Old History from 2002
We came on holiday to North Thailand in January 2002. We were in Chiang Mai thinking that the reason we had come to the North was to be in a remote mountain area, next to nature, not in the middle of another city. We looked at the Lonely Planet and decided to try Chiang Dao. Initially we called the Chiang Dao Hill Resort, but that was out of our budget range so we gambled on going to Malee's Nature Lovers Bungalows. We intended staying for two days and ended up staying for ten!
Malee's hospitality was great and the place was beautiful and quiet, perfect for us. Towards the end of our stay it came up in conversation that the neighbouring piece of land might be available. We took about a minute to decide that we would buy it if possible. We just wanted to stay here for longer, and we thought we might be able to make a living, and that Joseph (our son) would enjoy growing up here. Sure enough things worked out and on Joseph's first Birthday deposits were paid and we committed ourselves to moving here.
Between January and September we packed in our jobs, sold lots of our posessions in England, decorated the house in Norwich for renting, and said lots of sad farewells to friends and family. (We now have a nice place for them all to come on holiday though!). In Thailand Wicha's family and Malee were a great help in making arrangements in our absence. We flew back to Thailand in the middle of September, the end of the rainy season. On November 9th 2002 Chiang Dao Nest opened!! Six bungalows available for rent, plus a larger one for us to live in, a toilet / shower block and a restaurant/ office all constructed on what was an overgrown longan plantation barely a month previous.
Wicha has to take great credit for organising two teams of builders an electrician/ plumber and various other workers.
Old History from 2005
On November 9th 2002 Chiang Dao Nest opened!! The early days were very quiet and uncertain. (thanks to my Mum, Kieng and Kai for helping us financially during this time!!) We had the occasional passer-by who saw signs for Chiang Dao Nest nearby and ended up staying with us, but it was very few. Christmas and New Year were very quiet, but we were encouraged that the people who came here seemed to like it and a good number returned. During this time, as we realized we could not (and didn’t want to) sit around waiting a year or two to appear in guidebooks, so our online presence was developed and we tried our hand at some marketing.
This paid dividends when we had two articles in quick succession published in the Bangkok Post travel section. These had an instant, huge impact. People who were traveling around added us to their itineraries, and people who live and work in Thailand / Asia filed the article for future holidays. We are still enjoying their effect.
Partly to coincide with my mum’s first visit and partly from listening to our guests we added our first bathroom to a bungalow in September 2003. Following the success of this we quickly added two more in time for Christmas.
When we first arrived in Chiang Dao, Joseph had a recurring fever that the private hospitals could not cure which was very concerning. Thankfully it was eventually diagnosed as sinus problems which now seem to have passed. Apart from this, the low point of the first year was in July 2003 when our main sign was removed overnight and eventually discovered burnt in a field. We don’t know who or why but we have our suspicions. This happened shortly before we were due to return to England for a short visit, so amongst a number of other “security” measures, we signed up for the security service that the local Police offer. (they still visit us two times every day). Thankfully we have not had any further problems to date.
There are some fascinating things to see and do around here. Throughout this time and on an ongoing basis we have been and are looking to expand our range of tours and treks that we offer. These have been very popular with visitors, and it is clear that if you want people to visit slightly out of the way places then laying on activities tours etc. is very important. We are always looking out for new and different things that might be interesting. When the initial impact from the Bangkok Post articles died down and we had gained confidence and experience running Chiang Dao Nest we decided to open a Café in front of Chiang Dao Cave (September 2003) . To be honest we haven’t spent the time on this project as yet but it is running, serves good coffee, has some nice things to buy in it, and the cakes it sells are extemely popular with local children.
For Christmas 2003 we put on a two day special including traditional dancing, and big Christmas dinner. This proved to be very successful, and great fun. We were full throughout this time and filled rooms in other resorts as well. This Christmas and New Year we intend to do something similar but to surpass last years festivities!
New Years day 2004 saw us arrange and host our first wedding! Anne and Lloyd an Australian couple had a traditional Northern Thai marriage ceremony on our premises on the first day of the year. This was also a great success, and something that we will look to do again sometime in the future (not on New Years Day though!).
Joseph’s third birthday this year saw another milestone in our history. We made an agreement to take on the lease for another five bungalow mini-resort nearby. Previously running as Have Mountain guesthouse we saw it as a good prospect for the future. It has a marvelous location. We have spent the last few months stylizing, beautifying and generally improving the place along with adding some infrastructure essentials. It is now at a good standard and we are confident that guests will enjoy what is now Chiang Dao Nest 2, too!
April this year saw us get our TAT licence which gives us additional legitimacy and prestige. We have increasingly, mostly via the internet, been involved as travel planners for overseas visitors and now have good experience at arranging peoples entire North Thailand and beyond holiday regardless of whether they stay at Chiang Dao Nest or even visit Chiang Dao. This is an area we are looking to build upon.
We now get a good number of Chiang Mai/ Bangkok residents coming to us to “escape the city” for a night or two. This website has also attracted people overseas who are planning their North Thailand trip. Word of mouth from previous guests is perhaps the most important aspect.
We are now in the position where throughout the year our rooms are rarely all unoccupied. Throughout the time we have been open Wicha’s cooking (and the quality of her training of our catering staff) has been getting a great reputation and our restaurant welcomes a growing stream of non-resident diners.