Although the Onsen Papawaqa lists a room once occupied by Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou among its attractions, it's probably safe to say that most of the guests at this spa in Taian, Miaoli county a two-hour drive from Taipei are there to get away from all thought of politics, business and workaday living.
The rough-hewn and at times monastic look of the property's 66 rooms should help them do just that. At Onsen Papawaqa Papawaqa is apparently the aboriginal name for a local sacred mountain the walls are in unfinished concrete. But the most remarkable design features are the uneven floors, bathtubs, furniture and occasionally ceilings made from rare incense cedar (the environmentally conscious will be gratified to know that the wood was not felled but harvested from trees blown over in a typhoon). Rooms also come in a plethora of different layouts and designs, but full-length glass windows are common to all, giving calming views of a riverbed, bamboo groves and lush vegetation.
Guests can choose from 21 cold- and hot-spring pools, and a swimming pool runs along the side of the building. Other activities include yoga, hiking in the surrounding mountains, trips to a local vineyard and fruit-picking excursions to nearby orchards although Wii consoles are available if you've overdosed on the tranquility. Rooms start at $250, with good weekday deals available. For reservations, call (886-37) 941 777.
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