Saturday, May 21, 2011



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Dhara Dhevi provides the most romantic setting imaginable to seduce bachelorette Ashley Hebert! Isn't its the dreamiest place to go on bended knees to propose?

The World's Most Exquisite Hotel Plays Host to TV's Primetime Reality Show 'The Bachelorette'!

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Mind you, there may be other contenders so let us hope none of the 12 eligible hopefuls propose to these Thai beauties who are dancers and usherettes to welcome them!
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Nowhere in Los Angeles where' The Bachelorette' is based can you find such welcome!
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The white lion is false but the elephant is real!

I have been round the globe countless times, stayed in many of the world's finest, greatest and most famous hotels amid the most sumptuous settings but I declare Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi in Chiangmai the BEST!
The Spa at Dhara Dhevi is the size of a boutique hotel! And the architecture mimicks a 14th century Lanna Kingdom palace.

One of 3 private pools inside the walled compound of the Royal Villa, yours for RM 24,000 a night. Yes, there is no extra zero nor a typo error. RM 24,000 a night as in the annual salary for some folks or the rental of a RM 2,000 condo for 1 year!
Poorer peasants may have to slum it out in this Penthouse Suite at a mere RM 7,000 per night!
This Deluxe Residence with pool is around RM 5,000 a night.
The Grand Deluxe, 2 bedroom Villa with pool costs RM 6,000 a night.

I usually prefer well located hotels right smack in the heart of the city's shopping, dining, business and cultural belt but Dhara Dhevi is the sole exception! In fact, one can stay within its 60 acres and not step out for at least 3 days! Why battle with the peasants when you can luxuriate in the spectacular splendour offered by Dhara Dhevi and explore the gardens, parkland, rivers, orchards and padi fields? Yes, and I mean working rice fields that actually produce the grains that are transformed into fluffy white rice! And you cannot get vegetables any fresher as most were plucked hours before your meal!
This is how my personal palace will look like when I begin building...

What a marvellous view of peace and serenity. The rice fields are real too.
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Calm and repose from a laidback, colonial era
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Ripening rice fields add to the charm. Doesn't matter if you have no intention of harvesting them!
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Pool that ends with a padi field!

With such a surfeit if unfettered luxury, you might think of basing yourself here in Chiangmai and plot your next hostile takeover from the friendly environs of this earthly paradise. I never knew what my dream palace would look like until I came here. Now with my first RM 30 million, no make it RM 50 million, I shall duplicate Dhara Dhevi's architecture somewhere near KL's KLCC. The entire construction cost of Dhara Dhevi is said to be around RM 300 million.

Not surprising then, the producers of 'The Bachelorette' was so smitten with Dhara Dhevi they went hat in hand to beg the hotel to allow them to shoot the seventh edition in the resort's uber-luxe and dreamy location. To me, Dhara Dhevi is the oriental version of King Arthur's Camelot as this purpose-built palace was based on a Lannai kingdom the same way Camelot was an idyll of a castle.
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Can you believe this surreal pool and architecture are for real?
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A toast to your health and wealth!

'The Bachelorette' which started in Los Angeles, focuses on exotic and prestigious locales in Asia and no other property can outdo, outlast and outclass Dhara Dhevi! In all Thailand, only Chiangmai and Phuket were featured. TAT or Tourism Authority of Thailand was involved in sealing the deal as it used its formidable clout to arrange a happy win-win situation for both TV series and hotel.

It was tough getting Dhara Dhevi to agree as Mandarin Oriental's policy puts its hotel guests on a pedestal. Some guests paying the full normal rates might be appalled at the battalion of cameramen, their crew and multi-ton equipment let alone the noise. It is one thing complaining about your noisy neighbour who is also paying the same amount of money as you but it is another when confronted with a dozen scruffily dressed crew laying tracks on the ground for cameras to roll.

Public areas could not be closed and guests could not be requested not to approach off-limit places. "Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi has been asked countless times to be used as setting but we have to turn them down," explains a source. "Unless of course you book the entire hotel! Which is quite possible as there are only 54 Colonial Suites and 64 Villas!

I presume 'The Bachelorette' was filmed in the privacy of one of the 5 opulent Residences including the Royal Residence which can accommodate 12 or 20 if you wish to slum it up. These come with walled compounds so you can party all night or do whatever you wish away from prying eyes.

Bachelorette Ashley Hebert and 12eligible, hopeful and gorgeous hunks stayed here for 2 weeks to film episode 5 of 'The Bachelorette' which ABC will screen in the USA sometime in June as in next month. Hopefully we get to drool over the lady, men and venue too!
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The Soa at Dhara Dhevi is the most spectacular in the world!
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The Spa is designed to recreate a Lanna kingdom palace
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Meditation comes easy here.

Hosting such a popular TV show was an honour for Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi and vice versa! Notes general manager Greg Lidell, "It will showcase the beauty of our resort and promote Chiangmai as a holiday destination."

Aals, as part of the contract, the hotel was not allowed to take or distribute publicity photos during filming so I can only show you images of Dhara Dhevi only.
Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi even comes with its own market and shopping precint! How classy and convenient is that?
The palm trees were planted at an steep angle and carefully nurtured so swimmers can climb on its trunk and jump into the pool, same as you did as a child in Kota Baru!

Kids of hotel guests can help with the harvesting of rice. Free labour too!
A bedroom in the Royal Villa of imperial proportions! This is how my bedrooom will be like too once I start renovating my palatial condo.
Party Central!

There are hotels laying claim to being the world’s biggest, tallest, longest or most expensive, but I swear on my ancestors' souls Dhara Dhevi is the world’s most exquisite!
Dhara Dhevi is a dream come true on a spectacular scale. Unlike historic hotels converted from palaces, it is a vision realised from the drawing board.
“It is a working, living museum where Lanna splendour has been brought back to life,” explains designer Rachen Intawong.
Amazingly, there was no one master plan that went into its conception!
The grand deluxe villa with pool

A cloistered pool

"It started as one big jigsaw puzzle. Just like with the city of Chiangmai, we built it over time, and all the buildings slowly fell into place, a natural organic growth process.”

The Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi in Chiangmai resembles a Buddhist paradise filled with classical temples with dreamy spires and magnificent structures that capture the imagination. The intricate carvings and ornamentations took five years and over a thousand labourers.

It is said that Dhara Dhevi’s low-profile, Pattani-born owner wanted his hotel to resemble the Lanna Kingdom to the extent that King Mangrai the Great, founder of Lanna Kingdom in 1296, could walk in and instantly feel at home.

“Imagine what a royal Lanna city was like,” beams public relations director Chaleenuch Visith, explaining the scale of Dhara Dhevi.
“First, you need a moat around the fortified walls to protect the city against attack. You also must have a market and trading outpost at the periphery of the fortified walls where goods can be sold and bartered. Then a ceremonial ground huge enough for royal parades and processions where thousands can gather for important events.

“You need a large temple and prayer hall for citizens, visiting pilgrims and monks. Administrative headquarters for the civil service to run the public buildings. Villas and sumptuous mansions for the nobles and aristocracy, plus houses for the mercantile class.

“In the middle must be the grand palace and smaller palaces for the ruling king. And everywhere there must be beautiful gardens, lawns and lotus-filled ponds. There would be farming villages and rice fields in the outskirts. After all, Lanna means ‘Kingdom of a Million Rice Fields’! All these are standard components of an ancient royal city.
Having a traditional Thai massage
“Can you believe Dhara Dhevi has all these and more?”

And it does indeed, on a scale never attempted before! Unlike other purpose-built hotels like Atlantis or Burj Al-Arab, Dhara Dhevi comes with a fully loaded, living, thriving culture.
Most super-luxurious hotels flaunt 500 to 800 rooms. Venetian Macau, for example, has a staggering 3,000 suites. Dhara Dhevi’s rooms too are breathtaking — all 123 of them!
“The maximum number of guests is 250. Our team of gardeners alone number 80. The ratio of staff to guest is four to one, and prices start from RM1,200,” Chaleenuch says.

Pure hedonism
Some of the double-storey Colonial Suites come with their own lift, but it is the golden teakwood villas that are the most talked about — they are in the middle of padi fields.
“These are real fields, and we harvest the rice, hence the scarecrows and irrigation systems,” explains Chaleenuch.

“Some villas have organic vegetables and fruit which we serve at the tables so nothing comes fresher! Every villa is unique with different furnishings, and return visitors never tire of the different views.”

Each double-storey wooden villa (RM2,000-RM5,000 per night) offers a viewing pavilion, open-air Jacuzzi, open-air plunge pool and balconies that open onto incredible vistas of green or ripening rice fields. Birds and crickets provide the music.
The ultimate indulgence is the Royal Residence, which can be experienced at RM28,000 a night. Safe and sound behind high walls and beyond prying eyes, the suite is completely self-contained, like a miniature Forbidden City.

Grand Lanna dining area
Its six Lanna pavilions means a dozen can comfortably party in this hotel within a hotel. There are separate living and dining pavilions, open-air salas and a piano bar. The three adjoining swimming pools are interlaced with lotus ponds between towering rain trees and fragrant frangipanis, and interspersed with open-air Jacuzzis and rock pools.

For the other guests, Dhara Devi offers another four spectacular swimming pools. One has fully grown palms planted sideways so that they lean over the waters with their trunks acting as diving boards. The Colonial Pool is so vast it resembles a lake.

With over a dozen large and small restaurants, not to mention a fitness centre, crafts village, kids club, yoga pavilion, art centre, farmers’ museum and countless mesmerising wonders, the resort can keep guests happy and occupied within the premises for several days without them wanting to set foot in Chiangmai!

Exploring all 24ha of the resort on foot may not be feasible, so it’s best to summon a buggy, which you can do at any time.

Even more amazing, Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi is just 10 minutes from the city centre and 15 minutes from the airport. The richies should book this instant while the rest of us have to start saving as the cheapest Deluxe Villa with 2 storeys, massage deck, private pavilion, outdoor deck, whirlpool tub and outdoor shower starts from RM 2,000 to RM 2,600 if you insist on outdoor jacuzzi. If you prefer your own plunge pool, it is RM 3,200. 

One with a proper pool is RM 4,500 as mind you, the smallest suite (there are no bedrooms here, only suites OK?) is bigger than most condos at 1,600 sq ft! One of 5 Residences start from RM 10,000 and has 2 bedrooms.

Of course every now and then, one MUST pamper oneself. For this purpose and when the urge strikes, book the Royal Residence. It flaunts 6 bedrooms, 3 private pools and 3 jacuzzis and occupies nearly 7,000 sq ft of habitation excluding the pools and sprawling gardens. 

You can be holed in here and think you have been transported to paradise. It costs the same as the Ritz Suite in The Ritz hotel in Paris at RM 24,000 per night but this is sheer value for money as you can invite a dozen guests!
For more information, call +66 53 888 888 or visit


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