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Hotel Review: Marndadee Heritage River Village

By Courtney Ridgel

To begin with, I LOVED the Marndadee Heritage River Village.  Fair enough, this particular property suits my personal tastes, but I feel confident that I will not be alone in appreciating this beautiful hotel.


This property seeks to encompass the feeling of ‘Old Thailand’ so there is a mix of colonial- style buildings and traditional reclaimed wooden houses with tiled roofs.  The property is situated right on the Ping River, so the setting is very peaceful and quiet, and in the spirit of a Thai village, there are small decorative rice paddies on the grounds.  The owners are avid collectors of art, sculptures, and antiques so the property boasts quite a collection displayed throughout the grounds, with unique pieces showcased in each room.  In addition, the original old trees and wells (now filled in and serving as flower pots for ferns) are interspersed between the buildings, as none of them were removed when the hotel was constructed.

In general, this property will be an excellent fit for travelers who are planning to spend more time in the countryside around Chiang Mai, visiting elephants, sightseeing, trekking, etc., and is perfect for those seeking relaxation, a beautiful view and peace and quiet with a romantic nostalgic ‘old-world’ feel.  The Marndadee Heritage River Village can accommodate families, family groups and couples.  The Rice Barn Villas in particular were designed for families, groups of friends or extended families with a three-bedroom option where three separate villas share an outdoor space together in the center, and a private outdoor space to relax beneath each villa.

All that said, this hotel falls in the category of ‘outside of town’.  I’m told that the hotel is normally about a 40 minute drive from the airport but while I was visiting, it took us a bit longer due to Loi Krathong traffic and the bridge along normal route was undergoing repairs which have since been completed.  This property is not particularly well suited for travelers who prefer to be situated at the center of the action in bustling downtown Chiang Mai. Going out to eat frequently may also be problematic, as there isn’t much nearby besides the river, the scenery and the local neighborhoods along the river.  That said, this property does offer a restaurant, spa, pool, fitness room, and free shuttle service to and from downtown Chiang Mai 4 set times a day to keep guests entertained.

Laos – 2017 Green Season Hotel Specials

Photo credit: Courtney Ridgel

By Courtney Ridgel

We love the ‘green season’ in Laos – particularly August.  This time of year is considered a shoulder travel season so there are fewer travelers, the scenery is particularly lush this time of year, and the hotels tend to offer incredible deals.  The Green or Rainy Season typically occurs through July, August, September and October, and low season hotel pricing in Laos is tends to run April – September.  So – to catch the best of both the lush scenery and the low prices, we recommend traveling July – September.  Here are a few of the deals that hotels around Luang Prabang are offering over the 2017 Low Season:

Kiridara Hotel: Travelers visiting during this low season can expect to save around $30 per room per night compared to this year’s high season pricing, or save around $125 per night compared with peak season pricing.  The hotel also offers different promotional rates for guests that book at least a 4 night or 5 night stay, and they also offer a variety of ‘early-bird’ booking deals for guests that book 90 days, 60 days or 45 days in advance.

Kiridara Villa: Travelers visiting during the 2017 low season can expect to save around $100 per room per night, in comparison to booking the same room over high season.  When compared to this year’s peak season pricing, travelers can expect to save closer to $200 per room per night.  On top of that, this property is offering different promotional rates for guests that book at least a 3 night, 4 night or 5 night stay, and they also offer a variety of ‘early-bird’ booking deals for guests that book 90 days, 60 days or 45 days in advance.

Villa Maly: Travelers can expect to save around $100 – $135 per room per night, depending on the room type, if they travel over the 2017 green or low season, rather than over high season.

Luang Prabang View Hotel: Visitors to this property can expect to save around $45 – $60 per room per night during this low season, depending on the room type.

Sala Prabang: This property is offering ‘Stay 3 nights, pay for 2’, and ‘Stay  4 nights, pay for 3’ promotions through the end of September 2017.

Azerai Luang Prabang Hotel – This new property is offering travelers an average savings of $50-$80 per room per night this low season, compared to the 2017 high season rates.  This property also offers special deals for guests who plan a minimum of a three night stay.  Guests who book through Journeys Within may also receive special complimentary bonuses such as room upgrades (depending on availability) or massages.

Parasol Blanc HotelThis new boutique hotel is offering travelers savings of around $30 – $50 per room per night for stays during the 2017 low season.

Photo credit: Courtney Ridgel

Why we love Kralanh Petite Villa

Kralanh Petite Villa celebrating having been open for one year – Photo Credit: Courtney Ridgel

By Courtney Ridgel

At Journeys Within, we believe that philanthropic travel – where travelers actively contribute to improving the communities that they are visiting – not only helps the local communities in the countries we visit, but also creates incredible experiences for our travelers.  With this philosophy in mind, we seek out hotels, restaurants and experiences that support and give back to the local communities to include in our itineraries.

Ruat’s beautiful smile greets guests every morning at breakfast – Photo Credit: Courtney Ridgel
There are many lovely little touches around Kralanh Petite Villa that make it feel welcoming – Photo Credit: Courtney Ridgel

So, it was with great pride that this philosophy allowed the tour company to grow to a point where the company was able to invest in the Journeys Within team members to make sweeping changes in their own lives.  One such investment allowed Linda Chhay to design and build her own boutique hotel from the ground up – Kralanh Petite Villa.

Guests celebrating Kralanh Petite Villa’s one year anniversary – Photo Credit: Courtney Ridgel
Kanha helps keep everything running smoothly at Kralanh Petite Villa – Photo Credit: Courtney Ridgel

Linda has worked tirelessly at Journeys Within behind the scenes for over a decade, and she put her vast experience to use in planning the perfect retreat for travelers.  Chances are, if you’ve traveled with Journeys Within, then Linda helped put your tour together.  We are so grateful to have her as part of the Journeys Within team, and are so proud that she is now a business owner in her own right – with two enterprises!  Linda owns a flower shop and Kralanh Petite Villa.

Linda celebrating Kralanh Petite Villa’s one year anniversary – Photo Credit: Courtney Ridgel

We love sending our guests to this hotel because it not only supports a local Khmer-owned and run business (and Linda of course!), but also because we know our guests will be treated like family.  They will be warmly cared for by the incredible staff, many of whom including Ruat and Kanha, originally worked for Andrea over a decade ago at the Journeys Within Boutique Hotel.  This small property is particularly great for families as the rooms are spacious and there is a Family Suite option.  A relaxing dip in the pool feels perfect after a warm day out at the temples.  For families with younger kids, there is a Kid’s Club with games, and baby-sitting services available.

Kralanh Petite Villa has large spacious rooms, perfect for families – Photo Credit: Courtney Ridgel
A dip in the pool is the perfect way to relax at the end of a hot day – Photo credit: Courtney Ridgel

And while the location is not centrally located downtown, we feel that this adds to the charm – you’ll be able to sit and enjoy breakfast while watching the local neighborhood come to life around you – children riding bikes to school in their neat navy and white uniforms, motos and tuk-tuks taking people to work, and neighbors fishing in the canal next door.  And in the evenings, Ly, the resident tuk-tuk driver will be standing by to take you into town to explore the night market and Siem Reap’s delicious food scene.

Looking out over the neighborhood canal in the early morning light – Photo Credit: Courtney Ridgel
Folded lotus blossoms – Photo Credit: Courtney Ridgel

You can read more about Linda’s story in this Huffington Post article, where she, Kralanh Petite Villa and Journeys Within were featured.

Jay, Naida, Makara and Narla enjoying Kralanh Petite Villa’s one year anniversary celebrations – Photo Credit: Courtney Ridgel
Photo Credit: Courtney Ridgel

The Nam Hai has become the first Four Seasons Property in Vietnam

Photo Credit: Four Seasons Resort – The Nam Hai

By Courtney Ridgel

The Nam Hai, one of our all-time favorite luxury properties in Hoi An Vietnam, has been purchased by the Four Seasons.  From December 20th (of 2016) onward, their new official name is “Four Seasons Resort – The Nam Hai”.  This is the first Four Seasons property in Vietnam and we are sure that their additions to this already magnificent property will be delightful.

Photo Credit: Four Seasons Resort – The Nam Hai

In addition to renovating all of the villas, there are two new villa types available to guests.  The Four Seasons – The Nam Hai now offers a One Bedroom Villa Ocean View option in the 3rd and 4th rows back from the beach, and eight new Family Villas, which are specifically tailored to give parents and kids their own space to relax.

Photo Credit: Four Seasons Resort – The Nam Hai

Other new features that guests can look forward to include

Photo Credit: Four Seasons Resort – The Nam Hai

Here’s the feedback from recent guests who’ve stayed at the Nam Hai:

“Five stars – exceeded our expectations. Just gorgeous and excellent service!” – Barta Family

Journeys Within Signature Hotels: Rachamankha, Chiang Mai

Racha 1.Photo

A Journeys Within Signature Hotel, Rachamankha is located within the boundaries of the original city of Chiang Mai. This incredibly unique hotel is the result of a collaboration between a renowned architect father and interior designer son. Rachamankha has received numerous accolades and press for its design, and is atypical to the architecture seen throughout Chiang Mai. The accommodation is the essence of Zen with ornate roof lines, the rooms centered around courtyards with beautifully manicured landscaping, rock walkways, and the entire property is decorated in the family’s own personal art collection. To stay here feels as if to be a privileged guest at an acquaintance’s extraordinary property. In the evening, spiral sticks of incense burn and subtly fill the space with fragrance.

Racha 3.Photo

General Manager, Paul Walker, has been managing the property for over a decade and is a wealth of information about the hotel and Chiang Mai. Every detail of Rachamankha is the well thought out construct of taste and imagination. Walker explained that the design at Rachamankha comes first over pragmatism. This is not a property that was designed under the constraints of compliance for accessibility or safety regulation. In fact, this hotel welcomes guests age 12 and older. This is for a few purposes, one being the potential for slips and falls of smaller children; the art collection that decorates the guest rooms and common areas is priceless and must receive the necessary respect of all guests; most guest rooms (with an exception of the suites) face one another in a courtyard, so noise from small children could disturb the Zen state that the owners of this property have worked so hard to achieve.

Racha Pool.Image

Rachamankha includes a pool, a library that includes a collection of the owner’s books and complimentary cognac, a restaurant, and a studio upstairs from the restaurant which may be used for small meetings and gatherings.

Racha 4.Photo

Stay tuned for our hotel review of Rachamankha coming soon. Rachamankha is included among Secret Retreats, a collection of inspirational boutique hotels, villas, cruises, and restaurants. Follow the hotel on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for more images and information. Contact one of our Tour Consultants for information about booking a stay at Rachamankha and tours in Chiang Mai and throughout Thailand at 877-454-3672.