• The Lalu Hotel - Architectural Masterpiece - Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan

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    The Lalu is a modern architectural masterpiece, an exercise in Zen, from its tranquil lotus ponds and bamboo fronds to the gleaming teak floors and the play of light streaking through slatted windows.

    The Lalu is the first international 5-star hotel in Taiwan. It's located in the central region of Taiwan on the beautiful Sun Moon Lake.

    The construction of a hydroelectric plant during the Japanese occupation filled the basin, deepening the lake from 20 feet to 60, and drastically shrinking the island of Lalu. The Shao people were moved to a village at the edge of the newly merged Sun Moon Lake, and the island remains to this day a site for Shao ancestor worship, off-limits to outsiders.

    Both the Japanese royal family Emperor Hirohito nd the first president of Taiwan had summer palaces here, built on the site of the hotel.

    Consequently, Japanese, Chinese and Western influences were used in the construction of this resort which dated originally from 1901.

    It has long been a popular destination, owing to its breathtaking surroundings, it was also once a getaway vacation home for Chiang Kai-Shek.

    The hotel was extensively redesigned in 1998, modernized by the Australian architect Kerry Hill, and is a bold design statement, matching the dramatic beauty of the lake itself.

    With an area of 21,088 square meters, the original Chinese palace-style building was renovated keeping only the original walls and floors, and two additional buildings were constructed, and the design for the 96 rooms, suites and villas was inspired by the indigenous construction style of stone slab houses. The concept behind the renovation was to combine the best of ancient and modern Taiwan.

    The center piece of the design is an infinity pool running the length of the resort that seemingly flows right into the stretched-tarpaulin blue of the lake below. Surrounded by jade-green mountains, The Lalu offers a serene getaway. The suites have sweeping views of the lake, with its swirls of mist and the encircling mountains.

    The hotel itself is constructed from Chinese cypress, and indigenous woods make up much of the interior of the suites and villas (the Lalu is an all-suite hotel). Each suite has a bedroom, a large living room, and a generous balcony with an unbroken view of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Though still retaining the intimate feeling of a secluded mountain lodge, the hotel is a modern one, with central air, internet, satellite TV, and a Bose stereo system standard to each suite.

    In deference to its presidential heritage, a small museum is annexed to the hotel, dedicated to the memory of the first president of Taiwan, Chiang Kai Shek. The architectural concept integrated the modern and the vernacular by applying contemporary techniques and methodology to local materials and craftsmanship.

    Please note: Original high resolution un-cropped photos are available from Stephen Smith. This video clip displays only a fraction of photos that are available.

    photos: Stephen Smith
    music: Kevin MacLeod
    reporter: Ilona Kauremszky
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