It’s a New Season at the Four Seasons, in the beautiful Mae Rim Valley
“It’s a New Season at the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, in the beautiful Mae Rim Valley and we have lots of news,” declares Michael Branham, General Manager of the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai.
“We will be undergoing renovations at our property, with some very exciting changes, all done by the celebrated designer Bill Bensley, based in Bangkok. We also have some wonderful news to report from our Food & Beverage department, and we are working on repositioning ourselves to accommodate our guests’ interests in all areas of well-being.”
The Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, visited by royalty, celebrities and some of the world’s biggest influencers, has long maintained impeccable standards and a position as one of Thailand’s premier resorts.
But as time, trends and demographics change, so too does the resort.
“What we have seen recently is more guests looking for more cultural and wellness activities,” he continued. “Sure, we still get honeymooners who love to stay in their villas, enjoying their privacy, but many guests – including increasingly from the Middle East, India, South America, China and Japan – are looking for cultural and wellness activities. It is interesting that, wherever they are from, they all seem to share a similar interest in these areas. So we are in the process of repositioning ourselves to accommodate their needs.”
“Wellness, as seen by our guest,” continued Branham “It is not all about health, detox and weight-loss; it is about being active and mindful but still having that glass of wine at the end of the day and following your hobby that you never seem to find enough time for. Our guests can spend time with our Yoga expert, Mr Dheeraj Patwal and can join our meditation, pilates and yoga activities. We will soon be joined by a tennis pro from the Jim Courier Tennis School, the American former number one tennis player and winner of four grand slam titles. I also personally take guests on early morning cycle rides in the mountainous area, up to 40-50 kilometres, to take in the countryside, local colour and culture. We are even going to introduce croquet on our lawn.”
“As for culture, we try to weave it into our many activities. We offer walks around our property to visit the shrines at the four corners – North, East, South, West – explaining their cultural and religious significance. We also offer nature trails around the gardens for those interested in our flora and the numerous species of birds living here. Our guests can plant rice, they can learn about religion and they can explore as much of the culture as they wish.”
So central are culture and wellness to the guest experience that the resort’s spa has changed its menu to offer treatments tailored to the various levels of Thai society.
“People relax differently now,” the GM continued. “They wish to indulge in things that perhaps they didn’t have time to do back at home, so it is wellness in their own terms, but they are also very aware of where they are, so that is where the cultural aspect becomes important.
“The same goes for dining. Our famous Sala Mae Rim Thai restaurant will be redesigned to open the dining experience up to the elements in the cooler seasons, while maintaining our air-conditioned interior during the summer months. The terrace will be extended so more diners can enjoy the wonderful views of the resort and mountains beyond, and a new bar will be built. The restaurant will also be themed around our iconic rice paddy fields, with rice-themed accents which are culturally faithful.”
“The menu will of course maintain its traditional Thai dishes,” affirmed new Director of Food and Beverage, Rohan Ogale. “But we find that diners are looking for something new and exciting as well, so we will also be featuring some Thai cuisine with a twist, with local tastes and methods being applied to international ingredients.”
Branham says that the Cooking School is also currently undergoing a facelift. Later in the year, the popular Sunday Brunch will be held at the Cooking School and an interactive new concept – “ Thai Kitchen Live” – will be offered in the evenings to customers who wish to watch – or join in – cooking demonstrations while dining in an amazing setting.
“It is all about simple, healthy but exciting food,” explained Rossie Gianandrea, Italian chef at Terraces Restaurant. “We are not about molecular or gourmet cuisine. Of course we will offer comfort food, there is always a need for that, our food will be colourful, fresh, balanced and, very importantly, locally sourced.”
The resort’s Executive Chef Stephan Calvet spends most of his free time riding his motorbike around the North of Thailand sourcing produce. “He sees something interesting and he knocks on that door, makes contact, checks that they are organically certified, and does a deal,” explained Gianandrea. “Recently he discovered a blueberry farm, and now we make our own jam and compote. He also discovered a farm which produces Japanese black Kurobota pork, so now we make a gorgeous pork stew. We are lucky here as much of the produce is already organic which is important because we only work with certified producers.”
The resort also grows much of its own produce and is working at expanding its organic garden to generate as much in-house raw ingredients as possible. The homemade approach extends to all baked produce, preserves and, soon, even all essential oils for scented towels.
“For us in food & beverage, wellness is not about starving yourself,” explained Ogale. “It is about looking at the source of ingredients and putting them together in an exciting way: simple, healthy and balanced.”
“We have many locals come to our Sunday brunches and we are working to enhance this as well,” continued Ogale. “There will be more traditional, as well as a focus on breakfast menu items and we would like them to come to our new cooking school, indulge in a wonderful lunch, and enjoy the incredible cocktails created by world renowned mixologist, Javier de las Muelas “You will be seeing a lot of exciting changes over the coming months and years,” Branham signed off by saying.
More information, please visit www.fourseasons.com/chaingmai