This New Hotel in China’s Narnia Takes Forest Bathing to the Next Level

Ensconced in prehistoric greenery, this is the first luxury hotel on the Chinese borderlands with Vietnam. By Jeninne Lee-St. John

Jan 29, 2021

THESE POST-COLD WAR DAYS, we don’t think much about the borderlands between China and Southeast Asia, but they stretch for some 3,900 rugged and fascinating kilometers along northern Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. The majority of the Middle Kingdom here is Yunnan Province, a mystical mountainous region whose Tea Horse Route has landed on many an adventurer’s bucket list.

But Guangxi autonomous region is just as much the stuff of Tolkien tales, with its breathtaking river-crossed and mountain-flecked landscape that 200 million years ago was 200 meters below sea level. Hemmed in by Guangzhou and Hunan, Guangxi runs along the northeastern tip of Vietnam, with the UNESCO World Heritage Listed karsts of Guilin echoing those beauties south in Halong Bay, and proving that nature cares nothing for international boundaries.

You probably won’t much either when you get to LUX* Chongzuo, Guangxi Resort & Villas. On February 1, the experiential and uber-personal boutique-resort brand from The Lux Collective opened its first property in China and the first international five-star in Daxin County right on the line with Vietnam. The hotel sits on the Mingshi River, a tributary of the Guichun, which wanders from Guangxi into Vietnam and back again. Lux is 10 minutes from the border, but, really, up here, what are borders, anyway?

You might call the design Triassic-minimalist-chic. The 50 suites and six villas start at an indulgent 80 square meters (going up to 180), every one using indigenous wood and stone to blend with the landscape, to which all guests have a front-row seat from their river-facing balconies. Or, you can literally bathe in the view in the green-peak-ringed infinity pool. And boy are we glad far-flung resorts have adopted roofbars from their urban brethren because the one here makes a mockery of any city’s sunset skyline.

Among the Wonderland-y activities on offer are the daily hunt for a message in a bottle, which is hidden somewhere in the resort every morning; spotting critically endangered white-headed langurs at Nongguan Nature Reserve; and afternoon tea on a bamboo raft on the Mingshi. Yep, this place is slow-travel defined, but there’s still a steakhouse on site because, well, fine wine and prime cuts are a great way to induce starry-night slumber, are we right?

The LUX* Me Spa soothes with traditional Vietnamese treatments al fresco in Chinese greenery. And it’s just a half-hour drive from the resort to Detian Falls, known as Ban Gioc in Vietnamese, the biggest transnational waterfall in Asia — the Sino-Vietnamese Rivendell, a fairy land that straddles two countries and, now perhaps, countless bucket-list dreams.

luxresorts.cn; LUX* Chongzuo, Guangxi Resort & Villas is two hours from Nanning Wuxu International Airport; the three-day/two-night opening package including daily champagne and dinner, an afternoon tea on the Mingshi, and more, is priced from RMB3,980 per person through September 30; email stay.cn@luxresorts.com.

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