Hot Spot: The Lalu

Perched on a bank overlooking the lake in central Taiwan, this elegant hotel is a popular getaway for well-heeled Taiwanese and honeymooners. The lake itself was once a favorite retreat of the late Kuomintang strongman and Taiwan president Chiang Kai-shek.

Ambience: Think Zen luxury. Resort architect Kerry Hill has created a hushed 72-unit retreat that blends into the natural surroundings, with stunning views, romantic nooks and minimalist touches.

Decor: Chinese and Japanese flavors are combined in a spare, modern style. The rooms feature teak floorboards, high-end Bose sound systems, snazzy flat-screen TVs and private balconies.

Food: Several restaurants serve Japanese teppanyaki, dim sum and other Chinese specialties such as "Buddha Jumps Over the Wall" soup, made with local ingredients. A poolside teahouse offers snacks.

Spa: Exotic body scrubs use ginger and green tea or rice wine. The three-hour "Imperial" includes a scrub, a natural facial, massages and a rose-petal bath ($300).

Surroundings: Guests can hire a boat for an ultraromantic floating dinner. A short hiking trail—once a favorite of Chiang's—offers rich glimpses of the local flora and fauna (www.thelalu