Spa review: Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai Resort

Queen of Retreats reviewer Lucy Gillmore tells us about Dhara Dhevi in Chiang May, Thailand 

Hotel and resort spas come in all shapes and sizes from the understated cluster of low-key treatment rooms to spectacular star-studded complexes. The Dhara Dhevi resort just outside Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, falls into the second camp – if there was an award for architectural wow factor alone the Dheva Spa and Wellness Centre would win hands down.


The spa that is its own city

The resort is surrounded by 60 landscaped acres (jog or jump into a dinky golf buggy) of gardens, lagoons, picture-perfect vegetable patches and paddy fields, with rooms peppered through a colonial wing and rural-style high-gabled villas.

It’s been designed to resemble a Thai city complete with a palace, temples and rustic rice barns. It veers towards a Disneyland vibe, but the spa is the highlight of a stay here.

It’s modelled on an ancient Mandalay Palace with an ornate seven-tier lobby of carved teak and took 150 craftsmen three and a half years to create. It’s a world within a world, with 11 large treatment rooms, a hammam (Turkish bath), rhassoul (clay mud) and watsu workout pool. Walking up the staircase to the entrance was jaw-droppingly inspiring and you are immediately cocooned in an atmosphere of lotus flower-style serenity.

Walking up the staircase to the entrance was jaw-droppingly inspiring and you are immediately cocooned in an atmosphere of lotus flower-style serenity

You can even bed down here in one of the dedicated spa suites, which is probably a good idea if you sign up for the weight loss programme (7-21 nights).

Your food is specially prepared taking away the temptations presented by the smattering of restaurants in the grounds from the Thai-themed Grand Lanna to Allegro, an Italian trattoria, and Farang Ses’ fine French cuisine.

A Chinese film crew had taken up residence in the spa suites when we were there, however, so we had to slum it in a two-storey villa, roomier than most London flats.

Spa Review Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai Resort

Spa and programmes

The spa has an encyclopaedic range of decadent treatments and offers a series of wellness retreats to target specific health objectives from back pain to stress relief, women’s health to Ayurvedic rejuvenation and a juice cleanse to fitness-focused retreat, varying in length from two to 21 nights.

The Women’s Health retreat, for instance, focuses on correcting hormonal imbalances affecting physical, mental and emotional health. The retreat combines a holistic health assessment with nutritional advice, indulgent treatments, yoga and fitness classes.

We signed up for a taster of the stress relief retreat starting with a health consultation with the resident Ayurvedic doctor. After filling in a lengthy questionnaire and answering questions about general health and symptoms she assessed our dosha type and diagnosed the imbalances we were suffering from.

Our pulse apparently was jumping around erratically halfway between a frog and a snake. Even though this was only the initial consultation we could feel the stress draining away.

The programme the doctor put together for us over the next couple of days included two heavenly ayurvedic treatments, Abhyanga and Shironasya, that left us floating on air, an Inner Visualisation meditation (surprisingly moving and emotional) and a Thai boxing session (invigorating, fun and a real stress-buster).

The Abhyanga is a dosha-specific personalised (in terms of oil and pressure) body massage while the Shironasya focuses on the marma points of your face, neck and shoulders before clearing congestion from the sinuses using herbal rice pouches.

You could spend weeks here, in fact, working your way through them all

We also had a one-to-one pranayama session (breathing techniques for healthy respiration and meditation) and an EFI (Energy Field Imaging) body scan which was fascinating.

Stripped down to my bra it pinpointed the electromagnetic biofields, chakras and meridiens revealing where I was low in energy and identifying imbalances and congestion that could lead to disease.

spa review

As well as ayurvedic treatments, the spa offers traditional Thai, Lanna, Shiatsu, Swedish and aromatherapy massages, reflexology and a range of beauty treatments, facials, body polishes and wraps.

You could spend weeks here, in fact, working your way through them all – and if the few days we experienced are anything to go by it would be time well spent.

Room rates from £460 for two sharing and including breakfast

For more wellness travel ideas check out Queen of Retreats. Queen of Retreats was founded by Caroline Sylger Jones, an author and freelance journalist who travels the world checking out spas, retreats and healthy holidays for international newspapers, glossy magazines and websites.

Follow on Twitter: @QueenOfRetreats

Follow on Facebook: @QueenOfRetreats

Follow on Instagram: @QueenOfRetreats




Spa review: gut health retreat at Cugó Gran spa, Menorca, Spain

Spa of the Week: Four Seasons Bali reviewed

Spa of the week: Carbis Bay Hotel and Spa, Cornwall

Spa of the week: Amanfayun resort, Hangzhou, China

< Back

Also in this week’s magazine

Adaptogens for your immune system FEATURED
Expert Chat

These immune boosting superfoods will be on everyone’s lips in 2020

Don't let a cold ruin your holidays with these secret superfoods

Adaptogens for sleep FEATURED
Expert Chat

Got insomnia? These 3 adaptogens will help you sleep

Insomnia and sleep challenges are a common side effect of a stressful life, but adaptogens can help you get a better night's sleep, says Katrine Van Wyk

This St Lucia spa resort will take your life back to basics in the most glorious way FEATURED
Spas & Retreats

This St Lucia spa resort will take your life back to basics in the most glorious way

With its remote beaches and lush greenery, St. Lucia is one of the Caribbean's most naturally beautiful islands. Daniela Fischer's stay at Calabash Cove Resort & Spa took her back to the basics - the most glorious way

3 best adoptogen depression fixers FEATURED
Expert Chat

3 depression helping herbs that are totally drug-free

Sometimes antidepressants are necessary but if you're going down the natural route these adaptogen herbs may help, says Katrine Van Wyk, author of new book Super Powders

3 adaptogens to take for glowing skin FEATURED
Expert Chat

3 best adaptogens for glowing skin

Day 2 of our adaptogens uncovered series brings you pearl powder, collagen and He Shou Wu from Chinese medicine - all adaptogens for skin

Adaptogens for stress and anxiety FEATURED (1)
Expert Chat

If you’re stressed or anxious, follow this new series on adaptogen foods every day this week

Adaptogens will be the super herbs on all our lips in 2020. This week, we bring you a 5-day video series abouttheir benefits from former model-turned-naturopath Katrine Van Wyk, author of new book Super Powders. Today,  adaptogens for stress and anxiety

Latest Video Series


Wellness Weekly

I agree to my personal data being stored and used to receive the Healthista newsletter.