Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai and Its Distinctive Design


Chiang Mai, Thailand

Nestled amid rice paddies, overlooking the misty mountains beyond, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai is the result of a close collaboration with an A-team of well-known architects and designers. Among the luminaries involved in the project are internationally acclaimed architect and landscape designer Bill Bensley of Bensley Design Studios; Chiang Mai Architects Collaborative; Bunnag Architects, and the interior design team of ABACUS Design Co., Ltd.

One of the aspects of Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai that is most commonly acclaimed and complemented on by guests is its beautiful design that takes myriad forms. Today, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai is an extraordinary inland hideaway with manicured rivers of green through the beautiful Mae Rim Valley. This was the first resort garden designed by Bensley Design Studios and since its opening in 1992, Bensley’s landscape team has revisited several times to ensure that the landscape remains consistent with the original concept.

The Resort is reminiscent of the ancient Lanna Kingdom, its garden quilted with a variety of special touches. Guests can leave their elegantly appointed Lanna-style pavilions or their magnificent residences to wander along volcanic stone paths that weave between the villas set among the rice paddies, over bridges and rushing rivers to the acclaimed Lanna-inspired Spa or, further afield to beautiful Orchid Garden.

The Resort’s much discussed and praised interior design is by Abacus Design, a company founded in 1980, specialising in hotel, resort and luxury home interior design in Thailand and surrounding countries. The company’s principal partners studied interior design in the UK, arriving in Thailand in 1969, and setting up their own practice in 1982.

Abacus Design’s inspiration for the Resort was drawn from various sources, with Chiang Mai’s unique Lanna-style at the heart of it. Thus the use of rich silks, hand-woven cotton and wood carvings in the Resort resonate with the heritage-rich character of the region. The local Lanna-style temples also provided abundant sources of forms and motifs. Of all the projects in its portfolio, Abacus Design is most proud of Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai. After it all, it did an exceptionally thorough job of researching local materials, not only for the interiors and also some uniforms. Of particular note is the use of antique wood carvings as artworks throughout the Resort and Lanna school paintings in the lobby. As for the accommodations, each private villa has its own pavilion while warm colours and lavish comfort greet every guest in their room. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the design of Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai is the way it deftly walks the tightrope between being old-fashioned and modern, so that it does not feel dated or heavy. The impact is evident from the minute one arrives at the Resort’s lobby pavilion and flows through to each guest room, with its verdant view out over the rice fields, beyond a family of buffalos, to the soaring mountains.