Grant Horsfield moved from Cape Town, South Africa to Shanghai, China almost 20 years ago. While the world was exporting and taking things from China he was looking for something he could bring in.
The challenge was finding just the right thing to import to a country that manufactures anything from electrical machinery to soybeans and everything in between. After our visit to Naked Stables, we believe he got it, spot on.
We first heard about Naked Stables and the Naked retreats a few years ago while looking for somewhere naturally beautiful not too far from Shanghai. We read about Grant and his vision, which was to give city dwellers a place to go to fill their lungs with crisp clean air, stretch their legs on dirt trails and take in all the natural beauty China has to offer. We knew we had to experience this home away from the homeland.
Our visit to the Naked Stables coincided with our anniversary celebration and our hosts were ready with treats and gifts. The service and hospitality is easily the best we’ve experienced throughout the mainland. As South Africans in China it’s often difficult to reconcile the massive difference between the hospitality we grew up with, and what we’ve come to experience in our host nation. To say we felt right at home from the moment we arrived would be somewhat of an understatement. And that includes Bailey. Despite only reviewing their pet policy last year our room was kitted with a dog bed and bowls, they even have a special menu for dog meals.
The Naked Stables resort is the kind of place where you could just sit on the deck looking out at the lake, the trees and just take it all in and do nothing for days and be fueled. But there’s so much to do, the resort offers activities for creatives, outdoor enthusiasts, families and fur friends. Full disclaimer we had our share of do nothing moments but also took advantage of the activities on offer.
I found myself plonked in front of one the smaller lakes with a blank canvas and had some fun. We also got to make dumplings and do a different hiking route through the forest every day.
If that’s not enough you can hop on a shuttle and visit the sister resort, Naked Castle, less than 6 kilometers away. The Castle was built in 1910 by a Scottish missionary, Dr Duncan Main and now boasts multiple accolades as it spearheads sustainability in Asia’s hospitality arena.
This probably reads like a review or a promotional piece but our stay was really special. Not being able to return to our home country from more than two years makes these experiences; the hospitality, the South African wine, the bush-style huts and décor all the more heart warming.
Something that isn’t distinctly African, however, is the gift we received on our last day. SNOW!
The white fluff started falling lightly during breakfast as we looked over the lawns and forest and by the time we finished dinner we could trace our footprints in the icy rug.
Bailey wasn’t too keen at the start but his appreciation grew quickly.
In true African fashion we were out there, mouths agape, crunching and squishing with every step having the best send-off imaginable. A magical end to a tremendous stay.
There is so much more I could tell you about our visit, like how the food was the best vegetarian-friendly meal I’ve enjoyed across the mainland, how the managers knew our names and the breakfast staff greeted me with an Oatly cappuccino every morning. We hope to return in the summer to enjoy the infinity pools and perhaps I’ll tell you more then.
For now though…
Comment and share with us a place you visited that exceeded your expectations or a place that reminded you of home or something beloved and helped you fuel up for the day to day highs and lows we call life.