Co-Founder, Visama Mae Chan & Friends of Thai Daughters

Boston, USA / Chiang Rai, Thailand

Jane, tell us about you.

I first came to Thailand in 1982 as a tourist and fell in love with the people, the culture, the landscape and the food. Little did I know that 40+ years later my life’s project would involve working and helping Thai girls and young women and owning a luxury hotel.

We heard about Visama Mae Chan and thought we needed to get you on Fab! Luxe to talk about it. Tell us all we need to know about this stunning property.

Visama Mae Chan was designed to welcome travellers in search of an authentic, relaxing and luxurious respite off the beaten path. Our tents are beautifully yet simply furnished, our property features a teak forest, lovely ponds and swimming pool, and a gathering spot around a fire pit to foster community and relaxation.

There is such an important and meaningful story behind Visama Mae Chan. Tell us about the partnership with Friends of Thai Daughters.

The Camp was conceived to support Friends of Thai Daughters in four important ways: to provide jobs for our university graduates; offer our visiting donors and sponsors a lovely place to stay; to generate revenue to support our program and lastly, to promote awareness and support around the issue of child trafficking and exploitation.

How did this idea first come about, Jane?

A family of very generous supporters of FTD wanted to help us create a sustainable source of income and opportunities for our Thai Daughters. They donated the funds to purchase the land and challenged us to create a business consistent with these goals.

How welcoming are the Thais with this initiative?

The Thai community has been very welcoming. We employed dozens of neighbors and villagers during construction and continue to employ several as full-time employees as well as several Graduate Thai Daughters. We have wonderful support from our local Mae Chan Rotary Club, and many business owners and organic farmers.

What is the process like to start something like this in Thailand; from initial idea to where you are now?

The process was very fun and creative. We did a lot of research to determine what product would appeal to this market. There have been challenges along the way, of course, but we are confident of our success as we become known and established.

What is your favourite thing about Thailand?

Without a doubt, the people! Thais are welcoming, and easygoing and seem to enjoy life without constant striving.

We heard the food at Visama Mae Chan is good, too. Walk us through what guests can expect to be presented with.

We pride ourselves on the quality and preparation of our food, sourcing organic ingredients and offering Lanna specialties from Northern Thailand.

Why did you choose Chiang Rai as the location of the property?

We are located in Mae Chan which is in Chiang Rai district. The location was chosen for its proximity to FTD’s Sunflower Farm, an organic farm and Children’s Home located steps away from the Camp. We invite guests to tour and meet our Thai Daughters, and to enjoy our pickleball courts while our Daughters are at school. Several of our Graduate Daughters are working at the Camp, gaining valuable experience right out of university.

What can guests expect when they visit Visama Mae Chan?

Guests can expect a very warm welcome from our wonderful staff, creative cocktails and cuisine prepared by expert mixologists and chefs, comfortable accommodation in beautifully furnished safari tents with spacious decks to enjoy nature, read a book, bathe under the stars or enjoy a quiet glass of wine with a loved one. Activities include cooking classes, art workshops, archery, hiking and biking, massage, Muay Thai, yoga and more. Guests wanting to explore the surrounding area have a wide selection of excursions including trips to elephant sanctuaries, art galleries, tea plantations and botanical gardens.

Where can Fab! Luxe readers find out more about Visama Mae Chan?
Follow us on Facebook, visit our website or check Friends of Thai Daughters

Best book you’ve read this year
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, a moving story and searing indictment of the foster care system and opioid epidemic in the US.

The last music you downloaded
Tracy Chapman and Toby Keith, duet singing “Fast Car”

What you do when you need to feel inspired
Play pickleball and get energized!

Things you’ll always have in your fridge/pantry
POPCORN, I’m addicted!

A typical day for Jane McBride
6am gratitude meditation, catch up on work with the USA until 10am (I’m in Thailand), greet guests and talk with staff at Visama, hang out with our Thai Daughters when they return home from school in the afternoon.

What have you come to appreciate in the last 2 years
The resiliency of the human spirit to overcome Covid, cope with environmental concerns, war and strife and still find beauty in the world.

Best gift you’ve received
Witnessing the success of our Thai Daughters as they grow into confident, independent adults.

Best gift you’ve given
The gift of a bright future by providing safe shelter, education and a loving home to children whose futures were otherwise bleak.

Biggest inspiration comes from
My parents’ belief instilled in me that I could be anything I dreamed of and the responsibility to help others.

One gadget you can’t do without
Headlamp for reading at night, on planes.

Country you can’t wait to go back to
New Zealand for its natural beauty, fresh air and clean water.

Favorite podcast(s)
Hidden Brain

Something you’ve recently discovered.
That no matter how much I study Thai, I’ll never be fluent.

Philosophy in life
Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can. — quote by John Wesley

Meaning of success to you
To create something of beauty to leave behind for future generations.

What’s in your glass and plate for cocktail hour
An extra dry Martini and a bowl of roasted chilli lime peanuts.

An indulgence you’ll never forgo
Weekly Thai massage

Work of an artist you collect or would (collect) if you could
Georgia O’ Keeffe