“Laid-back, luxurious resort in the heart of the mysterious Golden Triangle - where Thailand, Laos and Burma meet - with an award-winning elephant camp”
There are 58 Deluxe 3 Country View Rooms, 6 Anantara Suites and 13 Anantara 3 Country View Suites, housed in 2 wings either side of the temple-like main building. Paths wind through carefully planted tropical foliage to semi-external staircases which in turn lead to just a few rooms: there are no long, institutional corridors and consequently you’re largely unaware of your neighbours.
All rooms and suites fuse traditional and contemporary Thai design, with gleaming teakwood floors, locally woven cottons and silks and a harmonious mix of old (or repro) and modern furniture. Beds are kingsize (twins are available on request) and supremely comfortable - ours, in an Anantara Suite, had a pillowtop mattress. Colours are understated - natural tones with the odd dash of ochre or burnt sienna - so as not to argue with the views of the valley unfurling below your window. Glass doors lead to a balcony with a daybed cantilevered from the wooden structure like a giant windowbox. Suites are larger than the rooms, and have a distinct sitting area with a sofa and 2 armchairs. But we’d recommend you gave the Anantara Suites a miss, and opt for one of the Country View Rooms or Suites, as the view is simply breath-taking, how often can you sit in one spot overlooking 3 different and fascinating countries (Thaliland, Laos and Burma)?
Bathrooms are large and semi-open-plan, with twin basins and terrazzo baths big enough for 2. In the rooms, the bath is rectangular with shower overhead; suites have separate showers and oval tubs filled with flowers on arrival. There’s a wooden bookrest, a stack of handtowels deftly arranged to look like an elephant and if the petals aren’t soothing enough, you can add a tea infusion to the water.
Mod-cons are as standard; the minibar runs to 2 cabinets, for hot and cold drinks respectively, and fruit is replaced daily. TV and hi-fi, including an iPod connection, are housed in a wooden cupboard, which swivels to face either bed or sofa. All rooms have fans as well as air-conditioning.
There are 2 restaurants, Sala Mae Nam, named after the surrounding mountain range, and Baan Dahlia, a smaller, more intimate restaurant with the atmosphere of a wine cellar.
Sala Mae Nam serves a mouth-watering array of Thai dishes such as Naem Chiang Rai (Chiang Rai sausages), Nor Oua (deep-fried young bamboo shoots stuffed with minced pork), Gai Ob Samliam Thong Kum (roasted marinated chicken with Thai herbs and spices) and Gaeng Hung Lay (traditional northern-style spare ribs served in a spicy curry sauce). Staff are happy to advise and recommend food.
In contrast, Baan Dahlia’s menu is decidedly Western, with buffalo mozzarella from Italy, New Zealand lamb chops and Margaret River Wagyu beef (from Western Australia). In a bid to offset these food miles, the resort sources many of its other ingredients from local farms and its own kitchen garden.
The Elephant Bar and Opium Terrace serves light meals alongside signature cocktails; particularly recommended is the Street Hawker, a vodka martini with mango nectar, lime juice, coriander and red chilli.
Private dining is available (nicknamed Dining by Design) with chefs cooking to order in a choice of several enchanting locations, from a rice paddy to a ridge with views over the entire Golden Triangle. A favourite spot is the terrace overlooking the baby elephant sanctuary, understandably so!
Breakfast is a huge international buffet served in Sala Mae Nam - though it’s tastefully done without a bain-marie in sight. An array of terracotta pots holds everything from a full English to Dim Sum and Miso soup. Eggs are cooked to order, and the staff remember how you like your coffee. Try to get a table on the terrace, as a baby elephant may make an appearance for a morning cuddle and snack (usually between 8.30-9am).
This resort is well suited to adventurous children who like being outdoors. As for adult guests, the elephant camp is the main draw, and children of any age are welcome to ride elephants, though the hotel requires a parent or guardian to accompany children under 12 for at least their first session.
Infants under 2 go free; children under 12 in an extra bed incur a small charge, and those over 12 are charged the full extra bed rate.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
All of the rooms and suites can accommodate an extra bed or a baby cot. If you have older kids, book 2 connecting Deluxe 3 Country View Rooms which have a shared balcony (request on enquiry).
Babysitting available by arrangement. Prices double after midnight - see Rates.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
High tea and early dinner sittings feature a kids menu. The restaurants serve both Thai and Western food.
The pool isn't fenced and there's no lift. You will all need a number of vaccinations before travelling in Thailand, particularly in this jungle area.