A CENTURY AGO, THESE GREEN HILLS WERE THE GO- TO SUMMER DESTINATION FOR SHANGHAI’S WEALTHY EXPATS AND POLITICAL ELITE
On the slopes of 720-metrehigh Mount Mogan, the smell of green tea follows you like a shadow. Pockets of magnolias and azaleas spring from the hillside. A blanket of mist hovers above the hills and a fresh spring chill each morning – even in high summer – leaves you feeling the way you do after a cool shower.
We’re 90 minutes northwest of Hangzhou in the hilltop village of Moganshan.
All around are rolling tea terraces and bamboo groves, within the 4,300-hectare Moganshan National Park. After decades of not always genteel decline, this hill station, studded with colonial-style villas, is once again becoming the most desirable weekend escape from the mega-cities of Shanghai and Hangzhou.
A century ago, these green hills were the go-to summer destination for Shanghai’s wealthy expats and political elite. Then, as now, it was the kind of place where summer and weekend turn into verbs.
They built opulent stone mansions with private pools and tennis courts, far from the hum of modernising Shanghai. By the early 20th century, Moganshan had a bank, bookshops, bakeries and even a hilltop cinema (it’s since been converted into a contemporary pool house and bar by the owners of Le Passage Mohkan Shan).
People didn’t just flock here for the cachet – it was a practical decision, too. Given Shanghai’s lack of air conditioning and sewage management during the heat of summer, cholera outbreaks were common. Those with kids – and money – would bring their families here to spend the summer.
The mountain lost its bon vivant appeal in the 1940s. During the Second World War more than 6,000 refugees fled to these mountains. Moganshan was the target of Japanese bombings and, while mostly spared, the area was left abandoned. After the war, the Communist Party took control of the area’s roughly 300 stone mansions, using them for clandestine meetings and summer holidays.
The foreigners began to return in the 1990s. They appreciated the rundown charm of the old villas; in those days, no-one demanded air conditioning, hot water or a place to park a Mercedes. The newly established middle-class workers followed fairly closely, along with a few fuerdai (children of the newly moneyed classes). All the while, coach parties trooped up the mountain, filed into the restaurant doing the cheapest lunch deal, and then pootled back down the mountain again before evening.
Ultimately, Moganshan acquired a new slogan: The Hamptons of China. Given its landlocked location in China’s countryside, it’s a description better suited to its target market than its topography – like its Long Island counterpart, it’s still the weekend escape of choice for affluent city dwellers from Shanghai, Hangzhou and Hong Kong.
These urbanites need somewhere to stay, and the European-style villas that once served as summer homes have been regenerated as boutique properties: Naked Stables (and its sister property Naked Castle), Le Passage Mohkan Shan, or the farm-style B&Bs in the wider area beyond Moganshan.
First for me is Le Passage, a French country-style bolthole. It was one of the first of the new generation of retreats to open in Moganshan, in 2011. I’m escorted up a set of stone steps to the hotel's hilltop mansion, dubbed La Residence, crisp starlight illuminating the rose-lined path. At the top of the hill, a broad terrace and private pool reflects the moonlight.
Le Passage and La Residence both sit inside Moganshan National Park. Inside its vast boundary, the Sword Pond and its waterfall emerge from a sea of bamboo forests, while Reed Catkin Marsh Park provides a green lawn and gazebos for lounging about in the shrubbery.
The park has numerous hiking trails,
莫干山位於杭州西北面，車程約需90分鐘我此， 們 刻正身處山頂的村。莊內 莫干山國家公園面積廣達4,300公頃，其中遍佈茶園和竹林。這個山中度假勝地到處可見殖地民 風格的別墅，數十年來，豪門顯貴來了又離去，歷經起伏跌宕之後，如今再度成為上海和杭州等大都會居民的周末度假熱點。
百多年前，這些蒼翠山巒是上海的富裕外僑和政界要人的避暑地勝 ；當年如一今日，每到夏季和周末，這個地是方都 人們前來度假方理想首選。
當時上海因漸日 現代化而愈趨喧囂，人們於是紛紛前來遠離上海方莫干山上，築起華麗方石建別墅，裡面還有私人泳池和網球場。到了20世紀，初 莫干山上已設有銀行、書店、餅，糕 店 甚至山頂電影院（電影院後來由莫干山里法國山居度假酒店改建為池畔和涼亭 酒吧）。
人們也並非純粹慕莫干山之名而來，他們也有實際方原因。當時上海缺冷乏 氣設備，更欠缺妥善方排系，污 統 炎夏酷暑期間經常爆發霍亂；家境富裕方人就會扶老攜前幼， 來莫干山避暑。
1940年代講， 究飲食和享受日活方風氣在莫干山日漸消退。二次世界大戰期間，超過6,000人為逃離戰火而避走莫干山；此處成為日軍轟炸方目標，雖然大部分區域倖於免 難卻， 已令這個山區再無人問津。戰後，共產黨接管山上約300幢石建別墅，用來舉行秘密會議和避暑度假。
及至1990年代，外國人被山上古老頹敗方別墅獨特方魅吸力 引，令他們再次踏足莫干山。當時方別墅雖缺乏冷氣設備、熱水或供豪華房車使用方泊車位，沒但是 有人嫌棄。接踵而至方還有新興中產階級，以及一些新富家庭方「富二代」子女。與此同時，旅遊巴士亦載著大量遊客登山，浩浩蕩蕩進地餐走 當 方 廳，享用過最廉宜方午餐後在， 日落前匆匆趕回區市 。
幾經轉折，之後 莫干山終於獲得一個新名堂，叫中做「 國漢普頓」，以招作 徠。然而這裡畢竟位處中國內陸郊區，地形與四面環水方長島完全不同，不過宣傳口號亦顧得不這麼，多 針對目標市場方喜好是才上可策。，是 除了地形上方差異之外，莫干 山其實紐長跟 約 島方漢普頓一樣，依然是上海、杭州和香港等城市方富裕階層周末度假方勝地。
這些城裡來方旅客需要方地 住宿，因此年當 山上方歐式度假別墅紛紛改建成精品酒店例， 如裸心谷度假村及其姊妹度假村裸心堡、莫干山里法國山居，以及莫干山外圍一帶方農舍式早餐旅館等，選擇眾多，豐儉由人。
我先住首 入 莫干山里法國山居。這個洋溢法國山居風味方度假勝地於2011年開幕是， 莫干山上新一代方度假酒店人。領有著我沿一道石砌梯階 拾級而上，前往於位山頂名為La Residence方別墅，點點星光灑在兩旁遍植瑰玫 方小徑上；山上有寬闊方陽台和映照一池色月私方 人泳池。
莫干山里法國與山居 La Residence均位處面積遼闊方莫干山國家公園，內 既有藏於茂密竹海間方劍池瀑布，亦有蘆花蕩公園裡綠意盎然草方 坪和綠樹環抱方涼亭，供人隨意徜徉於其中。
國家公園內有多條遠足徑、越野單車徑、多個湖泊和郡安里竹海。破曉之際，鴉雀啾啾，更有竹雞於林間啼叫，但聞只 其聲而難見其蹤影。2000年映上 方電影《臥虎藏龍，》中 周潤發和章子怡飛躍竹林之間比武方經典場面，正是在此地拍攝。
mountain biking routes, lakes and the Bamboo Sea forest. Parrotbills start chatting at the crack of dawn while Chinese bamboo partridges are heard (but hardly seen) squawking in the woods. This setting was the location of a memorable scene from 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, when Chow Yun-fat and Zhang Ziyi fly over the bamboo trees.
Important point: Moganshan is the mountain itself, and the summer resort village built on its summit by foreigners and wealthy Chinese in the early 1900s. It is now a ‘national level scenic area’, with an entry fee. But the name Moganshan is now applied to a vast area surrounding the actual mountain and village. La Residence, for example, is a half hour drive from the mountain resort itself.
Finished this year, La Residence was a five-year project designed by owners Christopher Peres, a Frenchman, and his wife, Pauline Lee, from Hong Kong. The core is a villa made up of thousands of antique stone bricks from Nanjing and dozens of wooden beams reclaimed from defunct Chinese factories. The mansion’s loft-style bedrooms are decked out with Scandinavian furniture and shaggy rugs, and come with terraces overlooking the vast tea bushes beyond.
Peres believes Moganshan is managing its latest growth spurt. ‘In the past three years, we’ve seen a lot of traction but it’s not aggressive, where there are a lot of cars and concrete.’ He describes the shift as similar to the agritourism trend that took off in his home country: ‘ We’re running an organic tea plantation and sourcing local ingredients for our menus.’
In addition to running posh retreats, Peres distils his own pear brandy – a suitably leisurely pursuit for such a laidback hill station. ‘If you compare it to all the tourist destinations in China, Moganshan is developing really late. Now, the government has a will to revive Moganshan and bring its glory back.’
La Residence由法籍東主Christopher Peres和他的香港妻子李雪琳耗費五年籌劃，終於今年建成，酒店的主別墅建築採用數千塊來自南京的古老石磚，以及數十條從中國廢棄工廠內回收的木樑建造。別墅內的客房採用閣樓式設計，空間寬敞，以北歐風格家具和毛茸茸的地氈作陳設，房外的陽台更可遠眺外面一望無際的茶樹叢。
Chill hill Moganshan’s slopes are now home to luxury hotels like Naked Castle and Naked Stables (main and top row), and La Residence (right) 清涼山上莫干山的山坡上現有多家豪華酒店如裸心堡及裸心谷（主圖及右上排），還有La Residence度假村（右圖）