Happy 2014! We hope everyone had a good sliiiide into the new year. We spent ours at the Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai, with a bunch of awesome people at the Anantara Golden Triangle.
They managed to beat all of our expectations. Yes it’s admittedly not the cheapest place to stay, but you get the full worth (and more) of every penny you spent. All meals, drinks, alcohol (champagne on NYE?) are inclusive of the room price, and you get a choice of one free activity for every night stayed. This ranges from visiting the wet market with chef and cooking lesson, mahout training with the elephants from the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, Elephant Treks, Golden Triangle tour (border crossings to Tachilek in Burma, and Don Sao island in Laos), Anantara Spa etc.
Facilities were also great. We found ourselves stuck at the bar with the fireplace often in the winter evenings. The bar also opens up to the pool and hot tub, and overlooks an amazing view of Burma and Laos.
But most importantly, it was SERVICE, SERVICE, and SERVICE!
We were greeted at the airport by a friendly driver, who brought us to the car, presenting us with some cold towels, refreshments like cold mango juice, water, coke, and some handmade elephant shaped cookies. If that’s not a good welcome enough, there were some magazines on Chiang Rai, and iPad (!) for you to read up the many information about the resort facilities, activities and tours they can provide and arrange for you, the menus of both restaurants, Thai etiquette and culture, how to behave around elephants, among many other things.
What stayed with us the most was how they managed to make every guest feel like family, the staff from the General Manager (seems very different from the ‘English GM’ from earlier years’ reviews on TripAdvisor… The current GM is German), Executive Chef, Restaurant Managers, to the receptionist and waiters, all try to get to know guests individually despite it being one of the busiest seasons for them. New Year’s Eve had so much put into it. Fireworks, lanterns, tribes performances, free shoulder and head massages (!), canapés and drinks (you’re not allowed to stop eating and drinking in the hotel, apparently). I can only wish to capture the scene in mere words. Despite it being full house over New Year’s Eve, everyone was attended to skillfully with bright smiles, and waitstaff were pouring wine and clearing dishes at lightning speed. They made it look as easy as ABC. It was great to see the staff mingling with the guests, exchanging stories and great conversations.
(Unfortunately, did not have my camera with me in the night, and these pictures did no justice! So, we’re banking on a little bit of your imagination to picture how magical it was to be there.)
Everyone seemed to have as much of a great time as we did. Such friendliness and enthusiasm cannot be forced, and the only possibility we could think of is that the staff enjoy working there as much as we enjoyed staying there.
Every little thing from the turn down service with the aroma oil scents filling up the room and the little pineapple slices in drinks that were shaped to look like the Anantara logo, lets us know the management has it all sorted out. Because we all know that when attention is placed on details, not much can go wrong on your stay – you’re basically in good hands.
Their motive was clearly for their guests to not just visit the place, but to experience the place. And experienced it, we sure did. In fact it was ridiculously hard to leave after our four nights stay. Easily the best wholesome resort experience we’ve ever had. These guys know what they’re doing, and they’re doing it right.
But you didn’t just hear it from us. TripAdvisor shows a lot more lovely reviews for this place.
Personal thanks to
Khun Wichien for the lovely conversations every time.
Khun Jirhat for making sure we always know what’s in store at the restaurant.
Khun Sang for his kindness and suggestions for dinner.
Khun Tam for the great New Year’s Eve activities
Khun Paitoon for keeping us well fed with all the excellent choices every meal.
Khun Tuk for the excellent coordinating of plans.
Chris n wife Bow for their laid-backness and friendship.
And all whom we’ve come across for the great service, humor and warmth.
Thank you for helping us close 2013 beautifully.
N & D.