The Shangri-La Chiang Mai, in the heart of the city, is situated on 4.5 acres (13 rais) and offers a pleasing entrance, with stone elephants in white flanking the driveway. The hotel constantly plays host to VIP’s and group check-ins, indeed, while I was there, there were ministerial meetings between Thailand and Myanmar, which meant there were lots of cops and Secret Service men all over the hotel, making everything thrillingly hush-hush.
The lobby, overlooking the gardens, is extremely spacious, with plenty of comfy armchairs in red off-setting the beige overtones of the over-all decor. Surprisingly, some Moorish effects are apparent in the architecture. A sweeping staircase off to the side leads to the lower lobby level of meeting rooms and boutique shops.
With 281-keys, including rooms for the physically challenged, the accommodation covers eight room types, namely: Deluxe (43-sqm) Premier Deluxe (58-sqm) Horizon Club Deluxe and Horizon Club Premier (43-sqm) which are higher priced owing to the higher floor level as also access to the Horizon Club Lounge. While the bed linen quality is different in all the room categories, the Club rooms and suites also offer a pillow menu. All rooms have the standard electronic safe, TV, mini bar, and tea/coffee making facilities.
The Premier Deluxe rooms have stunning murals on a background of muted gold and red above the bed. A large area, with comfortable seating space, the TV serves as the divider between the study area with a daybed by the windows, and the rest of the room. A beautifully crafted, elegant black cabinet houses the bar and tea things. An adequate bathing space includes separate shower stall as well as a bathtub.
Then there is the Executive Suite at 86-sqm; the Aranda Suite which, at 129-sqm, offers not only a living room and separate study area with computer, printer, etc, but also a private spa bay and the Lotus Suite which, although much bigger at 213-sqm, does not have the study or spa areas, but does have a larger bathroom with an indoor bathtub Jacuzzi. And finally, the Presidential Suite at 215-sqm, offers a very big living room with different furnishings and artefacts, a partitioned dining space, two changing areas for Him and Her and a private spa bay.
Pest control on the whole is good and free wi-fi access is available throughout the property. However, for a hotel of the Shangri-La’s standing, it is odd not to find umbrellas in the rooms, or jet sprays in the bathrooms.
F&B options include the 248-cover Kad Kafe, which is an all-day dining outlet offering different theme (buffet) dinners every evening, and a PDR for 10-pax; the newly opened 144-cover China Kitchen offering Schezuan cuisine with two PDR’s, one with a direct view of the kitchen and therefore also known as the ‘Chef’s Table’; Dhala, the poolside outlet, serving snacks and drinks through the day, and the 97-cover Lobby Lounge for afternoon tea, evening drinks. I strongly recommend China Kitchen for an authentic Schezuan experience; the chef is a new hire and dishes up native, Chinese fare that one would not have known existed in this cuisine.
The Horizon Club Lounge also serves breakfast, which, while not on the same scale as Kad Kafe, is pretty decent, with eggs, pancakes etc made to order. It also provides all-day tea/coffee/juice and munchies service and of course, the evening Happy Hours, with quite a good variety of canapes, snacks and cold cuts. There are a few books available for guests’ perusal, two work stations for complimentary guest use and the complimentary use of the meeting room for two hours per day of your stay.
It must be said that the service here is the most impeccable I have ever faced at these hotel ‘Club Lounges;’ courteous and friendly while remaining non-intrusive, and the team here must be given a special word of acknowledgement and appreciation.
Recreation options include a large swimming pool with outdoor Jacuzzi. Intimate dinners can be arranged on the lawn by the pool area.
There is a Kids Corner for tiny tots as well as an inner room for older children, with games, while adults have a giant outdoor chessboard, as also a tennis court, to entertain themselves with. Yoga classes can be organised on a chargeable basis.
The Health Club offers activities for adults as well as children, with a daily schedule that is amended on a monthly basis. It also offers memberships to local residents. Quite a well-equipped gym with plenty of machines and equipment, facilities include separate steam/sauna/Jacuzzi areas for men and women.
The CHI Spa is built like a typical, Lanna wooden house, with the sound of gently rushing water greeting the guests. There are no mobile or wifi signals here, which makes it a restful haven indeed. The treatment rooms, nine in all, are built like individual pavilions, of which four are couple rooms with attached steam room facilities. Most of the pavilions have outdoor bathtubs.
The spa uses Biodroga, a German brand, for facials, while local fresh products such as traditional herbs and vegetables are used for body treatments, such as a ginger body wrap and lemongrass and even, sticky rice, body scrubs. The CHI Spa signature treatments are the Aroma Wellness, Chi Balance and Chi Hot Stone massages, and the Chi Balance facial.
Convention facilities include six meeting rooms along the way to the pool, with three rooms each on either side of a large foyer that can be used as the pre-function area. These rooms can all be partitioned and can accommodate anywhere between 25-400 pax, if both sets are used.
Further, the Lanna Ballroom with three partitions can accommodate a mind-boggling 1700-pax. It is a pillar-less hall with a rear lift; guests have been known to bring in cars and even, elephants inside!which makes it perfect for Indian weddings.
The Shangri-La also has the only auditorium in Chiang Mai; a separate room that can take a 100-pax in theatre-style seating.
The hotel has a Business Centre with three work stations and two small meeting rooms, all on a chargeable basis.
Can’t fault the location, which is fantastic, although then the views, of a necessity, are not. The Shangri-La is located in the centre of Chiang Mai, about eight minutes walk to the Night Market area, five minutes to Pantip Plaza, and 20-minutes to the Old City. There is a free shuttle bus service organised by the city’s trade association, to the Central Mall near the airport, which also houses a Robinsons outlet. The airport itself is twenty minutes away.
Chiang Mai is a 75-minute flight from Bangkok, with several airlines such as THAI, Bangkok Airways, NokAir etc, flying to the ‘Rose of the North.’ The airport is among the largest in Thailand and several carriers fly in directly; do check your travel sectors. Purely as an example, a return trip Bangkok-Chiang Mai on Bangkok Airways cost THB 2,900 – the earlier you buy your ticket, the better, of course, the price. By train or bus from Bangkok, it would be an overnight journey.
SHANGRI-LA HOTEL CHIANG MAI
TEL: +66 53253888
FAX: +66 53253800
Punam Mohandas asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author.