It wasn’t too long ago that I was a backpacker on the hippie trail in Thailand. Travellers in elephant pants were heading to places like Phuket for its beaches and turquoise waters. Others went to Chiang Mai for its wildlife and temples. There are still plenty of backpackers in those places, of course, but you’ll also find two new resorts by Spanish hotel company Meliá. These properties offer the chance to experience Thailand’s incredible destinations, sans the elephant pants and while enjoying a slice of luxury! So, if you’re booking your next holiday in Thailand, read on for our review of Meliá’s Chiang Mai hotel with mountain views and its resort in Phuket on the beach.
A beach resort in Phuket
Meliá Phuket Mao Khao
This new resort in Thailand is located on unspoilt Mai Khao Beach. It’s as tranquil a paradise as you could expect in Phuket. The beach is so quiet, in fact, that in certain months sea turtles come ashore here to lay their eggs.
If this you’re planning a holiday in Thailand, there are three types of villas and suites available at the Meliá. I stayed in one of the wellness villas. These 85-square-metre spaces come with a king-sized bed and private terrace with plunge pool and outdoor bathtub. Also, the showers are infused with vitamin C to help protect your skin and hair!
A sense of coastal relaxation echoes through the design, with contemporary, light-filled spaces with neutral and blue accents. Beautiful tropical plants surround each villa for privacy and shade.
Aside from three pools to unwind in, a gym and bicycles to rent, there’s a huge range of wellness programmes at this resort in Phuket on the beach. You can try yoga, Thai boxing and tai chi sessions at sunrise. There’s also lotus petal leaf folding, coffee art painting and singing bowl therapy! On holiday in Thailand with kids? They are catered to as well, with daily activities like painting and kite flying.
I experienced some of the wellness retreat offerings, including a group yoga class and then a sound bath, where you are surrounded by the vibrations and music of singing bowls and other instruments. I also heard a presentation from a doctor on how to change your life with better nutrition and wellbeing tips.
The YHI Spa is a beautiful space with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a tropical garden. It offers hot candle and hot stone treatments, a four-hand massage with two therapists, and a Mai Khao heated sand ancient remedy, as well as Thai and Swedish massages, plus scrubs, body masks and facials.
All of the menus at Meliá provide healthy and fresh flavours with a focus on wellbeing, balance and nutrition. Casual poolside restaurant GAIA features Mediterranean flavours and inventive cocktails. It’s great for a quick pit stop on the way to the beach or pool.
There’s a completely different vibe at SASA, which features walls of tinted glass and warm earthy tones and timbres. This is the spot for breakfast or casual fine dining in the evening, with an emphasis on southern Thai cuisine. Highlights include the fresh fish with Phuket pineapples, spicy stir fries and classic noodle dishes.
The resort in Phuket also has the Luna Pool, a swim-up bar with cocktails, smoothies and freshly squeezed juice. And Elixyr Café in the lobby is a lovely place to lounge on comfy sofas, surrounded by nature and with a coffee or afternoon tea in hand.
Chiang Mai hotel with mountain views
Meliá Chiang Mai hotel
The second of Meliá’s new resorts embraces the famously relaxed mood of the mountain city of Chiang Mai, while harmoniously marrying Thai design with Spanish elements. The curved ceilings, for example, are reminiscent of Spanish architecture but also found in the Buddhist temples nearby. And the light tones visually transport you to a beach town in the Mediterranean, but on closer inspection are made with Thai weavings. By the pool, a feature wall mimics the entry gate to the old town of Chiang Mai.
I stayed in what’s known as The Level Suite, a modern and light space on the 21st floor. There are six of these suites, with views over Chiang Mai’s famous Night Bazaar or the River Ping. Each morning, I made a coffee and perched on the comfy window seat to watch the sunrise.
The Level Suites include added perks such as private check-in and check-out, and a concierge service. You also have access to an exclusive lounge with private breakfast, afternoon tea, cocktails and all-day snacks.
The dining options at this Chiang Mai hotel also blend Thai and Mediterranean influences. Laan Na Kitchen’s impressive morning buffet included European favourites alongside stir-fries and curries. There’s an all-day à la carte Mediterranean menu, too, with everything from paella to Basque burnt cheesecake.
For dinner, Mai Restaurant and Bar has a focus on Lanna (Northern Thailand) dishes. It’s on the 21st floor, so your gaze will be torn between the chefs in the open kitchen and the stunning city vista. I highly recommend ordering the samplers, which had intricate Thai flavour combinations and exciting textures. Another must-try is the Pappardelle Soi Neur, a rich and spicy Khao Soi curry sauce with Australian beef sirloin and crispy noodles.
The showstopper is Mai the Sky Bar. It’s the only highrise venue or hotel in Chiang Mai with a 360-degree view. Looking out over the River Ping and Doi Suthep, I watched the sun disappear behind the mountains, transforming the sky from a golden red to a cool purple. The cocktail menu includes spicy new offerings like the Bosque de Chiang Mai, a cinnamon and whisky-based concoction. There’s also delicious Spanish sangria on offer, complementing a creative menu of tapas and pinchos.
There are seven private treatment rooms at YHI Spa, with a selection of massages and scrubs, wraps and facials. The rooms have an underwater theme, including sounds of the ocean for ultimate relaxation – I wanted to find that soundtrack and bring it home! You can also book a herbal sauna experience and Thai massage. Or for something a bit different Tok Sen, which is a Thai practice of rhythmically tapping muscles with a wooden stick.
The outdoor swimming pool is perfect to cool off after a long day and there’s a pool bar with cold drinks and snacks, too. The area will also soon have a small water playground for kids. There are also loads of activities for little ones in the huge Kidsdom zone, plus a big hangout space for teens. Parents with children over five can leave their kids for a full day of fun.
Outside in Chiang Mai, take a visit to the vibrant night markets in the Old Town; they’re filled with handmade crafts, clothing and plenty of food (including dried insects for those brave enough to try!). The city is also known for its temples. There are hundreds within the Old Town alone and many more hidden in the surrounding mountains. You can book excursions to sights around town from the resort, and there are elephant sanctuaries in the area, too.
Meliá Chiang Mai also offers a 360-degree programme, where food is organically sourced from local farms and the waste returned for compost. I visited one of these farms where the local owners teach farmers organic methods and provide land for them to organically farm specific vegetables. This produce can then be sold for a dramatically higher price, bringing the farmers greater profits and a stable business from hotels like Meliá. If you have some free time, visit the farm for a picnic lunch made from fresh and delicious produce.
You can fly directly from Singapore to Phuket and Chiang Mai. The best time to visit is during Thailand’s dry season from November to March. If you’re looking for a wellness retreat or detox, keep an eye on upcoming events in September and October at Meliá Phuket Mai Khao.
Planning a holiday in Thailand? Find out more about Melia’a resort in Phuket by the beach and its Chiang Mai hotel here.
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