FIT FOR AN EMPEROR AND EMPRESS
RECOGNIZED AS A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE IN 2011, THE HISTORIC BEAUTY OF HANGZHOU’S WEST LAKE VILLAGE HAS INFLUENCED POETS, WRITERS, PHILOSOPHERS AND ARTISTS WITH ITS ABUNDANCE OF TEMPLES, PAGODAS, GARDENS AND ISLANDS WITHIN THE FRESHWATER LAKE.
For centuries, Chinese nobility journeyed to West Lake to take in its calming waters and sweeping mountain views. Amid classical Chinese gardens – emperors, consorts and their attendants found peace in nature and ample time to nurture personal revitalization. Today, the shores of West Lake continue to showcase blossoming willow trees, and a new generation of visitors is drawn its natural beauty and dynastic traditions.
Inspired by a traditional architectural style famed for its beauty and historic significance, Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake is a pinnacle of Jiang Nan design. Characterized by pagoda-like peaked roof pavilions linked by walkways through landscaped gardens, revered designer Bill Bensley and his team were commissioned to create a unique style for the SPA that provides intimacy and connectivity with nature.
Popularized during the Song, Ming and Qing dynasties, the resort’s overall color palette features white walls, black tiles, gray rocks and red columns in harmony with natural greens, browns and sky blue. The use of water features such as lagoons and streams allows for cooling in hot weather. Utilizing natural materials, flowing water and soft lighting carefully placed in a harmonious composition throughout the grounds, this visual fluidity encourages a feeling of unity with the environment, an elegant calm highly sought after by gracious royals and nomadic travelers alike.
With its gardens, lakeside setting and resort-like amenities, the ambience feels more like a country club than an urban hotel. But in reality, this intimate lakeside retreat is a mere 45-minutes from Shanghai, one of China’s most prominent business, shopping and cultural attractions. The perfect spot for city dwellers in need of a weekend spa getaway or the ultimate immersion into Chinese culture for travelers new to China, the SPA at Four Seasons Hangzhou offers the allure of cutting-edge contemporary design complemented by a menu of traditional Chinese and Asian therapies designed for relaxation and beauty.
The enchantment begins as soon as you enter one of nine double treatment rooms through a round door leading to an intimate foyer. In the relaxation area, a sense of envelopment is taken to a new level as sophisticated lighting and aromatherapy elements wrap you in an exquisite cocoon of sensual spirituality. The first thing worth noting is that all treatments at the SPA have been custom-designed exclusively for Four Seasons Hangzhou. The Emperor’s Seasonal Pursuit of Pleasures – a collection of the SPA ’s most popular signature treatments – is nothing short of imperial. Inspired by a 12-leaf album created for Emperor Qianlong by Chen Mei, one of his court painters, the 12 leaves depict various seasonal activities within the imperial walls. Each one of the four, 2-hour long seasonally inspired rituals features elements of bath, scrubs, wraps and massage using indigenous ingredients prized for their therapeutic qualities.
‘Spring’ welcomes the essences of water lily and peony; beginning with a freshly fragranced bath, followed by a water lily and peony body brushing and scrub. ‘Summer’ features jade and lotus; with an infused oil massage treatment designed to stretch the muscles, release tension and encourage total relaxation. To cleanse and refresh skin, your body is tenderly scrubbed with a mélange of lotus-seed and crushed-jade. After a lotus-blossom and honeysuckle wrap and herbal steam, the skin’s moisture is sealed with a jade body hydration gel. ‘Autumn’ focuses on chrysanthemums and the Emperor’s moon, as your skin is exfoliated to perfection with black-pearl and chrysanthemum body polish. Using the ancient techniques of qigong and energy-clearing movements, the Moonlight Tide massage succeeds in lifting spirits and soothing the soul. ‘Winter’ capitalizes upon West Lake’s quintessential plum blossoms complemented with wild ginger, peach and rice wine.
Deeply soothing and calming, the 30-minute 60,000 Tea Leaves and Jade Spring Bath is a skin-renewing bath treatment rich in the antioxidant benefits of green tea leaves. It takes sixty thousand tea leaves to make one kilogram of West Lake’s famous longjing tea, also known as Dragonwell Tea. Available for purchase, SPA guests can take Dragonwell Tea products home to continue their wellness holiday at leisure including the custom blended Dragonwell Tea Massage Oil, designed for detoxing and clarifying, with green tea and pure essential oils of grapefruit, chamomile, sage, mandarin and jasmine.
With roots in ancient Chinese tradition, the SPA is renowned for its sensual bath rituals. The Emperor’s Bath Ritual begins in the emperor’s sala bath, an enhanced bathing experience offered as part of the SPA’s extensive hydrotherapy experience. Ideal for moisturizing, natural ingredients including barley, milk protein, chrysanthemum and rice wine are added to bath water to soften and soothe the skin. Natural lactic acid helps reduce wrinkles and improve elasticity. Wild figs and red dates are blended to create a succulent full body scrub, perfect for sensitive skin and for reducing swelling. A relaxing herbal steam – utilizing a celestial blend of white tea, chrysanthemum, lime, orange, jasmine flower and black currant – followed by a Jade and Crystal Massage provide the ultimate finishing touches on an absolutely royal treatment.