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Old Nov 11, 11, 5:15 pm
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Asheville, NC
Programs: Virtuoso, FSPP, STARS, MO FAN Club, PEN Club, Bellini Club, Dorchester Diamond Club, Travel Leaders
Posts: 1,851
Part 3 — Xi'an, Guilin, and Hangzhou

Sofitel Xi'an on Renmin Square, Xi'an

Xi'an is a fascinating walled city in the heartland of China. The ancient capital of many Chinese dynasties, Xi'an is a popular destination for tourists coming to see the Terracotta Warriors (but don't miss the Hanyangling underground museum - less well known but no less spectacular). The Sofitel is a contemporary hotel, now 6 years old, with 414 rooms and 208 suites - a bit too large to provide consistent five star service.

Rooms are quite attractive with elegant contemporary styling and sophisticated color schemes. We stayed in a Junior Suite. Sofitel provided one of the most comfortable beds I've ever slept in (Sofitel's MYBED) and a perfect pillow; I slept very comfortably. On the other hand, the bathroom's design was flawed. There was but one small vanity with no shelf on which to keep toiletries. The glass enclosure around the WC served no purpose than to make a small bathroom even smaller; I walked into the glass on two occasions. The bathroom also had a small glass-enclosed walk-in rain shower and a soaking tub. The frosted glass door that closed the bathroom from the bedroom but did not block light, a problem if one guest used the WC in the middle of the night or showered early.

There are just a few lead-in Superior Rooms, and we were not shown one. The second room category, Luxury Room, was attractive but on the small side, a typical "Superior" room. We stayed in the third room category, Jr. Suite, and also saw a Luxury Suite, a proper 1 BR Suite. I would recommend a Jr. Suite for most clients.

Amazing breakfast buffet (and dinner buffet with sashimi and sushi, among other choices). Though not Virtuoso, we were told that the sales managers would extend the equivalent of Virtuoso amenities.

We did not see the Shangri-La Xian (the Virtuoso property in the city) - but Imperial Tours does not use this hotel as it is located outside of town.

Hotel of Modern Art, Guilin

A member of Relais & Chateaux, the Hotel of Modern Art is a unique and quixotic contemporary hotel set within a large sculpture garden of 150 acres. Creating the sculpture park was the original purpose of the owners; the hotel was added as an afterthought.

Every one of the approximately 30 rooms is unique and a work of art. Rooms are of varying sizes and configurations, getting larger as one moves to the higher floors. Our third floor room had a King bed, built-in marble desk (with both wired Ethernet and WiFi), a minibar area, small sitting area with two small chairs and a round table, and a bathroom with single vanity, WC, and shower in the tub. Rooms are available with step-in showers and dual vanities, so it's important to make these requests upon booking.

Why stay here? The hotel is in a beautiful rural setting and is a good setting off place for touring the Guilin with its unique limestone formations. For a really special WOW event, the Hotel of Modern Art can arrange either a private dinner in a spectacular limestone cave all lit up at night … or a lakeside dinner concluding with your own private fireworks display. Either would be an over-the-top romantic setting for an unique marriage proposal or special wedding anniversary.

Four Seasons Hangzhou at West Lake

This is a new Four Seasons that opened less than a year ago. The resort is absolutely beautiful, set on the shores of West Lake. With just 78 rooms, this is small and intimate by Four Seasons standards, although property does have extensive space for meetings and conferences. There are two restaurants on property - a Chinese restaurant as well as a western option. The extensive grounds have Chinese gardens, and there is a gorgeous outdoor infinity edge swimming pool framed with weeping willows.

Guest rooms are large and beautiful and provide everything FS guests will expect. Lead-in Deluxe rooms are 678 square feet - with a bathroom providing dual vanities, separate soaking tub and step-in shower, and WC. Premier and Grand Premier Rooms add an open-air terrace and/or glass terrace conservatory at the far end of the room for even more living space. Outdoor terraces have very nice landscaping, and I can imagine having in-room dining around the table and chairs on the terrace.

FS Hangzhou is currently the best luxury choice for leisure visitors to Hangzhou. A second Four Seasons is being planned for downtown Hangzhou.


We spent two nights at Amanfayun, a very unique Aman resort just outside the city of Hangzhou. It was developed from an old, deserted Chinese village. Existing buildings, some over a century old, were completely renovated to create the 47 guest dwellings, four restaurants, boutique, spa, and other resort facilities. There is a very authentic feeling to Amanfayun which is adjacent to a large Buddhist temple. A rough, stone pathway leads through the forested property.

Guest suites are large but simple, having been reconstructed using traditional methods and materials: clay roofs, brick and earthen walls, stone tile floors. Amanfayun does not try to offer "polished luxury" with marble bathrooms and modern building materials. It does offer large and comfortable space and a degree of authenticity you will never encounter elsewhere.

Aman junkies will not want to miss Amanfayun, but guests who desire world-class luxury will prefer Four Seasons Hangzhou.

Last edited by DavidO; Nov 18, 11 at 3:31 pm
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