Editor's Note

Past Perfect

To be old is not to regress but to celebrate the richness of what was and can still be. On this note, welcome to BTLuxe Christmas 2015, where we bring to you proof that heritage isn’t just a whimsical notion but an innovative business strategy.

Take for example, Chinese real estate tycoon Qin Tong Qian, who could not stand idle as thousands of architecturally significant homes and temples were razed by their new-rich owners. He took it upon himself to buy and restore these buildings and the result is a stunning leisure complex set to open in January 2016.

And how about Salvatore Ferragamo, scion of the famed luxury brand who took it upon himself to restore a Tuscan manor into its former glory and now, a luxury resort? Or Coco Chanel, whose apartment in Paris still holds fascination for style acolytes more than 40 years after her death?

Even hotels are hopping onto the heritage wagon, as both large and independent brands realise that savvy travellers want more than just cookie cutter accommodation. Thanks to the big guns like Peninsula or Starwood, or indie operators Malmaison Hotel Du Vin or the Unlisted Collection, you now have the choice of enjoying modern amenities and unlimited wifi in stately surroundings.

On the fashion front, ground-breaking designers may still hold the fort, but also making a strong comeback are brands that were big in the ’70s or ’80s which have since rejuvenated themselves under the guidance of fresh young talents.

Nothing spells heritage more than a good shot of single malt, and we travel to Scotland to learn the story of how innovation and tradition created one of the best selling whiskies today.

Heritage also spawns personal reinvention, and millionaire artist Takashi Murakami talks about how he is fashioning himself as the new Spielberg. And for gourmets, good food isn’t always to be found in the Western Hemisphere. A group of dedicated chefs in China are steadily making themselves known to international gourmets and could well be the next dining destination du jour.

Life isn’t always about social media, fast fashion and faster living. As the following stories will show, there’s merit in looking back, as long as we have one foot solidly set in the future.

Jaime Ee

Editor, BTLuxe Christmas


Spirit Of Chanel

31 Rue Cambon is filled with the same timeless beauty and fluid sense of style that belonged to the inimitable woman who lived in it – Coco Chanel

And… Action!

One of the world’s biggest artists, Takashi Murakami, is re-inventing himself as a new Spielberg

Driving Holiday

Exploring Portland

Farms, fauna, food carts… and no sales tax. Oregon’s famously chill city will charm all who visit


In The Land Of Mercedes

Luxury watchmakers go back in time for inspiration to create sleek timepieces that are wowing collectors

Spirit of Chanel

31 Rue Cambon is filled with the same timeless beauty and fluid sense of style that belonged to the inimitable woman who lived in it – Coco Chanel.
By Jaime Ee

The scent of a special woman permeates the hallowed halls of Chanel’s flagship boutique on 31 Rue Cambon. Enter and the cheerful bustle of the stylish Parisian shopping street stops as if someone flipped a switch to silent, and no move on the part of the sleek-suited attendants to stop you is tacit approval for you to enter. As you move towards the inner sanctum of this emporium of lovely things, you wonder what its creator Coco Chanel would think of this milieu of frenzied foreigners slouching, feinting, swaggering in every corner – never browsing, always buying. How close are their lives – as they compare prices and bragging rights with their peers back home – to that of the young abandoned country girl who grew up to be the icon of style for generations?

The answer is: Not at all.

The true spirit of Chanel isn’t in that Rue Cambon boutique, although its ringing tills are what ensure the posterity of the lady who lived in the apartment behind it. If you get a chance to visit, grab it because you won’t just see what made Coco Chanel tick, you’ll feel it in your very bones.

Our guide Denise Dubois has been showing the apartment to visitors for the past seven years and is a walking testament to Chanel in her head to toe accoutrements and the heavy aristocratic accent that reduces you to the role of awe-struck shrine worshipper.

The shrine begins at the famous spiral stairway – with the overlapping mirrored panels that allowed the famed couturier to observe the swoop and flow of each creation as her models paraded down the stairs. She herself would sit at the fifth step – 5 being her favourite number and forever associated with her scent – the one step which allowed her to view an outfit at every angle.

Her apartment proper is a level above – a far cry from the clean lines and monochrome shades of her designs – eclectic, ornate, yet put together with such a natural sense of style that while nothing matches, nothing seems out of place either.

Abandoned by her father (her mother died when she was 12) and raised in an orphanage, Coco Chanel took on Paris with sewing skills and a beguiling manner which bewitched powerful men who financed the growth of her fashion empire. The apartment – which she bought in 1918 – is filled with expensive knick knacks that were gifts from them. Among them is a solid gold jewel box from the Duke of Westminster, with whom she had an affair for 10 years from 1923. “For her, it was an expression of luxury for something to be as beautiful on the inside as the outside,” explains Ms Dubois. A Buddha statue resting above a cupboard was given to her by an English captain, Arthur Edward ‘Boy’ Capel, described as her one true love. The Chanel Boy bag is named for him.

The apartment is rife with symbolism, whether in reference to Chanel’s designs or her own superstitions. Elaborate Chinese screens are festooned with quail, pine trees, peonies and turtles – supposedly representing long life. She had things always in pairs, because she liked symmetry. “Remember the Chanel commercial with Vanessa Paradis in the bird cage? It was inspired by this,” says Ms Dubois, holding up the gilded cage with two birds kissing in it that spawned the signature gold cage earrings.

The label’s Sous Le Signe Du Lion high jewellery line is also inspired by Chanel’s penchant for lions, in tandem with her astrological sign Leo. A painting by Dali features a single shaft of wheat, a symbol of Chanel’s humble beginnings as a country girl. Even the signature padding of the Chanel 2.55 bag has its beginnings in the sofa, which she designed herself in a quilted pattern. And above, a chandelier shimmers softly – shiny crystals hanging from a tangle of wrought iron twisted to form interlocking double Cs and the number 5.

Oddly, Coco Chanel never slept at 31 Rue Cambon – there was no bedroom. Instead, she slept at the Hotel Ritz. But in her lonely later years, she would find solace in the two statues in the apartment foyer – in the shape of young boys in medieval garb. She would say goodnight to one when she left the apartment while the other would greet her when she came back in the morning, relates Ms Dubois.

The well-maintained abode may be a shrine to some, but it is above all the key to the life of a woman who lived, loved, had shortcomings but created a timeless beauty that is still enjoyed today.

And... Action!

One of the world’s biggest artists, Takashi Murakami, is re-inventing himself as a new Spielberg.
By Helmi Yusof

You could say it was only a question of time. Takashi Murakami – often referred to as the Japanese Andy Warhol – had already conquered the art, fashion and design world. His Technicolor flowers and happy kawaii monsters were popping up everywhere, from Louis Vuitton bags to Kanye West’s Graduation album cover to Frisk Mint boxes.

He had become a millionaire-businessman-artist, spoken of in the same breath as Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, two other superstars who had managed to situate themselves at the very nexus of art and commerce with their large workshops-cum-factories churning out both cheap and expensive art.

What could have been the next logical step for the son of a taxi driver who had achieved commercial success beyond his wildest dreams? How could he widen his global reach outside the framework of art, fashion and design?

The answer for Murakami was movies and TV. It’s the medium that, eventually, almost every non-Hollywood celebrity wants to get into. Singers, models and dancers long to act. And business tycoons yearn for their own TV shows where they can become household names dispensing nuggets of financial wisdom.

“Some years ago, I was already thinking of making films for children,” Murakami says. “I’d seen how children reacted to my art and I realised they were a demographic that I’d never thought to address. They got my art readily and they understood what I was getting at.”

Murakami once said in an interview that people may only understand his art a hundred years after his death. Despite his tremendous global success, his invention of the “superflat” concept – the merging of high and low culture, the blending of manga, anime and otaku fantasies – has been criticised by the Japanese as an appropriation of existing sub-cultures and aesthetics. They’ve accused him of not creating anything new.

Children, in contrast, enjoy his art freely and spontaneously, without any baggage. He says: “Children are a big audience and I want to shift my focus now towards them.”

These thoughts were circling his mind when the Great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 2011. It was the fourth most powerful earthquake in modern history, killing almost 16,000 people. It also gave rise to the Fukushima nuclear accident, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes.

Murakami says: “I was watching Japanese TV in 2011 and I saw this poignant moment when a TV reporter was interviewing children whose parents had disappeared in the disaster. The children’s neighbours came over and told the children their parents had gone up to the sky, but that they were still watching over the children so they shouldn’t worry.”

“I thought to myself, this is a lie that they’re telling the kids. But then again, human beings sometimes have to create stories and lies to get through things, so perhaps we cannot say that they are lying. Before the tsunami, I didn’t believe in these kinds of stories told in myths and religions – and that’s why I became an artist. But after the tsunami, I came to believe in fiction and how important it is for people to hear stories.”

Murakami set about conceptualising his first film and two years later, finished making Jellyfish Eyes, which was shown at this year’s Art Basel. The story centres on a lonely, alienated boy who develops a strong bond with a jellyfish-like virtual pet produced by a popular children’s gadget. When shadowy villains threaten to take over his town, the boy and his friends band together to fight the bad guys using their army of virtual pets.

Many of the pets look like the cute toothy monsters that make Murakami’s art so popular around the world. And just like the children in the TV clip Murakami watched, the boy character needed the help of fiction (a virtual pet) to help him overcome his loneliness.

Murakami says: “It’s important to believe in stories... After the earthquake, Japan underwent a big change. The economy was bad and has stayed bad even today. Japanese society, which had striven to stay ‘flat’ after World War II, suddenly saw the emergence of an upper class. So Japanese people are currently very confused and the government also appears confused.”

The film received mixed reviews, with some critics citing Steven Spielberg and Hayao Miyazaki’s creature features as obvious influences. But Murakami is undeterred, and is currently working on a sequel which will debut in 2016 or 2017.

He says: “When I was young, my parents belonged to some kind of a cult religion. They would drag me to these mass gatherings which I didn’t like, but at the same time I was interested in witnessing. I would hear all sorts of stupid stories being told at these gatherings. And as a child, I thought to myself, how could adults believe in these stupid stories?”

“But now I’ve come to realise that people need to believe in ‘stupid stories’ – and that’s why I can make a film like this. From my standpoint, it’s a completely honest perspective.”

Exploring Portland

Farms, fauna, food carts… and no sales tax. Oregon’s famously chill city will charm all who visit.
By Samuel Ee

Portland in the US state of Oregon has historic architecture, a vibrant music and arts scene and diverse cuisine. This charming city in north-west America is also famous for its myriad microbreweries and coffee shops. But being Singaporean, chances are the first thing that impresses you is the absence of a sales tax. As unusual as a cheap COE, Oregon is just one of five US states without a sales tax, which can be more than 9 per cent. That means no surprises when settling the bill after eating, drinking or shopping in Portland.

All three activities are easily accomplished by bus, streetcar or light rail. But to explore it and the natural beauty beyond, you can’t beat the convenience of a car.

Portland is nestled at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers and a short drive north in the new Lexus RX 200t takes you to Sauvie Island for an idyllic day amidst abundant nature. Sauvie is the largest island in the Columbia River and the new RX makes the trip a comfortable one. The fourth generation of this luxury SUV has a new two-litre turbocharged engine to drive all four wheels. Better still, a major chassis revision, new engine mounts and Adaptive Variable Suspension produce a more precise drive with improved body control. Where once the RX would be luxurious but not that sporty, it is now both.

There are many family farms on Sauvie, such as The Pumpkin Patch, which grows up to 50 kinds of fruits and vegetables. When travelling from one farm to another on the rural roads, the RX200t’s Active Stabiliser Suspension with skyhook control maintains a smooth ride.

Half of the island is also home to a wildlife area. Depending on the time of year, birds like the bald eagle, sandhill crane and various songbirds and waterfowl can be viewed. But make sure you have a full tank before crossing the bridge over to Sauvie – there are no gas stations on the island.

If you’re feeling peckish upon returning to the city, pull up alongside one of the ubiquitous food carts. Portland’s food cart scene is legendary, with pods – groups of carts or tiny kitchens in parked trailers – all over the city offering a vast array of food choices.

One of the better known vendors sits right in the middle of town at SW Alder St, offering US$6 Chinese crepes made on the spot by a non- Chinese lady who stuffs them with scrambled egg, black bean and chilli sauces, pickled vegetables and crispy crackers. Delicious but maybe less authentic than the fish and chips a couple of carts away.

Here, two pieces of haddock or halibut are battered and served with chips and sour cream for US$9. Drizzle some malt vinegar for some of the tastiest street food you’ll ever enjoy in the US. If you want a good coffee, you will have to cross the Willamette River to SE Belmont St for a delightful Dutch Bros brew.

Dutch Bros was founded in Southern Oregon by two dairy farmer brothers and the handcrafted coffee is roasted by hand. The convenient drive-thru also serves blended fruit smoothies and sodas. The young baristas are friendly, allowing customers to go off-menu to concoct their own coffee drinks.

In fact, Portland as a whole is a very chill place. People are easygoing and you don’t get drivers honking at you. It has a laidback charm not usually associated with a big city. Maybe it’s the weather, which happens to be cool enough to produce some very interesting wines.

Oregon pinot noir from the Willamette Valley, for example, is elegant enough for Burgundy’s Domaine Drouhin to have established a winery in the Dundee Hills some 30 years ago. But if you prefer American to Burgundian, there is an eye-popping range of Oregon pinot noir styles to buy home – all of which are likely to be more subtle than their Californian cousins, with complexity and good acidity.

Best of all, there’s no sales tax.

In The Land Of Mercedes

At the Fraser Suites Kensington, a landmark partnership brings all things Benz to six beautifully appointed apartments.
By Jaime Ee

On the stately grounds of London’s Stanhope Gardens, as you step into the posh Victorian-era townhouses that house the Fraser Suites Kensington, you almost expect someone to say, “Welcome home ma’am, your butler will show you to your car – I mean, sofa.” In what is likely a first-of-its-kind marriage of automobiles and hotels, Mercedes Benz has taken over six of Fraser Suites’ service apartments and turned them into liveable versions of their luxury performance cars.

Titled Mercedes-Benz Living @Frasers, the apartments are like the Transformers of luxury style. Imagine an S-class Autobot unfurling itself into a living room complete with visible auto-inspired finishings, and that’s the feeling you’ll get when you step inside. On the wall is a sleek sketch of a vintage coupe encased in Perspex, while a glossy polished black sideboard (is there an option to have it in anthracite grey, you wonder) mimics the side of a car. Music plays softly from the pleasingly retro sound system designed by Burmester which already serenades drivers in their Mercs, and you can read in bed under the light of the cool lamps fit into the headboard.

“We are happy to be associated with a luxury brand like Mercedes Benz because it adds value to our own brands,” says Guus Bakker, Fraser Hospitality’s CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa. He adds that the carmaker approached him about a year ago with their plans to expand beyond the sale of cars. They were keen to move into the residential market and “they felt that Fraser was best aligned to their brand”.

“We started thinking a few years ago about what other areas might provide a business opportunity and at the same time is an attractive offer to our customers present and future,” explains Wilfried Steffen, director of Daimler Business Innovation. They explored the idea of going to hotels or apartments and decided that since their cars are designed for business people, they wanted to focus on business travellers – those who travel so much but appreciate a sense of familiarity. Essentially, it’s about “car enthusiasts, leisure and business travellers who want the Mercedes Benz experience outside of their car”.

On the part of Frasers, the Mercedes Benz connection will come in handy when the relatively young hotel group expands into new markets like China, adds Bakker. “When we go into markets where we are not really known – Mercedes Benz is one of the most recognisable brands there – so we can take advantage of that.”

The plan isn’t to convert all the apartments into Mercedes-themed accommodation – just five to 10 in each property depending on how the current pilot project works out, says Bakker. After London, Frasers is looking at converting some of their apartments in Singapore and then its other properties.

The biggest challenge in translating the Mercedes DNA into a living space was in defining an “architectural language that combines emotion and intelligence like we usually do for our cars”, says Benoit Tallec, manager of design strategy and digital interior creation. Ultimately, “it’s about shapes, textures and materials from a Mercedes car interpreted in a living environment,” adds Steffen. “And it works.”

Opulent without being garish, the generous-sized two bedroom apartments are spacious enough to allow a large chandelier without looking out of place. Not just any chandelier but an intricate crystal composition by Swarovski (used in the headlamps of the S-class) that when reflected in the dining table forms an ‘S’ – for either Swarovski or S-class, as you so desire.

The apartment is also as smart as your car, with a ‘Black Magic’ media wall – also in glossy black finish – that houses an integrated Smart TV with the Mercedes ‘me’ app installed which acts almost like a personal concierge. And if you’ve always lamented that the only thing you couldn’t do in your S-Class is fry an egg, knock yourself out in this beautifully outfitted kitchen – a full-sized room that’s all black, steel and serious-looking.

All this comes at a cool £2,100 a week (S$4,600) – an expected premium for all this luxury and privacy within the secure premises of the posh apartment complex. If you still need convincing, look on the bright side – you don’t need to buy a COE to stay here.

Click here for more information and reservations.

Special Feature

Home Team

Whether it’s a designer conversation piece or timeless additions that will transform your living space, you’ll find it at The Furniture Mall’s one-stop destination

Rest Well

At the new Simmons Gallery in Capitol Piazza, beautifully styled bedrooms beckon

Christmas Highlights

A host of new options await at South Beach and One Farrer

Festive Fare

Feast on traditional cuisine with a twist at the InterContinental and One Fullerton

Home Team

Whether it’s a designer conversation piece or timeless additions that will transform your living space, you’ll find it at The Furniture Mall’s one-stop destination.

’Tis the season to give your home a facelift, and there’s no better way to deck the halls than with statement furniture from brands like Lorenzo, Simmons, and Cellini, all available at The Furniture Mall. Making over your home for the upcoming festivities is a cinch when you can take your pick from over 70 coveted furniture brands available at one retail destination. That’s not all, the mall even boasts interior design services to tailor your home to reflect your personal style.

From a major remodeling to a few home décor touches that could transform your entire space, a trip to The Furniture Mall is all you need to get all your decorating woes sorted. In fact, take the year-end festivities as a good reason to adopt a new look for your home. A classic, evergreen design scheme that never goes out of fashion is ideal if you enjoy the comfort of a familiar look that remains stylish through the years. And it isn’t hard to achieve: simply spruce up your abode with choice picks in a preferred palette, and add coordinating accents to tie the entire look together for decorating perfection.

If you’ve had trouble translating your favourite look from a design magazine or blog into a brick-and-mortar room, try visiting a variety of chic furniture boutiques. These showrooms serve as your three-dimensional mood board, recreating timeless themes and helping you visualise your dream space. Moreover, as the mall celebrates its 21st Anniversary, shoppers stand to win prizes like a Citroen C4 Cactus, designer furnishings from Cellini, Fantasy Waterbeds, Gabbeh Carpets and Star Living, and cash vouchers in a lucky draw, taking place from now, through Christmas till February 2016.

Rest Well

At the new Simmons Gallery in Capitol Piazza, beautifully styled bedrooms beckon.

If you’re wandering through Capitol Piazza and come across this welcoming new showflat beckoning you to rest your shopping-weary feet, just go on in and don’t worry about taking off your shoes first. It’s not a showflat – it’s the new Simmons Gallery which goes beyond being a conventional mattress showroom by creating an elegant living space for you to browse in.

“Today, Simmons is no longer about selling mattresses, but a lifestyle,” says Casey Teh, managing director of Simmons (SEA). “This gallery is all about raising the levels of showrooms.”

Besides its range of top mattresses, the Simmons Gallery also has a collection of art, Bang & Olufsen BEOPlay speakers, home fragrances, and hand-made crocheted soft toys for sale. Put simply, these are items that you would want to have in your bedroom or home.

Whereas most other showrooms would have endless displays of mattresses, at the Simmons Gallery, these are showcased in special themed bedrooms. The interiors were done by renowned interior design firm, Axis ID, which has made a name for itself styling prestigious showsuites in Singapore.

The bedroom themes revolve around Kids, Newly-weds, Health and Living, Ladies, Hi-Tech and Luxury. The most fun room is the Hi-Tech one. Here, customers can experience the brand new Simmons’ Prodigy Adjustable Bed with Simmons Pocketed Coil. The bed allows users to position themselves to a comfortable level, by raising or lowering the mattress at their head and/or feet. The mattress also comes with a built-in massager, great for relaxing tense muscles just before bedtime.

Specially curated artworks adorn the walls of all the bedrooms. The paintings and sculptures are all from renowned art gallery, Ode to Art. They include pieces by artists from Korea, Singapore, Germany, China, and France.

“I feel that Ode to Art reaches out to the same clientele as those who would shop at this gallery,” says Teh. He declines to reveal how much was spent on the gallery, but says it is a worthwhile investment. He is confident that the gallery will appeal to the Capitol Piazza-going crowd – high-end, savvy shoppers.

Teh isn’t too bothered should customers leave without buying a mattress. “They are welcome to visit the gallery to get ideas on how they can do up their bedrooms,” he says. “The most important thing, is that they feel comfortable coming here.”

Christmas Highlights

A host of new options await at South Beach and One Farrer.

South Beach

Fancy trying something new this Christmas? You could be one of the first to check out the newly-launched South Beach hotel’s All Day Hotel Dining concept – designed by French designer Philippe Starck, and located one floor below the hotel lobby.

The festive highlight this year is a Christmas Day lunch buffet (S$125++), offering a range of both Western and local hot dishes, plus a special festive selection of terrines, salads, charcuterie, freshly-baked breads, and homemade spreads. The chilled seafood section will feature lobsters, prawns, oysters, green mussels, and clams, as well as a variety of sauces to go with them. Of course you can also expect live stations with freshly-made pancakes, waffles, carved roasts, pastas, and soups. And don’t forget to leave room for the full dessert buffet to satisfy that sweet tooth.

For those who prefer a sit-down meal, a three-course Festive Lunch set menu (from S$25++) is available from Dec 12 to 23, while a five-course dinner on Christmas Eve (S$150++) comes with a glass of champagne.

The Christmas Eve dinner menu features a caviar potato waffle with sturgeon roe, chives, eggs, crème fraiche, winter greens and a truffle vinaigrette, a seared country foie gras with apple pie and rosemary caramel, a traditional slow-roasted turkey galantine with apricot stuffing, served with natural gravy, chestnut powder and cranberry foam, and ends off with The South Beach Christmas surprise with Valrhona chocolate mousse, gingerbread, dried Mandarin and eggnog ice cream.

The restaurant’s German executive chef Martin Bracker has spent 25 years cooking in countries like Greece, the United Arab Emirates, China, India, the Philippines, and his homeland Germany, and was the executive chef at Shangri-La Eros Hotel in New Delhi, India before taking on his current position in Singapore.

For dining reservations, call 6818 4071.

One Farrer

Learn to bake a gammon ham, order and take away a Hawaiian Kahlua Turkey, or treat yourself to a festive buffet at One Farrer Hotel & Spa. The hotel has a host of dining options this Christmas, such as learning how to bake Christmas Pavlova or breads, and even a gammon ham and whole sirloin roast with Christmas trimmings at its Origins of Food Studio this month.

For something readymade, pick up the Hawaiian Kahlua Turkey from One Farrer’s Confectionery Shop. Roasted with garlic and bay leaves, it is infused with sweet and savoury notes of pineapple and soy sauce. Or walk off with a Durian Mont Blanc Yule Log.

If you’re after a festive meal with family and friends, then the novel Christmas Turkey Feast at Escape Restaurant and Lounge will take you on a palatable tour de Asia for S$50++ per person. On the Singapore leg, enjoy an aromatic bowl of Turkey Kut Teh, brewed with traditional Bak Kut Teh herbs, and Cereal Turkey, a twist on a local zichar favourite. For a Japanese spin, there’s Turkey and Chestnut Tempura, while the signature One Farrer Roast Turkey will be marinated with a soy honey glaze. Curry lovers will savour the robust flavours of Turkey Rendang and Turkey Tikka, while purists can tuck into a Traditional Roast Turkey with homegrown rosemary and Cajun spices.

Yuletide desserts get some Asian accents as well: there’s Christmas Fruit Cake with dried longans and brandy-soaked fruits, Festive Stollen, Jivara Crunchy Chocolate Tart and Christmas Pudding with Brandy Sauce, as well as Escape’s new series of logcakes like Durian Mont Blanc Yule Log and Hawaiian Yule Log with Malibu.

Origins of Food Studio Christmas bake classes are on Dec 8, 12 and 22. Each class is capped at a maximum of 8 persons. For the full schedule of classes, visit www.onefarrer.com or email originsoffood@onefarrer.com.

For enquiries on classes and confectionary, call 6705 7825. For reservations and enquiries for Escape Restaurant, call 6705 7828 or email escape@onefarrer.com

Festive Fare

Feast on traditional cuisine with a twist at the InterContinental and One Fullerton.

InterContinental Singapore

What is your favourite Christmas scent? The smell of fresh pine needles, cinnamon, or gingerbread men?

Now, add Manuka woodchips and Jarrah hardwood to the list. InterContinental Singapore’s new restaurant Ash & Elm is known for using these two woods in its cooking, which will also feature on its Christmas menu.

If you’re having a party at home, the Manuka Wood-Smoked Tom Turkey (S$150+ for 5kg) will be a hit with guests. The bird is roasted over Manuka woodchips for natural caramelisation, but without the meat being dried out. The turkey is best paired with winter vegetables, pork sausage and chestnut stuffing, charcoal-baked Idaho potatoes and giblet gravy.

If dining at the restaurant is more your style, there is the Christmas a la carte lunch and dinner to choose from. A popular dish is the festive flat bread that is prepared a la minute at 420 degrees Celsius over specially imported Jarrah hardwood, and topped with ingredients such as Iberico Ham and Aged Cheddar (S$28++) as well as Turkey and Mushroom (S$28++).

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without any sweet treats. One dessert that will be popular with all guests young and young at heart, is the Oh MY Deer (S$68+ for 1kg), a light caramel chocolate mousse logcake with house-made orange confit encased within a decadent sea-salt caramel toffee-infused mandarin orange jelly, set atop a caramel hazelnut feuilletine and flourless chocolate biscuit.

Alternatively, the Cheesy Mara De Bois (S$68 for 1kg) is a good looker. This cheese mousse cake has a centre made of mixed-berries compote and pistachio joconde sponge, sheathed within a pate de bombe cheese layer, and topped with lemon financiers and a green crumble.

Ash & Elm will also be hosting what it calls The Longest Breakfast from 5am to 5pm on New Year’s Day. Priced from S$68++, there will be fresh juices, pastries and savoury dishes. Depending on how you see it, it would be a great way to start 2016, or the perfect way to forget 2015.

One Fullerton

It’s Christmas with a difference this year at The Fullerton Hotel. Instead of a traditional turkey, this year’s offering is an east meets west bird. The chefs at the Fullerton were inspired by Nonya cuisine this Christmas, and have introduced a Lemongrass Rendang Spiced Turkey. The bird is marinated with ginger, turmeric leaves, garlic, dried chilli, fried grated coconut, gula Melaka and lemongrass, and is served with turmeric rice, achar salad and gravy. If you love Asian cuisine, but still want turkey for Christmas, this is a good option.

If you’re tired of turkey and ham by the time Christmas comes around, there is always dinner at The Lighthouse to consider on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The restaurant will serve an Italian five-course dinner (S$198++), that includes lobster, octopus and potato salad, and pork leg sausage and Castelmagno cheese ravioli.

Over at The Fullerton Bay Hotel’s rooftop bar Lantern, things will be heating up with a Christmas Day Barbeque Brunch (S$198++). On the menu are grilled spiny lobster, king prawns and Wagyu beef as mains. Finish off Christmas on a sweet note with festive desserts such as caramel apple tart tatin with vanilla cinnamon dip and forest berries curd hazelnut tart.

Heritage Chic

House Hunter

Self-made real estate tycoon Qin Tong Qian takes collecting a step further, buying and restoring ancient architecture

In A Tuscan Tradition

Il Borro, jewel in the crown of the Ferragamos' agro-leisure business, is a bona fide farm estate that also happens to be a luxury resort

Heritage Hotels

Iconic Elegance

Hoteliers are going the heritage route, breaking out of the cookie-cutter 5-star chain mould to appeal to a new breed of discerning consumers. And at the top of the game, the Peninsula Paris is a stunning blend of rich French heritage, Oriental splendour and hi-tech chic


Malt Master

David Charles Stewart’s legacy – the two-cask maturation process – is the reason why whisky is where it is today

House Hunter

Self-made real estate tycoon Qin Tong Qian takes collecting a step further, buying and restoring ancient architecture.
By David Yip

The remote countryside of Zhejiang in south-east China is not the kind of place you expect to find a real estate tycoon like Qin Tong Qian. There are nothing but abandoned farmhouses as far as the eye can see – their owners hightailing it to greener pastures faster than you can say “China’s new rich”.

Yet the impish 52-year-old chairman of Shanghai-based property development group Qinsen is poking around with missionary zeal – nobody wants these houses but he does, and he wants to give them a new lease of life.

For 25 years, Qin has been the patron saint of some of China’s most amazing yet overlooked architectural heirlooms. Many would have faced destruction by bulldozer had it not been for his intervention. Instead, they now stand proud in Zhejiang and the contiguous provinces of Jiangsu, Fujian and Jiangxi – restored to their original states stone by stone, plank by plank.

Qin’s unusual ‘hobby’ – which his own family doesn’t understand, he sheepishly admits – began on a business trip to Anhui province, and a chance encounter with a late-Qing Dynasty house. Smitten by the building’s melancholy beauty, he made an offer to its owner on a whim. He put together a team of more than 20 people – photographers, draughtsmen, cataloguers and builders – and spent hundreds of thousands of yuan to take the house apart and transport every piece to a warehouse in his hometown of Shaoxing.

He hasn’t stopped since.

When China’s economy took off in the 1990s, the standard of living rose overnight, especially for those living in rural areas. They couldn’t wait to demolish or burn down their ancestral properties to build new ones. “I was mortified to see how so many villagers were ignorant of preserving their own heritage and culture,” recalls Qin. “The biggest irony was that property developers were tearing down ancient buildings in order to build new towns that looked like old towns!”

Today, Qin’s ‘collection’ stands at more than 300 such houses, with a secondary collection of antique furniture. Yet he still enjoys the thrill of the hunt. “I’d rush to the location as soon as I caught wind of a potential purchase,” he says. “There was this row of four buildings in Huangshan on the verge of collapse under heavy snowfall. I had to navigate more than two hours on foot to reach the site.” He arrived, negotiated a deal and sealed it on the spot.

He hasn’t always been as quick on the draw. When he was starting out and didn’t yet know the ropes, a merchant used to supply him with antiques. “One day he pulled me aside,” says Qin. “He told me that he had been passing me fakes as authentic pieces for some time. He was actually beginning to feel bad for me!”

His family, he says, merely shake their heads where his passion is concerned. His wife says that none of his buildings are actually livable, while his daughter reckons that he’s a walking antique himself.

Meanwhile, his collection – which includes ancestral temples and opera houses – grows, even though he concedes that the real challenge starts only after the seller says ‘yes’.

Cataloguing, dismantling, transporting, preserving and restoring require the skills of professionals. And this costs far more than the building itself. Since 1997, he has maintained tens of thousands of storage locations scattered throughout the nearby region to accommodate his collection. Seven years ago, he hired more than 200 experienced restorers, each an expert in their field. Carpenters, carvers and sculptors were tasked with putting together the time-shrouded pieces and wherever possible, prolonging their existence. Some of these master craftsmen came from as far away as Beijing.

Qin himself has a colourful history – a self-made tycoon who left his hometown of Shaoxing when he was 23 with just 60 yuan in his pocket. He travelled to Lu county to work as a gardener, starting his own company one year later providing horticultural services to German expatriates. At the homes of these Europeans, he saw the fascination that Chinese culture and artifacts held for foreigners. He developed his own taste for antiques and has a soft spot for works from the Ming dynasty.

“The Ming perfected line, form and proportion in design,” he enthuses. “Look at Ming furniture – a slight curve on the foot of a table is enough to tie all the design elements together in proper perspective. It’s wonderful.”

His day job running his own property investment firm Qinsen Group is nothing compared to this mammoth task he has set himself, and Qin admits to being overwhelmed by his acquisitions.

Nonetheless, he consults friends and architectural experts and concludes that these objects need the human touch to stay alive. “They rot faster when they are neglected,” he declares. In 2007, he started two projects in Shanghai and Shaoxing consisting of hotels, museums, bungalows and public spaces to showcase some of his best collectibles.

In Zhujiajiao, a water town on the outskirts of Shanghai, Qin built a 14,000 square metre mansion with independent villas, based on the Hakka Ming-period dwellings of Jiangxi province. Marketed under his own Ahn Luh brand, the showpiece of the project is the main building – a 600-year-old ‘five phoenix mansion’ or wufeng lou perfectly restored to its original state. The other 35 reconstructed villas date from the turn of the last century.

While his projects may be attention grabbing, Qin is himself soft-spoken and understated. “I’ve slowed down in my acquisitions,” he says. “The prices of antiques have gone up many hundredfold. Ten years ago I paid one million yuan for a Qing period house and I was offered 30 times that by a Beijing collector recently.” He explains his refusal of the deal with typical Chinese subtlety: “There are two types of people I respect: One who leaves behind ‘ink’; and the other who leaves behind architecture.” In his lifelong mission to bestow a second life on forgotten buildings, Qin Tong Qian is undeniably a proud member of the latter.

Moving an entire city brick by brick, through time and space, used to be the stuff of science fiction. Not anymore.

Rising Like A Phoenix

While Ahn Luh Zhujiajiao isn’t exactly a city, it’s pretty close. When it opens on Jan 1, 2016, it will be the first ‘all old’ hotel complex in China. Nearly every pillar, tile, beam, door and corbel comes from another part of the country, actual artifacts of the Qing period dating back to the early 1900s – salvaged, transported, restored and re-assembled.

Like magic, a village will materialise from the mists of time among the lovely waterways of Zhujiajiao, a 1,700-year-old water town on the outskirts of Shanghai.

The 14,000 sq m site encompasses a main building and 35 independent villas, and supporting facilities include a museum, restaurants, library, public spaces, spa and tai chi centre. The project is the brainchild of Qin Tong Qian, chairman of the Qinsen Group, who developed it. It is marketed and managed by his subsidiary Ahn Luh group, which is supported by major industry players such as Beijing Tourism Group, Amanresorts, GHM and the Great Ocean group.

At the centre of the complex is a ‘five phoenix mansion’ or wufeng lou built in the style of domestic Hakka architecture found in Jiangxi province in the Ming Dynasty. Occupying total floor space of 1,330 sq m, this wufeng lou represents the largest single structure in Qin’s collection, and dates back 600 years. It is a rare example of the imperial court architecture of central China and features a lavish, imposing façade.

The description ‘five phoenix’ refers to representations of the mythical bird, in different colours, throughout the building, as well as to the four cardinal compass points plus the central section of the complex. When Qin first discovered the mansion in Jiangxi, it was in a woeful state, decaying in neglect. He dismantled and catalogued every piece, storing the pieces in a warehouse for years while he carefully assembled the right team of architects and skilled artists and craftsmen.

After the painstaking restoration of each piece came the intricate task of assembly. The wufeng lou was reconstituted as a mixed structure of masonry with a lumber framework. Raw earth, stones and bricks were used, and most of the timbering was done by hand using traditional joinery methods without nails or mechanical fasteners. Fengshui dictated line, form and placement to the minutest detail, but the team still faced an uphill task since the last known wufeng lou was completed some 300 years ago and little information survived.

An even bigger challenge faced the builders: sourcing for original materials and reviving ancient and forgotten technique. Some precious woods, such as apricot timber, took years to grow and were almost impossible to find. And it became a common sight to see craftsmen plumbing old architectural archives while continuing with their repairs and carving. “The Zhujiajiao project aims to reflect the rich cultural traditions of this ancient water town,” says Akira Moreno, Ahn Luh’s CEO. “In line with the company’s vision and brand philosophy, the environment and setting will strongly influence the design of each hotel.”

Qin already has sights on the next venture, to be launched in the third or fourth quarter next year in Shaoxing. Managed by the same team behind Zhujiajiao, Ahn Luh Lanting will nestle in a valley between two mountains and contain up to 50 villas, each dating back 200 to 400 years, on an area of 200,000 sq m. “I promise you,” smiles Qin. “This project will be even bigger and grander!”

In A Tuscan Tradition

Il Borro, jewel in the crown of the Ferragamos' agro-leisure business, is a bona fide farm estate that also happens to be a luxury resort.
By Daven Wu

It’s one thing to bear the same name as your grandfather. It’s quite another when that grandfather was the Salvatore Ferragamo, the Italian shoemaker who shod the feet of everyone from Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren to Audrey Hepburn. “I’ve always felt a bit of a responsibility because I carried my grandfather’s name,” admits Ferragamo, petit-fils, though you wouldn’t know it from the way his tall, lanky frame strides easily through the vineyards on Il Borro, his family’s vast 800-hectare estate 58 kilometres south-west of Florence.

It’s the first day of the harvest and the entire estate is on hand. Great bunches of purple merlot, syrah, sangiovese and cabernet grapes droop from vines. Under the blazing Tuscan sun, the still air shimmers with a skin-warming heat that muffles the sound of boots sinking into crumbly earth. Every so often, 44-year-old Ferragamo stops and chats casually with a farm worker. He seems to know everyone’s name and there is a clear sense of respect mixed with affectionate familiarity in the way they talk to and look at him.

Responsibility, it turns out, is a theme that runs through any conversation with a Ferragamo. The fate of other Italian dynasties like Gucci and Agnelli casts a long shadow in this world and that the Ferragamo family has managed to create three successive generations of hands-on managers is an extraordinary feat.

“To join the family business,” Ferragamo says, “you have to have at least an MBA. You must work in another company for at least three years before joining the family business where you will work in a management role that reports to the board where the family sits.”

The formula works. Today, the company is worth 4 billion euros (S$6.1 billion) with a turnover of 1.4 billion euros. A third of its shares are listed on the Milanese stock exchange while the majority is owned by the descendants of the original Salvatore Ferragamo. When the company went public in 2011, the share price was 9 euros. Today, it trades at 23 euros.

Ferragamo’s father Ferruccio is chairman of the group while his uncle Massimo is chairman of the American arm. His identical twin brother James – named after the maternal English grandfather – runs the lucrative shoes and accessories line which contributes 70 per cent of the company’s turnover.

Ferragamo himself is CEO of the family’s Tuscanbased agro-leisure business of which Il Borro is the undisputed jewel in the crown.

“My father bought this property in 1993 when I was just finishing my work experience with KPMG Peat Marwick in Florence,” Ferragamo recalls one evening over a dinner at Il Borro’s stately 10-roomed manor which can be rented out for 9,000 euros a night. In one corner of the sprawling, russet-tiled room, the resort’s chef Andrea Campani stands before a roaring wood fire and preps onions roasted in ash, swordfish panzanella, and cod that has been cooked for five days in a reduction.

The entire estate, which includes a thousand-yearold fortified hamlet, was in a parlous state, but Ferruccio, who had hunted game on the same land for years before, saw potential. For him, this was never going to be a vanity project but, in his words, “an act of faith lasting in time”. Specifically, he wanted to create a bona fide working estate, a viable family business operation that also happened to be a holiday resort.

The timing was perfect. Young Ferragamo, armed with an MBA from New York University’s prestigious Stern School of Business, knew he wanted to do something different, something unrelated to the family’s core business. “My brother James is very into sports and triathlons, so he looks good in fashion. Me, I love food and I’ve always loved the countryside.” So, he put his hand up to run Il Borro.

The extensive renovations took seven years. Every inch of the estate was worked on. Drains were installed, electric cables buried, roads rebuilt. The ancient bridge connecting the hamlet to the estate was reinforced, each rock put into place by hand. The families still living in the hamlet were relocated at Il Borro’s expense, though to hear Ferragamo tell the story, they didn’t need much encouragement. “There were real problems with the sewage and plumbing and there was no insulation. They were happy to move.”

The first guests started arriving in 2000, but it wasn’t till 2005 that Il Borro began impinging on the consciousness of the Condé Nast Traveller-reading jetsetter. Its entry into the Relais & Chateaux fold in 2013 marked its elevation into the major leagues.

Not that anyone is resting on laurels. Work continues. A larger spa is in the wings alongside a full ninehole golf course and 18 self-standing serviced homes. “My father is a Virgo,” Ferragamo says, “so he is very precise in what he does.”

I ask Ferruccio, who lives on Il Borro itself and still shoots pheasant and pigeons every Sunday, if he would have embarked on this project if he’d known how much it would all end up costing him. He pauses. “To tell you the truth, I’ve never worked out the final numbers. But no, I probably wouldn’t have.”

The farmlands, blessed with rich soil and climate, are once again grazed by a herd of ivory white Chianina cattle and producing organic vegetables and fruit though, even here, the emphasis is on quality rather than quantity. “Our olive oil production is a dead loss,” Ferragamo says at one dinner as we dip oven-fresh bread into jade-hued oil that tastes of sunshine and grass. “We produce only 2,000 bottles, but we do it because we love olive oil.”

Meanwhile, Ferragamo’s sister Vittoria handles the e-commerce side of business and runs Il Borro’s production of small-batch organic honey. In the past couple of months, she’s started weekly deliveries of boxes of organic produce to Florentine homes.

The 45 hectares of vineyards recently achieved organic, biodynamic accreditation. Wine sales form a significant chunk of Il Borro’s revenue – 60 per cent is exported. And thanks to Ferruccio’s insistence, the ntire resort targets a zero carbon footprint: Two buildings are powered by bio-mass energy, whilst e central kitchen is fitted with a hi-tech ozonecleaning system.

These modern initiatives aside, the touch of the past is a warm presence that gives Il Borro an authenticity that has escaped places like Crillon le Brave in Provence and Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro, which have similarly converted ancient villages into modern hotels.

“Travellers today have such an incredible choice for their holidays,” Ferragamo says one afternoon by the edge of Il Borro’s infinity pool. The valley beyond is a cinematic green-draped Tuscan landscape. “It’s important to be authentic, and Il Borro is a genuine farming community that produces high quality agricultural products. It also happens to offer a unique holiday experience. That’s our competitive advantage.”

Nostalgia belongs to the tourist, which explains why some of the most popular rooms at Il Borro are the cosy, rustic suites carved out of the converted village houses and fitted out with creaky armoires, flagstone floors, Salvatore Ferragamo shampoo and WiFi. In place of a trite gift shop, the village houses a row of artisanal craftsmen including a goldsmith, shoemaker, potter and painter.

Squint and the present telescopes into the past. “I was 17 when I first started coming to Il Borro and 22 when my father bought it,” Ferragamo says. “This was an opportunity for me to start something from scratch. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to do this.”

Iconic Elegance

Hoteliers are going the heritage route, breaking out of the cookie-cutter 5-star chain mould to appeal to a new breed of discerning consumers. And at the top of the game, the Peninsula Paris is a stunning blend of rich French heritage, Oriental splendour and hi-tech chic.
By Jaime Ee

History is best served warm. Cosy. Plush even. Enjoyed with a cup of tea – Oolong if you prefer – as is the case when you marry the rich heritage of France with the classy elegance of a top Asian hotelier.

The Peninsula Paris is the stunning result of how an iconic Parisian landmark can retell its story in a space that is now in the forefront of luxury accommodation.

The four-year restoration of the former Hotel Majestic – a ‘grande hotel’ which opened in 1908 in the leafy boulevard of Avenue Kleiber and hosted luminaries for almost 40 years (George Gershwin wrote An American in Paris there in 1928) before the Nazis came and made it their headquarters – is history-making in its own right. By the time the final renovation bill was submitted to owners Katara Hospitality and Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, it was dangerously close to US$600 million.

But what that money has done to this late 19th century Haussmanian building has been nothing short of astounding. Whether you enter by the discreet Avenue des Portugais or past the imposing Chinese lion statues guarding the Avenue Kleiber doorway, you’re greeted by the same jaw-dropping crystal chandelier in the hotel foyer. From the top of the ceiling right to the floor, a shower of 800 individually hand-blown crystal leaves floats effortlessly – glittering off the already shiny polished marble floors of a lobby so spacious, there’s never any sense of getting into anyone’s face when checking in or out.

If you’re a numbers person, count away: four years’ work; 40,000 pieces of gold leaf; 1,000 individual pieces of wood removed, restored and replaced; 20 stonemasons working on the facade; countless ‘fish scale’ slate roof tiles fashioned by hand; an army of architects, engineers, mosaic artists, wallpaper and artwork restorers to take the old lady apart and put her back piece by loving piece. All you need is to just wander around – be it the restaurants, bars, spa – every inch is a testimony of what used to be and which now still lives.

While you can get lost in this vast palace – and you will not be in a rush to be found – intimacy is plentiful in the hotel’s 200 rooms, including 34 suites. Five of the 34 suites even have their own private access to the hotel’s rooftop garden where a front row seat to watch the nightly light up of the Eiffel Tower is guaranteed. Even the most ‘basic’ room fits into the six star luxury category with its spacious interiors, soothing colours and state-of-the-art gadgetry from a control panel that operates in 11 languages. Such gadgetry is a personal must for Peninsula hotels’ chief Sir Michael Kadoorie, whose own love for cars and planes can be seen in the property – from the 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom to the full-size replica airplane suspended outside the aeronautically-themed rooftop bar which pays tribute to Pierre Levasseur’s Atlantic crossing in 1927.

And in case you need a clear indication as to the Peninsula’s target market, look no further than the in-house Cantonese restaurant Lili – dressed in a combination of Oriental splendor and hi-tech chic. The face of the imperial courtesan at the entrance required some first-of-its-kind fibre-optic magic, with the image made out of 33,000 crystals hammered into Perspex.

Already a landmark by itself, the Peninsula also marks a first for the HSH group as its first property in Europe. Going by this success, we see more history being made in this era of heritage chic.

Prison Break

Malmaison Hotel Du Vin takes ancient buildings – a medieval jail, say – and turns them into incredible accommodation.
by Jaime Ee

If there’s something old in your neighbourhood – a building that holds secrets of lives from centuries ago, crumbling with age but rich in heritage – who you gonna call? Certainly not the Ghostbusters or your friendly renovations contractor. You call Malmaison Hotel Du Vin – which may just come in and turn that cruddy old space into the kind of plush hip abode that has made them one of the most exciting boutique hotel operators in the UK today.

Turning heritage buildings into swish accommodation is now gaining favour among major hotel brands looking to woo a sophisticated consumer bored with cookie cutter rooms. But while unique architecture and intangible charm are qualities no new building can replicate, they’re not likely to make more than a dent in a Starwood or Four Seasons’ bread-and-butter portfolios.

The opposite is true of Malmaison Hotel Du Vin (MHDV), which has built its entire business model around heritage properties.

“(Other hoteliers) will look at a building and say, oh, it’ll take two years to get planning and heritage approval, or they’ll say it’s too long, too slow, too expensive – but that’s the core of what our hotels are,” says Paul Roberts, CEO of MHDV. “We take buildings like eye hospitals and turn them into hotels. We have this old brewery (in Henley-on-Thames) with this great chimney and industrial (elements).”

Their latest project is in Stratford-upon-Avon or Shakespeare land, steeped in literature and heritage, with many beautiful old buildings to choose from. “We worked with the town trust to convert two beautiful townhouses into a 48-room hotel that will open in 2016,” says Roberts. The two Georgian grade II-listed buildings were built in 1798 – and were previously used as offices until the town trust decided it wanted to enhance the street that the houses stand on, and bring more life to the area. MHDV has built up a strong track record for its sensitive conservation of historic buildings, which helped in its bid to take over the two townhouses.

“I think people get bored of seeing the same thing,” says Roberts about MHDV’s emphasis on only heritage properties. Which is certainly not what you would say about its two concepts – the irreverent and youthful Malmaison, or the more elegant, grown-up but edgy Hotel Du Vin. The Malmaison Oxford, for one, remains one of its most stunning projects – for its eye-popping interiors as well as its notorious past as a medieval prison. Frightening stories about infamous prisoners who set a curse on the city and medical dissections can be shared while you gape at the commanding atrium that reaches up into the vast skylight, the metal staircases grim reminders of how many inmates marched up and down them on the way to their cells, lined up in rows on each side.

Three original cells were torn down to make one beautifully appointed hotel room – not a very big one though, which means the inmates were either the size of large children or the original cell was cruelly small. You can judge for yourself. One cell has been kept intact for the curious hotel guest – if you’re faint-hearted, don’t go in.

But such is the adventure and appeal of MHDV which revels in old stories and spinning new ones. While some buildings have rich histories – the Hotel Du Vin Edinburgh was an 18th century asylum – many are just elegant old buildings with very ‘normal’ backgrounds. And now that the group has been acquired by Singapore group Frasers Hospitality in a £363 million (S$785 million) deal, the group is set to move beyond UK to the rest of Europe and soon, Asia. In which case, a Malmaison Singapore could well be on the cards. Anybody have a spooky old house they want to sell?

Hidden Stories

Kyoto’s latest luxury ryokan Suiran is your doorway to culturally rich Arashiyama.
by Dylan Tan

Suiran’s minimalist chic décor and exterior can be slightly deceiving but rest assured Kyoto’s latest luxury ryokan is every bit as storied as the historic former capital of Japan. Like the city – destroyed numerous times by wars and fires over the centuries but rebuilt and now home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites – it does a fantastic job of mixing tradition and modernity.

The swanky boutique hotel, which opened earlier this year, is the latest addition to Starwood Hotels & Resorts exclusive Luxury Collection portfolio comprising properties that offer unique, authentic experiences as portals to the destinations’ indigenous charms.

In Suiran’s case, it’s the door to western Kyoto’s historical Arashiyama district, famed as a holiday retreat for court nobles for centuries because of the scenic views and one of the city’s top tourist destinations now.

Its name combines two Chinese characters: ‘sui’ which means jade green and represents the lush beauty of the area’s verdant hills, and ‘ran’, short for Arashiyama.

Sitting along the idyllic Hozu River, occupying the grounds of a former imperial villa and part of the Tenryuji (Heavenly Dragon) Temple, a World Heritage site; the river-side property features 39 luxuriously appointed 500 to 1,000 sq ft guestrooms – a third of which boast their own terraces and private outdoor hot-spring baths for extra privacy – inspired by traditional ryokan-style accommodations.

Rich hues of violet, indigo, gold, jade and vermilion; and moon and bamboo motifs used in the interiors are a nod to the famed Togetsukyo (Crossing Moon) Bridge and Arashiyama Bamboo Grove nearby.

Exterior-wise, Suiran’s design and architecture keep much of the surroundings’ natural beauty in mind – the Japanese-style main gate provides a warm and traditional welcome while the low-slung building with its tilted roof softly rounded in the classic mukuri style blends gently into the vast foliage and sweeping Arashiyama Hills nearby.

Two original structures from Suiran’s past have been preserved. Enmei-kaku (1899) and Hasshoken (1910) have both undergone extensive restoration and now house the hotel’s restaurant Kyo Suiran and cafe Saryo Hassui respectively.

The former offers a refined traditional dining experience with a modern twist and serves dishes inspired by seasonal local flavours; while the latter is more laid back with its exposed straw-thatched roof, pillars and moon-shaped windows, and menu featuring meals centred around Japanese green tea.

The Luxury Collection’s signature Concierge service is on hand 24/7 to help you discover the best of Kyoto – be it finding your moment of Zen at Tenryuji Temple, or sampling Arashiyama’s local delight tofu.

Beautiful all year round and with numerous festivals to liven up the city, Kyoto brims with both history and beauty no matter when you visit. Suiran might be the new kid on the block in Arashiyama but it’s already set to become a cultural treasure and icon of its own.

Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto
Saga-Tenryuji, Ukyo-ku,
12 Susukinobaba-cho, Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan

The New Old Clare

In the hands of Loh Lik Peng, two of Sydney’s heritage-listed properties take on a new lease of life.
by Arthur Sim

The Old Clare Hotel in Chippendale, Sydney was converted from the heritage-listed Clare Hotel (and pub) and Carlton & United Brewery offices into a luxury 62-room boutique hotel by Singaporean hotelier Loh Lik Peng of Unlisted Collection.

With a penchant for old buildings, Loh has done everything possible to retain the integrity of the original structures that were built in the early 20th century. Apart from conserving the building facades, many of the high ceilings, original windows, doors, timber panelling and existing construction materials used for walls were also restored and retained. Even old fixtures and furniture like lamps and wall safes left behind by the previous owners were preserved, rust and all, to give the hotel its sense of history.

Always on the lookout for interesting hotel locations, Loh says: “I look for buildings with character. It’s an intangible quality. A lot of it is down to gut feel.”

But conservation is an expensive enterprise. “These old buildings are much more expensive (to work with). You will never get the efficiencies you would with a newer building,” he shares.

Even so, he did not expect to encounter quite as many structural problems. When the builders came in, it was discovered that some of the foundations were missing and over the years, additions to the original structure had been simply “tacked on”. And when these were rectified, there was still the challenge of satisfying the stringent conservation codes that required the on-site presence of a specialist conservation architect.

One particular room – the old boardroom of the Carlton & United Brewery building – had to be preserved in toto so construction work had to proceed gingerly around it, adding to time and cost overruns. “We probably did more conservation than was required,” he now reflects.

As it turns out, the old boardroom, with its coffered ceiling, cornices and original timber panelling and parquetry, is now the most luxurious suite in the hotel. One hundred and six square metres in size, it has its own library and eight-seater dining table. There are also two more modestly sized suites (53 sq m each) called the Showroom Suites that offer a curious slice of history. Each has an original bar that was salvaged and restored from the former brewery building.

There are a total of seven types of rooms and each type has a different reference to the past. These could include the marble lobby and corniced ceiling from the Carlton & United Brewery administration building lobby, exposed structural elements, or even original curved glass windows.

The guest rooms and the restaurants – Silvereye, Automata and Kensington Street Social – are located in the brewery building while the Clare Bar and rooftop swimming pool (and bar) are in the old Clare Hotel. To make the two buildings work as one, the alley that once separated the structures was converted into the new hotel’s lobby by enclosing it in a glass atrium.

Loh oversaw the interior design of the hotel himself, collaborating with furniture makers, lighting designers, auction houses and various artisanal craftsmen. The overall design concept, he says, is “strong and masculine”, hence the pervasive industrial aesthetic highlighted with accent pieces like vintage nautical standing lamps that he sourced personally, leaving his own mark for posterity.

Malt Master

David Charles Stewart’s legacy – the two-cask maturation process – is the reason why whisky is where it is today.
By Christopher Lim

It’s the clarion call that rings through any traditional business steeped in heritage and craftsmanship – innovate or die. But malt master David Charles Stewart – who single-handedly changed the way whisky is made and set the industry on the path of a bright new future – is proof of how innovation can actually be the key that keeps tradition in its rightful place. Stewart is the veritable steward of The Balvenie, Scotland’s most traditional distillery and the last to do things old-school: they grow their own barley, turn it by hand on a malting floor, distill in stills maintained by their own coppersmiths, and mature whisky in barrels toasted by their own coopers.

It was in the 1980s that Stewart developed two-cask maturation – one of the 20th century’s biggest developments in Scotch whisky. This involves storing a whisky in a certain type of oak cask for most of its maturation, and then finishing it in a different type of cask near the end, to enrich the whisky with characteristics the primary cask wouldn’t have been able to impart alone. That’s why The Balvenie calls its core range DoubleWood.

Prior to this, William Grant & Sons (which owns The Balvenie) had long used it for blended whisky, bottling it as a single malt only in the early 1970s. Stewart’s single-malt work was initially focused on Glenfiddich.

Now 70, the Scotch industry’s longest serving malt master recalls how, at the age of 17 and fresh out of ‘O’ levels, he could have ended up in banking or insurance if he hadn’t said yes to William Grant & Sons, the world’s largest family-owned distillery company, which owns Scotch whiskies Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Grant’s, as well as spirits such as Hendrick’s gin and Sailor Jerry rum.

“Before I joined the company I’d probably never drunk whisky in my life,” he says. “I was 17 and drinking Coke and rum.”

Without a whisky lineage – his father was a lawyer and his mother a housewife – the young Stewart had to work doubly hard. He started out as a whisky stocks clerk, working under then-malt master Hamish Robertson (he was called the whisky stocks manager at the time) who took him under his wing and trained him for the next decade.

When Robertson left in 1974, Stewart took over, and the pressure was on. “I couldn’t afford to make any mistakes and had to be just spot on with quality and consistency.” He was 29, and “wondered if I could do this job”.

But with his development of two-cask maturation, a whole world opened up. Malt masters gained a powerful new tool to nuance their whiskies. Distillery owners and marketers reveled in an unprecedented ability to segment and differentiate their products. Connoisseurs and collectors enjoyed the subtle lenses of different finishings, and spent staggering amounts chasing down obscure finishes and limited editions. Everybody won.

The next time you read any whisky label advertising a port or sherry finish, you can thank Stewart for that. Still, “I don’t consider myself a legend,” he says humbly. “I have a unique job. I’ve been lucky with the way the job has developed.” But the truth is that the whisky universe today simply wouldn’t be recognisable without his innovations.

Today, the semi-retired Stewart works an average of two days a week, and finds time for gardening and grandchildren. While the work of malt master has been taken over by Brian Kinsman – whom Stewart trained – he still wants to leave a more concrete legacy. Hence, The Balvenie launched the DCS Compendium in October – after his initials – a collection of Stewart’s experience in words and whiskies.

It comprises five chapters released over five years. Each comes with a five-whisky set accompanied by a book written by Samuel Simmons, Balvenie’s global ambassador. The book is currently only available with the whiskies, and includes extensive background information as well as Stewart’s tasting notes. All of the 25 whiskies will be from single casks and therefore limited editions.

Chapter One was released this year. Only 50 sets are available worldwide, at a cost of £27,000 (S$58,000). Chapter One’s theme is “The Balvenie Distillery Style”, and the five whiskies Stewart picked to showcase this theme are 1968 (aged for 46 years), 1978 (aged 37 years), 1985 (aged 30 years), 1997 (aged 17 years) and 2005 (aged nine years). Out of this 50, only six are allocated for South-east Asia.

The DCS Compendium is obviously a boon for collectors on the hunt for rare whiskies. But it’s also an attempt by Stewart to fight the fear that afflicts all master craftsmen – that their knowledge will die with them, no matter how much they pass on to their apprentices. With this book and the whiskies that come with it, his legacy – and that of other craftsmen – is assured.


Nostalgia Rules

Heritage brands with decades - or centuries - of history are maing a comeback as labels Du Jour


The Luxe List

Is your significant other a fan of otherworldly fashion finds? Or your brother a chic techie? Then snap up these inspired luxe gifts that will suit everyone on your list


Gourmet China

A culinary renaissance is well underway in China’s biggest cities, with sophisticated interpretations of traditional cuisine

Nostalgia Rules

Heritage brands with decades - or centuries - of history are maing a comeback as labels Du Jour.
By May Yip

Mansur Gavriel? So last year. A Mary Katrantzou retrospective? How… quaint. How about Coach? Or Moschino, Loewe, Valextra, MCM – household names from a distant past but now tell-tale reminders of one’s sartorially bereft self? Names that are so much the antithesis of hipsterdom that they have since become exactly what the cool kids want now?

Forget the cult appeal of esoteric brands that require membership in the exclusive ‘in-the-know’ club. This is the year of the old school label – where authenticity and nostalgia are the new buzz words for the stylish young and their mums who lunch. Even better are labels that lost their lustre but which have suddenly regained their chic cachet.

Often, these revivals stem from a change at the creative helm. Cue ’80s brands Moschino and Kenzo – brought into the present by Jeremy Scott, and Humberto Leon and Carol Lim respectively. And the recent turnaround of Gucci by relative unknown Alessandro Michele with his brand of clashing prints, hues and glamorous geek chic. For a flagging brand, a fresh change of perspective can spell a change of fortunes.

Going from mumsy to Instagrammable is most evident at Loewe, where Brit design wunderkind Jonathan Anderson has worked his magic for the past two years. The 169-year-old label, once known purely for its functional, cashmere-soft leather bags, is now a trendsetter on the runway, where models strut in transparent pants and tunics covered in what look like shards of mirrored glass.

“Jonathan Anderson’s innovative design has catapulted the brand forward with a fresh and modern articulation,” says Lisa Montague, chief executive officer of the Spanish brand.

His piece de resistance? The bestselling Puzzle, an origami-esque bag that came about when the designer traced the lines of an old bag where bits of leather had fallen off. The deconstructed tote has been spotted on the arms of editors and It bloggers alike at Fashion Week, establishing it as a game-changing status bag for the past few seasons.

Meanwhile, Anderson’s predecessor, Stuart Vevers, has also been changing the luxe rating of Coach. After leaving Loewe for the 75-year-old US leather goods house two years ago, the executive creative director is credited with turning the dowdy staple of high school girls into covetable luxury.

“Since coming on board two years ago, Stuart has injected modern coolness not only into our line of handbags but also in our women’s and men’s ready to wear collections,” says Andrew Stanleick, president and chief executive officer of Coach South-east Asia.

Also discovering new devotees is MCM, the German luxury brand with major K-pop cred. Relatively young compared to its European peers, MCM was founded in 1976 as a maker of trunks favoured by superstars like Diana Ross, and experienced a boom in the ’80s when its cognac-coloured, logo-covered bags became synonymous with the flush set. While local teens with a questionable sense of style were lapping up MCM jeans in the noughties, the brand’s global popularity generally slumped during that period, resuscitated only when it was bought over by the Korean Sungjoo Group.

“Understanding how the Asian market operates and knowing the European market has allowed MCM to explore both with great synergy,” says Lilian Hwang, managing director of Atelier Groupe, the official franchisee of MCM in Singapore. “Especially during the economic downturns in Europe and the US, Asia became the best market with the largest buying power.”

Its flashy, head-turning designs – think colourful backpacks studded with rocker chic rivets – became a hit with young trendsetters thanks to the endorsement of K-pop idols, just as the Hallyu wave swept through Asia.

“It’s such a massive trend,” says Hwang. “The Chinese love the K-pop artists because they are very sophisticated and westernised at the same time, blending Western and Asian cultures.”

For that reason, the brand partnered with hugely popular singer Rain, which helped it gain a foothold in the Mainland Chinese market. More recently, it signed on top K-pop boy band EXO.

In contrast, Milanese leather goods house Valextra – founded in 1937 – continued with its emphasis on craftsmanship and leather quality.

After gracing the arms of style influencers as diverse as pop princess Taylor Swift, icons Grace Kelly and Maria Callas, and tastemaker/mini media mogul Tyler Brule, the brand has opened in many of the world’s shopping capitals in recent years. Following the opening of its store here at Paragon in 2013, it unveiled a 1,620 sq ft flagship store on Madison Avenue, in New York; as well as a boutique in Hong Kong’s IFC mall.

The rise of old school brands comes from engaging new demographics through strategic alliances. While the likes of H&M tied up with high end brands, these heritage houses prefer something more cerebral. These include “our collaboration with British artist Peter Saville and also several well-known architects on new store openings throughout the world, as well as beautiful new handbags and travel related products”, says Xavier Rougeaux, Valextra’s marketing and commercial director. Saville is a well known graphic designer and art director who designed album art for New Order and Joy Division.

Rather than a simple collaboration, Loewe has taken a more esoteric route. It started an eponymous foundation to support craft, dance and the arts, besides putting up an installation work in its first US boutique, located in Miami’s Design District.

Similarly, Coach, which started out as a family-run workshop in New York hand-crafting leather billfolds and wallets, began to up its cool factor. It roped in pop starlet Ariana Grande on a limited edition of its Swagger bag, and got Californian artist and animator Gary Baseman to create ready-to-wear clothing and accessories that was first launched at Parisian retail institution Colette.

“I really wanted to celebrate what was different and authentic about Coach,” Vevers was quoted as saying in an interview with Vogue.com. “There's something about using American style as a reference that felt like a truth.”

After all, “heritage” is always a convenient justification for a brand’s luxurious positioning and price points. Playing up one’s expert status resonates well with preserve-making, craft beer-downing millennials. And one’s ability to appreciate an impeccably constructed product, not just tell-tale logos, lends a certain insider status.

At Loewe, Anderson doesn’t just give it a creative edge. “Jonathan has also brought fashion credentials to Loewe and our shows are the hot ticket of Paris Fashion Week,” says Montague. “He surrounds himself with top photographer Steven Meisel and the M/M Paris design duo to create campaigns that dominate the streets of Paris during Fashion Weeks, communicating the new collections at the same time they are unveiled to the trade in the showroom.”

Ultimately, there is a fine line between reinvention and complete deviation from a brand’s original DNA. The key lies in making the past relevant to an ever-fickle group of consumers.

“Our first runway collection is a good example of taking the Coach heritage and remixing it,” says Stanleick. “We are still embracing our heritage as the original American house of leather and you’ll continue to see on-going references to our archives, the leather touches, the horse and carriage logo, the turn lock hardware. There is a touch of nostalgia to the Coach archive here, but definitely reinvented and sharpened.”

The Luxe List

Is your significant other a fan of otherworldly fashion finds? Or your brother a chic techie? Then snap up these inspired luxe gifts that will suit everyone on your list.
By May Yip

Inspired by the elegant plumes of a peacock, these timeless diamond earrings enhance the face of the wearer through their curved contours and drop design. Masterpiece Peacock earrings in white gold with diamonds, price unavailable, from Damiani, B2-79, Canal Level, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

Treat the lover of opulent jewels to a gemstone-encrusted cocktail ring, or three, which are also the perfect accessories for a festive martini. Lemon quartz, tsavorite, yellow sapphire and diamond ring set in white gold; amethyst, pink sapphire and diamond ring set in rose gold; smoky quartz, yellow sapphire and diamond ring set in rose gold; prices unavailable, from Lee Hwa Jewellery, B2-58 Ion Orchard

Who said pumps are only for the mumsy? These two-toned darlings with stacked heels will liven up even the most sombre of skirt suits. Colour block pumps, S$1,090, from Bally, B1-77(A)/78, Galleria Level, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

The graphic coloured metallic pieces liven up this instantly recognisable monogrammed wallet in grained cowhide. Sarah Wallet Totem in Flamingo, S$1,350, from Louis Vuitton, B1-38 & B2-36, Crystal Pavilion North, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

Even those who are more boardroom mogul than punk princess would appreciate this understated cuff with subtle hints of rocker chic. Bracelet with palladium-coated silver-plated metal hardware, price unavailable, from Hermes, B1-41, Galleria Level, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

Equal parts weapon and fashion accessory, this ornate clutch with gold-tone embellishments is the ultimate statement piece for holiday soirees. Sweet Pea Knucklebox clutch, S$5,020, from Alexander McQueen, B1-116/117/117A, Galleria Level, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

A must-have accessory for the frequent flying gentleman, the rigid construction of this nifty holder ensures his ties arrive at his final destination without a crease. Intrecciato Nappa tie case, S$1,330, from Bottega Veneta, B1-99, Galleria Level & B2-72A, Canal Level, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

For those who dare to stand out, there is no better gift than a precious timepiece, accentuated by a dazzling bezel in an array of gemstones selected to create an ombre effect. Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust Pearlmaster 39 in 18K white gold and Red Grape dial, price unavailable, from authorised Rolex retailers

You know he’d snap up the latest gadgets for himself, so present your fave techie with a stylish accessory like this Bag Bugs iPhone 6 case in red calf leather. Phone case, S$590, from Fendi, B1-22 to 25, Galleria Level, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

Pamper the fellow who likes to look on point, even after hours, with this grained calf leather backpack with galvanised gold hardware. Buckley backpack, S$4,350, from Tom Ford, B1-128, Galleria Level, from The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

A set of bestselling essentials infused with the charismatic masculine fragrance inspired by Greek mythology, this is an essential for the impeccably groomed man in your life. Endymion gift box, S$250, from Penhaligon’s, L1-33/34, Bay Level, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

Perfect for the guy who’s always on his feet and ruling the boardroom, these stylish Derbies feature pliable rubber soles that easily flex for maximum comfort. Avenue Flex shoes, price unavailable, from Ermenegildo Zegna, #B2-219/220/221/221A, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

Gourmet China

A culinary renaissance is well underway in China’s biggest cities,
with sophisticated interpretations of traditional cuisine.
By David Yip

In a dining world dominated by the likes of Redzepi, Blumenthal, Robuchon or even Jiro Ono, you’re not likely to hear the name Howard Cai being uttered with the same reverence. That he was once handpicked by football celebrity David Beckham to cook at the launch of the latter’s Haig Club in London is a promising step towards international recognition. But back home in Guangzhou, China, Cai’s restaurant Howard’s Gourmet Workshop is a magnet for mainland Chinese gourmets and increasingly, for diners from the rest of the world who are slowly but surely turning China into the next hot dining destination.

Food scares may hog the headlines, but Cai and other like-minded chefs in China are part of a growing breed dedicated to product quality and raising the bar on professional cooking. In the process, they are leading a remarkable culinary renaissance in China’s metropolises.

They are stepping up to the plate to cater to nouveau riche diners who, after nearly three decades of eating and drinking in the best restaurants of the world, are looking homeward for more familiar tastes and values. It also means that Chinese chefs forced to leave the country because their businesses couldn’t survive then, are also returning.

“Life in China has improved and people are beginning to appreciate healthy non-meat living,” says Guo Jinping, owner of King’s Joy Beijing, a famous vegetarian restaurant in the nation’s capital. “Our founder left Beijing and set up our first restaurant in Taipei in 1966, and in 2009 we felt it was time to come back.”

While the preservation of culture and heritage is the touchstone of culinary quality in today’s China, the market favours those who can pull it off in a ‘progressive’ manner. At King’s Joy Beijing, Executive Chef Daijun sources the best ingredients from all over the world to craft his innovative non-meat dishes. Explains Guo: “What most people remember best is the taste of comfort foods – ingredients that they love and which are familiar to them. We use these same ingredients to awaken their taste buds; and gradually introduce the non-meat element into their diets’. This strategy has paid off, making the restaurant one of the leading advocates in China of slow and harmonious eating as the path to healthy living.

Over in Shanghai’s hip Xintiandi district is Shitang Jian – an underground speakeasy opened by 30-something founder Lee Wai. An avowed ‘guardian’ of Shanghainese cuisine, Lee convinced Masterchef He Fang, the personal chef of former President of the People’s Republic of China, Li Xiannian, to consult on her project. One of her biggest challenges was “getting the right ingredients, appropriate ambience and most importantly, changing the mindset of diners”. At Shitang Jian, or ‘living room’ in Shanghainese, Masterchef Mao Shunkang – a graduate of the renowned Shanghai Academy of Culinary Studies – expertly brings to life highly traditional recipes and techniques. During the hairy crab season, his ‘all-crab’ feast is the stuff of legend.

Cai, on the other hand, is a former chemist who practises a “science-driven style that is empirical and transformative”. The form and appearance and textures might be strange, but the critical flavours are always present – often in a more focused and intense manner. His Braised Carrot dish, for one, defies convention with the intense flavour and cottony soft texture of the humble root vegetable that is pure alchemy at work.

In a grand restored mansion located in one of Chengdu’s most romantic alleys, Chef Yu Bo of Yu’s Family Kitchen serves a menu that captures the essence of local Sichuan cuisine. Going against the stereotype of spicy Szechuan cooking, Yu preserves the complex taste of traditional Sichuan cuisine techniques through dishes like the delicate soft-shell turtle soup.

In Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, the restaurant Jiexiang Lou is located in Xixi, a sprawling and picturesque wetland preserve – one of the few in the world located in an urbanised area. Jiexiang Lou occupies a 4,700 square metre bungalow – one of seven – within a ‘lifestyle’ complex built in the preserve. With an elegant courtyard and stunning surrounds modeled on a Zhejiang garden, Jiexiang Lou offers a sophisticated take on traditional Hangzhou cuisine, in which the primary flavours of sweet, sour and savoury are given contemporary interpretations, resulting in more complex yet subtle combinations. Ingredients have been ‘updated’ – for example French red wine has replaced traditional Chinese wine as a marinade in the braised goose liver.

All the restaurants are housed in significant locations and elaborately designed. King’s Joy Beijing, in an exclusive district of the city where Qing princes once resided, features the architectural style and layout of an ancient imperial courtyard.

Shitang Jian is housed in one of the best-preserved longtangs in Shanghai, and no expense was spared in recreating the character of old Shanghai, through its eclectic architecture, interiors, and furnishings.

In Guangzhou’s Howard’s Gourmet Workshop, Cai spent millions creating an ambience to match the star power of his clientele, with each of his six dining rooms individually themed on different aspects of Chinese culture, feature designer furnishings and art pieces from Cai’s personal collection.

While all different aspects of Chinese cuisine, they all tell the same story – the old days of Chinese feasting are back, and everyone’s invited.


King’s Joy Beijing
2 Wudaoying Hutong
Dongcheng, Beijing, China 100027


Shitang Jian
Songshan Lu, Lane 2, No 7
Shanghai, China


Yu Family Kitchen
43 Zhai Xiangzi, Xia Tongren Lu
Chengdu, China


Howard’s Gourmet Workshop
6th Floor, Fangyuan Building
28 Tiyu E Road
Tianhe, Guangzhou
Guangdong, China


Jiexiang Lou
No. 1, Bapanling Lu
Zixuan Holiday Resort,
West Lake District, Hangzhou