“Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort”:https://www.phu-chaisai.com/en/ is situated around 800m above sea level in the mountain area of Doi Mae Salong. It is around a one hour drive north from Chiang Rai, up a steep twisting road.
The rooms are divided into zones going down the hillside, with four rooms in each row: the two higher ones have slightly better views and are larger, but we were happy with our room (403).
Bamboo is king here and the walls, ceiling, creaky four-poster bed, furniture and bathroom fittings were all made from bamboo. This made it dark and there was insufficient lighting in both the bedroom and ante room. The bed was positioned to provide panoramic views of the mountains from it and the room was well equipped: the only thing missing was a fridge/mini bar. There was air conditioning, but we found it unnecessary in the cool mountain air. Wi-Fi was complimentary and available all over the resort.
In contrast to the dark bedroom, the large bathroom was bright and contained the wardrobe with bamboo coat hangers, shelving, safe, tea and coffee making facilities, waffle robes as well as double basins, excellent shower with hot powerful water, and loo. There was a hairdryer, and every day staff elaborately coiled the lead around the handle, only for me to undo it every night.
Our large terrace overlooked the mountains and had a day bed, table and chairs, and a stone seating ledge running right the way around it with hill tribe textile cushions providing a splash of colour.
The whole resort had lots of stairs and steps and if you’re not a confident walker, it’s not the place for you.
We had some free time during our stay, and there were plenty of activities on offer including cooking lessons, horse riding and trekking. A map showed seven different coloured trekking trails varying in length from 3km to 7km. The central starting point of all of them, was at the bottom of a steep hill, which meant climbing up it at the end of the trek with weary legs. However, this was good practice, as we were in hill tribe country and all the walks had lots of steep sections of varying degrees. We completed all the walks and found some well marked and easy to follow whilst on others, we got lost. The scenery varied and we walked through tea plantations, close to the river, on a farm loop and on them all, through magnificent trees.
The extensive hotel grounds had lots of plants, pottery figures and hidden corners where you could take a book and while away a couple of hours. Two large Pyrenean Mountain dogs patrolled the property and a large central fish pond had huge, brightly coloured fish which I fed one morning.
There was a spa, where a one-hour massage was around £50, and infinity pool which was a little walk from the rooms. It had extensive views of the valley and mountains, but the very limited amount of pool side furniture needed replacing. One wooden chair collapsed when I sat down and another had a large nail sticking out which threatened my new swim suit. Whilst the water was a tad cold, we managed a couple of dips.
Dinner could be eaten either al fresco around the fish pond (although it became quite chilly during the meal) or in the semi open restaurant with its resplendent furnishing and baby grand piano. The western and Thai food was good and we tried local Lanna style spicy sausages with pasta, burgers and stir fried dishes. However, the service was slightly haphazard and one night we waited so long, we were served complimentary bread and pesto and pudding, whilst on another we were given complimentary G&Ts after we’d got seated only to be told the table was actually reserved. It was good to see they used a local pottery we visited later in our trip, “Doy Din Dang”:https://www.dddpottery.com/, for all their china.
Although the bar advertised happy hour (5pm to 7pm and two for one), we were disappointed to find it only applied to two cocktails which didn’t change.
Breakfast was served in another restaurant overlooking the mountains where early risers could enjoy the sunrise. It was an excellent set up, with tomato juice and a juicer which looked a little scary, a good selection of fruit and cereals (including granola and muesli), plain home-made yoghurt and Asian dishes including a green curry and chicken satay. A brazier for making toast was much more effective and fun than a toaster, and an chef fried eggs and bacon to order. There were also breads and cakes to have with your coffee. All in all, it was a splendid affair.