Mar 18, 2019
It might take a village to raise a child, but it took just one man to raze several villages—only to gloriously resurrect them 700 kilometers away as the most ambitious luxury resort slash living museum you might ever have the pleasure of spending a small fortune to sleep in. In 2002, self-made billionaire Ma Dedong embarked on what many called a Quixotic quest to save a bunch of 500-year-old stone-and-wood villas and 10,000 revered camphor trees from an area of Fuzhou that was to be flooded for a reservoir. His workers took apart 50 houses piece by piece, dug up an ancient well, and destroyed a tollbooth so as to fit a fatty 2,000-year-old tree up the highway. The result: a serene, feng shui–masterpiece enclave outside of Shanghai that is imbued with the history of the royal scholars who originally lived in the 26 villas perfectly reassembled here and complemented by a throughline of minimalist Midcentury design. Whether you’re practicing calligraphy at the on-site Chinese cultural study center or zoning out in the massive Aman spa that includes a Russian banya, Moroccan hammam, and two lap pools, the experience is the purest form of soulful rejuvenation. —J.L.S.J.
aman.com; doubles from $890, antique villas from $8,895.