The Amazing Story of Amanyangyun: China’s Transplanted Luxury Resort

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To save an ancient Chinese village, a hotelier envisioned it as upscale lodging—and moved the whole thing, along with its own forest, 500 miles away.

Shanghai, China’s most populous city, long ago embraced industrialization, retaining few traces of its agrarian roots. Beginning in the early 2000s, however, entrepreneur Ma Dadong started to change that, by relocating 50 antique homes and 10,000 indigenous camphor trees—threatened by a new dam—500 miles from the rural countryside to just outside downtown Shanghai.

This January saw the culmination of his work with the opening of Amanyangyun, a luxury resort that is surrounded by the transplanted forest and incorporates elements of the 400-year-old reclaimed dwellings. The retreat’s 26 villas harken back to precolonial times with their lush courtyards and faithfully restored exteriors. But the resort isn’t stuck in the past. It boasts a 30,500-square-foot spa; locally inspired fine dining; minimal, contemporary interiors; private swimming pools; and more. You can stroll through the forest at dawn, play golf after lunch, and then finish the day with a cocktail in the cigar lounge.

Who says you have to feel trapped in another century to soak in some ancient history?