| Thai Eco Elegance|
Surrounded by ancient temples and quaint streets in the Old City at the heart of Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, is a boutique resort that takes its name from a 200-year-old tamarind tree that shelters it in a shady embrace. Tamarind Village Chiang Mai is a welcome relief from the scorching summer heat. But it is much more than that. It is a shimmering example, both in attitude and action, of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement—a fundamental belief that businesses can redefine their bottom line to integrate environmental stewardship and social justice.
Walking down the entry pathway, I am immediately intrigued by flag posters promoting Patterns, Passages & Prayers. It turns out to be a fascinating exhibit being hosted here at the resort, amazing photography of traditional indigenous cultures of the Golden Triangle, by a woman I would soon meet. Her name is Victoria Vorreiter, and her work is truly eye opening. We soon become friends, and her personal introductions to leaders in hill tribe communities, especially in Myanmar, provide one of the most important experiences in my 20+ years in the environmental and social justice movements.
The hotel supports hill tribe communities on many levels, ranging from decorating rooms with their traditional art and fabrics to providing employment—a critical need because HT communities suffer a severe lack of job opportunities.
The Golden Triangle’s hill tribes
Patterns, Passages & Prayers: Traditional Cultures of the Golden Triangle is a photographic exhibition by Victoria Vorreiter that looks at the ancestral ways of life of mountain peoples who for centuries have called the Golden Triangle home. Their existence is intimately tied to the land that nourishes them and finds form in their culture, daily lives, rituals and spiritual practices. Vorreiter, a classical violinist from Chicago turned ethnomusicologist, photographer, author and filmmaker, is emerging as one of world’s leading documentarians of the beauty and plight of hill tribe cultures. For more information, visit The Resonance Project.
Tamarind Village also participates in a wide variety of cultural programs in and around Chiang Mai, and donates 5% of its profits to charity via a non-profit organization it has established. Staff are provided time and opportunity to volunteer on company time at a local childrens’ cancer ward, an orphanage and a neighboring Buddhist temple whose ancient structure is being rehabilitated.
Environmental practices at the resort earned it an ASEAN Green Hotel Recognition Award this year. These include energy-efficient heat exchange equipment to heat rooms in the spa building, new kitchen waste disposal systems and more.
Set around a series of garden courtyards, the 42 guest rooms and 3 suites exude an elegance based on an aesthetic that is spare and rustic. The mood is calm, serene. Its ‘Village Spa‘ relies on treatments based on nature and herbal preparations drawn from the Lanna Thai heritage of natural healing. Consider taking a gourmet Thai cooking class here, then sampling the heights to which Thai cuisine can ascend at the resort’s Ruen Tamarind restaurant, where its selection of authentic Northern Thai dishes originate from family recipes handed down from mother to daughter over generations.
A sister property
Tamarind Village is owned by the Premier Group of Companies, one of Thailand’s leading proponents of sustainable business practices and recipient of 2 awards for excellence in CSR. Rayavadee, its sister property in Krabi in southern Thailand, has received multiple and well-deserved accolades for environmental leadership.—Michael Straus, Senior Editor