FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Balance Work and Well-Being in Beijing

by Ilona Kauremszky

Jun 1, 2017
June 2017

AMID THE CENTURIES-OLD cypress trees at the Temple of Heaven in the southeastern Dongcheng District, wellness seekers gracefully move to the tai chi master’s meditative motions, their arms raised in this ribbon of green space to give morning thanks.

As Beijing is all aflutter, whirring in a cacophony of traffic heightened by a sea of pedestrians and a flood of chic electronic bikes, you smile. Tai chi class is now over; time to let the Zen continue. The ancient daily Chinese ritual believed to overcome stress and anxiety with its enriching therapeutic powers makes the perfect kick start in China’s capital where commerce, industry and government meet.

The city has a network of posh properties, parks and historic districts from which one can veer off the bustling main path to embrace another side of busy Beijing. It’s Beijing with wellness benefits — and corporate travelers have taken note.

By the ancient Hutong District in the heart of Beijing, dial back time to early China in this delightful area dotted in heritage buildings, many of them home to generations of artisans. The best way is to hop on a pedicab rickshaw for a riveting cycling journey that skirts along Houhai Lake to the hidden alleyways for glimpses of real Beijing.

Beijing’s oldest pharmacy, Tongrentang

Beijing’s oldest pharmacy, Tongrentang © ZHAOJIANKANG | DREAMSTIME.COM

While there, meet a local artist in the Hutong District. A collection of studios off the quiet laneways thrives in this mini artist colony. Step inside Arrow Factory, resurrected from an old vegetable street store, for contemporary art viewing on Arrow Street, or head to Lab 47, an independently owned art space for experimental work.

Beijing offers a handful of wellness areas big on pushing out the city stresses with feng shui vibes, evident at various luxury hotels. The NUO Hotel Beijing, located in the Chaoyang District, is designed in a feng shui fish motif that meshes other feng shui elements such as the lobby water statue called Le Shan. The 438-room hotel, whose name derives from the Chinese character meaning “the golden promise,” is described as a “Modern Ming by design” property drawing inspiration from the country’s 5,000 years of history.

China’s first homegrown luxury hotel brand boasts a rich collection of original art from iconic Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi basking in an oasis of calm. NUO Hotel Beijing also lies in close proximity to the Temple of Heaven. A jaunt to this iconic Ming Dynasty landmark built in 1420 is made even easier when using local boutique firms to handle the details. Bespoke Travel, a private city tour company, curates custom-made wellness itineraries and has created special Beijing tours for the likes of actor Matt Damon and his family and singer Katy Perry.

During another morning refresher, head to a hotel spa like the NUO Spa, which uses Traditional Chinese Medicine inspired by Huangdi Neijing (Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor) in its spa treatments. The five life-force qi elements including yin and yang, holistic philosophies, are incorporated in this healthy lifestyle technique through the spa’s Warm Wood Signature Massage, resulting in a relaxed meditative state. The spa and Traditional Chinese Medicine center make a good location to sit down and chat with clients pre- or post-spa treatment.

Once you’re revived, it’s off to a mid-morning business meeting conveniently located inside one of NUO Hotel’s meeting rooms. Later, the tranquil courtyard atmosphere emitted at the Yuan Tea House offers an ideal breather as clients further discuss strategies over exclusive premium teas from the finest tea plantations in China.

For lunch, head to King’s Joy restaurant in Dongcheng District. Hop inside one of the NUO Hotel’s private limos — a neat flashback vintage car called Red Flags popular in Chairman Mao Zedong’s era — that whisks past frenetic commuters. Nothing beats a private chauffeur navigating the congested streets for scheduled lunch meetings despite the profusion of Beijing’s multilayered transportation network.

Beijing’s most impressive fine-dining vegetarian restaurant, designed by Chinese-American architect Yung Ho Chang, King’s Joy continues the Zen moments with its striking courtyard house popular among Chinese media and entertainment types and the well-heeled.

Amid a forest of bamboo, patrons lunch on light, fresh fare sourced from organic farms in this intimate setting helmed by Canadian-Taiwanese restaurateur David Yin, himself a vegetarian. “This is a way to showcase my ideas,” he once told The Wall Street Journal. “I see it as a kind of responsibility, like monks going out and spreading Buddhist ideas.”

Maitreya Buddha statue in the Hall of Boundless Happiness, Lama Temple

Maitreya Buddha statue in the Hall of Boundless Happiness, Lama Temple © STRIPPEDPIXEL | DREAMSTIME.COM

Located across from the haute restaurant, the Lama Temple covers more than 300 years of Buddhist history and sets the right balance as you indulge your client in a post-lunch tour of the temple housing the world’s largest wooden Buddha.

You check your watch — if all goes well, there’s still time to hit an acupuncture session and tour Beijing’s oldest pharmacy, Tongrentang, in the Dashilan area of Beijing. But for now, you stand silent before the wooden Buddha in this hidden gem to discover there is more peace to be found in Beijing.

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