We often dream of waking up beneath new skies surrounded by unknown land. There’s even something dreamlike about actually experiencing that reality. We go places we don’t recognize in order to appreciate the world and our place in it. It’s just something we’re able to do much better away from the all-too-familiar walls that we call home.
Back home, we cherish the family and friends that we’re able to rely on, laugh with, and join in this remarkable adventure of life. We toast to grand living and good health. Yet, each October, we are freshly reminded of breast cancer’s harsh reality, as we celebrate survivors and fundraise for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That’s why last October, the Venue Report teamed up with Devin Brugman and Natasha Oakley from A Bikini A Day to raise money and awareness for breast cancer.
To really grab people’s attention, we decided to go big—really big. That meant bringing on Four Seasons as a partner to go the extra mile...or nearly 9,000 extra miles. So I guess we actually went really, really big, because after running a bitchin’ Instagram contest, we sent our winners to Thailand! Yup, that’s right. Thailand. See, as much as our venturesome team at the Venue Report loves to see the world, few things pump us up more than having the chance to send others on the adventure of a lifetime. Thanks to Four Seasons and A Bikini A Day, we were able to do just that.
A millennial couple based in Atlanta, Bill and Allie Webber were the perfect couple to enjoy one of the biggest, supremest, and insanely coolest ideas we’ve ever had. So the Webbers took on the mighty task of loosening their nerves with three days and three nights at each of the three (extremely different) Four Seasons resorts in Thailand—Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Four Seasons Tented Camp at Golden Triangle, and Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui.
If you’re assuming they had the best time ever right off the bat, you’re absolutely correct. They ate, drank, and explored spectacularly well. We sent the right people to Thailand and the Webbers were kind enough to report back to us, so we could live vicariously through them.
Let’s relive the adventure.
First Stop: Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai
This one was the big hit—the one the Webbers would go back to above all others—and it was a beloved getaway from the get-go. That’s a huge deal.
For many of the most starry-eyed Americans, there’s a perfectly reasonable apprehension (or downright anxiety) when it comes to traveling abroad. For instance, Thailand doesn’t look, sound, smell, or taste anything like Georgia. But even though that’s why we travel—to behold grand horizons, to listen to totally unknown music, to smell cities and countrysides we’ve never explored, to devour local cuisine that blasts new flavors—it can be damn stressful to be somewhere entirely unfamiliar. You worry that nobody will understand you, that you won’t understand anyone, or, most likely, both. Plus, how does such a lack of communication affect travel plans, especially in rural areas? These are the rumblings of traveling hopefuls. But Four Seasons knows that. It’s an international chain that aims to deliver local experiences with enough familiarity and thoughtfulness to remove anything that could derail potential adventurers. The people behind Four Seasons wants people to see the world without worry, and according to the Webbers, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai delivered: “The shuttle in [which has food and water] is so easy. You can go anytime you want. It’s so easy to get in and out. Once you’re at the resort, you don’t want to leave.”
Upon stepping into the resort’s sophisticated interior, complemented with gorgeous dark wooden furniture and decor, the Webbers were instantly addressed by name. Such “friendly, nice, warm” service is a cornerstone of the chain and surrounding culture. At Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, “the service is beyond. How are they that good at what they do?”
For the Webbers, it was love at first sight.
The Webbers: “Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai was the perfect beginning to our Thailand experience. Arriving there was so special. We were given warm towels, jasmine flower garlands, and delicious drinks. Then they showed us to our room. It was more of an apartment than a room! Massive comfortable bed, huge bathroom, but the best part was the private terrace.”
Did you think it would’ve been a better choice to stay somewhere in Chiang Mai proper?
The Webbers: “NO. Four Seasons is good at giving you the experience of the place you’re in without being touristy about it. Chiang Mai looks like the resort—natural, beautiful.”
Located just a half hour away from the actual bustling city of Chiang Mai, among misty mountains and picturesque rice fields, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai melts into the vibrant green landscape. It’s luxury meets nature, and the outcome is some truly stunning architecture.
Such a spectacular offering, as grand as it is grounded, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai cherishes its who as much as its what and where. Seemingly “everyone who worked there was from Chiang Mai,” so the Webbers were able to talk about the dishes and what inspired them.
The Webbers: “We got to have a welcome lunch with the PR rep [Yam], Event Coordinator [Boom], and GM [Mike]. They ordered what seemed like everything off of the Thai menu to show us what Northern Thai cuisine was like. We were not disappointed and this was probably our favorite meal of the entire trip.”
Such a breezy vibe doesn’t intimate guests or stir reluctance to really get out there and try new things. On top of that, the Webbers are fun go-getters, regardless. They’re the type of millennial travelers who do anything and everything they can—to breathe in a new place as wholly as possible—so they wasted no time getting into activities.
The Webbers: “On our first morning, we woke up and did sunrise yoga. I can’t even explain how calming it was. Our instructor was amazing and so patient with us being yoga newbies.”
The Webbers even recommend guests chatting up the on-site yoga instructor about where he’s from. He’s a delightful human and you’ll likely run into him several times during a stay. Going further, as the Webbers learned first-hand, guests should talk to everyone, especially other guests. According to the couple, the people at Four Seasons tend to be well-traveled and generally fascinating.
With several resorts blending into the surrounding small towns, along with hotels in the big city, much of the staff has extensive local hospitality experience. They get to know you, and the Webbers observed that Thailand offers a much different style of resort—epic yet personal.
The Webbers: “I think what stood out to us the most in Chiang Mai was the staff. We felt so special everywhere we went. Everyone knew our names and was so incredibly kind and anticipated our needs and remembered our likes and dislikes. It was incredible.”
Four Seasons has gone to great lengths to curate such a vibe. By making it easy to get to town, the resort ensures that guests are able to dive into local markets as well. To the Webbers, the nearby village had the same wonderful vibe, so they never felt as if they were missing out on any elusive experience of authenticity, a notion that often plagues guests of other resorts. Resorts, as an immediate concept, can all too easily become their own world, accidentally isolating guests from the very world they came to embrace. This resort does nothing of the sort. Four Seasons keeps the landscape in tact, more apart of it than atop of it, while hiring a knowledgeable staff members that typically have history with the area. They care what people think of Chiang Mai and because it’s their home.
Guests at international Four Seasons are all ages, and the very modern restaurants that define the resort (as well as Chiang Mai itself) feature “crazy amazing food and presentations.” It turns out the restaurants are what the young couple seek out anyway at home. In fact, it’s young, creative people behind the food and beverage programs, according to the Webbers, who ate and drank well. They were thrilled by enticing new flavors along with an excited approach they recognized in favorite spots back home.
Otherwise, to work off such scrumptious indulgence, the Webbers took to the pools—there’s an upper and lower pool—where the couple napped, read books, and drank juice, observing a welcomed feeling of total, absolute peace. But the Webbers certainly didn’t lay around the whole time.
The Webbers: “We wandered around one day and stumbled upon the chef’s garden. It was so fun to see. Walking around, we were able to really appreciate the entire resort.”
Indeed, just strolling the resort is quite the tranquil activity. Lush jungle hides surrounds guests, as if protecting its guests from the whirly hubbub of the outside world. Yet while the resort as a whole is a hideaway retreat, the Webbers couldn’t pass up a chance to embrace local experiences.
The Webbers: “We went into the city of Chiang Mai and got to go to the flower market and night market. Of course the flowers were my favorite part! At the night market, we saw a fish spa, so I had to try it. I am the MOST ticklish person though so it was more like 10 minutes of torture—in a good way. Chiang Mai is easy to get lost in, but you always feel safe. It’s not like Bangkok with markets everywhere.”
There’s a lot to do in the nearby Implace Village as well, such as animal retreats or simply biking around town. The Webbers also watched the farmers’ parade as local instruments resounded through the rice paddies.
Would you say three nights is enough or could you stay longer?
The Webbers: “It was just enough. If you stayed less, you wouldn’t have experienced everything. We could have absolutely stayed longer! Five [nights] would be ideal to take your time and relax.”
Any favorite dish or drink?
The Webbers: “Khao Soi was our favorite! It is a Northern Thai dish made with boiled and fried egg noodles placed in a soup that is curry and coconut milk. Simply delicious! And I think the spicy Mai Tai was the favorite for Chiang Mai.”
As the Webbers doubled as our eyes and ears, we at the Venue Report were to curious to know what they thought of the resort for events. It turns out they thought very highly of it, declaring it the most peaceful outdoor venue they’d ever seen.
The Webbers: “The event space was so beautiful and different from what you would typically think of for an outdoor wedding space. It was full of orchids and although it was outdoors it felt intimate. In the past, events have taken place just in the orchid garden venues. Some events have rented out the large residence to house guests, but also to have small gatherings. Villas can also be rented for weddings guests. I would gladly attend a wedding where I got to stay in a Four Seasons villa.”
Such an astonishing adventure could end there and still be one of the most memorable trips ever taken—but the Webbers had more Thailand to see.
Second Stop: Four Seasons Tented Camp at Golden Triangle
Feeling like a real, true adventurer, you arrive to this exotic location by longtail boat and it feels like you float into another world, some lush landscape from a forgotten time. It’s only a five-minute boat ride, but it delivers one heck of an opening scene—spacious tented bedrooms that capture your attention like treehouses in the canopy as elephants roam below.
To be fair, such an unforgettable sight is only available with daytime arrivals. If you come to the resort after sundown, you’re brought by car instead. And you definitely want to wind through the mystic jungles of The Golden Triangle. It’s an otherworldly escape. The Golden Triangle gets its name for being where Burma, Laos, and Thailand meet, and the resort sits right on the Ruak River, a tributary off the mighty Mekong.
Once on land, the Webbers were warmly welcomed by staff and met with a gong at the bottom of the resort’s grand stairs. To ensure a proper start to their stay, the couple was instructed to hit the gong three times—once for health, once for wealth, and once for happiness.
From there, the Webbers were invited up to the deck area, where they were bestowed fresh juice upon bamboo and welcomed by the general manager. Together, they went over their planned itinerary before the couple was escorted to their luxury tent and showed how to use the room to its most enjoyable capabilities.
The Webbers: “They’re so thorough and never leave you wondering. They anticipate your questions before you have them.”
The tents at Four Seasons Tented Camp at Golden Triangle are sharply designed and extremely comfortable hillside bungalows—think jungle safari meets honeymoon suite—with floor-to-ceiling openings and beds facing the river. You’re never far from nature. In fact, you’re tucked in by it.
Did any feature stand out as extraordinary?
The Webbers: “Four Seasons Tented Camp at Golden Triangle was an experience like no other. Just the tent alone would have been enough to be ‘bucket list’ worthy, with its gorgeous tub and view! It was spectacular. But on top of the experience of being in the middle of the mountains in the coolest tent, we got to ride on the sweetest elephants in the world!”
Elephants are a big deal around Chiang Rai—or anywhere, really—and they truly are gentle giants around the resort. Imagine an outdoor breakfast of fresh fruits and small plates, a colorful spread on pristine white tablecloths, beneath a loosely thatched roof with elephants peacefully meandering around you. How would that not make every single bucket list? While undeniably a highlight, elephant rides weren’t the only activity abound. The Webbers enjoyed everything from museum visits to spa treatments, even touring the nearby town. It was such a lovely spread of foreign experiences and yet they’d always return to their tent feeling “totally at home.”
One thing that seems to take guests by surprise here is the cuisine. Visitors tend to expect “jungle food,” given the rich surroundings. But diners son lose themselves with hungry eyes that pour over the varied cuisine. Top-notch chefs serve up stunning dishes that can be enjoyed among other celebrating guests or in the seclusion of a private table or back at the tent’s personal veranda.
Any special drinks?
The Webbers: “The Lemongrass Martini was definitely a favorite. Bill was pretty into the cobra whiskey they had. There is literally a cobra inside of the whiskey bottle. Too weird for me, although I did take a sip.”
What makes this venue an ideal location for a gathering or event?
The Webbers: “There are a number of beautiful settings that you could host a get-together. Keep in mind that there are only 15 tents, so only 30 people can stay at one time.”
The Webbers noted an on-site spot that quickly became a favorite: “The view of the sunset and river from the Burma bar was amazing and would be a great setting for a small event. The deck just outside of the main restaurant would also be a beautiful setting for a get-together.” In fact, the Webbers went to the Burma bar that sits at one end of the property every night for pre-dinner cocktails and downright incredible views. Given its spacious deck and vista over the seemingly untouched river, it’d actually make one heck of a place for a rehearsal dinner or cocktail hour that’s put on by a couple who aimed to drop the jaws of their guests.
Four Seasons Tented Camp at Golden Triangle was nearly perfect in every way. Any tips for future travelers?
The Webbers: “Bug spray. I still have a good amount of bites on my ankles—of course Bill got none—but it was really helpful.”
Onto the next paradise!
Third Stop: Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui
To the coast they went, where coconut groves, palm trees, and secluded beaches awaited them.
An idyll on the northwestern tip of Laem Yai Bay, Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui was a heavenly final destination for the Webbers. Between panoramic views of the ocean or movie nights under the stars, this Four Seasons caters to travelers in search of total relaxation.
To the Webbers, that came in the form of eating and drinking until their heart and stomach were beyond content. With eateries like Koh Thai Kitchen and CoCoRum, it’s pretty hard not to treat your palate to cuisine that’s as magical as new colors.
The Webbers: “The food is Latin-inspired and incredibly fresh. Our favorite dish was the Authentic Peruvian Ceviche—white snapper, coriander, aji chilli pepper, red onion, corn.”
At the Venue Report, we love hearing about beloved meals and favored drinks. We live vicariously through any and all travelers, especially lively foodies. So we had to know the ins and outs of this resort’s sensational offerings—and the Webbers were more than delighted to revisit their finest of nourishments and refreshments.
What was an especially divine dining experience?
The Webbers: “The meal at Coco Rum Lounge was the most surprising and delicious meal we had on the resort. It’s situated at the resort’s new massive pool, so I wasn’t expecting anything special. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The kitchen and bar are all on full display as you dine. We love to eat at places with open kitchens because we like to watch the experts at work. It was a whole new experience to get to watch expert bartenders and chefs go to work at the same time! The kitchen is located in the middle and the bartenders flank them. What is particularly amazing is that they still have to time to chat and answer questions while preparing everyone’s meals.”
What was your favorite drink at the resort?
The Webbers: “We debated the ideal recipe for a classic daiquiri while our bartender made my favorite tiki drink, a Zombie—made here with Zombie Rum Blend, passion fruit, fresh lime, hibiscus grenadine, orgeat, and served in a proper tiki head glass.
What was your preferred watering hole?
The Webbers: “Don’t be fooled by the seemingly casual poolside bar. This place is a must! The cocktail menu is brand new and curated by Proof & Company. We talked to the GM about his hunt for a new cocktail menu and all the people he considered. He finally landed on Proof & Company and in my opinion, he made a wise decision. It’s clear that these guys are on the cutting edge of the cocktail world. The menu has little history tidbits about when each cocktail was popular. The ingredients are just the right mix of obscure and familiar. Best of all, the drinks are perfectly crafted and exactly the right match for an island in Thailand. I was certainly skeptical of a tiki bar in Thailand, but of course it was masterfully executed by Four Seasons. Make sure you get one of the young coconuts from the poolside bar, or ask anyone on the beach to bring you one. It tastes nothing like the coconut water or milk that we are used to from grocery stores in the U.S. It is refreshing, slightly sweet, and perfectly chilled. Just the right way to cool off after laying in the sun. Also, make sure to try the coconut ice cream and their homemade Magnum ice cream bars.”
When you hear the Webbers talk of their time at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, you add meals and beverages to your bucket lists rather than destinations, my goodness. But what if you were to organize a group trip for your nearest and dearest? What would that be like, to have your favorite people in the world eating and drinking across the world like surf royalty? We had to know.
What makes this venue an exceptional spot for a gathering or event?
The Webbers: “You would be hard-pressed to find a more pristine beach location for your event. The staff constantly rake, sweep, and skim the beach and water so that it looks postcard-worthy all day. You can’t take a bad picture of this beach. The resort faces the Gulf of Thailand and is situated in the opposite direction of the shipping traffic, so we rarely saw any boats to ruin the view of the emerald gulf and the distant view of the neighboring island Ko Pha Ngan Also, if you happen to schedule your event during a full moon, you can ferry across the gulf to one of the craziest parties on the planet. The full moon party at Ko Pha Ngan is notoriously rowdy and would surely be something your guests wouldn’t ever forget. We also learned that [the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui] staff will happily tend to any request, so any event you host here would be exactly what you desired without any compromise. Plus, one evening, we were able to send a giant paper lantern into the sky and I instantly thought about how that would be a perfect part of any wedding reception here.”
Thailand was soon evolving into what sounded like a lavish dream the Webbers had shared. By no means had they worn out their hearts on Thailand (and Four Seasons resorts). If anything, it sounded like they could’ve hit a few more. Alas, their time of merriment at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui was rounding out to a close. We just had a few more final questions.
What’s the one thing you packed that was absolutely necessary here?
The Webbers: “Sunscreen, although the room had sunscreen and aloe. But you probably want your own brand and SPF. The sunscreen in the room was in a beautiful ceramic container, so you probably won’t want to take that down to the beach with you. Also, pretty much every skin care-related product in Thailand has bleach in it—seriously, even the sunscreen. So bring your own from home. If you happen to forget or run out, try to find products from Australia or just read each label carefully.”
Any inside tips for future guests?
The Webbers: “I’d say people should check out the resort layout and try to pick a villa that suits their needs. Some villas are closer to the beach and you could easily hop down to the beach anytime you want. Other villas are way up on the hill and have spectacular views of the gulf. Regardless of where you stay, Four Seasons will pick you up and take you wherever you want in a buggy. But for us, it was nice to stay up on top of the resort, so that we could walk to breakfast and have the view. I could certainly see some people wanting to stay closer to the beach and not having to worry about calling a buggy.”
Overall, what struck you as particularly wonderful?
The Webbers: “The welcome reception area is stunning. I literally dropped my hat when we walked in. The view is too beautiful for words and one of the Four Seasons employees said he has seen people cry upon arrival. And then of course they welcome you with cold towels and a dragonfruit cocktail, as if anything else was necessary while staring out over this beautiful resort. The running dialogue in my head was something like, “Wow… Try to act cool… I think someone is asking you a question… How is this real… You should probably sit down… Stop smiling like a circus clown… Control yourself… Do I have to leave?’”
Alas, they did. The Webbers, after the truly ultimate bucket list trip through Thailand, had to come home. As they boarded their flight to Atlanta, the phenomenal adventure of Thai jungles, rivers, and beaches became only memories, photographs, and seriously full stomachs. Their bodies were jelly and their hearts were aglow. That’s why we travel, why we come home, and why we share experiences, locally and abroad, with those who matter most to us—and that’s why we love what we do at the Venue Report.
Massive, unfathomable thanks to Four Seasons, as well as A Bikini A Day, for making this happen, and thank you, Allie and Bill Webber, for being so dang gung-ho for adventure overseas. This was such an extraordinary capture of a beautiful, astounding journey.
Keep those who are currently fighting or have fought breast cancer in your hearts this month. October is the perfect time to have the most fun with those you love. Happy travels.