Where do Chinas elite go for a holiday within China? We previously covered a new luxury resort in China that is bigger than Monaco. The 2.8 million square metre estate of Imperial Springs actually opened privately years ago to friends of the owner and the political and business elite; it is only in late 2015 that this highly exclusive resort opened its doors to the wider public.
The surrounding area is undoubtedly scenic, with rolling hills and flowing streams and rivers, which has attracted Chinese travellers for decades to experience a relief from the daily hustle and bustle of modern industrial China. The district is popular for the plethora of natural hotsprings and resorts that have popped up as a result. The immediate area around Imperial Springs, and the water that flows through Conghuas Phoenix Mountains, culminating in several hotsprings, is thought to be rejuvenating through its healing powers.
We are picked up by our butler and driver in the resorts Mercedes-Benz fleet (they also have an Audi fleet) in Shenzhen at the Hong Kong border. It is suggested guests make their way to the neighbouring metropolis of Guangzhou, where the resort will pick up guests and drive them the short 45-minutes into Conghua. Arriving into the resort, we are checked in at the villa by our butler, who is with us throughout our stay.
In theme with Chinas rise as a global superpower, there are no expenses spared in the formation of Imperial Springs. A total of 90 suites are scattered around the main building frames, with some options consisting of private pools, but at Imperial Springs, you have to go for one of the 37 private villas which are housed individually. Villas range from Villa A (one-bedroom), Villa B (four-bedroom) to Villa C (four-bedroom), and the most impressive 28-bedroom 9,968 square metre Presidential Villa, which operates almost as a separate resort.
We checked into the one-bedroom Villa Type A, of which there are 21 in total. Although the resort advertises this villa type as 231 237 square metres, it clearly appears much larger accounting for the regal entrance, the manicured garden, the outdoor terrace housing a pool and hotspring, along with the reception room, king-sized bedroom, spa-inspired bathroom as well as the private spa.
The interiors are a throwback to Imperial style, along with the occasional art pieces that dot the villa, with Western accents in design and an overarching Thai villa-living style. The walled-in gardens ensure utmost privacy within the confines of your villa.
The expansive spa-inspired bathroom contains several impressive features, including a steam and sauna, as well as an oversized Jacuzzi, and separate shower and toilet, along with twin vanities. The private spa offers the chance to enjoy a relaxing massage in private, complemented perfectly with the steam, sauna and Jacuzzi.
For a full overview of the accommodation and bathroom, please watch the following video:
The resort offers six dining venues from the Pool Bar to the flagship Imperial Restaurant serving authentic Chaozhou cuisine. The Imperial Restaurant offers fresh local ingredients expertly cooked, and a true gateway to southern China with dishes such as roasted crispy chicken and wok-fried pork and mushroom with BBQ sauce. Breakfast at the main dining, Flavors, venue offers a good choice of continental, American and dim sum, and serves a variety of cuisines throughout the day.
One of the dining venues, Hole 28, looks out onto the 27-hole golf course designed by Colin Montgomerie; where private golf memberships are available separately, including for owners of The Prime a series of villa-homes that are being built at the edge of the resort.
The gigantic 6,500 sqm Imperial Spa area features swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), a gym, tennis courts, themed treatment rooms (7 treatment rooms and 3 spa villas) and the six hotsprings that feed from the waters from Phoenix Mountain.
History enthusiasts will enjoy the Kingold Museum, which is my favourite part at the resort. The four exhibition halls Porcelain, Bronze, Jade, Painting and Calligraphy showcase 20,000 pieces of art personally collected over years, some dating back over 5,000 years. As the museum is only open to guests of the resort, you can be ensured a private guided tour with an expert.
Rates start at RMB 4,000/night for a suite and RMB 13,800/night for a villa, all inclusive of taxes.
The best bit
The villas might be humongous, and the hot springs gorgeous, but the KINGOLD museum steals the show here and is worth any visit.
The final verdict
A stay at this exclusive resort is the perfect way finish a stay in China following a long excursion around the hustle and bustle of the northern metropolises of Shanghai and Beijing.