Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain
What We Love
- The organic garden, mushroom cultivation huts, and rice fields that supply the Farm2Fork restaurant—even the water is bottled on site
- Locally inspired treatments, like cupping, at the holistic spa
- Airport pickup in a Tesla Model S, a sign of the resort’s dedication to sustainability
- The resort is big enough to bike around (on a complimentary bicycle)
What To Know
- Most guests come on weekends, so mid-week stays are significantly cheaper
- Communication with staff and the concierge is through a message tube
- There’s an on-site movie theater showing kid-friendly movies all day
- The TV, air-conditioning, and lights are all controlled with a single cellphone
- Free WiFi
- Kids Club
Nestled under Qing Cheng Mountain near the Chinese city of Chengdu, this Six Senses could pass for a serene, verdant, and luxurious village. Its 62 lush hectares house 113 villas and suites that are interspersed with courtyards, carefully tended gardens, ponds and pagodas, as well as the spectacular background of Qing Cheng Mountain. The design, by Thai architecture firm Habita, is Asian minimalist, where airy suites are furnished with wood furniture, oversized beds, and not much more (though each benefits from either courtyard access or a private balcony). There are three full-service restaurants, plus the romantically lit Moon Bar, which serves creative cocktails, and several snack bars where guests can sample dim sum, dumplings, egg tarts, and ice cream throughout the day. The hotel’s proximity to breathtaking sights is unbeatable, but the peaceful atmosphere of the resort (plus the world-class treatments at the enormous spa and the swimming pool) encourages a delightful inertia.
In the Area
Many visitors come to this area for the giant panda reserves. Panda Valley, a verdant valley where 100 giant pandas (5% of the entire world population) roam around in their natural habitat, is just a ten-minute drive from the resort. Also within a few minutes is the entrance to Qing Cheng Mountain, a UNESCO heritage site that’s dotted with Taoist temples. The hotel runs guided tours to the main temple on top of the mountain, where guests can take a Tai Chi class in front of the panoramic scenery—a unique experience. Two ancient towns, Dujiangyan and Jiezi, are nearby; Dujiangyan is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts stunning traditional architecture. More modern offerings can be found in Chengdu City, a 30-minute drive.
How to Get There
This is one of the best places I have stayed in Asia. The whole place is superbly designed set in charming countryside. The staff are endearing and try hard to please you. The food is exceptional both in the Chinese and Thai restaurants. The breakfast in the Western restaurant is also superb overseen by a helpful Turkish chef. The General Manager is on hand to make helpful suggestions and clearly is heavily involved in managing the hotel. This is a wonderful to place to stay and from which to make amazing excursions guided by the knowledgable and genial Jack. Surely this place will win major awards before long. Five stars in every department!
If you have stayed at a Six Senses before, you will find much that is familiar here - beautiful rooms with signature design elements, great service, tasty and healthful food, and a wonderful spa. Unlike other Six Senses resorts, however, Qing Cheng Mountain is not on an isolated tropical island with drop-dead gorgeous beaches, but rather is in a lovely but mostly urban area, about an hour out of metropolitan Chengdu. While the resort is secluded and very private, you are just steps away from the ancient and complex culture of China and several World Heritage sites, and you will (or should, IMHO) spend significant time outside the resort on one of the many culturally-enriching excursions available. Necessities: visits to one of several panda centers, the old town and irrigation systems at Dujiangyan, and naturally a trip up Qing Cheng Mountain, "the birthplace of Taoism." Did I mention Sichuan food? The resort is laid out in typical Six Senses manner, with beautiful buildings in old Chinese style spread across a spacious area; electric carts are available to get around if you wish. Three main restaurants (Chinese with a healthful Taoist cuisine options as well as local Sichuanese specials, Thai, and a farm-to-fork featuring local products), a central village square with light food and treats, gym and spa; all excellent. I stayed in a second-floor deluxe suite that had a beautiful view of the mountains. The staff was extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful yet not intrusive. My guide and drivers for off-resort excursions were first-rate. English is widely and well-spoken by the higher-level staff, and I had no communication issues. A place I would happily return to.
The property itself is beautifully set. We ate for all our meals in-house in our 3 nights stay and can say from the Thai to Chinese to Western restaurants that the food is excellent. The Exec Chef, Ozgur, does his job superbly well.
However, considering, the expectations of a brand like Six Senses. Service is below the level expected. But being in China, it's really difficult to get service like we can possibly get in Thailand and Indonesia. And this despite the price and the brand name.
For our 3 nights' stay in Qing Cheng mountain, we chose Six Senses resort as we have nice impressions from previous stays in their properties, mainly in Thailand. From the look of it, the resort is a beautiful place. The suite, which is the most basic room, is already very spacious and has every facility you would ever need for a comfortable stay. We got the 2nd floor suite which we prefer vs. the ground floor unit. The ground floor unit seems darker, while the 2nd floor one has balcony with better view. Of course, this is a very much personal preference.
Besides the room, let me list down all the things we like:
- Hanging out at The Square --- eating noodles, ice cream, and having drinks. Many people would recommend Sichuan dan dan mian, but I would say Chengdu cold noodle is better. Dan dan mian here is fairly standard. For a better one, head to local noodle shop in Dujiangyan.
- Another place to hang out is Moon Bar ... besides drinks, we enjoyed a game of Chinese chess here.
- Our spa experience met the Six Senses standards. Both spa manager and massage therapist are friendly and made a very good effort to communicate well in English.
- Jack, the guest relation manager, is very friendly and helpful. Very well-versed in English. He gave us plenty of good recommendations and made the arrangements for our stay and our tour. I would recommend liaising with him for such matters.
- The Chinese restaurant, 28Zodiac. Food is pretty good there. I'd recommend the hui guo rou, which quickly becomes one of my favorite Sichuanese dishes after this trip. We didn't try the Thai restaurant as we can find good Thai food easily where we come from.
- Location is convenient as the base to climb up Qing Cheng mountain. The bus stop to the mountain base is only 5 mins walk from the resort.
Now, moving on to the improvement areas:
- Overall service level and English language capability --- we found most of the service staff are not able to communicate well in English, and always immediately switched to Chinese. Besides language issue, there are several service staff who just didn't seem happy doing their work, and this had some effects to their service level.
- The local tour to Dujiangyan --- the content of this tour fell short of the expectations. If this is a photography tour, like how it was marketed in the brochure, then the tour guide should've pointed out the interesting objects for photography. I would've loved to get a shot of Nan Qiao bridge from afar, for example. This was not pointed out despite my mentioning this interest before.
At the minimum, a tour to historical place like this should also give sufficient historical information --- our specific questions about the history of the bridge, the highlights of the ancient irrigation system were not answered properly. The answers we got were vague and only touched the surface.
To be fair, we did encounter some gems during this trip, mostly were about food (excellent local dan dan mian!) and local lifestyle. But net, overall tour just fell short of the expectations on how a professional tour should be.
If I sum up, Six Senses Qing Cheng mountain is a beautiful resort with excellent hardware but need a lot of improvement on the software side. Will we be able to find much better property around this location? Maybe not. But overall I gave this resort 3 stars as it does not live up to the standards that Six Senses' name brings.
We enjoyed our stay in 6 senses hotel very much. The staff is helpful and always present. There is a plenty to do in the hotel (Spa, Tai Qi, Gym, pools) and also in surrounding area (e.g. Qing Cheng mountain and Panda zoos).