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March 30, 2010

Just Outside Beijing

Style on the Great Wall

Visiting the Great Wall of China too often means hordes of tourists and knickknack booths. But at the new Red Capital Ranch, 90 minutes northeast of Beijing, you practically have the wall to yourself. In fact, staying at the ranch is the smartest way to experience China's countryside. Red Capital is an exquisite preserve of the past: ten stone cottages on Qing dynasty hunting grounds in Spirit Pavilion Valley. The brainchild of Laurence Brahm (who owns Beijing's terrific Red Capital Club and Residence), the ranch is a melding of Manchurian, Mongolian, and Tibetan styles: beamed ceilings, stone walls inset with fireplaces, and a museum's worth of artifacts that Brahm rescued from the castoffs of China's modernization. A Tibetan spa is slated to open in May, but for now guests indulge in other pleasures—hikes along the wall, stunning views from the cottages' private terraces, and meals of walnut salad, mountain pheasant, and yak-butter tea at the restaurant. Rates, $160-$250, including transportation from Beijing. Dinner, $50. At 28 Xiaguandi Village; 86-10/8401-8886; www.redcapitalclub.com.

—Mike Meyer