Peaceful and quiet but some patchy service spots
Reviewed 15 August, 2021
This is a very nice hotel but with some faults, though the fact that it landed on Conde Nast’s Gold List for 2021 surely means that it has all the characteristics of a stylishly fancy property. For Chiang Mai, this is a nice standout with its tranquil location, gorgeous minimalist and sleek design with local craftsman touches, earthy tones and rattan decor, and feels vastly different from its more rustic sister property, Tamarind Village, in the old town. But I still think its other sister property in Krabi, the Rayavadee, is more impressive with the unique location and stunning setting and that sets the service expected here.
My greatest peeve is that the three properties under this hotel group lack consistency, so what you experience at one hotel can be 180-degree different at another of the group’s hotel, some better and some worse. One example is the clothed laundry bag - at Rayavadee, they had two clothed ones there and i took one for my dirty clothes, but here and Raya Heritage, there is one bag placed and similarly i also used it to pack my dirty stuff, but when I checked out, they asked about it. I told them to just charge it but do find it amusing that one property offers it (and replenish them daily even if you left it unused hanging, actually) whereas another wants to charge for it. Its so confusing and although they waived it - sure makes me feel like i am cheap.
Service wise, i find staff to be extremely professional, friendly and not overly intrusive. The service standards from staff here are better than Rayavadee as the staff at Rayavadee were slightly overwhelmed. Attendants at the pool will provide you with bottled water as well, and its rather relaxing to laze on the comfy sun loungers by the pool. The F&B outlets and spa have excellent staff and they are all a joy to deal with - they make sure your water glasses are never empty and make you feel at ease with their smiles.
At Raya Heritage, the evening turndown service is also quite amusing - shampoos and bath amenities go un-refilled on day 1, and on day 2, even when I requested for turndown to be from 6pm to 7pm after the staff asked me during check in, no turndown was performed during the one hour. This is vastly different from Rayavade, whereas for the Tamarind being a 4-star property, can be forgiven for not having a turn down service.
Full disclosure: I had the Do Not Disturb sign hung and during 5pm+, when i returned to my room, i noticed housekeeping turning down the room next door. But because I had said the timing to be 6-7pm, i removed the DND sign and left mt room before 6pm, and went for a drink at the bar for an hour. After coming back around 7pm, housekeeping still did not turndown the room to refill my emptied water bottles, and more importantly light up the mosquito coil at the balcony - extremely important as the nature setting means u do get alot of bugs at night. I had to call the desk after coming back around 7pm to light up the coil, and replenish drinking water.
If you are not going do a service, why bother asking me for my preferred time, where i chose to leave the room for an hour hoping that you will come and to do your job.
The location for Raya Heritage is further away from the city center in a more remote and peaceful location - this can be either positive or negative depending on how you see it. If you like peacefulness and serenity, this is perfect. However, if you want to get out to town to dine and look at the temples, then this location is a bit out of reach. However, this hotel does provide a shuttle service to its sister property, the Tamarind Village, in old town, with last van for town at 7pm and back to Raya from Tamarind at 10pm. Do approach the staff for detailed timings as it’s not hourly. If not, i think another hotel along the river nearer to town (like the Sala, X2, or Anantara may be more apt).
The highlight of Raya Heritage is definitely the design, where early tones and local craftsmanship are embedded in tiny minute details - from staff uniforms, lobby, restaurants, to your room. I stayed here for three nights in a second level Suite on a very good local promotion during this tiring time and was glad to have experienced the hype. There are three types of rooms here, the ground floor suite with a private small pool, the second floored suites with gorgeous balconies with a partial view of the river (i was in a side room on second floor with lush foliage in front of my balcony, and interestingly, on my welcome envelope, the room 205 was crossed out and replaced with my room’s number - 205 is in the middle of the building and has a view of both the pool and the river with no foilage, so maybe i was just moved out to make way for other guests, but I also do not mind the privacy, though I am slightly annoyed that as a guest who has stayed at the company’s two other hotels all within past 30 days, no effort was made to thank my patronage), and the third floor suites with an elevated thatched ceiling and accompanying balcony. I highly recommend you to get either the level two or level three suites with balconies as its gorgeous to laze in the daybed outdoors during the day with sounds of nature surrounding you.
The room is huge with a bed in the middle of the room that has a long study table as the bed’s headboard, and an equally spacious bathroom with a freestanding bathtub, double vanity sinks, separated bathroom and standing shower stall with rain shower and hand held faucet. The toiletries were also specifically created for this hotel - unsure if they are also from ERB as the packaging did not state, but they are very nicely scented with floral undertones. Bath salts were also provided in a wooden holder, alongside standard toothbrush kits, shaver and vanity kits. The bathrobes ate simply divine (just like at the Tamarind Village), and i actually bought one from the giftstore - its lightweight and fits the asian frame well. One small gripe I had is the towel. There are locally made towels off the rack, and i wet one to wipe my face and realized that it has a damp smell - that kind of musky stench that you get when laundry didnt dry out completely, so i was slightly taken aback. However, the other towels dont have this stench, so maybe i was just unlucky to have used the one that has a smell. The water pressure from the shower stall is strong and hot water gets heated fast.
Bedding wise,the bed was extremely plush and has a very comfortable topper for a great nights sleep. The memory foam pillows that I requested were also provided, and the lightings, though not with any fancy electronic preset mood settings, were all able to be switched on/off individually to easily get the lighting mood scene you want. The room also has black-out curtains and is the only hotel out of the group’s three properties with a completely dark-out room. A/C are split units and you can control via the hand held remote.
In the bedroom, There is a comfortable nook at the side of the room with many comfortable cushions, and the mini bar is outside at the balcony with a gorgeous selection of dried local Thai herbs for infusions, two sachets of Chaidum tea, and two packs of locally sourced ground coffee. The coffee are brewed with dripover porcelain cone filter - Sadly as much as I wanted to buy these filters and mugs, the gift store doesn’t sell them.
Sidenote: I find it a little bit odd that only two sachets of tea were given as the sister property in Krabi, the Rayavadee gave teas in 5 flavours. But maybe because Raya Heritage has the herbs for infusions, so only one pack of green and eng breakfast was given.
The hotel also has two on-site restaurants, and one on-site bar. Food were delicious and service was prompt at the F&B outlets. The hotel is probably running on scaled down employment now with most F&B being concentrated at the main dining area, as the tea room and the bar did not have staff when I visited. However once you get a member of the team aware that you’re at one of those two places, service will be prompt.
In conclusion, this is a very well-designed hotel and service are good, though, execution an be patchy and sometimes, as a foreigner, you are unsure if they are being nice or just being overly patronizing and condescending - and one thing I realized with most Thai-branded hotels are that things often get lost in translation as English aint that well understood by staff, so if you say something that goes off script like raising an issue, staff gets flustered and dont know that you are talking about - like my turndown issue on my second night.
Nonetheless, the great thing here is that the F&B staff are amazing, and is way better that Rayavadee, as they are attentive and not overly intrusive.
My final verdict: skip this hotel and stay at others nearer to town along the river (X2, Sala, Anantara) or at the Tamarind Village in old town. Spend your time on the other sister property in Krabi as that is a truly unique property with its national park location - here, there are many other hotels with nice design and along the Ping River too.