The Visama Mae Chan luxury tented camp in the mountains of Chiang Rai, northern Thailand, will open 1 November. The new property, with 10 luxuriously appointed tents, is the first high end lodge by Visama Hospitality Group (VHG) Asia.
It will be a project with a purpose, run on not-for-profit principles to benefit the neighbouring Friends of Thai Daughters foundation, which seeks to prevent child trafficking by empowering girls from hill tribe communities.
The foundation, registered in the United States as a not-for-profit, and created by its current directors, Patty Zinkowski and Jane McBride, issued a statement saying: “We are grateful that Visama Mae Chan will provide both sustainable income for the foundation and employment opportunities for some of our girls. We look forward to a long and productive partnership with Visama.”
Details of the new property by VHG were revealed to a select group of travel trade representatives at the Siam Hotel in Bangkok on 27 September.
VHG Asia’s co-founders Willem Niemeijer of YAANA Ventures and Christopher Stafford, who founded the luxury boutique hotel management firm The Occident & Orient Company, told the audience that there was nowhere else like Visama in northern Thailand and that the opening 10 units would be complemented by an additional 12 luxury tents in 2024.
Niemeijer, who co-founded award winning ecolodges and tented camps in southern Thailand and Cambodia, said Visama Mae Chan guests could choose two- to four-day “journeys” at the lodge. Each journey will be created around themes such as farm to table dining, Lanna cultural appreciation, artistic engagement, outdoor adventure and sightseeing experiences.
The luxury tents, which have hill tribe names such as “Akha”, “Lahu”, “Yao”, and “Hmong”, range in size from 48 to 80 sqm, including a 12 or 20 sqm veranda. Standard amenities include air conditioning, phone, espresso machine, French press coffee pots, WiFi, rain showers, safety deposit box, refrigerator, his and her bathrobes and slippers, bathtub and 24 hour concierge, to name a few amenities.
One highlight will be The Ambalama, a gathering place for storytelling and talks by guest speakers such as authors and historians. At the Reu Doo Gaan restaurant guests can sample the best of Lanna fare, local farm to table organic options and international favourites.
Chris Stafford, Chief Operating Officer of VHG and formerly of 137 Pillars Hotels, said activity options at the pioneering lodge would set it apart from any competition.
“We want to immerse guests in a fusion of luxury and Lanna culture set against the stunning backdrop of mythical mountains of the Golden Triangle,” he said.
Stafford said that event butlers will offer guests private picnics, foraging, personalised arts and craft sessions, dining by design, meditation tutorials, and even archery. Visama Mae Chan will invite guest speakers to talk on subjects such as wellness, sustainability and community.
Looking beyond the inaugural Mae Chan project, Niemeijer told the travel agent audience: “At Visama we aim to meticulously design our camps to blend seamlessly into their surroundings, providing guests refreshing opportunities to connect with nature while enjoying modern amenities and world-class service.”
Booking and sales for Visama Mae Chan opened 27 September for stays commencing 1 November 2023 onwards.