There are places where you just want to hang out to enjoy the world around you. Our long-stay holiday home Doi Luang Reserve in Chiang Dao in Northern Thailand is such a place. Once we are settled with our drinks on the large stone terrace, we witness a breathtaking spectacle when the morning mist makes its way over the jungle-covered mountains right behind the villa.
It is not without reason that retired golfer Noel Hunt chose exactly this spot to build his dream house. It is a bit of a search, but we soon discover the entrance gate to our place of residence. A huge drive meanders through a lychee plantation and leads up to the villa that is entirely built of local wood. After a warm welcome by the caretaker/cook and the two domestic helps, we explore our home away from home. The living room is spacious and French doors open up to the aforementioned terrace. There is a total of six bedrooms, so more than enough space for a large family and – in our opinion – large enough for friends to come over and stay for a while. There are several bathrooms and the master bedroom has a private balcony with once again a marvellous view of the mountains.
The interior is not the epitome of luxury but rather local and rural. The large and comfy sofas and armchairs are perfect for relaxing with a good book while the kids are having fun in the swimming pool that is neither large nor deep. Yet, good enough for a refreshing dip. This comes in handy as the kids sure are to get lots of exercise here. For example, the terrace leads up onto a vast lawn where the children can run, play and tumble around. Our daughters spend hours playing with self-made kites. Or, someone from the staff is likely to be in for a game of soccer.
The villa is set in no less than 10 acres of grounds, so ample space to go for a hike on the terrain. This doesn’t imply there is nothing worthwhile to do in the villa’s surroundings. On the contrary. If so desired, a car or a minibus with private driver is included in the villa rental rate. At a short distance from the villa, you can explore waterfalls, authentic mountain villages, rice fields, caves, temples, hot springs and elephant camps. The city of Chiang Mai, also called Little Bangkok, is only a 1½-hour drive. The neighbouring countries Laos and Myanmar are within reasonable distance.
Besides a private driver, the culinary competencies of caretaker Wen are included in the rate as well. Every morning, he asks us what we would like to have for dinner and possibly lunch. We always look forward to the moment the dishes are served. We have seldom tasted such great food. Soon we give Wen a free hand: ‘surprise us!’ During our stay, we get to enjoy the complete Thai cuisine. Almost everything is freshly purchased at the local markets and served a few hours later at the large table outside where we all savour the delicious food.
Breakfast in the morning is just as extensive. Fresh juices, all sorts of fruit, pancakes, freshly baked bread and so on. Nonetheless, if you want to enjoy your dinner somewhere else for a change, it’s only a few minutes’ drive to various small restaurants in the village.
# The location of this holiday home is truly magnificent. Absolute peace and quiet and in perfect harmony with the surrounding nature. Bird lovers can enjoy their birdwatching from the terrace with one of the available binoculars.
# The villa provides all the facilities you need for spending a couple of days in and around the house. Toys, children’s bicycles, footballs, tennis rackets, games, etc. Nevertheless, if you prefer to go out, there are numerous activities nearby. Or what about a real Thai massage at home: highly recommended.
# The staff members are very hospitable and do their utmost to make your stay as comfortable as possible. For instance, we asked for a fence around the swimming pool to prevent the children from falling into the pool and it was done within several minutes. On the other hand, the staff are very discrete. They respect your privacy.