Ancient Zen philosophies become the core of The Spa’s September-October offering
West Lake in Hangzhou carries in itself a certain kind of magic, an air so alluring that Su Dongpo, a renowned Chinese poet, described its beauty as follows:
“Ripping water shimmering on sunny day,
Misty mountains shrouded the rain;
Plain or gaily decked out like Xizi;
West Lake is always alluring.”
The mythical lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, slithers two miles through the heart of the province, majestically encased in the bosom of grand mountains. There is a legend behind it; a white snake spirit falls in love with a mortal man on a whimsical boat ride. It was love at first sight—also one that requires overcoming several hurdles before achieving eternal bliss. The romantic story hangs like a curtain around the scenic lake area, unsurprisingly a favourite destination for intimate dates. In summer, the lakeside vista shines the best, where the sun dappled waters, misty hills, lush green gardens and a string of pagodas create the perfect backdrop for luxurious escapes.
Blending into the serene landscape, Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou At West Lake inhales the breath-taking grace of its lake location as if it existed centuries ago. Its architecture captures the age-old Jiang Nan spirit—an elaborate showcase of pagoda-style pavilions capped off with solemn black tiled roofs, ornate doors and pillared terraces. This elegant resort evokes an East Meets West feel; inside its quaint, traditional structure is an infinity pool lodged in the regal courtyard, embellished with lush gardens and stately walkways. At night, glowing lanterns whimsically light up the hotel, its soft glow reflected on the waters.
The Spa is a palatial home of healing with an intimate showcase of treatment rooms, private steam rooms and sunken tubs. Keeping up with its harmonious bond with nature, The Spa has opened its doors for unconventional healing approaches, with special sessions scheduled all throughout the year. This September, it brings in the art of Shaolin, the oldest and most famous style of the Chinese Kung Fu. Originating in Hennan more than a millennia ago, the locals believe that all martial arts are derived from Shaolin, making it one of the pillars of training.
This special event is led by Shi Xing Mi, a Kung Fu expert who bears many years of training under his belt. His expertise, of course, began at a young age —starting out in this discipline when he was 13, and Zen when he was 18. Shi shares his profound knowledge by leading daily sessions religiously. As the sun rises, he begins the morning with meditation, awakening the body. Energy by intensive physical training comes next. By afternoon, he proposes yoga and stretching to flex the body in ways that would surprise most. As the sun slowly sets, Shi invites the practice of mindfulness mixed with Tong Zi Gong by the lake.
In the previous month, The Spa hosted a cupping ritual led by Rashdy Ahmad, known as “The Healing Hand,” whose lineage boasts of traditional healing experts, from his medicinal father to his midwife mother. The unique treatments centre on resetting the body while nourishing it with holistic comfort. After Shi Xing Mi’s physical and spiritual rejuvenation, the resort shall welcome Sheila Partrat’s Kundalini Yoga, set to begin on October 8. www.fourseasons.com ◼
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© This article was first published online in August 2019 – World Travel Magazine.