The Aspen lodge-like Baan Med Bua has recently opened its doors in the hilltop village of Pong Krai, in the Mae Rim region of Chiang Mai. And a stay here promises to be unlike any other in Thailand.
Owned and operated by the esteemed Samed Group—which has been in the boutique game for 20 years and now plans to embark on ventures throughout Thailand, not just on Koh Samed—Baan Med Bua takes over the land once owned by Pong Krai Lodge, a quaint and cosy getaway a couple of hills over from the much-photographed Mon Jam. Thanks to heavy renovations, the resort incorporates elements from the former property. Nevertheless, the centrepiece is a newly built 18-room lodge, featuring lots of local bamboo and wood in the construction, with a drawing room taken right out of an après-ski brochure.
Baan Med Bua has a woodsy appeal, with touches from the local hilltribe communities in the form of accent pillows and cushions. There are pieces of local art hung on the walls, too, but subtly (there’s also a sort of woodsy minimalism at play). Ever-present raw wood furnishings—the walls, the deck, and the flooring—are contrasted by stark white sheets on plush beds far larger than king-sized, also finished with colourful spreads woven in the nearby hilltribes. The effect is at once familiar and foreign, an exclusive hideaway in some unknown hills with northern Thai influence, even in the food.
Meals are highlighted by traditional northern staples, such as sai ua and fresh-cured naem. What’s more, many of the ingredients come directly from the community, if not the resort itself. Salads are speckled with sliced bell peppers grown in Pong Krai. The strawberry jam includes berries grown with papaya trees and coffee bushes in the terraced patches below the deck in the hilltop room annex. And, in fact, from this deck a guest can see, smell, and hear the action and produce at the small farms in the village, where flowers and peppers that end up in Chiang Mai are cultivated.
In the morning, the famous fog that lingers over Mon Jam finds its way to Pong Krai. A narrow road that continues past the climb to the Flying Squirrel zipline—to which guests at Baan Med Bua enjoy a discount—descends into the misty mountain jungle. It’s a pleasant, isolated place to take in some fresh air and scenery after dawn. And days should start with a walk or jog through the village, too. On a hill opposite from the resort sits a bone-white temple, recently renovated. Beneath it are small, mom-and-pop shop fronts, where the smell of herbal soups cuts through the daybreak chill.
The appeal of staying at a resort like Baan Med Bua is, no doubt, its isolation. Without the commotion of a city or the disturbance of high-occupancy hotels in the neighbourhood, it isn’t hard to rediscover what peace and tranquillity feel like. Here, the lodge comes with a fireplace, the pools are unoccupied (owning also to the northern chill), and the stars actually shine in a pitch-black night—even the townsfolk don’t bat an eyelash at the sight of a stray outsider or two.
Baan Med Bua doesn’t only capture components of vernacular architecture, but also a kind of vernacular spirit, as well. The pace is slow, oblivious to the harried human activity of Chiang Mai, and that’s just fine. Get a massage in the drawing room. Read a book beside the fire pit. Enjoy some wine as the sun dives into the hills. Why not? Life needs closeness to nature, a separation from our anxieties, true fulfilment. Not enough resorts these days allow this kind of retreat into our selves. The chance to forget your troubles, to learn to live again—Baan Med Bua offers this in spades.
Baan Med Bua
59 Moo 5, Tambol Pongyang, Amphur Mae Rim, Chiang Mai | 0 2438 9771-2 | [email protected] | samedresorts.com/baanmedbua