dancing girls were smiling and beautiful, the music soft and inviting. Flower
petals had been arranged on the paving stones in scrolling designs and pointed
our way inside the open-air Kad Dhara shopping arcade. With its beautiful shops
and brick paved walkways, it could have been a stylish, historic neighborhood in
London or Rome or Paris. But it is here in Chiang Mai, part of the Mandarin
Oriental Dhara Dhevi Resort.
We made our way to The Oriental Shop, a focal point for
lovers of chocolate but also featuring fine cakes, pastries and a delightful
variety of breads. French baguettes, muffins, Danish pastries, Bavarian rye
bread, Brioche and Focaccia breads abound. And we could not take our eyes off of
the variety of hand made chocolates. The magnificent Fujian Chinese Restaurant,
designed with Sino-Portuguese style architecture and filled with beautiful old
furniture, reigns over the complex at the end of one lane. We were delighted to
encounter servers with delectable pork, chicken and shrimp Chi-nese dumplings as
we walked by. Who could forget those amazing flavors? There are gift shops of
many varieties, and ample opportunities to purchase fine silk among other gifts.
Our favorite shop is the amazing Museum of Jade, and Gina’s heart stopped at
the exquisitely colored jade – Imperial green, lavender, blue, gold, red and
Drinks were served, and we strolled among the other visitors.
Members of the media were certainly there, as were diplomats and po-liticians.
But overwhelmingly the guests were representative of the Dining Out community in
Chiang Mai, people who seek fine food and good bargains. Here and there were
tidbits from the restaurants – fresh vegetarian spring rolls, tiny bites of
quiche, crab in tomato aspic. They gave a preview of fine French, Chinese and
Thai dining. And just as we thought there were no more lanes to be explored, all
eyes turned to the stage and the dancing began. But don’t think we were there
to see what we have all seen many, many times before. No boring stylized dancing
here. This was traditional Thai music and dance with a twist. All of us were
gathered to witness the formal presentation of the Mandarin Oriental Dhara
Dhevi’s Dine in Style card, the ultimate discount card for fine dining and
services. Let me tell you about it.
Whether your choice is Le Grand Lanna Thai restaurant, Fujian
for fine Chinese food, the amazing FarangSes French restaurant or the as yet
unopened Akaligo Mediterranean restaurant, Dine in Style offers generous
discounts. At Farang-Ses, card members are entitled to a 20 percent discount on
food. But at the other three restaurants the discount varies, depending on the
number of diners. If you dine alone, there’s a 10 percent discount on food.
But rarely does one dine alone at the Dhara Dhevi. These restaurants are for
special occasions, a significant date to celebrate, a gathering of friends or
family. And that is when you will really begin to appreciate the benefits of the
Dine in Style card and its membership access to other Dhara Dhevi services.
For a romantic dinner for two, there is an amazing 50 percent
discount. If there are three at your table, plan on taking one third off of your
bill. With four diners, discount one fourth, and with five, discount one fifth.
Please remember that these discounts apply only to food, not alcoholic
beverages. Don’t think that beverages have been left out of the plan, though.
As a member of Dine in Style you receive 20 percent off all non-alcoholic
beverages during your meal. Remember those delectable chocolates? There’s a 20
percent discount at The Oriental Shop. And those cakes? You get a free one-pound
birthday cake of your choice.
Now let’s talk about what else you’ll receive. Does a one
hour Royal Thai Massage at the Dheva Spa appeal to you? Maybe you would be
interested in two nights’ accommodation for two at the Dhara Dhevi with a big
discount. You can give your vouchers for free services away to friends and
family members, a nice bonus. The Dine in Style card is definitely worth
checking out. Member-ship is 2,999 baht per year. You may find that the
benefits far exceed the cost.