Guests can now experience the very best of Songtsam Lodges, a stunning collection of five boutique lodges and one luxury retreat threaded across the fabled ‘Shangri-La’ region in China’s Yunnan Province, with a spirited journey of discovery: the ‘Songtsam Circuit’. Weaving in and around the stunning mountains and rivers of the region, the authentic upscale Tibetan-style retreats offer unparalleled views of the alpine landscapes.
Founded by award-winning CCTV documentary film director Baima Duoji, Songtsam Lodges showcases the sceneries, culture and spirituality of his native Tibet. Each lodge, offering between 9 and 22 guestrooms, is located in picturesque multi-ethnic villages and valleys chosen for their natural beauty, rich history and unique culture. The lodges are: Songtsam Shangri-La, Songtsam Tacheng,Songtsam Meili, Songtsam Cizhong, Songtsam Benzilan and China’s only M Gallery by Accor, Songtsam Retreat M Gallery in Shangri-La.They form the only collection of Tibetan style lodges in Shangri-La offering authentic accommodation, upscale facilities and warm-hearted Tibetan hospitality.
The ‘Songtsam Circuit’ offers the chance for travellers to embark on a luxurious Shangri-La round-trip that embraces all the major attractions of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Area defined by the Yangtze, Mekong and Salween rivers. The journey takes between six and nine days, or even longer, staying at each lodge and travelling with a personal bilingual Tibetan travel guide/butler, private car and driver. It takes between 1.5 hours and a maximum of 3.5 hours by car between the different lodges along the circuit.
Located beside Songzanlin Monastery – the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan province – Songtsam Shangri-La was the brand’s first lodge and is its flagship. Crafted from clay and wood, the traditional Tibetan style lodge occupies the site of the ancestral home of Baima Duoji, the founder of Songtsam Lodges. It features 22 guestrooms decorated with Tibetan furnishings, woven carpets and handmade copper washbasins, a Tibetan restaurant, plus a rooftop terrace and a library.
Three hours driving distance away, Songtsam Tachengis located in Hada village, a small village off the tourist trail and home to Tibetan, Naxi and Lisu ethnic minorities. Surrounded by primeval forest, rice paddies and vineyards, each of the nine rooms offers lush rice paddy views. An outdoor swimming pool is set amidst fields of wheat and barley, and guests can pick their own fresh produce in the organic vegetable garden.
On the way from Tacheng to world renowned Meili Snow Mountain, Songtsam Cizhong the newest Songtsam Lodges leans against an ancient village tower overlooking Lancang River and a century-old Catholic Church. Ten rooms housed across two Tibetan structures are all blessed with river views, and there’s an organic vegetable garden and vineyard. Guests can sip a glass of local red wine “Rose Honey” beside the fish pond in the beautifully designed garden of the lodge.
Or, a four hour drive from Tacheng, there is Songtsam Meili, which no one can afford to miss. Situated in the tiny village of Gejinong, home to only five households, Songtsam Meili sits between the stunning Meili Mountain and the Tibetan tribes and forests nourished by the mountain. The lodge is comprised of two buildings offering full Meili snow mountain or canyon views respectively. Seventeen rooms enjoy views of Kawakarpo, one of Shangri-La’s holiest peaks, and the entire mountain panorama can also be enjoyed from the rooftop viewing platform.
Driving across Bai Ma snowcapped mountain, and two hours away from Meili, Songtsam Benzilan lies in a hidden valley of traditional whitewashed Tibetan dwellings. Ten guestrooms are decorated in modern Tibetan-Sino style and offer dramatic views of the Yangtze River valley below.
One and a half hours from Benzilan, Songtsam Retreat in Shangri-La comes with its own surprises. It comprises 24 stone blockhouse-style buildings offering 75 guestrooms and suites decorated in vivid Tibetan style. The views of the Songzanlin Monastery, valley, lamaseries, Tibetan villages and distant mountains can be enjoyed from all rooms, most of which also have balconies. Songtsam Retreat also features Tibetan and French restaurants, a bar, plus a spa with complimentary Tibetan yoga each morning.