Not known to many, Nantou County is an Asian paradise that lies at the geographical heart of Taiwan. Although it is the only county that does not border Taiwan’s coast, it’s breathtaking mountainous scenery more than made up for it. We will be heading up to Vienna Pleasance Cottage, our Minsu (Bed & Breakfast) at Renai Township of Nantou County by means of this Nantou Tour Bus from TaiChung High Speed Rail Station. This is one of the minsu that is located really closed to the famous Cingjing Farm – 清境農場.
The beautiful blue sky, crystal clear water and brilliant pink cherry blossoms gave us a glimpse of the scenery in the highlands of Taiwan.
Cherry blossoms in Taiwan bloom one to two months earlier than Japan so the best time to catch them will be in between January to February period. It gets better as we go higher.
We were pleasantly surprised when we got down from the bus. Vienna Pleasance Cottage is so much prettier than the photos on its website. Lovers of European architecture can find temporary solace in this part of Asia.
Once through the main doors, we were immediately greeted by Xue Li Jie Jie (Sister Xue Li), our warm and friendly Minsu lady. We soon learn that she handles most of the customer fronting stuffs like check ins, breakfast preference, local tour arrangements etc. She is the single go to person throughout our stay at Vienna.
A building with an entire wooden interior is extremely rare in a concrete jungle like Singapore. There’s also a little bar but I am not sure if they serve alcohol here. The entire place and the people here all looked so ‘guai’ so I don’t dare to ask.
I had a quick snap around the reception cum dining area while she settle our accommodation arrangements.
We were delighted to find out that she has upgraded us to a bigger room as there were spare rooms during this non peak season. We were led through a beautifully curated garden path to our suite.
Late January is really the best time to visit Taiwan. There were hardly any tourists and you get to enjoy the entire place to yourself. The rooms directly opposite ours were vacant.
Our room was huge and there were a total of 3 beds – one queen size bed on the ground level and 2 super singles on the second floor. That the view from the upper floor.
Be careful when you wake up, don’t hit your head on the roof structure! Having said that, its kinda fun sleeping in the attic.
Here’s a quick video walk through of our room:
Check out the view from our window. The yellow building should be another Minsu.
While my travel mates were settling in, I decided to venture out and thoroughly explore the place. There were pockets of cozy chill out areas dispersed around the entire minsu.
Further away from the main building down a flight of stairs lies a small open area for group activities. This place can even double up as team bonding venue!
Beautiful white cherry blossoms adored the open garden.
That’s our room on the left!
Returning back to the dining area, I chanced upon this small hiding corner for our feline friend.
I always thought that I am a dog person but gradually I realised that I am actually better off with cats. As a blogger with full time job, I do not have the time to commit fully to a dog. Cats are a lot more independent and we can be there for each other as and when we are available.
This is the perfect place to work on a blog post. I doubt I will ever have mental blocks amidst the gorgeous mountainous backdrop.
As much as I loved the laid back lifestyle over at Vienna Minsu, the check in procedures was rather manual and it took a while for Xue Li Jie to get that done and chat with us on the attraction nearby. Thereafter, she also had to ask our preference for breakfast, our plans for day tours and if we were keen to have steamboat dinner at the minsu and I can see her taking careful notes of all these information.
After sharing with her our plans to engage a tour to CingJing Farm and other attractions for the next day, she had to call the tour operator to check the availability and secure our bookings. Wow, so much manual work…she was really lucky that it was not the peak season and the three of us were pretty easy going tourists who had spare time to wait.
I really cannot imagine the madness she has to go through for large influx of tourists during peak seasons especially with impatient and demanding tourists and the horrifying task of finding alternative tour operators if the default operator is already fully booked. That could potentially create a load of mental stress for our poor Xue Li Jie!
To make work easier and smarter for Xue Li Jie, the minsu owner should develop a simple form for guests to self-fill their breakfast and dinner arrangements while they wait for the check-in procedure to be completed. With the time saved, staffs would have more time to build customer relationships (by prepare some cooling welcome drinks to alleviate the stress and fatigue experienced by guest from their journey up the highlands), give a quick introduction of the minsu surrounding attractions and highlight some of the interesting local tours available.
A forward-looking approach would be for the minsu owner to gather the other minsu owners in the same area, work out the functions that they require and bulk negotiate a deal with a local developer to create a user-friendly online system that manages check in, customer requests, meal preferences and perhaps even immediate online tour group bookings with selection of multiple tour agencies. With less manual procedures, the minsu staff are less hurried during peak seasons and can spend the extra time to interact and engage with guests on a more personal level.
It is the informal chitchats and warm family ambience that differentiates minsu from the usual hotels. Through these conversations, minsu staffs can subtly find out more about their guest preferences, travel objectives and wow guests with well thought gestures that will touch their guests’ hearts and offer them an unforgettable experience. I have heard of a minsu (not in Nantou) that went out of their way to find a sky lantern for one of their guest who shared that his only regret on the trip was missing out the sky lantern experience.
As more and more holiday makers get to know about CingJing region in Nantou, adopting technology to streamline processes will be the way to go to enhance tourist experience and develop the local tourism scene further. I hope by that time you drop by, Xue Li Jie would be happily running a more efficient system and have more time to chat with you.
Here are the full information on the minsu:
Vienna Pleasance Cottage, Nantou Taiwan
Address: No.29, Dingyuan Village, Ren’ai Township, Nantou County, Taiwan (R.O.C)
Facebook Fan Page: Vienna.cingjing
You may also like to check out my posts on other exciting travel destinations here