Cultivating Elegance: The Green Artisans of Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Upon meandering through the verdant pathways of Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, one is immediately struck by the profound interplay of nature and design that defines this luxury haven. Far removed from the demanding cacophony of city life, the Resort unfurls as a sanctuary, where time seems to slow down, offering a deep-seated connection with nature and oneself.

Pondkaran Kantha, our revered Chief Gardener, paints the tale of transformation of this landscape, "What our guests now witness - a panorama of meticulously terraced rice fields and curated gardens - is the culmination of a vision that took root more than two decades ago." But the task went beyond mere envisioning. The challenge lay in ensuring a year-round bloom, creating an evergreen tapestry that delights the senses and weaving tropical flora that supports a picturesque eco system. "Our team of botanical aficionados, with their unparalleled expertise and passion, ensure the Resort is a living, breathing masterpiece," Kantha shares, his voice laden with pride.

The gardening team has a strong and dedicated contingent of local women who are invested in the soil. These custodians of the earth bring with them not just knowledge, but also a legacy - imbuing the soil with stories, hopes, and dreams. “It requires knowledge of plants, soil, climate, and gardening techniques, all of which can be acquired through education and experience,” she says. “While some aspects of gardening may require physical exertion, such as digging or lifting heavy objects, gardening requires a keen eye for detail, patience, and the ability to nurture plants. These qualities are not gender-specific but depend on an individual's personality and interests.”  

The gardeners at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai are not just skilled horticulturalists; they are individuals deeply connected to their agricultural roots and driven by unique motivations. Wannala Chuenjee, a local farmer who has been with the Resort since its early days, expresses her artistic side through the enchanting floating floral decorations in the lobby, “Every dawn, as I arrange these blooms, is a moment of reflection, tranquillity, and creative outpouring. The artistry of floating flowers in that bowl truly captivates my heart. I relish the opportunity to unleash my creativity, crafting unique arrangements each day. "

In another corner of the Resort, Amporn Suwannachan, a local farmer, proceeds to tidy up dry leaves, prune, plant, and tend to flower beds that are around and in front of the villas. She thrives in the sense of community connection that Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai provides. "Gardening as a team highlights the robustness of our collective effort. We have to work as a team to ensure the continuous beauty of the entire Resort.  There's an unspoken bond among us - a camaraderie that is nurtured by shared stories, mutual respect, and an undying love for nature," she reflects.

Having recently joined the team, Kripo Thonak, a member of the Karen ethnic group, is embarking on a life-changing journey through her role in gardening. This journey encompasses personal growth, the development of new skills, and a newfound confidence that she derives from the inspiration she draws from her experienced senior gardeners. “All our gardeners remain youthful and happy on the job,” she laughs. “This job not only offers me a stable income but also enhances my overall well-being, benefiting both my body and mind, and keeps me feeling healthy and content.” For Thonak, gardening demonstrated her ability to learn new things and adapt to change. “I'm constantly acquiring new knowledge, and my eagerness to learn is driven by my desire to excel in my role,” she smiles.  “It’s like a sisterhood for me – considering most of the team are women.”

While Thonak and her fellow gardeners are the unsung heroes behind the daily beautification of the Resort, their work goes beyond mere aesthetics. Thanks to their persistent horticultural efforts, the rice fields and trees encircling Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai have flourished into a haven for nature enthusiasts. Tailorbirds flit about singing their unique melodies, while the distinctive calls of lesser racket-tailed drongos punctuate the tranquil ambiance. The verdant landscape, teeming with life, stands as a testament to the gardeners' skills and dedication.

In Kantha's words, "Our symbiotic relationship with the local community is our hallmark, our commitment to sustainability." Building a relationship with the people who live here, and committing to a long-term investment in their community and livelihoods is how the Resort gives back to Mae Rim valley. Chuenjee, Suwannachan and Thonak’s stories are a testament to collaboration that instills pride and ownership.

At dusk approaches, all the farmers and gardeners, irrespective of their experience or background, unite for a heartwarming parade. Their melodious songs, echoing gratitude to Mother Nature, become the soulful background score to the unfolding evening.

In these harmonious moments, it's evident that the bond the gardeners share with nature is sacred. Their commitment not only ensures the Resort's beauty but also preserves the rich biodiversity of Chiang Mai, allowing guests to experience the magic firsthand. The fusion of nature and culture at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai ensures that every stay is not just luxurious, but also deeply enriching.