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Chilling out by the Ping

Chiang Mai's newest boutique resort offers some zen moments but you'd be well advised to remember your own toothbrush



Sitting on the bank of the Mae Ping River, Zensala Resort is the latest addition to Chiang Mai's stylish boutique hotel scene.

The hotel is just 20 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes from the city centre yet the moment we step through the door, the heavy traffic and bustling streets of Chiang Mai seem like a world away. Everything is tranquil and relaxing at this small resort, whose idyllic location offers just the right mix of privacy and easy access to the city.

Set on 2 rai of landscaped waterfront, the modern box-like building blends well with the lush tropical garden. The sharp contrast between rough concrete and delicate green grass conveys a message of living with nature without leaving the niceties of modern living. Soaring ceilings and simple decoration underscore the sophisticated contemporary design while the rooms emphasise open and flexible spaces.

Each of the resort's 13 rooms faces Mae Ping River and has a different layout as well as a different name. The fact sheet indicates that the main features include a writing desk, air conditioner, wardrobe, minibar, welcome tropical fruits, coffee and tea in room, safety box, TV, CD/DVD player, free WiFi, iPod/iPhone/iPad docking station, bathrobe, bathroom amenities, slippers and hairdryer.

My room is number one on the first floor, which is also named Moon Deck Deluxe. The door is not as heavy as it looks though the lock is a bit annoying. With traditional lock and key, it is quite hard to open when it is not well oiled. The high ceiling makes the room look spacious and feel comfortable but the spiders also love it as I can spot cobwebs in the corners where ceiling meets walls.

The closet reveals two pairs of flip-flops and slippers, two umbrellas, a safety box, hairdryer but no bathrobes.

My bathroom has a shower stall with a rain-shower and bathtub complete with powerful jets of water massage to knead away aches and pains. Besides the washbasin, I have two shower caps, two sets of cotton pads but no toothbrush or toothpaste, important on this occasion as I forgot to pack mine.

I ask the resort officers and they promise the housekeepers will have them ready in my room when they do the turndown service but when I go back to my room later that night, everything is still the same.

My friends next door are luckier. Their turndown service not only turned up but also left them Kalamae, the traditional Thai caramelised sweet. I call the front desk but it is after 11pm. so nobody answers. I call my friend's room instead and borrow their complimentary tooth cleaning gear.

Fun programmes on cable glue me to the sleek flat-screen TV for a while but the next morning, the bewitching view through the patio doors leads me out to one of the two daybeds on the deck, where I inhale the fresh air while admiring the view. Various kinds of birds orchestrate in their own music while the cool weather and serene Ping River in front of me remind me of the joys the early morning can bring.



At a glance

HIGH POINT: The hotel is perfect for couples looking for a romantic backdrop to wild nights out in the city centre.

LOW POINT: Housekeeping should pay more attention to details.

PAY FOR IT: Visit the website for the best deals and promotions

FIND IT: 168 Patan Rd., Patan, Muang District, Chiang Mai 50300

PHONE IT: (66) 53 225 888

E-MAIL IT: info@zensalaresort.com

BROWSE IT: www.zensalaresort.com


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