Rolling up the extra-wide driveway, a massive city gate looms into view. The uniformed sentry waves us through. Hmm, a full parade with floats and marching bands could easily fit on this road. It’s a sign of things to come.
In the distance, a sprawling complex appears with the main reception building in the center. We have been transported back in time and space to a recreation of a Lanna kingdom. The buildings are super-sized and rich in architectural detail. No, it is not a theme park but the impressive Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai.
I have to admit that I was quite unprepared for an entire village comprised of Asian-style palaces and villas plus colonial mansions within this 60 acre lush tropical landscape. We were only here for a one hour inspection tour and not staying overnight. But I can certainly tell you about every category of accommodation and all the facilities since we saw them all. Several things are apparent: large quantites of teakwood were used in the construction of this resort. There are no mere hotel rooms here. The suites, single story villas and double story villas are all sumptously decorated.
The grounds are so extensive that guests are given a map and complimentary golf cart shuttle service. You could easily spend a week just exploring within the gated walls. There is an organic vegetable garden, working rice paddies (with water buffalo!) and a crafts village. The Thai cooking classes take advantage of the home grown produce as do the many themed restaurants on site. Of course, there are swimming pools, tennis courts, a fitness center, yoga and tai chi classes and even a championship golf course nearby (off property).
The real jewel in this crown is the Palace of Wellness, their Dheva Spa and Holistic Center housed in a separate Mandalay-inspired grand palace of its own. The center offers an extensive menu of Ayurvedic treatments, massages, aroma and aqua therapies.
This is truly a fantasy resort. A little over the top for my taste. But it all makes me wonder what heaven looks like.
For now, heaven can wait.