What makes Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai one of Thailand’s best culinary escapes? Why this 99-room Lanna-style resort is more than just any luxury getaway?

Designed with sustainability in mind, the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai blends perfectly into the dramatic forest scape of Northern Thailand’s magical Mae Rim Valley.

I was captivated by the remoteness and its serene beauty of picturesque rice fields, coconut palms and lush greenery.

More notably, the genuine Northern Thai hospitality infused with Four Seasons’ impeccable service.

The opulent suite in the upper garden pavilion illustrates Thai sophistication with its rich teak flooring and Siamese decors. It opens to a private balcony overlooking a mountain stream cascading through the lush forest.

Global EAT - Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai: Enriching Culinary Escape in Unpretentious Luxury
The spacious suite exudes a feeling of elegance, warmth and comfort from lighting to furnishing and décor. (Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Chiang Mai)

Wild creatures, from songbirds to crickets and monkeys create calming background music for contemplation.

The oxygen-rich air is a welcome relief from smog-choked Bangkok – an hour’s flight away.

The large bathroom at Four Seasons Chiang Mai could fit a twin bed with room to walk. Through the bay window, the secluded garden beckons a relaxing bath in the hot tub. Everything, it seemed, is designed to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye and soothing for the mind.

Global EAT - Four Seasons Chiang Mai: Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai: Enriching Culinary Escape in Unpretentious Luxury
Spectacular views of the Mae Rim Valley across postcard-perfect rice terraces from the 20-metre infinity-edge swimming pool. (Nikao Media)

Beyond comfort and style, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai is an awe-inspiring epicurean getaway.

Immerse in local culture, put on your boots, and be a farmer for the day. Engage with the gracious farmers, and join them and their water buffalos in the rice paddies to learn how rice is grown.

Global EAT - Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai: Enriching Culinary Escape in Unpretentious Luxury
To experience true Thai culture, don the traditional mor hom (farmer’s attire) and live like a farmer for the day. (Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Chiang Mai)

Exploring the Rice Paddies

Rice is the quintessence of Thai life. It’s also the country’s national staple, and top agricultural export. Thailand has over 3,500 varieties of rice. The most renowned being the Thai Hom Mali or Jasmine rice.

The resort’s commitment to support Thailand’s culinary heritage begins at its rice fields or paddies.

“Four Seasons’ philosophy has always been about supporting the local cultures and communities,” said resort executive chef Stéphane Calvet.

An urbanite, Calvet worked in megacities in Asia and Europe prior moving to Chiang Mai. He ditched city life after his superior agreed to his request for a garden to grow his vegetables and herbs.

Global EAT - Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai: Enriching Culinary Escape in Unpretentious Luxury
Rice is the soul of Thai life. The rice grown around the resort is the glutinous variety. (Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Chiang Mai)

The resort’s two-acre rice fields are farmed by local farmers (who also work as gardeners) and their water buffalos.

Annually, around 2,000 kilograms (4,409 pounds) of sticky rice are produced, and donated to local charities and temples.

The afternoon downpour had just subsided. I stumbled upon a group of farmers preparing for the rice planting season. Smiling and stooping low in the shallow pond, they gently uprooted and rinsed the bundled green rice shoots for transplant to the flooded fields.

Nearby, a wooden rice mill with rusty tools and worn baskets lay exposed in the farmer’s shed, offering a glimpse of techiques used in traditional rice cultivation.

Want to have fun and bond with the buffalos? Be prepared to get soak.

Rain or shine, every afternoon, Tone and Thong get a scrub before the daily farmer parade around the resort. Tone is a 15-year-old dark skin bovid whilst 13-year-old Thong is an albino with pink skin.

Global EAT - Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai: Enriching Culinary Escape in Unpretentious Luxury
After a long day in the fields, Tone enjoys a good scrub down to reduce heat stress and insect bites. The domesticated Asian water buffalo’s favourite foods are grass, herbs and aquatic plants, and it consumes over 25 kilograms of food per day. (Nikao Media)

Locals call the water buffalo, Kwai. The farm animal is a highly efficient grazer with less nutritional needs, and has a broader diet than cattle.  It’s able to eat aquatic plants.

The enriching rice field experience inspired a sense of connection to our food source,  appreciation of our ecosystem and other cultures.

The resort also offers other gastronomic experiences including gourmet dining at its restaurants, guided market tours and cooking classes at the Rim Tai Kitchen Academy.

Redefining Hospitality with a Sense of Community

There is something intangible about the Four Seasons Resorts Chiang Mai, beyond its refined luxury, comfort, splendid landscape and scrumptious food.

They take true hospitality to heart

Hospitality is imbued in Thai culture, but the team takes the service a few notches up to create a truly memorable guest experience.

Global EAT - Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai: Enriching Culinary Escape in Unpretentious Luxury
A resort staff extending a gracious Thai welcome. (Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Chiang Mai)

My colleague suffered a foot injury and was barely able to walk. The friendly staff were attentive to her needs without being overbearing. They went beyond their call of duty to make her stay truly unforgettable.

While the resort team lives and breathes excellent service and hospitality, there is also a genuine sense of community and employee engagement.

The staff showed dignity, pride and job satisfaction. Even the two water buffalos working at the resort were happy and content.

Other enriching experiences include activities for a nature lover, culture connoisseur, fitness enthusiast and wellness devotee.  There’s also mini boot camp experience for groups.

Packages are available for romantic couple getaways, family retreats and culinary adventures for the sophisticated palate.

The Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai is a destination where culture, food and stunning natural beauty mingle in unpretentious luxury.

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