Happy Families

October 4, 2007, Time Magazine

Sequestered on a hill about a 40-minute drive from Chiang Mai, Proud Phu Fah doesn’t attract young urbanites so much as families and others looking for a quiet puff of Thai mountain air. Yet that’s not to say that the hotel lacks contemporary style. The first clue to its existence comes on a bare, green stretch of road in the Mae Rim Valley, where a small sign beckons: HIP HOTEL AND RESTAURANT. The next is a gate in an isolated grassy lay-by, where soft jazz pipes from the trees. “We wanted to try a new concept,” says co-owner Siriphen Siwanarak, who left a design job in Bangkok to build the place with her husband. “When guests arrive they see this gate first, then follow the stream, and suddenly they’re open to the panorama and the mountain view, like a surprise.”

Nine whimsical chalets are set into the lush vegetation, all individually decorated with four-poster beds and terraces looking onto a stream. The live-in owners encourage back-to-basics relaxation: cycling, cooking classes with local ingredients and impromptu arts-and-crafts sessions on the lawn. “A lot of families come here for the relaxed style and open space,” says Siwanarak. Handily enough, the valley below is known for its gamut of child-friendly activities, from a monkey school to an orchid farm, go-karting track and, a little further north, the famous Elephant Nature Park sanctuary. For more details see www.proudphufah.com.