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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.

So That’s What All The Fuss Is About!

Listening to Couper while relaxing on the beach.

I got into travel because I love to travel, but until the last few weeks I think I had forgotten the abandoned joy of a true vacation.  Don’t get me wrong, we all know that I travel a lot and I thank the travel gods everyday that I get the chance to not just live in, but also explore, an amazing region. With that said, when I travel, even as a family, there’s always work involved. I know this to be true because when we checked into our first hotel in Mexico Callie immediately disappeared and returned to tell me that they had a hair dryer, a safe and she liked the view…this is her job when we do hotel inspections in Southeast Asia and clearly, like me, she had a hard time breaking away. Ask any of our guides about Callie and Couper and chances are they’ll know them, that’s because when we take family vacations in Southeast Asia we also fit in guide training!

So two weeks ago I went to Mexico and for the first time in 8 years I took a trip that had nothing to do with work. It was amazing! I played with my kids, I took afternoon naps, I ate amazing food and didn’t care about the name of the restaurant and when I didn’t feel like doing an activity I just didn’t do it, with no guilt that I wouldn’t then “know” the experience. This vacation was truly good for my soul, it was good for my kids and it was good for my business. While I know I did neglect work and I apologize if you’re one of my guests still waiting for an itinerary, I promise I am back at work now and totally focused. The reason I say it was good for business was because I once again was reminded of the joys of travel. I love arriving at a place and knowing that adventures await. I loved being there with my kids and husband as those adventures unfolded and I loved being spoiled with good food, delicious drinks and a little bit of pampering. I have always been proud of what I do, that I can create and execute true trips of a lifetime and that people trust me to do this for them, but I am even more proud now that what I just experienced for myself and for my family is what I make possible for people coming to Southeast Asia. Thanks for your patience if you’ve been waiting for my return and thanks to my team for stepping up and really taking over while I was gone and big thanks to my parents for planning it all, but mostly, thank you to adventure and to vacation, for being there when we need you!

Out for a sail on SV Happy Now, my parents and the boat, just finished their circumnavigation of the globe!