***This article was updated 5/11/12
It was to be the first purpose-built retreat center for inhabitants of the world's largest country, but plans for the £50m ($80m) Chinese holiday village in Wales were dealt a blow recently after inspectors deemed the design inappropriate.
Thousands of affluent Chinese visitors were expected to traipse into a newly-erected tourist village in Llanfynydd, near Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, some three hours west of London. Signs would be in English and Mandarin and the staff would be trained in Chinese customs.
Developer Maxhard Ltd. has offices in China and London and had pitched the idea as a luxurious development for a select international clientele looking to enjoy a tranquil Welsh retreat.
The 22-acre site was to have 100 rooms, holiday homes, conference centers and a gym, health spa, and swimming pool built around the centerpiece, an 1870's tower known as Pantglas Hall.
The Design Commission for Wales, however, issued a scathing report calling the plan suburban and inappropriate in its context, with no reference to local typologies and materials, or any over-arching design concept.
The bland, disparate and rootless architectural language, designed to appeal to international clients irrespective of site and location, does not do justice to the quality appropriate for this site, the report continued.
The plans have not, however, been shelved, but are moving through the due process with the local planning authority. Carmarthenshire County Council is the planning authority for the scheme and is the organization with the authority to decide whether the plan will go ahead or not.
The massive resort complex would be a major development for the minuscule community and would double the population of Llanfynydd while vastly altering the rural landscape.
The Welsh property had hoped to attract a sizable portion of the Chinese market. UK attracts some 110,000 tourists from the People's Republic each year, but the resort would have been the first specifically catered to their needs. It was designed to accommodate large group tours and anticipated up to 20,000 visitors a year.
From our point of view, he added, it is unfortunate that the plans have been delayed because I believed this project would have regenerated the area.
The Pantglas Estate is in a rural area near the westernmost point of the Brecon Beacons National Park. It's also just 15 miles from the Welsh holiday home of Prince Charles and Camilla in nearby Myddfai.
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...