Name: Alila Anji
During the 2017 December year-end vacations, I finally had the chance to visit Alila Anji. The resort is located 50 minutes away from the town Anji, which is 3 hours away from Shanghai and 1.5 hours away from Hangzhou.
Anji is China’s first national ecological county, and one of the nation’s sustainable environmental development zones. It is also where the Oscar winning movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was filmed. Alila Anji sits in the hills overlooking a beautiful lake, and is surrounded with nothing but 60,000 hectares of bamboo forests, white tea plantations and plum trees. This resort is the first of many upcoming Alila properties in China. The construction of the resort reportedly took 10 years, and complies with Alila’s strict environmental and design standards.
I arrived at the resort in the evening, and was promptly shuttled from the entrance drop off area to the main lobby in an electric golf cart. The resort is designed to resemble a traditional Chinese village, with white exteriors and arching grey roof tiles. There is a total of 74 stately villas and suites nicely spread out across the huge resort grounds. All rooms boast views of either the lake or the hills.
For this trip, I stayed in the one of the 19 Lake View Villas in the resort. After checking in, I was shuttled to my villa again on the golf cart. Styled like a private home, the Lake View Villa is a 1,464 sqft one bedroom villa with a spacious bedroom, and living room that extends onto the large outdoor terrace and pavilion, with beautiful views of the lake, forests and mountains. The bathroom is oversized, with double sinks, a large bathtub and rain showers. As this is Alila, all hotel amenities are their eponymous luxurious Alila Living brand.
The room interiors adopt the local design and culture by incorporating native woods bamboo and stones, combined with soft furnishings such as handwoven textiles, silk pillows, ceramics and antique pieces. There are 2 large 47 inches TV with interactive menus, a coffee machine, and surprisingly, blazing fast internet. The room combines the warm and cosy sanctuary of country living complete with modern amenities.
After a relaxing shower and dip into the bathtub, I slept very well that night. I woke up early in the morning and drew my curtains to a magnificent view of the lake from my room. After admiring the views for a few minutes, I went to the main lobby building for an early morning Tai Chi class.
Being located in a secluded location, Alila Anji offers a range of complementary and paid activities as part of the Alila Experience for those who want to do more than zen. Three times a week, there is an early morning Tai Chi class with a master practitioner of 35 years. Other than Tai Chi, there are also other activities ranging from culinary (cooking classes, cocktail classes), sports (rafting, bicycling, hiking, archery), to experiential ones (white tea plantation tour, chestnut picking, and bamboo shoot foraging).
This was my first time doing Tai Chi, and I must say, it is harder than it looks to be able to move so gracefully! My Tai Chi class was done on a one to one basis in one of the event rooms, as I was the only one who signed up for it that day. As a result, I received the full attention of the master and learnt a lot about the philosophy and history of Tai Chi as well.
The event room is located in the 3 storeys main lobby building. The top floor is where the check-in area is, with the spa area next to it. One storey down is the two restaurants, Lake View and Hidden Dragon.On the lowest floor of the building are some of the recreational spaces. There is a well-equipped gym, as well as a heated pool for those who want to exercise. The views from the pool is amazing, and swimming here is really enjoyable.
There are also other spaces here such as a library with interesting titles and computers to use. Other recreation options include a pool table and a table tennis table. There are also a few event rooms such as the one where I had my Tai Chi class, as well as game rooms set up for people to play Chinese mahjong.
After my Tai Chi session, I headed to the Lake View restaurant for breakfast. The Lake View restaurant serves international fare, while the other dining option, Hidden Dragon, serves Chinese cuisine. The breakfast buffet in Lake View had a decent range of Chinese and Western options. There was also a noodle and grill counter where the food would be cooked fresh. The quality of the food options was really good, and I really enjoyed the pastries too! Later that night, I also had Chinese food at Hidden Dragon and managed to savour the 3 top delicacies of Anji province – organic chicken, white tea and bamboo. Once again, the food quality was top notch, and the service level was impeccable!
As I went to the resort during the winter, many of the more active outdoor activities were not available. Nonetheless, I manage to arrange for a resort guide to bring me into the nearby bamboo forests to wander and admire the foliage. Later, I also went to the nearby white tea plantation to see how tea is planted. Unfortunately, tea picking season is only in the spring. Nonetheless, these nature sights were very pleasing and calming.
Indeed, Alila Anji seems to be a destination to be calm and zen. There have been a few large companies which organized retreats here, utilizing their top-notch function spaces which include a large ballroom with state of the art technology, two boardrooms, and a VIP lounge.
I myself chose to further enjoy the peace and tranquillity by indulging in the spa services. Another one of all Alila properties’ signatures, Alila Anjis Spa Alila did not disappoint! As mentioned, the Spa complex is located next to the check-in area. There are 7 treatment rooms here, as well as some located in the lowest floor. Those in the upper floors are reserved for massage treatments.
Upon checking into the spa, I was greeted with a warm tea and the spa menu. After choosing the therapeutic massage, I was given the options to choose from three different oils for the treatment – Signature, Purifying and Relaxing. I went with the signature and proceeded to my treatment room. The massage treatment that I received was soothing and revitalizing. I left the spa feeling completely energized and at ease.
For the rest of my time in the resort, I enjoyed slow long walks around the hotel compound and admiring the views from the few viewing pagodas, as well as from the comfort of my room. Sipping white tea while relaxing and taking in the views, I felt that I was the most relaxed that I have ever been in a very very long time. My two nights stay here was wonderful, and I definitely recommend anyone seeking for a peaceful time to visit this resort!
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