Drive two hours away from Bangkok to the edge of Thailands Khao Yai National Park, and a whole new world emerges. One where wild elephants, tigers and more than 300 exotic species of birds call home where evergreen hills and grassland stretch as far as the eye can see; where the warm season brings a flurry of beautiful butterflies and the cold season breathes an ethereal mist into the lush surroundings.
Here at Kirimaya, the urban jungle seems a million miles away from this topical forest, opulent with the touch of natures hand, yet rich with everything that has come to be expected of the most luxurious resorts. Rising more than 400 meters above the sea, the temperatures surrounding Kirimaya are refreshingly lower than in the city, rendering this the perfect spot to enjoy a round of golf or embark on an animal safari.
Kirimaya’s exclusive Jack Nicklaus designed 18-hole championship golf course is set within the forest’s natural surrounds and boasts panoramic views of Khao Yai’s magnificent mountains. The course ranges from 4,436m for ladies to an incredible 6,475m for tournaments.
A single-track layout means golfers always feel like they are the only players on the course.
Watch the local wildlife up close with the experts, traverse the forest’s ancient trails, or gaze at the inky night sky lit with stars like a million Christmas lights. Or if you prefer, head to the exquisite Maya Spa where natural beauty and body therapies await.
Savour sumptuous body treatments like the Pure Honey and Herbal Wrap, which envelops guests in healing ingredients blended from a recipe that has spanned generations.
Or indulge in a Maya Massage, a fabulously fragrant experience, where essential oils are used in a signature treatment using Thai pressure massage and relaxing kneading.
Upon their return from the superb course, golfers can head for the 19th Green, a special spa package tailored to reward the spent golfer. The treatment begins with an Aromatic Steam treatment, followed by an Aromatic Bath and then a Sun Soothing Body Wrap to salve sun-kissed skin.
Calmed and relaxed, the treatment continues with a deep-tissue Golfer’s Massage, designed to relive soreness and joint pain after a long and rewarding game.
Finally, your choice of facial is administered to return a radiant glow to your countenance before you head back to your stylish accommodation for a leisurely snooze.
As real and natural as the National Park outside, Kirimaya’s rooms and suites are a nod to its ecological concept, Hardwood flooring, bamboo daybeds and, quite arguably the most comfortable mattresses in Thailand, compliment all the exceptional amenities that have won Kirimaya a place in the Conde Nast Traveler 2005 Hot List.
Each of its 52 rooms and four suites is tastefully and thoughtfully appointed with local touches and modern accents so the shift from city to luxury jungle life is as seamless as possible.
Four fabulous tented villas are the ultimate in forest accommodation, with their own private indoor spa pools and deck areas that offer unobstructed views of the golf course and Khao Yai Mountain.
Meals are equally exquisite affairs, enjoyed in the Acala Restaurant, overlooking the lake and the gold course. Taking its form from an open-air northern Thai rice barn, it is the place to enjoy amazing meals by acclaimed Bangkok chef, Somboom Satheerang, Or wander to the resorts golf clubhouse, T-Grill, which also boasts spectacular views. With a fusion of Mexican and safari decor, the restaurant serves as an a la carte grill menu for lunch and dinner.
For a long, quiet drink, head to the Mist Bar. Cosy, intimate and drenched in soft light, oversized chairs beckon you to take the weight off your feet, kick back and relax.
A specialty of the resort is a collection of lifestyle experiences, cheekily named Kirimaya Sutra. Encouraging discovery of the regions offerings, each unforgettable Kirimaya Sutra encompasses multi-sensory experiences, from vineyards and cuisine, to provincial history and cultural delights.
The famous Thai hospitality seems even better in Kirimaya’s cool climes, leaving everyone to sport serene, contented smiles.