An Abandoned Sugar Mill Becomes China’s Latest Luxury Resort

The glamorous hotel with retro touches makes use of the dramatic scenery in the Chinese countryside

The pool at the Alila Yangshuo, China's latest luxury offering.
Photo: Courtesy of Alila Yangshuo

Staying at the Alila Yangshuo is like being inside a classic Chinese scroll painting, with its jagged karst topography and misty rivers, but with all the amenities of a modern luxury resort. A former 1920s sugar mill that was left in ruins after decades of turmoil, the 117-room luxury hotel is situated on the Li River near Guilin and preserves elements of the heritage buildings to dramatic effect. The former pressing room, its concrete mounting intact, is now a bar specializing in rum cocktails. The subterranean spa, in the former molasses tank, offers a variety of sugar scrub treatments. And most stunningly, the outdoor pool is framed by the steel columns that once formed the mill’s sugarcane loading area. A salvage job has never been so sweet. alilahotels.com

The hotel, housed in a 1920s sugar mill, illuminated at night. Photo: Courtesy of Alila Yangshuo
A refined guest room. Photo: Courtesy of Alila Yangshuo
A sunken seating ring adds panache to the reception area. Photo: Courtesy of Alila Yangshuo
Set within the compound’s former sugarcane loading dock, the pool boasts enchanting vistas of the dramatic topography. Photo: Courtesy of Alila Yangshuo
The retro living room in one of the “Heritage” suites. Photo: Courtesy of Alila Yangshuo
An ultra-modern spiral staircase descends into the subterranean spa, created with volcanic rocks unearthed during the resort’s construction. Photo: Courtesy of Alila Yangshuo
Materials like bamboo were deployed throughout the compound to create a link to the surrounding landscape. Photo: Courtesy of Alila Yangshuo
A spellbinding sunset in Giulin. Photo: Courtesy of Alila Yangshuo