Created as a royal village on 60 acres of beautifully landscaped tropical grounds in Chiang Mai, Thailand's Rose of the North, The Dhara Dhevi — Sanskrit for "Star Goddess" — is the result of painstaking effort by the owner and architect Rachen Intawong to pay homage to this unique culture in Northern Thailand. Built by local artisans using traditional Buddhist motifs, and blending architectural influences from Burma to Laos, and medieval Chiang Mai, the luxury resort opened in 2006, drawing heavily from the architectural and cultural influences of the nation's historic Lanna Kingdom. Chiang Mai became the capital of the Lanna kingdom in 1296 which stretched into Laos, eastern Myanmar and southern China. It was during this time that the distinct Lanna culture evolved, expressing itself in delicate local artwork and wooden architecture. With an Lanna-style palace lobby at its core, Dhara Dhevi's meandering pathway takes guests on an interesting journey past traditional teak villas, colonial mansions, ornate temples and rice barns clustered among rice paddies. Arriving at the Dhara Dhevi for lunch while exploring downtown Chiang Mai one afternoon, we were escorted by golf cart through the resorts lush greenery to the Colonial-style pool restaurant for a late lunch.
Dhara Dhevi lunch menu at the Poolside Pavilion
A cold scented cloth shaped as a lotus
A glass of Myanmar beer
Cashews with crispy fried lime leaves
A pavilion with hot tub is inset within the pool area
View over the rice paddies and Dhara Dhevi villas from the pavilion
The dining pavilion overlooks a decorative lotus pond and shimmering blue tiles of the swimming pool
Vegetarian Spring Rolls with golden fried vegetables, mung bean noodles, mushrooms and bean curd
Asian Apricot Sauce
Phad Thai Ghoong with wok-fried rice noodles, shrimp, bean sprouts, bean curd, Chinese chives, peanuts and tamarind sauce in an egg 'nest'
Gaeng Kiaw Wan Nua with sliced chicken simmered in fragrant green curry, coconut milk and eggplants, and served with steamed organic jasmine rice
Organic Jasmin Rice
Checkerboard Fruit Satays with watermelon and pineapple
The spectacular 33,000 sq. ft. spa at the Dhara Dhevi was modelled after ancient Mandalay palace
The main reception building of the Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai