Heard of the Lanna revival? If you're bound for Thailand's lush north, you won't be able to escape this architectural fad, which celebrates the building styles of the Lanna civilization—a 14th and 15th century society that encompassed northern Thailand, part of Laos and what are now the Shan States of Burma.
Lanna-inspired hotels and resorts are popping up like mushrooms in the northernmost provinces. Ultra-chic retreats like the Rachamanka and Tamarind Village have been booked solid in recent months. And now the soft-opened Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai hotel, tel: (66-53) 888 888, is set to give Lanna style—characterized by sloping roofs, porches and houses built high off the ground—a new impetus. Pavilions, moats and reconditioned rice barns sit alongside 66 lavish private villas and nearly 80 suites, while the nearby Dheva Spa—over which dozens of wood-carvers sweated for three years—is an astonishing reproduction of Mandalay's Royal Palace. Extensive use of golden teak throughout the hotel will delight traditionalists, if not the environmentally correct. But everyone will be happy with the tab: introductory rates apply until September, with villas priced from $390 a night.