Anantara Adds Bangkok and Chiang Mai
PHOTO: The pool at the Anantara Chiang Mai overlooks the river. (Photos courtesy of Anantara Chian Mai)
Just 15 years ago, Anantara Hotels began in Hua Hin, a favorite destination of the royal family famous for polo and the most golf courses in Thailand. The original Hua Hin property was designed to suggest a Thai village, and that essential Thai flavor lingers about the brand, emanating especially from its spa. Anantara means “without end” in Sanskrit, a notion that could describe the brand’s current growth plans. Of the 34 hotels operating under the Anantara brand, 13 are in Thailand with other properties in the Maldives, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Mozambique and the UAR and there’s a pipeline of more than 10 future properties in Mozambique, China, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Laos, Qatar and Oman.
Two Thai properties have recently joined Anantara; one in Bangkok and one in Chiang Mai. In March, the 354-room Anantara Siam Bangkok joined the chain, coming over from Four Seasons. It is Anantara’s fourth property in Bangkok. In late 2013, the 84-room Chedi Chiang Mai became the Anantara Chiang Mai Resort & Spa. The hotel joined the brand as the flagship property and will undergo extensive renovations, which it can do and remain open, thanks to the building’s layout.
The Anantara Chiang Mai has had more than a year to transfer over to the Anantara culture. As with other Anantara properties, the spa is essential to delivering the hotel’s brand promise of serenity and well-being, but the Chiang Mai property’s core, it seemed to me on a recent stay is the historic core of the hotel, which opened in 1921 as the city’s British Consulate.
PHOTO: The historic British Consulate viewed from the lobby’s lounging area at the Anantara Chiang Mai.
The Service 1921 restaurant reimagines the building’s history as a center for British espionage and colonial intrigue, neither of which took place there. At least there is no record of such activities being undertaken at the consulate at that time.
In the upstairs restaurant, a whiskey tasting room and two connecting dining rooms lead through to a library wall with a secret book shelf door, opening onto a private dining room. Vintage lamps and fans, globes and artifacts from the days of the British teak trade are accompanied by fictitious spy paraphernalia such as old security intelligence files and Morse code signage. On the lower level, a central bar with high stools is surrounded by plush lounge areas, with doors opening onto wrap around veranda seating. Enriching the fine beverage offering, the wine cellar is stocked with a broad selection. The upper wrap around veranda also offers terrace seating and communal high tables.
Its spa, like the rest of the hotel except for the old consulate, combines a minimalist elegance with Thai motifs. The hard angles of the courtyard’s rectangular reflecting pool, for instance, are softened by floating candles. That call to meditation that the candles create is an essential Thai motif. The spa has 10 treatment rooms; five for individuals and five for couples. Each room features a steam shower and terrazzo bathtub, and deluxe double spa suites have herbal steam rooms, aromatic saunas and bathtubs.
Anantara’s Signature Experiences are treatments that combine wellness approaches from a multitude of cultures using eastern and western techniques. The Signature Massage, for instance, uses an oil blend to stimulate circulation, relax muscles and promote wellbeing. The In-Room Slumber Guru Experience begins with an Aromatic Bath in a candlelit bathroom, followed by a massage using lavender essential oils. The bed is dressed in linen, which is sprayed with a mist, accompanied by a silk or cool gel filled eye mask and ear plugs.
The massage collection spans indigenous Thai wellness practices as well as Ayurvedic techniques from India. Body scrubs and wraps polish, nourish and rejuvenate skin with detoxifying green tea, fragrant frangipani flowers, refreshing lime and energizing ginger salt. Advanced anti-ageing facials are personally prescribed to lift and firm, purify, regenerate, smooth and refine for youthful radiance. The hotel has added an innovative product, a Traditional Thai Massage lesson with a therapist that enables guests to take home new skills.
Taking advantage of the resort’s beautiful setting along the Mae Ping River, the Sunset Cruise sails past traditional houses and spice gardens as cruisers take tapas with a fine wine or a gourmet champagne dinner. Dining by Design is Anantara’s signature private dining concept served in a private dining pavilion set up in a quiet corner of the riverside gardens or on a rooftop with elevated river views.
Anantara hotels are owned by the Minor Hotel Group. The brand is also one of the 27 Global Hotel Alliance’s hotel members including among others AVANI, Corinthia, Kempinski, the Lungarno Collection, Omni, Pan Pacific, PARKROYAL, Per AQUUM, QT and others.
More by James Ruggia
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