Discovering Penghu, the Pearl of the Taiwan Strait

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.
Martin Moodie

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Welcome to The Moodie Davitt Report Interim Penghu Bureau.

I’m staying at one of the unsung gems of the Asian hotel industry, one that also features among the region’s best travel retail offers.

Penghu is an archipelago of 90 islands, known affectionately and with good reason as the pearl of the Taiwan Strait. I’m in Magong, the largest city of the largest island of the same name, home to The Discovery Hotel and Profond Pier No. 3 Duty Free Complex, opened by Taiwanese travel retailer Ever Rich Duty Free in February 2018.

From my ninth-floor hotel balcony I’ve watched the sun rise over the port and looked out as the fishing boats make their way into the harbour to drop their overnight catches at the fish market directly opposite my room. It’s a lovely sight, played out to the constant howling symphony of the wind that whips around these islands, which represent one of the world’s most beautiful ocean landscapes and a feast of wondrous natural ecological environments.

Penghu is rich in culture. As the hotel’s excellent website notes, the islands bear witness to the architectural thread of the Quanzhou Maritime Silk Road and the historical relics that the Seafaring Empire of Minnan left behind.

Anyone who knows Ever Rich Founder and Chairman Simon Chiang also knows how respectful he is of tradition and culture. Discovery Hotel pays tribute to Penghu’s history and heritage at every turn in an elegant and understated fashion that is a delightful alternative to the sameness of so many modern hotels.

Simon and his son Kevin had invited me to Penghu on the eve of the inauguration of Ever Rich Duty Free’s new-look stores at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 2, which takes place later today (look out for my exclusive report this weekend).

Alas my visit to Penghu is too fleeting to allow anything but a visit to the hotel’s facilities but they in themselves are well worth the short one-hour flight from Taipei Songshan Airport. In the expert hands of Section Manager Claire Ma and her local colleagues, I toured the hotel and leisure complex yesterday afternoon before enjoying a sumptuous dinner cooked by Chef He Haìo, featuring some magnificent local seafood and other signature dishes.

Time is short this morning as I write this Blog – we have a 9.30 flight back to Taipei – so I’ll let my pictures tell the story until a full report in The Moodie Davitt eZine in coming weeks. But I can’t let the opportunity pass by without paying tribute to what I consider one of the world’s greatest travel retail experiences – the whisk(e)y museum, Whiskey 101.

This superb visitor attraction offers a wonderfully engaging experience of the spirit’s history and production methods, from malting to mashing to fermentation, distillation and maturation. The outstanding Taiwanese brand Kavalan is beautifully represented, of course, but so is the whole international whisk(e)y experience. Look at the pictures and you will appreciate the sublime quality of the project.

The complex also houses Taiwan’s largest indoor X-sport space, under the Go Star Challenge brand, which features an exhilarating variety of activities aimed at young adults and families, with climbing as you can see below a central theme. And no, that isn’t me scaling new heights.

But ever Rich is always scaling new heights. I’ve tracked the company story for many years – in 2015 I wrote its 18-year history – and I never fail to be impressed by the group’s commitment to quality, to culture, to sense of place and to society. All of those traits are on display here. I urge you to put a visit to the Pearl of the Taiwan Strait on your travel agenda soon.

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