Taiwan Stay: Unique Homestay Experience at Adagio Shihtiping (石梯坪缓慢民宿)
I got to know about Adagio Homestay (缓慢民宿) in 2009 when I stayed at Adagio Fenchihu (缓慢奋起湖) when exploring Taiwan's popular attraction, Alishan National Scenic Area (阿里山国家风景区). Ever since that first experience at Adagio Fenchihu, I had not encountered a better home stay or hotel that can surpass the unique experience provided by Adagio. I knew then I will be back again.
But Adagio closed its Fenchihu branch after a typhoon destroyed part of the forest train railway to Fenchihu town in 2009 — 3 months after my trip. The damage resulted in dwindling number of visitors to Fenchihu as tour buses skipped the little town and headed to Alishan directly. Businesses in rustic Fenchihu suffered a heavy blow for the next few years. I was really disappointed with the closure of Adagio Fenchihu. It was such a great homestay with fun and friendly staff.
Luckily, Adagio has another 2 outlets on the eastern coast of Taiwan — in Hualien's Shihtiping (花莲石梯坪) and in New Taipei City's Jinguashi (新北金瓜石), not far from Jiufen Old Town (九分老街). A third outlet is located in Hokkaido, Japan. A common factor of all these outlets, including the ex-Fenchihu outlet, is that they are all located away from cities in some quiet spots.
It was due to the desire of wanting to try the same experience again at Adagio that I picked Adagio Shihtiping (缓慢石梯坪) in May 2012 and brought my sister along. And we got to explore the art-of-nature spot known as Shihtiping Scenic Recreation Area (石梯坪游息区), which was right in front of the homestay. There are also other things to do around this quiet coastal spot too.
Read: Taiwan See: 7 Wonderful Things to Do in Shihtiping
About Adagio Homestay
Adagio is operated with a home-stay concept, so there is no staff, only "housekeepers" (管家). All guests are treated like "masters" of the house. The housekeepers will always address the guests as "masters" or "madams" (主人), never as "guests" (来宾).
The Chinese name for Adagio is "缓慢", meaning "slow". And their catch-phrase is "Slow down a little, the soul will be able to catch up" (慢一点，灵魂才会跟得上！). It does not mean that the housekeepers are slow in their services, but more for their guests to relax and slow down their paces when staying at Adagio.
Inside Adagio Shihtiping
We will start with the common areas in Adagio Shihtiping.
The ground floor's common area or lounge was where we were seated when we arrived at Adagio Shihtiping. It might be unbelievable to most travellers, but checking-in to Adagio was done while seated down on a sofa, not standing at a "check-in" counter.
The lounge area was actually much bigger than shown in the photo and with a piano in one corner.
The dining area was spacious and had a simple yet classy design. In one corner were some art exhibits made with woods that drifted down from the rivers or from the sea (漂流木艺术). We noted that the artist was of Amis-aborigine descend (阿美族).
A little "shop" just outside the dining area showcased a wide range of "Lavender Cottage" (薰衣草森林) products for sales — in fact, Adagio homestays were part of Lavender Cottage. Most of the products were made with natural ingredients like lavender, rose, etc. Apart from flower-scented perfumes, lotions, shower gels, etc, they sold scented cookies and flavoured vinegar too.
We went up to the common areas on the second floor. There were shelves of books for leisure reading and games and jigsaw puzzles too.
On the third floor, a pantry with cooking appliances were available for the guests to prepare their own simple meals and beverages. But with Adagio's unique dining experience, there was no need to prepare own meals unless some guests preferred to cook their own food for lunch.
And in the common area was a powerful telescope that could zoom out far towards the Pacific Ocean.
Three levels with different styles and feels. And super clean. Welcome to Adagio.
The Sea-View Room
Adagio has its unique way of preparing for check-in. First, guests will be asked to pick a key chain from a tray. This will determine their rooms. The first to check-in will naturally get to choose from all the choices available. Of course, the last to arrive will not have any choice. But not to worry, since the rooms are selected by picking key chains, not by previewing the rooms, early-comers will not always be the one to pick the "best" room.
Based on Adagio's standard, all rooms are the best. Probably some differences in layout. But, once you seen the room, any differences won't matter at all.
Next, apply lotions of different fragrance on the hands and pick the most desired flavour. The hand soap, body lotion, shower gel, shampoo and cream rinse (hair conditioner) in the room will have the selected fragrance, including the scent in the bedroom.
And this is the sea-view room for two. It is not like a hotel room with just a bed but has a living area with television and sofa — more like a home. The room is very spacious with an additional couch. On the table is a CD player with a specially-selected CD titled "Gifts of Grace" by Grace Bawden.
You can imagine the atmosphere — spacious room, nice scent, relaxing music.
And a balcony facing the sea with a small couch, which is a great place for viewing sunrise without getting out of the room.
The spacious bathroom has separate cubicles for shower and relief.
The bathtub in the shower is accompanied with a bottle of bath salt. The design of the bathroom allows soaking in the bathtub and enjoying the views outside the window at the same time (just draw the curtains when getting in and out).
And the toilet bowl is plugged! It is a Japanese-style toilet bowl with automated washing capabilities and seat warmer.
Both cubicles have heating functions to warm up the air inside before using, especially on cooler days. Isn't this home stay better than hotels?
Room & Dinner Reservations
Advance reservation is strongly recommended as this popular home stay gets fully booked almost all the time. It is also necessary to reserve the dinner at least a day before check-in as the housekeepers need to prepare the ingredients.
Official website (English available): www.theadagio.com.tw
Book with Agoda.com for English confirmation slip and using non-Taiwanese credit cards (some Taiwanese websites do not accept overseas credit cards). Specify the number of diners for the night(s) in the comment section when booking.
For cheaper lodging options, Adagio operates a budget home stay, called Adagio Reindeer Hualien 118 (缓慢寻路石梯湾118), just a hundred metres away.
Website (English): www.theadagio.com.tw/adagioreindeer
For those who understands Chinese, Reindeer is "驯鹿" in Chinese but Adagio played with the words and uses the same syllabus words "寻路" (seeking the path) as its Chinese name. In Adagio's concept, "寻路" applies to travellers as in "travel to find the way".
Most of the activities around Shihtiping are nature-related and aboriginal. They offer more varieties (check the link below) from the all-too-common beach destinations. Both Shihtiping and Adagio make a great getaway spot for those who seek adventures, recreation and relaxation at the same time in a close-to-nature environment.