akyra Manor Chiang Mai is the hotly-anticipated, hip downtown hotel Chiang Mai never had, a collaboration between AHMS – The Collection and Singapore’s maverick hot-shop Manor Studio, located in the heart of buzz-worthy boulevard Nimmanhaemin Soi 9, known as ‘coffee street’.
The hotel is a five-star, 28-key all-suite luxury hotel, with 21 suites at 610 sq ft and seven larger suites at a capacious 1050 sq ft created around a courtyard-within-a-room concept.
akyra Manor Chiang Mai joins a collection which comprises existing sister resort akyra Chura Samui as well as AKARYN Samui, Aleenta Phuket-Phang Nga and Aleenta Hua Hin-Pranburi, and which will see the addition of AKARYN Koh Krabeay Retreat & Spa later in 2015 – located on its own private island in Cambodia, and featuring 40 exquisite pool villas and a destination AYURAH Wellness Centre.
Chaw Chih Wen, Manor Studio’s Design Director and the design lead on akyra Manor Chiang Mai, is the acknowledged master of creating living spaces as blank canvases that invite interaction from their inhabitants, and has been widely awarded for his work. The former protege of Cesar Pelli Architects in New York has had his work selected for exhibitions such as La Triennale di Milano (2007), the 6th International Conference in Tokyo, Japan (2006), and Tokyo Designers Week (2010). He is also the 2012 A’Design Award winner for Interior Space and Exhibition Design.
Mr Chaw said a highlight of the design was the inspiration to build each suite around its own courtyard – a ‘room within a room’ concept designed to bring the outdoors inside while not sacrificing privacy.
“In Chiang Mai, you see a lot of resorts built around a courtyard, so there is a sense of privacy, yet you are also looking into the spaces of your neighbours,” he said. “We have kept that feeling yet enhanced the privacy with an ingenious feature in each room. So the jacuzzi bathtub is outdoors, but covered by a roof with a cloud motif, and that becomes the centrepiece of each courtyard.
“The bathrooms are lavish. You can really spread out and relax and live. The idea is to offer a lot of customised services. So we didn’t design a spa for the hotel, but put the extra space into the suites, and we bring the spa experience to your room.
“The hotel will also offer bespoke guided tours to the city that take you beyond the tourist traps and to places where you can connect with authentic Chiang Mai and fascinating locals doing cool things.”
The exterior facade is another Chaw Chih Wen showstopper, inspired by Chiang Mai’s old city wall, which survives in varying states of crumbled brickwork throughout the old quarter of the city.
“The wall separates old and new, so the ancient city wall is the inspiration for the facade. It looks iconic, but we are not just pursuing ‘wow’ for its own sake,” Mr Chaw said. “We want the hotel to be perceived as something natural, a curved, organic part of the landscape, created over time with many layers. The colours are also very natural, a palette of browns and greys.”
Mr Chaw said akyra Manor Chiang Mai was targeting hip urban people, which is why the location was selected. “It feels a bit like the bohemian urban chic of, say, Williamsburg in Brooklyn,” he said. “The area is a magnet for the arts community, university students from nearby Chiang Mai University and assorted other young, well-heeled professional types.”
Ms Kijkanakorn said akyra Manor Chiang Mai was a ‘passion project from the heart’, as the northern capital was one of her most loved getaways.
“Chiang Mai has been one of my personal favourites, a place where I go to getaway with friends and family. It’s somewhere I’ve visited again and again,” Ms Kijkanakorn said. “Nimmanhaemin is a hip and happening precinct that is quickly growing in fame beyond the gates of Chiang Mai.
“We want to tap into that, but also give the area another great point of interest in terms of wow architecture and hospitality and hopefully even raise the bar a bit in terms of what Chiang Mai offers in guest experiences.”