Bringing Connections to Asia meant looking for a partner that will work with the team to deliver those memorable experiences that will make this programme stand apart. Trying to explain this from over 2,000 miles away just won’t do it so a visit to the host hotel, The Yanqi (sounds like Yanshe) Lake Hotel managed by Kempinski, was required.

And I’m pleased to say that the team at the property, led by Brice Pean (GM), certainly fits the bill. Located on Yanqi Island, approximately 50 minutes north of Beijing Capital Airport, the hotel (and villas – more later) opened on 17th November after only 2 ½ years build, the property consists of 111 rooms and suites (minimum size of 40 m2 each) with all the facilities that you expect in a contemporary property with a Chinese twist. Your room will either face the internal courtyard (as in my case) that ends at the jetty onto Yanqi Lake, or you have views of the island itself, all part of a private estate that includes a newly built pagoda that reminds you of just where you are.

But that isn’t all – let me get onto the villas, a word that doesn’t quite do justice to exactly what they are. They are more like boutique hotels in themselves, all with 10-17 bedrooms and each containing a presidential suite, all with their own private pool or outdoor terrace and oversized dining rooms to allow you to host guests and friends. You rent them in their entirety and come with a complete dedicated staff who will make your stay both exclusive and exceedingly private. There are twelve in total, spread around the edges of the island, each with their own story and reflecting the architecture throughout China in its long history.

But it was the experiences that we were looking for – something that will allow Connections to remain memorable. Well, for those who are early risers we are considering a champagne balloon ride at dawn over the Great Wall, viewable from the hotel itself. I visited the Wall at Mu Tian Yu, only 25 minutes away by taxi, and count myself lucky to be able to tick off that from my bucket list. Something a little less dramatic? How about working with the executive chef and his team to make your own Chinese noodles – I can assure you it’s not as easy as you think! Or if this is too stressful you may want to take advantage of a Tai Chi lesson to balance your ying and yang. A more conventional method is to take advantage of the nine treatment room spa who’s manager, Yelena, has devised a series of treatments based around the seasons (spring, summer, autumn and winter) to reflect the sensations of these times of the year. Treatment rooms can come as single as well as doubles (that can also include your own personal jacuzzi.

Along with the iconic Sunrise Kempinski, due to open in early December, and the villas, the Yanqi Lake Hotel provides facilities for all types of visitor, be it an exclusive use property, a conference or product launch or weather you use this as a base for a visit to the Great Wall – we are extremely excited to return to this unique location next year for Connections Luxury Asia.

If you’d like to find out more, please drop me a note.