Wanda creates a sanctuary in the lush mountainsides of Yunnan, China

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Wanda Vista Resort Xishuangbanna was designed to become a hidden sanctuary in one of China’s most famous regions for the beauty of its landscape. Sitting on the slope of a mountain, the resort fits in both landscape and local culture via architecture, landscape architecture and programme. The blending of tradition with the expectations of the contemporary Chinese traveler sets its view into the new era of China’s luxury tourism.

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Wanda Vista Resort Xishuangbanna opened in September 2015, located on a lush mountainside in the southernmost city of Yunnan province in China, adjacent to Laos and Burma. Merging with the imposing tropical rain forest mountains of the Gadong district northeast of Jinghong city, the resort was built on agricultural land surrounded by the preserved forest. The design was influenced by the unique southeast Asia architecture style of the local Dai ethnic minority, characterized by a sensibility that is both luxurious and romantic. The complex of buildings is laid out to re-create the same quaint feel of the neighboring cities, secluded within the forest environment. Xishuangbanna is very rich in both flora and fauna, the name meaning ideal land of magic in the ancient language of Dai.

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The five star premium destination includes 151 villas, Conference center, Spa, a Temple and accompanying amenities placed in a series of cascading layers which almost perfectly fits in the site topography. Avoiding a superimposing scale was one of the main concerns of the design and the complex of buildings harmoniously dialogues with the indigenous villages and surrounding mountains. This composition is further enhanced at the lobby and other main public areas where beautiful gazing views and spectacular sunsets are presented to the guests in order to create a memorable arrival experience.

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The main conceptual guideline for the landscape design was the integration in both natural landscape and local culture. The emphasis on culture is one of the most defining characteristics of the Wanda Vista brand and Xishuangbanna’s culture is particularly rich and unique.Outdoor gardens and courtyards provide spaces for recreation, gathering, meditation, or exploration throughout the site. The complex includes a Temple built by Wanda inside the resort and donated to the local Buddhist community, a minority within the Buddhist faith. The resort is now home of the Buddhist minority and monks, who additionally provide guided meditation classes on site, further contributing to a holistic sense of place.

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Approximately 75% of all species planted are local native plants. Traditional fruit trees were planted all over the resort and special attention was given to the area next to the local cuisine restaurant, where native aromatic plants such as lemon grass and a local passion fruit species named after the place, Passiflora xishuangbannaensis, can be found.

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Two lakes are located inside the resort, both functioning simultaneously as rainwater reservoirs. One is located in the main entrance and the other in the SPA complex, which was placed in a further hidden valley location.

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The main ornamental inspirations that can be found throughout the resort are the peacock and the elephant. The peacock is the totem of the Dai culture and has a strong spiritual meaning of general wellbeing. The elephant is also an important reference as Xishuangbanna is home to the last remaining Asian groups of this species still existing in China, inhabiting the Wild Elephant Valley in the Mengyang nature reserve. All ornamental features were built by local artisans, in yet another way of achieving social interaction with the local culture.

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In what concerns construction, many challenges were faced and overcome. The remoteness of the locale strongly limited the use of materials and trained workforce. Not the minor of challenges was the combination of the desired high level of construction quality with the short timeframe, characteristic of China’s fast pace development.These challenges were faced combining a rigorous planning process with the necessary onsite problem-solving flexibility.Wanda CPRI landscape department established a local task force for project and construction coordination; strong emphasis was given to the optimization of processes, as well as intensive onsite activities such as training of the local workforce and decision making.

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Now opened to the public, the resort landscape will continue to develop as the planting grows, further enhancing the site-specific design and the peaceful and luscious atmosphere, the perfect setting for a distinctive high-end local cultural experience.

Wanda Vista Resort Xishuangbanna

Landscape Architecture | Wanda Commercial Planning & Research Institute Co., Ltd (Co-author and Project Management) + PCDI (co-author)
Design team | Gao Zhenjiang, Zhao Yun, Wang Chaozhong, Xu Xiaoli, Sofia Castelo (Wanda Commercial Planning & Research Institute Co., Ltd); Huang Weihua, MouXiaoyu (PCDI)
Architecture | OAD Office for Architecture + Design (Helder Santos, Eric Lee)
Interiors | Wanda Institute of Hotel Design and Research Co.,Ltd.
Client | Dalian Wanda Group
Location | Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, China
Landscape Area | 148,528 sqm
Rooms | 151
Project Year | 2015
Photographs | Chen He, Lan Junwen