Since the year 2000, at our Mountain Retreat, we have been catering to guests, providing them with an authentic countryside hotel experience. We are and have always been committed to environmental sustainability.
Favored by travelers wanting serenity, privacy, and simple yet, elegant accommodation, our Yangshuo Eco Hotel is the original and ideal accommodation.
Sited in a pristine environment, our Yangshuo Eco Hotel offers scenic views of the limestone karst towers, emerald rice fields, and the tranquil Yulong River. As our guests, you will enjoy exquisite riverside dining, too!
Rooms at our Yangshuo Eco Hotel
Our family rooms offer river views and the karst mountain scenery and beyond from a private balcony. The room have a queen bed plus a full bed, that are ideal for groups of friends or family.
Our superior rooms feature furnished private balconies and the best views of the Yu Long river and karst mountain formations and beyond, with multiple bed configurations.
Our standard rooms are our most affordable options and feature mountain views facing away from the river, with some partial river views.
Dining at our Yangshuo Eco Hotel
Over the years, our little Yagshuo restaurant area has become the hub of the Retreat. Homely, relaxed atmosphere combined with delicious cuisine is often the highlight of many a guest’s stay at our hotel. The menu is filled with wonderful local specialties and Yangshuo county’s distinct cuisine and cooking flavors make it a culinary delight for all lovers of food. The kitchen team at our Yangshuo Eco Hotel carefully buys fresh ingredients every day, which come from nearby villages. Like all of our staff, the chefs, Xiao Chen and Xiao Li are also from nearby villages and grew up with the dishes we present to you here.
The information will give you more information about the Retreat, including its sustainability initiatives.
1). Why does Yangshuo Mountain Retreat place such importance on sustainability, how did this way of thinking and branding for Hotel come about?
When I first discovered the place that Mountain Retreat now occupies it was wonderfully isolated. There was not even a road to it, just a rutted path, so no traffic and no other buildings around us. The nearest village was 1km down the road. I wanted to preserve this pristine state so I built a series of smaller, low-rise buildings in a style that would blend well with Yangshuo vernacular architecture and surroundings. I believed that reducing environmental impact should really be the theme of the Retreat and a showcase for visitors. Toward this end, we came up with some operational principles that to my knowledge, no hotels in China had yet to implement. These included no disposable items (chopsticks, cups, napkins, water bottles or plastic bags), separating our food waste for local farmers to use as animal feed, recycling our containers, using well water vs river water, self-containing all our waste water and building our own furniture from bamboo on the property. We also used reclaimed wood and stone in construction. As Yangshuo was growing as tourism destination, I wanted to use our practices to show the government and help influence the community. At the time (1999-2000) I didn't know about sustainability or ecotourism, but it seemed the right way to do things if we wanted to maintain the beauty of Yangshuo and attract visitors who also cared about the environment.
2). How do the costs of maintaining the hotel in a sustainable manner?
With the exception of electricity, there's really no big difference in operating costs and over the long-term there's a big reduction in environmental costs, which I believe is also in our strategic interest. In terms of initial costs, we had to rent extra land for our gray water containment, build up above ground to keep out flood water and seal it with cement to prevent seepage in to the river. Over 30 year land rights, this investment is not significant. We spent less on furnishings that we built from our own bamboo and from salvaged antiques in local markets. I have tried things like making our own sawdust briquettes to burn in the fireplace instead of locally cut wood, but it's inefficient unless you can achieve an economy of scale by producing hundreds a day. As mentioned, the big cost is in electricity. We don't burn coal for hot water like most other hotels in the area so while we enjoy cleaner air, our electric bill is always higher than other hotels. We supplement our hot water with passive solar which helps reduce this cost as well. We do things like cut our grass by hand but this is labor cost we already bear by only hiring people on a full-time basis from the villages around us. We launder our cloth napkins, place mats and table coverings as we don't use paper so that uses more water and labor to dry and fold. Overall, I feel like all of the benefits of these practices outweigh the costs in terms of protecting the quality of our surroundings.
3). Does the local community strive for a greener way of life because of the practices at Yangshuo Mountain Retreat?
I wish that were the case, but sadly no! Local hotels and restaurants don't seem to care at all. If you go to big restaurants in the area, all your tableware comes pre-wrapped in plastic that you immediately throw on the floor. They will also cover their tables in plastic film and throw away with each setting. Everyone sells drinks in plastic bottles and take away in plastic cups. Styrofoam boxes are the preferred lunch container and single-use chopsticks - also wrapped in plastic are the norm. There's also not much awareness of waste water runoff, recycling or basic waste management.
4). When did you become a certified green hotel?
We first were certified in 2008, but based on practices that we had since the beginning. That year we were a finalist in the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards and in 2013, we were a finalist for the Conde Nast World Savers Awards.
There's an interview with me (Chris, Hotel Owner) here: http://travelcathay.com/2014/08/01/sustainable-travel-china/ on a similar subject, and a short video and bio here http://www.ecotourismconference.org/news/2013/estc-talks-chris-barclay from a recent ecoutourism conference that I spoke at in Monterrey. If you're in China you may need a VPN to access.
I have another hotel in Yangshuo that you should really see called the Village Inn, which includes a mud brick barn http://www.yangshuoguesthouse.com/village-inn/farmhouse-boutique-hotel.htm that we re-built for guest accommodation. Because I built it in 2007, I had learned a lot more about energy efficient design and it's my favorite place to stay when I visit. You might want to consider staying a night there!
Our Core Values
Environmental Preservation - meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needsTeamwork - supporting one another as a family, focusing on the common goal of delighting our guestsIntegrity - being who we say we are, keeping our promises and being honest in all communicationCourage - taking a stand for one another and against practices not in line with our valuesLocal Community Support - Investing in the education and welfare of people from our neighbouring villages.
Authenticity at our Yangshuo Eco Hotel
Authenticity is central to the concept of our countryside Yangshuo hotel. We aim to give our guests a truly authentic experience and manage to do this through our staff who are all from neighbouring villages, our rooms which are designed using the Chinese tradition of feng shui and through the general ambience, that is for many more like a local home than a hotel.
We are also involved in charity work, most notably the Chinese-US Medical Foundation which was founded by Chris Barclay (hotel owner) in 2002. We donate 5% of our profits to CUMF each year helping children with brittle bone disease across China. The charity came about after Chris's direct experience with Chun Li (Angel) the hotel's front desk supervisor.
An additional 5% of profits are allocated to our green initiatives which you can read about on ourSustainable Initiatives page, here: (http://www.yangshuomountainretreat.com/community/sustainable-initiatives.htm).
While most other top-ranked Yangshuo hotels are managed by westerners, our Yangshuo Eco Hotel is 100% managed by local people, who share in profits and help continually improve services for our guests. As our staff come from local villages, they are an excellent source of Yangshuo information and things to do around Yangshuo county. Whether you're looking for suggestions on Yangshuo bars, Yangshuo restaurants or recommended Yangshuo tours, you've found the right people at our Yangshuo Eco Hotel.
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Lijiang, Yunnan province: CHINA
Bedroom(s): 122 (suites & villas)
Locale: Yunnan Highlands. Jade Dragon Shown Mountain.
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