KIRIMAYA & MUTHIMAYA
GOLF & LEISURE RESORT
(Khao Yai National Park, Thailand)
By Gilles Malaisé
The Khao Yai National Park, second largest in Thailand, covers an area of 2,168 square kilometers. Located in the western part of the Sankamphaeng Mountain Range, at the southwestern boundary of the Khorat Plateau, in the northeastern Isan region, it includes evergreen forests and grasslands hosting rare species of plants, birds -like red junglefowl and green peafowl- mammals, including Asiatic black bear, gibbon, pig-tailed macaque, Indian sambar deer, Indian muntjac, wild pig, Asian elephant and endangered Indochinese tiger subspecies. Made an ASEAN Heritage Park in 1984, it is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005. Kirimaya and Muthimaya are the closest, most luxurious resorts erected right off the limits of the park.
KIRIMAYA (*****): Situated a mere 200 kilometers from Bangkok by highway, or even by train, this is -with Muthimaya- the highest end resort in Khao Yai. We enjoyed Kirimaya at its peak of quietness: during the week, before it goes full house with Thai and foreign residents, escaping Bangkok during the week end to play golf and enjoy the relatively cool temperature, serenity, top service... and one of the purest air on Earth. Maybe ever more than the royal seaside resort of Hua Hin, Khao Yai tends to become the most demanded destination by Thai upper class nowadays.
If you can, do like us: try to arrive by night, proceeding directly from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport. It takes just two and a half hours, and the contrast is impressive: leaving the modern, cosmopolitan atmosphere of globalized Asia to the authentic, well preserved Siam. The wood-carved, cyclopean entrance door, opens to the warmly welcoming lobby-sala accessible through small bridges over fishy pounds. We forgot how was the check-in... so quick: we emptied our glass of lemon grass herbal iced-tea, and were immediately driven to our room by a golf cart. Kirimaya is exclusive, and therefore houses a limited number of happy few. There are only 52 Plantation / Horizon View rooms, 4 large (180 sq. m.) Tented Villas with private indoor spa pool and deck area (the nec-plus ultra in term of accommodation), and 4 Terrace Suites with private terrace. We booked in one of them: 84 sq.m. of supreme comfort and good taste, with bonuses like complimentary Nespresso and WiFi. The design is as smooth as silk, with beautiful items, fine and natural fabrics (natural silks, linens and earthy woods), and lot of places to relax: large bed, deep sofas, and the double terraces allowing us to enjoy the soothing temperature (it can go as low as 17° by night... when Bangkok suffers up to 35°!). We didn't switch on the air-conditioning, leaving all doors open (they were equipped with mosquito nets, of course), and got lulled to sleep by the songs from the fauna, so close that we felt like hosted by the Nature.
We woke up in the early morning, and discovered the idyllic views of unsurpassed greens and hills (Kurimaya means “illusion of mountains”) inhabited by tribes of wild elephants and rare animal species. Then we had a generous breakfast in the safari-lounge style T-Grill restaurant. A fine place for steaks and BBQ, it competes with the Alcala restaurant. Offering picturesque vistas of the golf course, resort and mountains, Alcala serves at lunch and dinner times a fine selection of Thai dishes. Including some regional, Isan specialities. Romantic and not pricey, this was our favourite venue during the whole stay. From both restaurants dinners can see Executive Chef David Bedinghaus' organic farm: the fragrant herbs, crispy salads and fresh vegetables are grown up there naturally.
The staff does it all the Thai way: which means perfectly, and with a smile. Though Kirimaya is ranked very high in Tripadvisor, we saw a few remarks concerning a problem of communication; this sounds strange, as the reception staff, waiters and even our masseuse had a convenient -if not proficient- level in English.
We brought some books, just in case we would feel bored; we hardly finished reading one of them. The culinary experience, pool, Maya SPA treatments and meditation in our terrace didn't even let us time for excursions (the National Park and the Vineyards will be our destinations next time we are lucky enough to come back)... and we don't know how to play golf. A pity, as the resort is actually famous for its Jack Nicklaus golf course, shared with the neighbouring Muthimaya resort.
Rates start from approximately USD 300++ (THB 9,000++) for a Plantation View Room up to USD 1,100++ (THB 33,000++) for the Tented Villa, depending on the season. Attractive special offers and packages are available in all seasons.
A dreamed resort to experience “the other Thailand”.
KIRIMAYA: Khao Yai, 1/3 Moo 6 Thanarat Road, Moo-Si, Pakchong
Nakorn Ratchasima 30130, Thailand
PHONE: +66 (0) 44 426 000 FACSIMILE: +66 (0) 44 929 888
MUTHIMAYA (*****): This is difficult, and certainly useless, to compare Kirimaya with Muthimaya in term of luxury. Both properties are equally comfy and classy though, of course, Muthimaya might be more impressive at first sight with its nicely designed, cool and exclusive Pool Villas. After our stay at Kirimaya, we had a four minutes lift by car, through sinuous roads and a Mediterranean like landscape similar to French Provence, discovering without much contrast its sister hotel. Our villa looked as lovingly and quite similarly designed as our room at Kirimaya. But, and this is what makes all the difference, it was equipped with its private pool, sala-terrace... and little garden cautiously maintained (we have seen the gardeners twice in three days...).
If privacy is your aim, then you will enjoy Muthimaya very much. You can stay in your large villa, be taken care of by your private butler, and have a dedicated chef in your kitchen cooking his specialities -Thai or Western- just for yourself. Local guests like to order him Shabu-Shabu or a convivial open-air BBQ. We preferred to enjoy the 360° panoramic views of Khao Yai National Park from the Myth Italian and Japanese restaurant (lots of guests come from Japan for golfing at a portion of the green-fee applied I their country), where pizzas are generous in size and almost as yummy as in Napoli. We usually don't like pizzas in Thailand, but at Myth the exception is worth the mention. Though of course -in Rome do as the Romans do!- we regularly took the hotel van to have dinner at Alcala, in Kirimaya. All guests have the choice, as there is no competition between both places at all. The transfer is complimentary, of course.
We spent most of our time in our sala, a book in hand: enjoying the view of the world heritage low mountains covered by rain forests and the activity on the exclusive 18-hole championship golf course. The course ranges from 4,875 yards (ladies) to an incredible 7,115 yards (tournament). With its single-track layout, golfers feel as if they are the only ones on the entire course.
Note that guests can remain in contact with “civilisation”: Muthimaya provides a reliable, quite fast WiFi Internet connection on a complimentary basis.
Rates for a Pool Villa start from approximately USD 250++ (THB 7,500++) up to USD 733++ (THB 22,000++), depending on the season. Regularly updated package and promotions make this Reuters reported Top 10 Most Romantic Resort of the World by Mr and Mrs Smith a formidable place for honeymooners, couples, families and golfers. Splendidly managed by a hospitality company controlling prestigious resorts like the Tenface boutique hotel in Bangkok and the classy Rest Detail beach resort in Hua Hin.
MUTHIMAYA: 1/3 Moo 6 Thanarat Road, Moo-Si, Pakchong, Nakorn Ratchasima 30130, Thailand
PHONE: +66 (0) 44 426 000 FACSIMILE: +66 (0) 44 929 888
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