large, and come with modern showers, wash-hand basins, large mirrors, heaps of fluffy towels and all the herbal toiletries one associates with such an establishment.
A unique feature is a set of wooden shutters behind the shower area that open to reveal a large earthenware jar beneath a standpipe, a draining board on which to stand while taking your village-style cold water shower, and a wooden trellis is all that separates the bather from the outside world. While open to the elements, this old world bathing facility provides total privacy for those wishing to wash al fresco, as many country folks in rural Thailand still do today.
Deluxe rooms come with small balconies, and provide 36 square metres of living space, as opposed to the 32 square metre area of the Superior rooms, which have no balconies. Deluxe rooms also enjoy corner positions in the buildings with views overlooking the gardens or the pool.
The three junior Ayatana suites are ideal for honeymooners or couples seeking to get away from the world for that intimate holiday, andcomprise a 32 square metre private living room downstairs, with television, DVD player, coffee table and chairs, sofa etc., and an open staircase leading to a 16 square metre bedroom on an upper floor. The 2 Royal Ayatana suites provide excellent family accommodation, coming as they do with a living room, double bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor, with a twin bedroom and separate bathroom on the upper floor, accessed by an open staircase. The decor throughout the resort is warm and tasteful; traditional furnishings blending seamlessly with the mod cons demanded by today’s guests: wireless internet, televisions, DVD players, stereo systems mini-bars, fridges, and hairdryers, coffee and tea-making facilities and so on.
A cosy restaurant, boasting an extensive menu, caters for the needs of the most discerning appetites. Diners can enjoy traditional Thai, western, or fusion food for breakfast, lunch and dinner; choose from a wide-ranging a la carte menu, a set menu, or an exotic buffet, either in the intimate surroundings of the restaurant, or in a curtained, private sala by the pool. Whether your tastebuds yearn for traditional Thai fare, a plate of fish and chips (sea-bass), or a fusion of Thai-European food, the Ayatana caters for all tastes. The resort has 5 spa treatment rooms and a traditional massage studio where experts in aromatherapy, massage, and the use of spa treatments and oils will pamper you by the hour, or even by the day!
The emphasis is on personal service at the Ayatana, and whether you are taking spa treatment, lazing by the pool with a good book, or perusing the mouth-watering menu in the restaurant, staff members are always at hand; never intrusive, but ever available to serve your every need and to make your stay a memorable one. The Ayatana’s General Manager, Ekkarn Karnchana, heads a staff of 40 people whose sole aim during their working day is to ensure a perfect stay for each guest; and it has to be said that no two guests’ needs are the same. From the warm and efficient welcome at reception, to the attentive service in the restaurant, and the hands on care offered by the poolside or in a spa treatment room, each guest is made to feel that the entire staff has turned out for their exclusive use. Even the house staff; those busy bees who keep your room spotless, and your fresh towels on hand, come and go like wraiths, so unobtrusive that one wonders who made the bed while you were enjoying breakfast.
Yoga, Tai Chi, and Thai cookery courses are all carried out in-house, and while Chiang Mai now has more cookery schools than Switzerland, it’s nice not to have to travel across the city to hone your culinary skills, but to step a few yards from the comfort of your room and put yourself in the care of an expert Thai chef. Sightseeing and cultural tours can be arranged on request. Ayatana runs a free shuttle service to and from Chiang Mai’s famed Night Market: the Night Safari and Royal Flora Ratchaphruek horticultural show are minutes away, as are many of the city’s main Buddhist temples, such as Wat Prathart Doi Suthep, or Wat U-mong. Trips to elephant camps, snake farms, handicraft and cultural centres can all be arranged through Ayatana’s staff.
The resort is little more than a stone’s throw from the campus of Chiang Mai University and the ever busy Suthep Road, but Plato would have been at his ease here by the pool, studying in perfect tranquillity. The General Manager and his staff invite you to awaken your senses at the Ayatana Hamlet & Spa, Chiang Mai.
Address : 99/9 Moo 14 Suthep Rd., A.Muang, Chiangmai Tel: 053-811388, 053-811599.
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