Five-Star Taiwan

There always seems to be a certainty about luxury accommodations in Asia. It’s either over-the-top or a kind of subdued elegance that leaves no doubt to its five-star status, with both styles consistently offering the kind of service that even the most demanding luxury client finds exceptional.

Taiwan is no different than its Asian counterparts, and on a recent visit there, Recommend experienced two extraordinary properties that mirrored that very formula. The first, a remarkably beautiful hotel and resort with the kind of subdued elegance that belies its five-star status and set in a jaw-dropping mountain setting that literally takes your breath away. The second, an overtly luxurious high-rise hotel set in the middle of bustling Taipei’s upscale environs, where the ultimate in service, amenities and design is taken for granted.

The first is the Silks Place Resort and Spa, offering an achingly beautiful minimalist design set amidst a lush mountain background and overlooking a meandering river that continues to eat away at the jaw-dropping beauty of Taiwan’s Taroko Gorge as it snakes its way to the Taiwan Straits.

The hotel is a beauty, with teak-colored wood paneling set against light-colored walls and open space everywhere with absolutely no clutter. There’s an indoor pool and an outdoor pool—both massive—a sauna, gym, tennis court and gift shop, as well as a bicycle rental area. In addition to the sumptuous buffet restaurant, there’s also the China Restaurant, serving—you guessed it—Chinese food.

The rooms, too, are large and airy with stunning views from just about anywhere. Ours was huge with a king-size bed, large bath area with oversized shower and a big soaking tub, plus a large, roomy balcony. But the key element here is the service. While the language barrier does present some challenges, it doesn’t keep the staff from trying even if they’re doing the wrong thing. One example is the efforts of the in-house IT expert who responded to a plea for help with a laptop and who wound up spending more than two hours downloading mysterious electronic things that made it work. The point is, he didn’t have to, but he did it for the guest, and booking that kind of a hotel is what’s going to make you a hero to your clients.

One last point, the breakfast buffet here is one of the most unique you’re going to find anywhere. It’s a mix of local cuisine—scrumptious dumplings, noodles, rice and delectable Asian sauces—along with an eclectic mix of Western-style offerings from fried, scrambled and eggs Benedict, to fried tomatoes and beans, as well as some of the most delicious homemade breads and pastries you’ll find anywhere, along with cereals, fruit and fresh juices served up as standard or in smoothie form. It truly makes for a delicious way to start the day.

The second hotel Recommend visited has to be one of Taipei’s finest—the Grand Formosa Regent Taipei, one of the best five-star hotels in the city, made even more so by the fact that this is a Four Seasons-managed property, despite the fact that it still bears the Regent moniker because the owners wanted to maintain the Regent name.

Whatever you want to call it, though, it’s a classic property with all the amenities of a very high-end hotel that includes butler service and a lounge floor with a variety of services including full breakfast buffet, snacks and beverages throughout the day. In the evening, it also includes complimentary alcoholic beverages from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The property has a full-service spa, pool, exercise room with all the latest equipment and a large number of restaurants serving both Asian and continental cuisine.

The rooms themselves, particularly the ones on the lounge floor, are sumptuously comfortable with a full-size couch, a huge flat-screen TV, and still another TV inserted in the huge marble bathroom for easy viewing from the large soaking tub. There’s also a roomy shower, plus all the best high-end bath amenities and accoutrement for personal needs. It also had a first for us—an electronic bidet complete with a seat warmer attached to the toilet with a series of buttons on a control panel that looks like you can be launched through the roof of the bathroom if you push the wrong one—very Star Trekkie, indeed.