by Angela Fairhurst
Known as the Rose of the North, Chiang Mai, Thailand fascinates with the beauty of its mountains and its countless temples in a mixture of exuberance, sophistication and profound serenity. Founded in 1296, it was capital of the independent Lanna Kingdom until 1558. Its Old City area still retains vestiges of walls and moats from its history as a cultural and religious center. It’s also home to hundreds of elaborate Buddhist temples, including 14th-century Wat Phra Singh and 15th-century Wat Chedi Luang, adorned with carved serpents.
A stunning mountain retreat, Veranda High Resort M Gallery, blends with the beautiful natural landscape in the northern capital of the Lanna Kingdom and is an ideal place to stay about 20 minutes outside the city center in Hang Dong. There, the employees offer warm, personalized service.
Entering the impeccable grounds, the resort exudes an oasis of calm as it’s surrounded by beautiful mountains, rice paddies, tea terraces, and multiple water features. The lobby feels spiritual, inspired by the elephant rides taken by the upper class with their traditional fabrications and woven materials and a lantern festival with paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, both symbols of good luck. The hotel itself is a road to discovery as the paths to the rooms and villas reveal more and more of the lush property.
Local materials lend a modern touch to the 69-room boutique resort. The well-appointed rooms are chic yet comfortable. One side represents North Thailand’s cultural heritage while the other side is furnished in a contemporary style.
Rooms have either king or twin beds, topped with comfortable duvets, open style luxurious bathrooms and a large private balcony enabling guests to fully enjoy the blissful setting.
Upgraded rooms and 2-bedroom villas add rainfall showers and private plunge pools, or balconies offering whirlpool tubs.
Veranda Spa, a fitness center, infinity pool, pagoda, bar, and library come together to deliver a very Zen experience sheltered away from the daily bustle.
There are two restaurants, Rabiang Cha Restaurant, offering a fusion of Lanna Thai cuisine, and The Higher Room, an all-day dining restaurant set high above the resort’s private valley with a European menu and an extensive wine list (which is hard to come by in Thailand). There is also an offering of private dining in a variety of locations throughout the resort. Room service is available.
Veranda High offers amazing excursions that guests should experience. Planting rice in the paddy fields is one of them. Dressed in traditional garb, from hat to rubber boots, we learned about the arduous 130-day growing process from land preparation to harvest. Rice becomes precious after this experience.
Temples are important part of Thailand with 40,000 of them. Local to the Veranda High Resort is the Wat Ban Pong temple. We prepared and packed daily alms in baskets at the hotel and went to the temple as they blessed the food and then us.