Owned and operated by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, the 166-room HYLANDIA by Shangri-La will open on 3rd August in Shangri-La City. Located at an altitude of 3,260m (10,695ft), Hylandia will be the first international full-service hotel in the city, offering every convenience and comfort a traveller journeying to this remote land could want.
The hotel is a modern, high-altitude interpretation of the caravansaries once found along the Silk Road, with exotic courtyards, gardens, lounges and restaurants. Its architecture and design is an eclectic blend of Yunnan and Tibetan styles, featuring extensive use of local pine, limestone and other native organic materials. At Hylandia, hospitality has been re-imagined as a simpler elegance that complements the humbling beauty of the land and its people, who live in harmony with nature and each other.
Diqing is renowned for mystical snow-capped mountains, deep gorges, shimmering lakes and vast grasslands. It is the only Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Yunnan and is as equally rich in culture as it is in natural resources, with 13 distinct ethnic groups including Tibetan, Han, Naxi, Bai, Lisu and Yi living there. Diqing has long been a strategic passageway to Tibet and its capital, Shangri-La City, was a pivotal point on the Ancient Tea Horse Trail.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a bellman and escorted along colonnades, past a tranquil water pond dotted with copper lotus flowers and into a double-height lobby vestibule. The play of light from the skylight above a second interior water feature dazzles, creating positive and negative space as light dances through etched ceiling panels and decorative pillars framing the main lobby ahead.
On the right is the Wisdom Room, a library where guests can enjoy complimentary buttermilk tea and mountain walnuts dipped in local organic honey while they are being checked into the hotel. The salon has both the exoticism of a lamasery and the inviting feel of a private library, with coffee table and reference books and games to play.
Flanking the lobby vestibule on the opposite side is the Aroma Room, where an assortment of teas are served, including the famous Yunnan black tea once traded on the Ancient Tea Horse Trail. It is a cozy salon, with a cast bronze fire pit in the centre lit by layered butter oil lamps that shimmer under a hand-hammered copper hood.
The room is anchored by a tea table with a giant stone tray on top that sits against decorative wooden doors from Nepal. The doors are carved with the eight auspicious symbols said to bring happiness and harmony, and the lobby’s timber floors are invitingly dressed with woven carpets made by Indian craftsmen.
The design of Hylandia’s 166 guestrooms borrow elements from regions along the Great Silk Road. Rooms are decorated in warm blues, greens, reds and ochres and ornamented with elements such as turquoise, coral and lacquer. In particular, the rooms celebrate woven works as weaving is one of the main means of expression and craft in Yunnan.
From the hotel’s Rooftop Garden, the Snow Mountains glisten in the distance and the city unfolds beneath. At twilight, guests can gather around fire pit in the main garden to enjoy the warmth and stargaze through a telescope. The Roof Garden also has a separate area with a barbecue pit seating 8 located next to the Chef’s Garden. A traditional nomadic Tibetan tent is anchored to the roof and can be reserved for private dinners.
The hotel’s restaurants include Ani’s Kitchen, which is the only restaurant of its kind in Shangri-La City. It serves a wide variety of cuisines – from Chinese to International – at sleek buffet stations.
Designed to cater to local residents as well as guests, Ani’s Kitchen has a casual, welcoming ambiance. Contemporary furniture is artfully mixed with rustic elements such as timber panelling and locally hand-painted Tibetan chests. Guests’ photos and nature sketches will be displayed on one of the restaurant’s walls.
The hotel also has the city’s largest ballroom as well as four other meeting rooms. A striking Winter Garden enclosed in Plexiglas can be used as a pre-function area year-round. Rounding out the hotel’s full-service facilities are the city’s only indoor pool and fully equipped gym with men and women’s Jacuzzis and changing rooms.
“Travellers are searching for unique and individual experiences, for something beyond the ordinary,” says Shangri-La President and CEO Greg Dogan. “Diqing is an incredible and special destination. We saw a natural opportunity to move beyond the traditional description of hospitality and create a guest experience at Hylandia that is truly immersive and genuine.”