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Thailand’s Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort: An oasis of peace and tranquility

By Reinhard Hohler

Heading to the top end of Thailand, tourists wonder what a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere welcomes them, if checking in at the Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort. Normally guests arrive by plane from Bangkok, where hectic traffic congestions and tropical heat abound - not so in Chiang Rai, Thailand’s northernmost province.

There are several direct flights from Bangkok to Chiang Rai on a daily basis by Thai Airways International as well as the budget airline Air Asia. In the pipeline, some private companies are planning charter flights to Xishuangbanna in Yunnan/China or Kyaing Tong in Shan State/Myanmar, so that Chiang Rai will not be a cul-de-sac anymore.

Furthermore, there are regular buses from Bangkok, Chiang Mai and other provinces to connect the town in the best possible way, as Chiang Rai becomes more and more an important gateway to the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), where via the Mekong River the countries of China, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam can be reached. Some tourists come by train and connect by car from Lampang or Chiang Mai.

Le Meridien Chiang Rai is perfectly located on a 26-rai site at the bank of the Mekok River, which flows further on into the Mekong River. Also, it is specifically designed for the well-traveled and cultured individuals or families, who are looking to explore the 750-year old city, its pristine surroundings and the Golden Triangle, where the Kingdom of Thailand, Lao PDR and Republic of the Union of Myanmar meet.

All 159 guestrooms and suites have spacious private balconies overlooking the green gardens and riverside. Besides its huge swimming pool, there is a fitness centre, business centre, library, kiosk, and four modern dining places, such as the all-day open “Latest Recipe” Restaurant, Italian “Favola” Restaurant, Latitude 19 lobby lounge, and Chill Bar near the poolside. Sophisticated meeting facilities are mostly at the lobby level and a visit to the rejuvenating Parvati Spa is a must. It is here that after a long day outside, guests will find relaxation and personalized spa treatments done by well trained therapists using massage oils, body scrubs and wraps to bring you inner peace and tranquility.

“Through the lenses of art, design, fashion and cuisine, Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort creates a stimulating experience that allows guests to see their destination from a new perspective,” the hotel brochure writes. And there is really much to see in Chiang Rai.

If not with their own car, hotel guests can arrange transportation with or without a chauffeur. A shuttle bus service is available to downtown Chiang Rai at specific times. Far more, tours can be arranged to visit the myriad of attractions Chiang Rai has to offer. The following tourist attractions are only a short fraction of the programs available:

• City Tour, including the visit of the King Meng Rai Memorial, and the temples of Wat Phrathat Doi Chom Thong, Wat Phra Kaeo, and Wat Phra Singh. Also, visit the busy morning market and informative hill tribe museum. In the evening don’t miss the modern clock-tower, which has become a landmark of the town centre since 2005, when it was built in honor to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Last not least, there is a daily night market offering all kind of textiles, handicrafts and souvenirs.

• Excursion to Doi Mae Salong, including a visit to a tea factory. Doi Mae Salong is high up in the mountains and is called “Little China” by the Thai people. Tourists pass the hill tribe villages of Yao Pa Dua and Akha Sam Yaek. In an elevation of 1,800m, a trip to the area ensures breathtaking views and a dramatic sunset.

• Excursion to Doi Tung Royal Project, including a visit of the twin pagodas of Wat Phrathat Doi Tung. The ambitious Doi Tung Royal Project was started as an initiative to eradicate rural poverty by offering hill tribes a practical alternative for their endemic opium cultivation. A highlight of the visit is to walk through the Mae Fah Luang Royal Villa of the late Princess Mother and explore the nearby Botanical Garden.

• Excursion to Mai Sai and the Golden Triangle, including a stop at the old town of Chiang Saen. Mae Sai is a bustling border town just before you enter Tachileik in Myanmar. From there it is possible to reach the Golden Triangle, where there is the impressive “Hall of Opium” to visit. A boat trip on the mighty Mekong River is a must with the choice to enter Don Sao Island within Laos. Via the old town of Chiang Saen, you will come back to Chiang Rai in the evening.

• Other sightseeing excursions, including a boat trip on the Mekok River. For the more adventurous tourists, there are arranged boat trips on the Mekok River to visit an elephant camp of the Karen tribal people or drive to the neighboring provinces of Phayao in the south and Chiang Mai in the west. Only time will be your limit!

All in all, the vision of the provincial officers of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports is to make Chiang Rai the capital of Lan Na Thai Tourism, while the mission is to promote Chiang Rai as a “quality” tourist destination in Northern Thailand that visitors from all around the world can enjoy to visit. Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort is the best place to start from, feel the warmth of its people and discover the gem of the North.

For marketing reasons, officials of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) are eagerly awaiting the final construction of another Lao-Thai International Mekong River Bridge at Chiang Khong in the east of Chiang Rai in 1913 as well as the coming of the future ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which should develop into a regional economic integration in 2015.

Interesting to note is that there are other prominent “Le Meridien” Hotels & Resorts in Thailand to get to know in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Khao Lak, and Phuket. For further information, please go to:

China Hotel Marketing for GMS hotels

Knowledge Media Group Thailand, is pleased to announce the formation of a new business unit called “China Hotel Marketing” (CHM), offering China marketing services to small independently owned boutique hotels in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) and other ASEAN countries with great potential but lacking professional promotion and marketing resources. The services provided are comprehensive and focusing on the core growing markets of Greater China (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan) and the secondary Chinese speaking Southeast Asian markets of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Services offered will include positioning and branding of the property, engineering creative strategic sales and marketing plans, marketing research, performing and fulfilling the professional role of public relations, marketing and communications, focusing on the various niche markets such as golf, shopping, wedding, wellness, medical, culinary, art and culture plus study tours and MICE etc. Services cover both online and offline operations working with major tour operators, handling agents and all major online booking agents, travel media and social networking sites.
The chief of the professional team is Jaffee Yee who has had more than 30 years of experience and expertise in sales and marketing, with in depth knowledge of Chinese culture, current business environments, consumers habits and values and fluent in Mandarin and several major Chinese dialects. [email protected] (PR)

World Gourmet Festival in Bangkok in September

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is an official sponsor of the 13th annual World Gourmet Festival, organized by the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, set to take place at the hotel from September 3 to 9, 2012.
Since its inception, the Festival has grown in prominence to feature an extraordinary line-up of some of the best chefs, winemakers and food experts from across the globe, all under one roof for a week-long celebration of outstanding food and superb wines.
Chefs currently confirmed to participate are: Shiqin Chen, La Rei, Il Boscareto, Piedmont, Italy; Igor Macchia, La Credenza, Piedmont, Italy; Michael Mina, Michael Mina Restaurants, USA; Masa Shimakawa, ONYX, California, USA; Frédéric Vardon, LE 39V, Paris, France; Victor Quintilla, Lluerna, Barcellona, Spain; Galvin Lim, Les Amis, Singapore.
Also confirmed to participate in World Gourmet Festival events are Master of Wine Jeannie Cho Lee, who will be conducting a wine masterclass, Eleveur de Fromage Jean-Francois Antony, who will be hosting cheese-tasting events, and a cigar and rum-pairing event with Patoro Cigars and Eastory Rums.
Once again this year, the World Gourmet Festival is proud to support HRH Princess Soamsawali’s Save A Child’s Life from AIDS Project under the auspices of the Thai Red Cross Society. A portion of every ticket price, as well as proceeds from an auction, will be donated to this charity.
More chefs will be announced in the coming weeks, and all the latest updates and further information about this year's festival will be available at as well as Facebook and Twitter. (TAT)

Chiang Mai hotel roundup

The Imperial Mae Ping celebrates its 24th year of operation

By Reinhard Hohler
General Manager Swiss Peter A. Schnyder was in a high mood when I met him during the reception on May 10 at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel in order to present the new Swiss Honorary Consul with residence in Chiang Mai, Mr. Marc-Henri Dumur. No-one else than the Ambassador of Switzerland to Thailand, Mrs. Christine Schraner Burgener, had the pleasure to invite all the honored guests to a small gathering at the hotel in Chiang Mai, which is celebrating its 24th year of operation.

To experience the best in Northern Thai Lan Na hospitality, tourists from all over the world don’t have to go very far. The Imperial Mae Ping Hotel is centrally located in Chiang Mai next to the famous Night Bazaar. The hotel features 371 well-furnished guestrooms with a distinctive and modern Lan Na décor befitting the rich heritage of the North. Superior rooms, deluxe rooms and royal suites can be chosen accordingly. With one of the most comprehensive exhibition and conference facilities in Chiang Mai, the hotel has a seating capacity of up to 900 people theatre style and is a popular venue for weddings.

Besides its recreational facilities of the Imperial Spa, fitness corner and swimming pool, the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel is known for the exceptional variety of restaurants, which offer a wide range of cuisine, such as the International Mae Ping Coffee Shop & Restaurant, Gold Leaf Chinese Restaurant, as well as the Japanese Imperial Shabu Shabu Restaurant. Furthermore, the wide and open-air Chang Garden offers local specialties and BBQ. Thus, it is highly recommended to give the hotel a try.

Other recommended properties of the Imperial Hotels & Resorts in Thailand are the Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok, Imperial Hua Hin Beach Resort close to Hua Hin’s seafront restaurants, fishing pier and fresh market, Imperial Samui Beach Resort and the Imperial Boat House Beach Resort, both idyllically located on the island of Koh Samui. Moreover, there are the Imperial Adamas Beach Resort at Nai Yang Beach of Phuket Island and properties belonging to the Northern Group, such as the Imperial River House Resort in Chiang Rai, Imperial Golden Triangle Resort in Chiang Saen, Imperial Phukaew Hill Resort in Petchabun, as well as the Imperial Mae Hong Son Resort in Mae Hong Son. And the list is not yet exhausted.

Another hotel in Chiang Mai is highly recommended when coming to town, namely the deluxe and elegant Chedi Hotel in Chiang Mai, which is right next to the Ping River. The Chedi Chiang Mai is led by the new General Manager from Germany, Mr. Stefan Noll, who lives in Chiang Mai since eight months. Having collected experience at hotels in India’s Goa and Indonesia’s Bali before, Mr. Noll enjoys the tranquility of the city and staying in Northern Thailand, which is wretched between Myanmar in the west and Laos in the east - thus right in the centre of the emerging Greater Mekong Sub-region.

The Chedi Chiang Mai offers some 84 pleasant rooms and is a member of GHMhotels, which include properties such as the colonial, luxury Strand Hotel in Yangon/Myanmar or the superb Nam Hai Beach Resort in Hoi An/Viet Nam. The swimming pool is next to the Ping River, which runs through Chiang Mai and gives view to some old buildings on the other side of the river amongst some greenery. The special highlight of the property is the former British Consulate, which was unluckily sold by the British Government decades ago and now functions as a high-class restaurant, specialized on Indian cuisine.

A third property in Chiang Mai is the old Suriwong Hotel in the middle of the busy Night Bazaar, which will soon be re-opened as the new Moevenpick Chiang Mai. It was Thai General Manager Mr. Vinai Chitaratsanee, who told me at one of the last Skal Chiang Mai & North Thailand meetings that the soft opening will be in July 2012, but so far the restoration and modernization of the hotel is still going on and nobody knows, when Moevenpick will actually open. Moevenpick Hotels & Resorts are passionately Swiss and there is a reminder from the founder of Moevenpick, Mr. Ueli Prager: “We don’t do anything that’s really extraordinary. We are successful because we simply do normal things in an extraordinary way.” Thus, it has to be seen when Moevenpick starts its operation in Chiang Mai. The company manages already hotels in Koh Samui and Phuket, as well as in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City in Viet Nam.

Last not least, the next meeting of Skal International Chiang Mai & North Thailand will be at the fine Le Crystal Restaurant in Chiang Mai on Thursday, July 26, 2012. Everyone from the local or international tourist industry will be heartily welcomed. Reinhard Hohler is a Media Travel Consultant based in Chiang Mai and can be contacted by e-mail: [email protected]

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]y]

Thailand’s Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort: An oasis of peace and tranquility

China Hotel Marketing for GMS hotels

World Gourmet Festival in Bangkok in September

Chiang Mai hotel roundup