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Elephant Sanctuary

by Sandra Ramani

Tucked among the bamboo forests and jungle-topped mountains of northern Thailand—just across the river from Laos and Myanmar—the serene Anantara Golden Triangle resort isn’t just an upscale getaway for humans: The property doubles as an elephant sanctuary for rescues from Thailand’s 4,000-plus in-captivity pachyderms, as well as their mahouts, or lifelong owners/caretakers.

Included in each guest’s stay is the chance to spend time with these resident pachyderms, trying out mahout commands, helping to wash and feed the elephants and learning to mount and “steer” them the traditional way (your knees behind their giant ears).

As a sanctuary—and a core part of Anantara’s larger elephant foundation and conservation programs—the conditions are closely monitored and the facility rates highly with outside evaluators. So you can rest easy as you head to the teakwood-and-terrazzo spa for a signature Mahout Relaxation Treatment. Designed to target the leg, thigh and gluteal muscles used when riding an elephant (it’s also perfect after a long flight), the treatment seamlessly melds acupressure, deep tissue massage, stretching and the application of warm linen bundles packed tight with herbs like camphor, kaffir lime, turmeric, tamarind leaf and poo loey, a refreshing native ginger. Afterward, you might even spot more wandering elephants from the spa suite’s outdoor tub. goldentriangle.anantara.com 

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