The Amari is minutes from Chiang Mai International Airport. They have pick up and drop off service, and when we landed, after a wonderful flight aboard Thai Air , we had a fairly long wait for our van to arrive. A heavy downpour and menacing grey skies greeted us, but it hardly mattered. I had already fallen in love with the gilded statues that watched over the baggage claim area. Paper lanterns with long tails hung from the ceilings and floors sparkled.
After we were picked up, our check in went flawlessly. The area around the hotel is not terribly scenic, however, once you cross that threshold, everything seems to engulf you in a different world altogether. The reception area is more than meets the eye; naturally, there are seating arrangements and comfortable sofas, but take a few steps up, and voila! You can sit a little higher and just as comfortably, and enjoy a drink if you wish. They greeted us with such a drink, orange colored, with a showy umbrella and a piece of fruit wedged on the rim of the glass.
Our room was magnificent: a huge, king size bed dominated the room and wall carvings and wood mouldings added to the simple yet elegant décor. There''s a desk in room bar, color TV with cable channels, direct dial telephones, and a heavenly balcony from which you could see the night market tents. The air conditioning was not necessary most of the time since it is considerably cooler in Chiang Mai, as it is north of Bangkok and surrounded by mountains. It can get wretchedly hot though, so bring a hat and water.
Though we faced the outdoor pool every morning at breakfast, we were too busy discovering the charm of the city. Much attention is given to detail here, and the grounds are so lush with splendid palms and other trees, and orchids and amaryllis to die for. Your comfort is their business, and they will go to any extent to provide it for you, including in-room Thai massage, which is an ancient art enjoying quite a revival.
There are two restaurants on the premises; the Lanna Coffee shop and La Gritta Italian Restaurant. We did not have an opportunity to sample the restaurant, but have much to say about the breakfast there. Lanna refers to Northern Thailand, and also was Chiang Mai’s ancient name when it was the capital of the country.
Bayside, New York
January 22, 2003
From journal Oh My, Chiang Mai