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Tranquility close at hand
2015-05-14
By Ruby Gao

Sometimes when the weekend arrives and you’re feeling a little frazzled all you want to do is escape the city hubbub for a couple of days. Finding a little piece of tranquility to ease away all your stresses needn’t mean a major expedition. In fact, there are numerous resorts in scenic areas within two or three hours of Shanghai by car.

Many are in the neighboring provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, while another option is Chongming Island, administered by Shanghai and the third largest island in China.

Resorts are often located on the banks of a lake, nestled among mountains or near an ancient town. Management makes the most of their surroundings to offer distinctive leisure activities — everything from cycling, hiking, boating and fishing to flying kites and history tours.

And to help you get back to nature, some resorts have their own farms growing organic fruit and veg, hold cooking classes and offer “from farm to table” menus.

Some hotels even have their own private lake where guests can enjoy a leisurely lunch and take in the scenery aboard a boat. Landlubbers can sip a brew in resort tea gardens.

While the resorts usually offer rooms as opposed to self-catering options, these are often bigger than in downtown hotels, often with balconies, and with more family friendly arrangements — such as connected rooms for three-generation families.

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Young guests have more to keep them amused than they might expect in downtown hotels — even down to kid-friendly shower gel and shampoo and anti-allergy little bathrobes.

Most resorts have an area for kids, where they can play, watch cartoons and eat ice cream, supervised by experienced babysitters to ensure they don’t overdo the sweet stuff.

Children’s bicycles and tandems are available at many places.

And mindful that herding kids in the morning isn’t always the easiest task, many offer late checkout.

This week, Shanghai Daily explores six nearby resorts, all within a three-hour drive and close to tourist sites so guests can combine chilling out with taking in local attractions.

One is at Qiandao Lake in Zhejiang Province, known for its clean water and lush forest spreading over 1078 islands. Another option is in Zhejiang port city Ningbo — a must for fresh seafood fans.

If you’re a martial arts fan head to Anji in northwest Zhejiang, where you can practice your moves in the bamboo forest featured in Ang Li’s Oscar-winning “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

And if an ancient water town and hairy crab combo is what you fancy, we recommend a resort at Yangcheng Lake in Jiangsu Province.

To make it even easier, we’ve compiled a must-try schedule for you.

So what are you waiting for this weekend? Pack that car and head out of the city!

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4-legged-friend friendly

This Chongming Island resort, is an hour’s drive from downtown, where you swap a landscape of skyscrapers for one dotted with organic farms and wetlands that provide a vital habitat for migrating birds. It also has the distinction of probably being the only hotel in Shanghai that welcomes dogs.

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Price: From 805 yuan/night (depending on season)

Venue: Hyatt Regency Chongming

Tel: (021) 6703-1234

Address: 799 Lanhai Rd, Chenjia Town, Chongming County, Shanghai

Go with the flow

Set on the bank of the man-made Qiandao Lake — literally thousand island lake — Sheraton Qiandao Lake Resort covers 3.5 hectares, and has 249 rooms and suites — three of which are family rooms that can accommodate six guests. Most rooms have views of the lake and its green islands .

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Price: From 987 yuan/night (depending on season)

Venue: Sheraton Qiandao Lake Resort

Tel: (571) 6488-8888

Address: Xin An Rd N., Qiandao Lake, Chun An County, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province

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History and hairy crabs

Set on the banks of Yangcheng Lake, the Fairmont Yangcheng Lake is a 40-minute drive from Shanghai. Half of the rooms have balconies with views of the lake, which is famed for its hairy crabs.

It is 50 minutes from Zhou Zhuang, an ancient water town with a history dating back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Zhou Zhuang’s stone bridge and carved windows have provided inspiration for many Chinese artists over the years.

The resort’s own water park, covering 33 acres, is a highlight, where guests can cycle or dine at the organic farm. Produce includes seasonal vegetables and fruit, while rabbits, peacocks, ducks and goats are raised there for display and bees are also kept.

The resort shows its family-friendly by offering kid-sized bicycles and bathrobes and bath amenities specially for children.

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Price: From 980 yuan/night (depending on season)

Venue: Fairmont Yangcheng Lake

Tel: (512) 5780-0888

Address: 3668 Ma’an Shan Rd W., Kunshan, Jiangsu Province

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Make a splash at lunch

This 209-room resort on the banks of Dongqian Lake in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, is two and a half hours drive from Shanghai. The architecture combines ancient Chinese style — with white walls and a tiled roof — with modern touches. General manager Peter Zhou was a Shanghai celebrity chef, so the food should be pretty special — even more so if you take advantage of the exclusive dining on a boat option.

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Price: From 2070 yuan/night (depending on the season)

Venue: Park Hyatt Ningbo Resort and Spa

Tel: (574) 2888-1234

Address: 188 Dayan Rd, Dongqian Lake, Ningbo, Zhejiang Province

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Break offers a real kick

This resort on the banks of the lake at the foot of Tiemao Mountain in Anji County covers 53 hectares and features 180 rooms and nine villas. It’s just a three-minute drive to the world-famous Anji bamboo forest featured in Ang Li’s Oscar-winning martial arts movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

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Price: From 300 yuan/night (depending on season)

Venue: Meilin Resort

Tel: (572) 533-9999

Address: Tiemao Mountain, Chengnan Community, Anji County, Zhejiang Province

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Relaxation down to a tee

This resort in the coastal city of Nantong in Jiangsu Province, is a two-hour drive from downtown. Covering 2.5 hectares, it has 22 spacious suites ideal for families, and highlights include a professional standard golf course and an exclusive hot spring. It also offers harbor views and super-fresh seafood. Shanghai customers can take resort’s weekly shuttle bus from the Shanghai Renaissance Hotel on Friday, returning to Shanghai on Sunday.

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Price: From 703 yuan/night (depending on season)

Venue: Links Hotel and Resort

Tel: (513) 8086-9999

Address: Coastal Tourism Economic Development Zone, Xiaoyangkou, Rudong County, Nantong, Jiangsu Province

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