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Links Hot Spring Hotel

2014-09-01 10:47    Web Editor: Li Yan

Although the city itself lacks any natural hot springs, the area around Shanghai is well served with hot spring resorts. To the south there are a number of destinations dotted around Wuyi and Ningbo and to the west is the popular Tangshan site on the outskirts of Nanjing. And now there's Rudong to the north, around an hour from Nantong, itself two hours from Shanghai.

While Tangshan and Wuyi's mountains mean that hot springs are far from unexpected, Rudong's endowment of mineral rich, naturally heated water is surprising given the unrelentingly flat nature of this strip of reclaimed land beside the sea. It certainly came as a surprise to the owners of the Links Hot Spring Resort – one of the few structures to interrupt the otherwise unremarkable landscape – who were originally digging for water to irrigate their 27-hole golf course when they came across the spring water.

Since then, the hotel has rebranded itself to capitalise on the resource below. The main hotel includes nine hot spring baths, while a more secluded clubhouse area a short drive away offers private bathing. Having just tapped a new, 96C spring across the road from the hotel, there are also plans to open a public spa complex in the next few years, just in time for the completion of the Shanghai-Nantong bridge, which should dramatically reduce travelling time between the two cities.

In contrast to most hot spring resorts around China, the people who run Links (an Austrian hospitality company who specialise in hot spring resorts) haven't felt the need to add gimmicky ingredients into the water, such as milk or various TCM concoctions, instead simply presenting a variety of temperatures. There are three main pools inside, joined by a further six outside as well as an outdoor swimming pool.

The inside of the hotel also features a Turkish-style hammam bathhouse (popular for Chinese suits discussing business deals apparently) and a number of spa treatment rooms, where options include a soothing water bed-like experience where you're wrapped in a water-filled synthetic cocoon and left to drift off to sleep.

Other than the golf and the pools activities are somewhat limited at the moment, but plans are in place to introduce bike rental, a number of other sports and – further down the line – a pick-your-own organic farm. The area is also one of the best in the region for ornithologists, with rare birds often spotted around Rudong. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, though when it comes to dining you're better off sticking to the Chinese menu and specifically the regional delicacies (though in the hotel's defence we were told the chef for Western cuisine was away on our visit).

The remote nature of the resort means that you're rarely disturbed and though its location conversely means a rather long journey to get there, a shuttle bus service from Caohejing is available for 250RMB/person round-trip at weekends. The hotel currently has packages starting from 988RMB/room for two nights in a Deluxe Room including daily breakfast and one dinner for two.

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