According to ancient Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, there is talk of an earthly city paradise without equal where spiritual seekers could gather in a place of purified harmony between the physical world and the beyond.
This mythical lost kingdom—representing a physical manifestation of the Buddhist concept of nirvana, sometimes referred to as “Shambhala” or Shangri-La—is believed to have existed in the Tibetan Himalayas.
So it’s a bit of a homecoming for the new Shangri-La Hotel, Lhasa that opened yesterday in Tibet’s administrative district. The hotel is located in the shadows of the famous UNESCO World Heritage site, Potala Palace, once the official residence of the Dalai Lama.
Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts has attempted to recreate the sense of place that inspired its brand name. Upon arrival, guests are welcomed with an offering of hada, a traditional ceremonial white silk scarf. That’s followed by tossing some barley in a wooden chema container that Tibetans once used to pray for a plentiful harvest season.
The 289-room urban resort sits at 12,000 feet, so it’s important to acclimate to the thin air during the first day. To help with the elevation change, Shangri-La is reporting that the Oxygen Lounge in their CHI Spa is the first of its kind. The sealed, glass-walled treatment room is pressurized to match the air density at sea level, where arriving guests can drink tea and partake in locally-inspired spa rituals.
Four F&B outlets at Shangril-La Hotel, Lhasa work the local theme with Tibetan/Yunnan cuisine at Shambhala. The Lodger’s Lounge restaurant and Altitude lounge share a terrace facing Potala Palace. And Tibetan drums welcome diners at the fine-dining Shang Palace, serving Sichuan and authentic Cantonese.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the resort expects to attract considerable corporate business with no less than ten private dining rooms and the largest ballroom in the city. A large event terrace facing the Palace definitely comes with that “wow factor” planners are always seeking.
For upgrades, there are 17 suites and the brand’s signature Horizon Club rooms and exclusive Horizon Club Lounge.
On TripAdvisor, Shangri-La’s nightly introductory rates for a weeklong stay in May show $370 via booking.com, while St. Regis Lhasa Resort is priced at $498 on the same booking engine.
It would be helpful if the hotel website went into a little depth about the local destination, like the new Peninsula Hotels site does that we wrote about this month. Presently there is a very brief Explore Lhasa section, but with a region so rich in history and drama, much of it unknown to Western travelers, a deeper dive into the soul of Shambhala seems more than warranted.