Mogan Mountain, a picturesque haven situated in Zhejiang Province, stands just a few hours away from Shanghai, one of China’s most bustling cities. Grant Horsfield, an astute investor in the B&B sector hailing from a South African tourist resort, was immediately captivated by Mogan’s lush green landscapes when he first set foot there in 2007. Having grown up amidst nature, he had always been in search of a serene spot characterized by verdant forests, pristine springs, and an inherent sense of tranquility. Mogan Mountain, named after an iconic swordsmith couple from Chinese history, met all his criteria.
The mountain’s legend tells of a couple crafting two swords for a monarch. Gan Jiang, the male sword, was named after the husband, while Mo Ye, the female counterpart, bore the name of his wife. Inspired by such lore and the region’s beauty, Horsfield and his wife embarked on a project. They leased eight houses, revamping them to retain their original architecture and aesthetic. They named this sanctuary “Naked Retreats,” symbolizing a raw return to nature and the essence of existence.
Despite a steep price tag of 1,000 yuan (approximately $137) per night, this retreat saw massive popularity, often being fully booked. A decade later, in 2017, the retreat was expanded to “Naked Castle.” Incorporating an ancient castle situated at Mogan Mountain’s peak, Horsfield poured over 300 million yuan into crafting the grandest resort in the vicinity.
Marco Militzer, the regional general manager, highlighted its soaring demand, with room prices ranging from nearly 2,000 yuan to a staggering 10,000 yuan. Yet, the revenue generation had seen a significant surge.
Taking cue from Naked Castle’s success, investors from across the globe, including nations like France, Belgium, Russia, and South Korea, flocked to Mogan Mountain, infusing their unique international perspectives into the B&B landscape.
One such notable establishment is the “Bamboo Shadow Mountain Residence,” run by Bishal Thapa from Nepal, a silver medalist in paragliding and a well-regarded B&B owner. His establishment’s draw? Authentic Nepali cuisine.
Another famed retreat is ARCADIA, spearheaded by Ernest, a Canadian. Such is its charm that visitors, including a German couple, have shelved their travel plans to extend their stay, relishing the ‘foreign yet familiar’ ambience.
The allure of Mogan Mountain has not just remained confined to B&Bs. Established outdoor brands have also staked their claim. In 2022, the renowned French outdoor brand, Huttopia, ventured into Mogan, establishing China’s premier Huttopia resort. Similarly, the century-old Danish brand, Nordisk, launched its signature camp, offering visitors a delightful experience of outdoor living, enveloped by nature.
Local residents have substantially benefitted from this international influx, both culturally and economically. Emulating the success of these “International B&Bs,” many have initiated their ventures. Shen Jiangrong, a local entrepreneur, highlighted the transformative impact on his village, witnessing the rise of over 160 uniquely styled B&Bs.
Such is the magnetic draw of Mogan Mountain, with its blend of international sophistication and authentic Chinese rural culture, that it annually attracts millions, offering a blend of nostalgia and novelty, tradition and innovation.