Renoir Resort Club 雷諾瓦俱樂部

Exterior shot of the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
A first look at the Renoir Resort Club.

Renoir Resort Club 雷諾瓦俱樂部 is a surprising find in Guānzilǐng 關子嶺, the most famous and well-developed hot springs town in Báihé 白河, Tainan 台南. I went to stay there one night in the spring of 2014 to have a look—but I didn’t expect to find an abandoned club next door to where I was staying. I should have known—this is Taiwan, an urban exploration utopia. There are abandoned buildings absolutely everywhere. Sometimes you will get lucky and discover someplace cool without even trying.

Naturally there isn’t any information about this place on the internet—not even in Chinese, insofar as I can tell. The story, as I understand it, is that the club was built to be the centerpiece of a luxury resort filled with private villas. The resort is still around—though it is showing its age—but the club closed down long ago after the manager embezzled funds and ran off with the money.

Brutal architecture at the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
What a brutal architectural style.
The entrance to the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
The entrance to the club. It doesn’t seem to be that abandoned; someone has a scooter parked inside. Let’s take a closer look…

Why was the resort named after Renoir, the famous French painter? I would guess that fancy Western things lend the place an air of prestige. As for the “resort club”, that’s the best translation I was able to pull up.

The lobby of the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
Inside the lobby. Where to?

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I entered the lobby of the Renoir Resort Club. The place didn’t even appear abandoned at first. There was a scooter parked inside and it looked like someone maintained the grounds—but it was most certainly falling apart and the entire place stunk to high heaven. I could see water damage in the lobby and, turning the corner, noticed that termites had eaten through a doorframe.

Termite infestation
In case you were wondering what’s up with all the concrete, termites have eaten away most of the wooden parts of the building.

Back in the lobby I decided to descend into the basement, stepping over a chain strung across the stairway. There was a sign in Chinese presumably warning of danger but I didn’t stop to translate.

As I neared the end of the curved stairs I checked for standing water in the basement. Many years ago I blundered into about three feet of crystal clear water at the bottom of a stairway. Since then I usually check, especially when investigating buildings where I have already seen evidence of water damage.

Descending into the bat cave
Descending into the basement.

I was paying so much attention to the floor of the basement that I completely missed something much more interesting: dozens of bats hanging from the ceiling! Actually, it wasn’t until a bat nearly flew into my face that I realized what I had stumbled upon. I took a step back and watched as several bats swooped down and began circling the room, chirping and shrieking.

Inside the bat cave
Inside the bat cave!

I had a look at the floor and realized what the source of the foul smell must have been: all those bat droppings. Apart from being gross I somewhat doubt breathing the fumes is good for your health.

Bats in the basement of the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂
Bats in the basement of the club. Cute but smelly!

In a few minutes all of the bats had left the main chamber for a room off to one side. I went to go explore further but was held up by an old file cabinet that had been overturned in the hallway. It was covered with spider webs but I moved it aside anyway. Time to go take a closer look at where the bats went, or so I thought.

An unbearable stench
I was repulsed from exploring this hallway any further. The stench was overpowering.

About halfway down the curved hallway I had to stop and turn back. The stench was overpowering and it didn’t seem like there was any ventilation whatsoever. I had to make a judgement call and decided that I had better head back upstairs to get some air. Well, at least I got to see some bats.

After the bats have cleared out
After the bats have cleared out.

I checked some of the glass doors on my way out but they were all locked. It didn’t look like there was anything interesting in those rooms anyhow—just a lot of boxes and some old machinery.

Looking up from the basement of the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦
Looking up from the basement of the club.
Discarded husk
The discarded husk of a dragonfly.
The green room on the second floor
The green room on the second floor.

It wasn’t entirely obvious what the rooms on the upper floors were for. Some held little evidence of their former function. Others might have been karaoke rooms. I was told there were also spa facilities on location—which makes sense given that this is a hot springs area—but I saw no evidence of bathtubs or anything else I would expect to find.

On the upper floors of the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
The remains of what looks to be a karaoke room.
Stalagmites forming on the rust
Stalagmites forming on the rusting lighting fixtures.

I noticed stalagmites forming on the rusting hulks of some fluorescent lighting fixtures that had fallen out of the ceiling. This is only the second time I have seen such a thing—have a look at my write-up about the Yongye Road Hotel for more about this curious phenomenon.

Taiwanese ladies found inside a drawer on the third floor
Advertisements found in a drawer in the karaoke room.

It might not be entirely obvious from the photos but almost all of the desks I saw were covered with paw prints. Stray cats had evidently taken up residence in the club at various times—though I couldn’t fathom why there were prints on the sides of the desks as well.

Old bones
Old bones in the karaoke room.
Spiral stairways at the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
Spiral stairways leading out of the rooftop.

There were some good views of the surrounding mountains from the rooftop. It may not look like it but this place is fairly remote. You have to climb up some very steep mountain roads to get to Guanziling.

On the rooftop at the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
On the rooftop at the Renoir Resort Club.
Looking down to the basement level at the Renoir resort club 雷
Looking down to the basement level.
The heart of the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
Another look at the circular architectural style in the heart of the club.
The other side of the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
The other side of the Renoir Resort Club.

The other side of the club from the main road is very distinctive. I don’t know what to call this architectural style but it’s certainly not something I have seen very much of in Taiwan. The preponderance of concrete is nothing unusual, but the whole place has an artsy eighties vibe to it. I wonder if it was ever much of a happening place? This entire complex would have once been swarming with newly rich people—back in the boom times before the Asian financial crisis.

Broken lighting fixtures on a wire
Broken lighting fixtures on a wire.
The restaurant at the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
The restaurant at the Renoir Resort Club.
Christmas decorations abandoned to the ravages of time
Christmas decorations abandoned to the ravages of time.
Not so happy any more
Not so happy any more.

The remains of Christmas decorations were scattered around the restaurant and the bar on the main floor. The club must have closed down in the new year. Usually I can data abandonments by finding a calendar somewhere. Not this time.

A pile of garbage in the old club
A pile of garbage in the old club.
Swanky blue couch in the bar at the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦
Swanky blue couch at the bar.

The building contained few artifacts. I would imagine the place has been picked clean by residents of the resort. Even so, there were a few things left behind that really made me wonder. Have a look at that garish blue leather couch, for instance. I am somewhat surprised no one secreted that away to their posh villa.

The cocktail bar at the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
The old cocktail bar.
One last drink at the Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
One last drink.

I went out the way I came in, passing by the small turtle and fish pond outside the building. There were bananas floating in the water and a bunch left to one side. I suppose the resort caretaker has been feeding the animals—but do fish and turtles eat bananas? I had a look and there were plenty of rotting bananas floating in the pond. Evidently not.

Renoir resort club 雷諾瓦俱樂部
A parting glance of the Renoir Resort Club. Notice the bananas?

So there you have it—an abandoned club in a mountainside hot springs town in southern Taiwan, previously undocumented. It wasn’t the sort of exploration that moved me, not like the Yinhe Road Homestead or Encore Garden, but it was still interesting. Especially the bats!

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