It’s no a secret that China hasn’t exactly been a champion of preserving architectural traces of its historical identity. Most Chinese cities are parades of copycat projects that seldom tell a story about the region or the country. In the last few years though, it seems that local governments are slowly becoming aware of the lack of iconic landmarks. And that’s probably the reason why—amidst the blossoming of cookie-cutter projects like Thames Town or Hallstatt Alpine Village in Guangdong—there’s an increasing openness to fine architectural projects that have the ability to redefine the cityscape and be the forerunners of Chinese contemporary aesthetics.
The Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort, designed by world famous (and Yale-educated) architect Ma Yansong, can definitely be considered an effort toward a contemporary redefinition of Chinese style. Inspired by the circular shape of traditional arch bridges, the 27-story glass and metal structure consisting of two curved towers soars more than 300 feet above ground to become the most iconic building in the area.
The hotel is located on the banks of Taihu Lake (China’s third largest freshwater lake) on the opposite side of the renowned “Venice of the East” city of Suzhou. Huzhou is home to pristine bamboo forests, exquisite calligraphy brushes, superior quality tea and junks sailing in the mist—scenes that belong in a Chinese watercolor painting. Once the starting point of the Silk Road, the city’s long history has remained sleepy until recently.
The Sheraton Huzhou’s ambitious goal is to bring the southern shore of the lake back to its past glory, building a resort that can redefine the area’s identity as a hotspot for relaxing and contemplative life, a back garden of peace and leisure for the bustling neighboring cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou. And thanks to an international top-level staff, the Huzhou resort aims to be a world-class center of luxury hospitality; the service is truly one of the most outstanding in China.
Marble, inlaid-Citrine ceilings, Red Rose Cryolite, Silk Road Cryolite and other precious stones embellish the lobby with waves of light that recall the surface of Taihu Lake. The 282 rooms are located in the two curved Crystal and Jade Towers and offer a beautiful view of the lake, where old-school junks are visible.
A small beach and five restaurants—of which two are already open—and two bars provide a rich offering of international cuisine and local delicacies, corners of pleasure for the eyes and and discerning palates. Next spring will see the opening of Mystic Spa, a spa village offering 12 treatment rooms and eight treatment villas with private hot spring pools.
Reservations are available at the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort website.
Photos by Alessandro De Toni