The “Fern Resort”:http://www.fernresort.info/ is located just outside the northern Thai town, Mae Hong Son. The welcome was warm, friendly and it was impossible to miss photographs on the reception desk of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who’d also stayed there. The 30 rooms are spread over extensive grounds and, over a glass of green pandan juice, we found we’d been upgraded to a suite (25).
This eco-resort was built with the help of government funding which supports rural projects with conservation at their heart. It aims to preserve the natural environment for both those living in and around it and tourists. Trees are planted and specifically chosen to be a food source for either wild birds or animals and only local people from the Karen hill tribe are employed, who wear their national dress.
Our large suite had an entrance hall leading into the bedroom with a large double bed, two armchairs and table, bedside tables and lights and air conditioning and fan. In an ante room between bedroom and bathroom was the wardrobe with robes and slippers, hairdryer, safe, tea and coffee making facilities, complimentary water and mini bar. There are no TVs or telephones in the room to preserve the peaceful nature, but Wi-Fi was available in the public areas (however, as our suite was close to reception, there was a weak signal at times).
The bathroom had a central basin and a shower to one side and loo to the other. It needed a little modernisation, but the shower was good with lots of hot water and it was perfectly functional. Plug points abounded all over. Whilst it was reasonable for a three-star hotel, it just needed a handyman to do a little maintenance like replacing lightbulbs and fix missing or loose screws.
We also had a large decked area which we didn’t use as it was rather dark from the surrounding trees which meant it didn’t get the sun at any time of the day.
There were two swimming pools: the original one and an infinity pool which was literally a few months old. The latter overlooked rice terraces, although it wasn’t large and only had space on the deck for six rattan loungers. Overlooking this pool was a bar open from 5pm to 7pm where we enjoyed cocktails whilst watching the sun set over the terraces.
There was a fire pit for a nightly bonfire with a sign saying sweet jacket potatoes were available between 8pm and 9pm. On one night the tables round the fire had been taken over by a noisy family group and on the second, there was no sign of the potatoes. However, a member of staff went in search and returned with a foil wrapped potato which I felt obliged to eat despite it not been cooked through.
Dinner in the open-air restaurant was a little chilly but the food was simple and reasonable with traditional Thai dishes like sweet and sour pork, steamed rice and pad Thai with chicken, wok-fried noodles with pork.
Breakfast was totally self-service. Juices included the healthy green pandan juice we’d had on arrival: it’s made from the medicinal pandan leaf which helps high blood pressure. There was a salad bar, stir fried noodles, egg fried rice, omelettes and a lady made toast from excellent home-made brown bread (with similarly excellent strawberry jam and marmalade).
There was a free shuttle bus into the town, but the times were a little erratic with long gaps. Massages could be arranged, and a number of friendly dogs roamed the premises which act as security and are said to accompany you on the nature trail around the nearby Mae Surin National Park.