For some people, the stress of living in the city seems to take no ill effect. For others, (read: me) the incessant gridlock, honking, and inane conversations held at volumes the topic thereof doesn’t justify, tend to take their toll. You’re talking about soup. What in the world are you screaming about?
“I find this soup hot and fulfilling!”
“I SAID I FIND THIS SOUP HOT AND FULFILLING!”
“WHAT?! YOU’RE CRAZY! I FIND IT FULFILLING AND HOT!”
“LOOK WHO’S TALKING CRAZY NOW!”
And that’s just my wife and mother-in-law (like, all the time). What I’m trying to say is, sometimes you need to get away. Thousand Island Lake (Qiandao Hu) is one of the cleanest, most beautiful, and tranquil, scenic spots in the greater Hangzhou area. The problem was there was no place nice to stay that was full-service and right on the lake. Enter: The InterContinental One Thousand Island Lake Resort . When they invited us out for their soft opening (Grand Opening planned for April 2011), we RSVP’d with a level of gratitude usually reserved for death row inmates receiving pardons from the governor.
Getting there is very easy, just get on the Hangxinjing Expressway from the Hangzhou Ring Expressway and head south, following the signs to Qiandao Hu. Get off at the Qiandao Hu exit, and take your first left. It’s immediately off the exit, so don’t head into town. The InterContinental One Thousand Island Lake Resort is situated upon its own private peninsula, well away from the city itself, so once you turn left off the highway, you’ll cruise, traffic-free, to your final destination on a painstakingly landscaped private drive offering beautiful views of both the lake and surrounding mountains. My boss and I felt like Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief, if for no other reason than my boss was drunk behind the wheel (Kidding!). If only we had a convertible… and chemistry. Sigh. The road splits about halfway down, so head left if you want to go to the resort, and right, if you want to go to the Qiandao Hu Country Club, wherein you’ll find one of China’s top-rated golf courses.
Despite the weather being absolutely perfect for a round of golf, some of us were here with goals of deep relaxation, and when you have a slice that defies the laws of physics, that can be hard to achieve, so we pulled our focus from the gorgeous private villas that line some of this course’s 18 stunning, championship-caliber, fairways (all of which sport lakeside views), and headed for the resort. We were glad we did.
As the private drive chased the contours of the shoreline below us, the first glimpses of the InterContinental One Thousand Island Lake Resort came into view. The main resort grounds are the product of over a decade of planning, design, and construction, and while they were still putting some of the final touches on some of the landscaping, the resort itself was fully operational, and nothing short of breathtaking. The main resort grounds of the Intercontinental are situated at the mouth of a secluded cove. The resort itself seems to shimmer in the afternoon sun like a cut jewel, draped, on 3-sides, in a verdant tapestry of wooded mountainsides that flow effortlessly into one of the most spectacular views of Thousand Island Lake you’ll ever see. This is due, in no small part, to how the resort was designed to make the most of this gorgeous environment.
If drive there yourself, the private drive will lead you directly to their 170-space underground parking garage, where an elevator will take you back up to the valet area you’d be dropped off at if you arrived by hired car; right around the corner from the main entrance. There you’ll be greeted by friendly doormen who’ll escort you to the lobby and a picture-perfect postcard view of the lake that needs to be seen to be believed.
Sequoia-sized columns of finished timber guide you through the cavernous lobby lounge to the check-in desk. Along the lobby lounge’s western wall, enormous floor to ceiling windows allow warm, natural, light to cascade in across the dark, hardwood floors, stone fireplace, and inviting, earth-toned leather seating; creating an atmosphere that’s both rustic and Scan-design sleek. The impressively-stocked lobby bar has everything thing you need from coffee and teas, to cocktails, fine wines, and locally-brewed Qiandao Hu beer. They even keep several bottles of top-shelf vodka on ice, in a big silver bowl at the end of the bar, which we thought was a nice touch.
The 255-room resort is set up to maximize guests’ exposure to the lake, as the majority of the rooms offering views of it will attest. However, given the views afforded from the lobby lounge, and the absolutely amazing patio area flowing forth from it, the mountain-view and garden-view rooms actually provide a nice change of scenery. Besides, once the weather gets a little bit warmer, you’ll be spending most of your time on their patio anyway. The 2-tiered, negative edge pools make it feel like you’re actually wading in the crystal clear waters of the lake, without having to deal with the mucky sliminess generally found at the bottom of a lake. For all you sun worshippers, ample soft lounge and sun chairs abound, ensuring you’ll always find a comfortable place to soak up some rays, and reliable sources say they’ll have the lakeside beach and water sports area up and running by summer.
After tearing ourselves away from the pool patio, we re-entered the lobby lounge, and made our way to our rooms, which were, in a word, swank. Light woods set the tone, while ample sunlight and large windows added to its open airy feel. The interior design of the room allows you a generous view out, without making you feel vulnerable to the gaze of any potential looky-loos. Unless you’re standing out on the balcony, no one will ever see you, which is great for those of you who like to strut around nude in fancy hotel rooms. Movable walls either opened the full bathroom up to the main living area, or cordoned it off for privacy. Seeing as how I was alone, they remained opened. If there’s a more enjoyable way to watch BBC News, than in a hot bath, with a bottle of wine, it’s probably not legal.
With every room equipped with Internet access, a big LCD TV, and a bed fit for a Caesar, no one would blame you for spending all your time there, but you would be missing out on all there is to enjoy. Like the lavish ABEL Touch Spa located on the ground floor, right down the hall from the full gym and Pilates/yoga room, and the heated, indoor, pool that’s second to only Lex Luther’s in terms of awesomeness. Outside, garden paths meander through the landscaped grounds, and lead to various points of interest, including a traditional, country-style, restaurant that is not to be missed. Numerous hiking trails lead into the lush, surrounding, mountains. Remember, the golf club, and its 18, top-ranked, scenic links are only a few minutes up the road. Of course, there is also fishing, and bird watching (the eagles out there are quite impressive), or you could wander over to their eco-friendly greenhouse to check out the botanicals.
Everything about the InterContinental One Thousand Island Lake Resort, from the top-flight staff who happily helped us out with our every request, to the stunning attention to detail paid to the fittings, fixtures, and furnishings, is beyond reproach. If you’re looking for 5-star hospitality in a paradise setting, we think you found it. The InterContinental One Thousand Island Lake Resort sets the bar.