By Joana Molgaard,
After a hectic 2022, marked by lockdowns, a long flight to Europe, a 10 day quarantine upon returning to China and a Covid tsunami that hit our household just before Christmas, we decided that a quiet New Year’s in quaint Moganshan with friends was exactly what we needed. Historically, Moganshan has for a long time served as refuge from bustling, a place to enjoy nature, fresh air and in the summer, cooler temperatures. In addition, for a long time, we had been wanting to go to the Naked Stables, the sister luxury eco-resort of the Naked Castle, the latter having taken over an actual Scottish style castle built in 1910 by former doctor and missionary Dr. Duncan Main.
The drive there was about two hours which were surprisingly pleasant as we were seven people, including a one-year-old in a luggage filled car. This was probably due to the combination of the one-year-old sleeping most of the way and our very low expectations for an easy ride. Upon arrival at lunch time we were welcomed with warm ginger tea and, as our rooms were still getting ready, we headed to one of the Stables restaurant, Farm House, just upstairs of the reception. The food was delicious and fresh, with child friendly options which is always a plus. After lunch it was time to go to our rooms.
The Naked Stables offers two options of stay: the Naked Huts and the Villas. As a family of 4 traveling with 2 ayis (Not something we had ever done before) staying for a total of 6 nights we chose a two-bedroom villa. After a short drive by golf carts we arrived at our villa. Spread between two floors, on the bottom floor, the villa had two identical large suites, with a king size bed, bathroom, and a bathtub with a view of the mountains.
The top fool was a sizeable living room with a fully equipped kitchen and an extra lavatory. But the star of the show was the balcony: with a barbecue area and a jacuzzi, there was very little reason to even leave the villa. But we did leave our villa (eventually, after a jump in the jacuzzi of course) and explored the hotel grounds and now here we are sharing our experience which we hope can be useful on your next family holiday.
For the Kids
The Naked Stables are very child friendly. It was possible to ask for a cot and even a baby gate for our villa (as we had stairs). We also noticed that they do have a few strollers available but perhaps it is best to call in advance to find out if those need to be reserved.
Activities for children include:
With slides, a huge ball pit, toys as well as books, tables and chairs for arts and crafts it was where our children spent most of their time. We did have our ayis there, however, they club has staff even though children under 3 must be accompanied by an adult if a baby-sitting fee applies.
As the name states, the hotel has horses (and ponies!) and for extra charge it is possible to do horse riding. Prices include the 15 minutes of horse-back riding, all the gear and an instructor.
Vegetable picking and animal feeding
The stables have their own farm where they grow vegetables and raise animals. One of the days the kids were given baskets and we all went to the farm where they picked cabbage and carrots. After that they went to the other side of the farm where they could see and feed pigs and goats!
With children involved, hiking is a gamble, but some of the routes are quiet easy and a good way to get the children some fresh air and exercise.
The Range Rover experience
The Range Rover Experience Center is just across from the reception and offers different options for different prices. We signed up for our 15 minute free drive in which we are taken through a trail that goes through water, uneven roads and a 27 degree climb! A bumpy ride but lots of fun! Be aware however that children must be at least 1.20m to be able to join the ride.
For the Grown Ups
Both the hotel grounds and its surroundings have hiking trail options. We highly recommend taking a guided hiking tour with the hotel guide which is a great way to know get to know the hotel grounds.
Have a massage at the Naked Leaf
What a better way to enjoy a relaxing holiday than relaxing at SPA? The naked leaf offers different treatments including massages, facials and scrubs. It is possible to book individual or couple’s rooms and even huts in the woods. The facilities also include jacuzzis and offer amenities such as shampoo, body lotion, hair dryer etc.
Have a cocktail at Kikaboni
In one of the days, right after a hike, we decided to have a drink at Kikaboni, the Stables more high end restaurant. The cocktail list is quiet good as well as the wines. If you have a chance to leave the kiddos for a few hours, have a date night at the restaurant as well as the food is also delicious.
Play some pool and Ping-pong
Yes, they do have a game room and with all sorts of activities and it turns out to be just next to the kids club and if there is a ping pong table, I cannot help myself.
Visit the Naked Castle and have lunch at Naked Bites
Even if you don’t stay at Naked Castle it is worth paying a visit as the castle itself is quiet impressive. Take the time to go inside the library and read about the castle’s history which gives us a glimpse of how rich and complex contemporary Chinese history is. If you go in the morning, it is worth having lunch at the Naked Bites.
Food is great and the views are amazing! Did I mention that just next door there is another kid’s club? The Stables can help with arranging the transportation however there are didis available although the price is steep.
The Stables offers a lot more than we actually did such as yoga classes (while we were there those were not happening though), arts and crafts, mountain biking and much more as well as outdoor swimming which we didn’t do as it was December end hence very cold. However, being in such a quiet place, surrounded by nature, there is nothing with just sitting down, relaxing and seizing the moment. We had a great time and were very well taken care of by all the staff and will definitely be coming back!
We are always on the lookout for new writers! If you’d like to share your travels, activities, reviews, or anything you think may be relevant for the Shanghai Mamas community, please get in touch. We would love to showcase more writers from our amazing community!