I was pleasantly surprised with the understated elegance of the Fuchun Resort in Hangzhou, China. The place is relaxed and tasteful. It is obvious that a lot of attention went into the details which are designed to create a serene atmosphere. It's very different from the Chinese design I know. And no, I haven't been around China extensively, but the little that I've been exposed to? Even the high end types are usually shiny, extravagant, colorful.
Hangzhou is a 40-minute bullet train ride away from Shanghai and three hour drive by car.
I was told that Hangzhou is a popular tourist destination for the locals because of the beautiful West Lake area. The Shangrila hotel and the newly-opened Four Seasons are both in the West Lake area, where the action is. The Fuchun Resort, a 45-minute drive from West Lake, is for those who really want to get away from it all, to relax and rejuvenate. It also has a beautiful golf course.
The unique golf course, considered one of the best in China, plays through a tea plantation. I watched these people tee-off from the veranda across the lake and I thought to myself that if this was ten years ago, I would be on that side of the lake instead of sipping tea here on this side.
A Garden View guest room
The Lake Lounge is the breakfast room
The whole resort is designed with lots of wood, granite, black iron. The color palette of the whole resort is all neutral: brown, beige, grey, black and off-white, with the occasional splash of red or orange to add a pop of color.
The nooks and corners of the hotel have simple still life settings, using mostly greens in their natural form. Even the accent pieces here are understated and relaxed--nothing belabored.
There's a lot of attention to detail in this place, but more importantly, there is a lot of restraint. Less is definitely more.
The reception area
and the view down the lobby hall
What really impressed me the most in this place though was the masterful lighting design. I've come to realize that I'm sensitive to lighting in interior spaces and each time I have a "wow" experience, it's because of skillful lighting design.
Ambient lighting in some hallways was achieved with compact fluorescent bulbs hidden in dark sky-type of fixtures. The few overhead lights are halogen, casting pure white light with a sharpness that can only be achieved with a halogen bulb.
The well-thought-out, but simple, layering of light creates the zen-like atmosphere of the resort. Too bad the effect can't be totally appreciated from my point-and-shoot snapshots.
Light fixtures never cast a glare here
Ballroom ceiling lighting--hidden but focused on the right places.
The hotel also has 12 villas away from the main building. We visited the Fuchun villa, where a cocktail was being hosted one evening. We toured a couple of bedrooms (we were told it had four), the living room, the dining room, the fully-equipped and fully-staffed kitchen, and the indoor pool, which is a smaller version of the resort's own pool. It was very impressive.
The entrance of the villa lighted up with more "dark sky" fixtures
At the villa
I forgot to take pictures of the bamboo-lined roads of the resort. They were also lit up dramatically. Hidden bulbs were focused up the bamboo, and smaller lights on the ground lit up the road.
Back at the main hotel. This is an entrance to a lobby ladies' room.
I so appreciated the interior details that I took loads of pictures of everything that caught my eye.
In one corner of the hallway, I saw a man wiping down one of the big jars and I thought it was quite odd that a resort like this would have someone cleaning in the middle of the afternoon. It was only when I passed him again that I realized the man was demonstrating how they dried newly-harvested Long Jing tea leaves! I was just way too engrossed inspecting all the interior details that I failed to notice the "marketing details" of the place.
We drank Long Jing tea all weekend long, and felt detoxified.
Lake view rooms with their own verandas
With so many things on my to-do list, I was quite stressed leaving Manila for this quick trip. But as soon as we drove up the long driveway of the resort, I knew that this was going to be the perfect place to de-stress. I didn't play golf, and I didn't spa, plus we had a tight meeting schedule that left us hardly any down time--but I left happy and rejuvenated. Travel and good design are two things that always have that effect on me.
Ps. I found this nice write up of Fuchun Resort after I came back from the trip. A little too gushy, but interesting details included.
Hangfu Yanjiang Road, Hangzhou,