AIRBNB-LIKE EXPERIENCES MEET BOUTIQUE DESIGN AT CHINA’S SUNYATA
Having previously introduced you to original Chinese brands Songtsam and Vinetree, there’s a new integration of design, accommodation and community development making waves in China: Sunyata.
The first Sunyata property was launched earlier this year and is located in Dali, a beautiful city in Yunnan Province, China. Dali used to be a remote region with diverse minority groups. However, during the past few years, more and more urban young professionals have started to move there in search of a more peaceful and relaxing lifestyle, with Dali emerging as a ‘dream land’ for those seeking a quiet and poetic life. It is like the Walden to Henry David Thoreau, but with more diverse cultures.
When you step into Sunyata Dali, this sense of simplicity and peace is instantaneous. The whole complex is designed by Zhaoyang, an emerging young Chinese architect with a Harvard degree. Even though there are only 14 rooms, the whole project has been built like a small village. The exterior is very simple with clean lines; however, Zhao constructed an interesting and multi-layered space inside. Through each space, you can take different angles to see the architecture and natural surroundings.
Since Dali used to be a stop on the ancient Tea-Horse Road, the longest trade route in the ancient world, you can also find a lot of historical elements that reflect the local culture and history. Other eye-catchers include furniture from established international designers, such as a Noguchi coffee table or chairs designed by Charles & Ray Eames. This modern setting guarantees a contemporary living environment fit for today’s travellers.
As you may have noticed, at Sunyata design is key. Each future Sunyata property will be unique and designed by a different emerging Chinese architect. The whole idea is to establish a platform for young, innovative Chinese professionals to showcase their talents, as well as developing and attracting travellers who are really into design and architecture. In addition to being creative, Sunyata’s designs are echoes of the local culture and landscape – and hopefully, these new hotels and resorts could rejuvenate some rural areas.
Further to the hotel business, Sunyata’s parent company, Travelling With Hotel Management, also collaborates with Chinese lifestyle hotel brand Atour Hotel to develop “trips” (similar to Airbnb’s new business offering). Sunyata takes advantage of this speciality on designers and artists, and is developing different trips in cities where Atour Hotels are located. This May, they will launch 40 pop-up trips in ten cities around China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Xiamen, Nanjing, Chongqing, Xi’an, Chengdu, and Dali). Trips will be hosted by biologists, designers, architects, musicians and reporters each weekend, with each trip having its own theme according to the professional background of the guide.