Chiang Mai: Regent vs. Westin

Sep 4th, 2002, 05:17 AM
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Chiang Mai: Regent vs. Westin

my fiancee are going to Thailand for our honeymoon; in Chiang Mai we have a choice of the Regent Chiang Mai (Garden view suite) or the Westin Riverside Plaza.

We are staying for 2 nights. The cost difference between the two hotels is US$375 per person (for both nights).

we've heard amazing things about the Regent, but it is it worth the extra money? Is the Westin OK for a 2 night stay?

thanks for any input.
washington, dc
Sep 4th, 2002, 05:46 AM
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Randy - My husband and I just returned from Thailand. We spent a week in Bangkok and 4 days in Chiang Mai. We stayed at the Regent and LOVED it. It truly is as amazing as everyone says. The grounds are spectacular; the hotel could charge non-guests for tours; it's that incredible. The food was fantastic and the staff was amazing. We had a suite with a view of the rice paddies which was incredible. We were able to take advantage of a special deal that the hotel was running where if you stayed for 3 nights, the 4th night was free. This helped alleviate the cost of the room somewhat.

Having said all that, since you will only be in Chiang Mai for 2 days, you may want to stay in town at the Westin. I obviously can't comment on the Westin because we stayed only at the Regent, but it definitely has the advantage of being right in Chiang Mai. The only drawback to the Regent is its distance from town. It takes a good 30 minutes to get from the resort into town. The hotel offers a free shuttle, but it leaves and returns at set times, i.e., you cannot use it as a taxi service. You can of course take a taxi, but that is not free. We had made arrangements before leaving for Thailand for a private guide with a car, and he took us all around Chiang Mai and surrounding areas. We would be gone the whole day, returning to the hotel between 6:00 and 7:00 in the evening. At that point, we only had one choice of shuttle (at 7:30) and always wound up staying at the hotel for dinner. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, because the food was excellent, but if you like to take a mid-afternoon break at your hotel and then wander around a city after dinner, staying at the Regent (especially since you only have two days in Chiang Mai) may not make the most sense. Having just spent a week in Bangkok, my husband and I didn't mind hanging around a hotel in the evenings - we walked the grounds, which as I mentioned were gorgeous (and lit with torches at night.)

Hope my comments help.
Sep 4th, 2002, 08:35 AM
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Randy: My husband and I were in Chiang Mai three years ago. Things may have changed somewhat but having said that, I wish that we had stayed at the Regent. We stayed at the Westin because of the price and the location. It is probably the best choice in town but I was so disappointed especially after staying at beautiful hotels in Bangkok. We used United Mileage coupons for a discounted rate so the price difference was substantial. The morning after we arrived, we headed straight to the Regent for breakfast and to negotiate if we could get a better rate now that we were on ground. Too bad. All booked up.

Yes, it is quite a ways out of town. But we hired a car and driver from the Regent for a day and toured the area that way. Like Julie, having come from Bangkok, I would have been happy to come back to the Regent for dinner and the rest of the evening. Maybe one of the two nights you stay in town for dinner and go to the night market. That was fun. It is very unlikely you would leave the resort once you have returned.

If I only had two days, I would spend a couple of hours at the elephant camp, go to the temple in the hills (up the long flight of stairs - sorry can't remember the name) visit a celedon factory and possibly a jewelry showroom (I bought a set of beautiful gold bangle bracelets which I have never seen any where else. Negotiate!) The wood carving is beautiful but the whole deforestation issue bothered me too much to buy anything. Didn't care for the paper making or laquer work. The silk weaving was beautiful. I would have a Thai massage and try not to do everything.

The Westin is very tired and dated. There are a lot of tour groups. I do remember I enjoyed the buffet breakfast. But you can not compare it to the Regent. The Westin is OK. The Regent is spectactular. Unfortunately, there is nothing in between. For a honeymoon, the Regent would be my choice! Congratulations.

Sep 4th, 2002, 08:46 AM
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As the above poster says, if you are only going to be in Chiang Mai for two days and want to shop and dine within Chiang Mai, stay at the Westin. It is actually not quite in the center of town so you will need a tuk tuk or taxi for the 5 minute trip (about $1) to the night market or restaurants. I would not bother eating dinner at the Westin. Instead, go to one of several outdoor restaurants along the river (there are even one or two within walking distance of the hotel). The Westin's luncheon Chinese buffet is supposed to be an excellent value and breakfast, which is probably included in your room rate, is fine. Do hire a taxi to take you out to the handicraft villages--probably $10-15 for an afternoon, and if you have time, to Wat Doi Su Thep, the elephant camp and the orchid farm. There are also some Wats worth seeing in the center of Chiang Mai.

Now...all this being said, if you are on your honeymoon and not staying any place else that is real romantic (i.e. the Oriental or Peninsula in Bangkok or one of the beach resorts in southern Thailand, then you owe it to yourself to stay at the Regent. Just keep in mind that you will be spending more time and money getting around and your meals will also be much more expensive.
Sep 4th, 2002, 08:58 AM
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The above poster replied while I was composing my reply. We stayed at the Westin 2 years ago in one of their executive deluxe rooms which was on an upper floor. We did not find it "tired" although it was obvious that it was cheap construction. This is definitely a four star hotel not a five star hotel and it is large and impersonal. We had a great view from our spacious, quiet room and the hotel has a fully equipped health center, if you are into that. Rooms on run from $60-100.

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