At breakfast the next morning, at the luxury Raffles Hainan hotel’s Desa restaurant, the gal learns about noodles. The Chinese corner, with a chef who wants to explain all his various ingredients, has six different noodles, but the tastiest, he says, is the Hainan version, an absolutely-white mis-shapen noodle that is made of rice. It can be served hot and cold, and traditionally comes with fried peanuts, sesame oil, shredded meat and even Chinese sauerkraut, with a clear conch soup. Fortunately the copious Desa buffet has lots of other offerings, and a chef who cooks western-as-you-want.
But 95% of the visitors in nearly all Sanya resorts are mainlanders – there is a special dispensation so they can buy duty free at the world’s largest and most lavish duty free emporium, which is two miles away (I shall be going there on your behalf). They do casual gear very well. The men wear flipflops and shorts and t-shirts and they love pulling the t-shirt front up over their, often considerably convex, stomachs, the better perhaps to appreciate the Sanya breeze. The women may be quite elegantly dressed, and if they are wearing heels they have a habit of stepping on the back of your heel, as happened to me once a day during my time in Sanya.
After breakfast I went on a tour of the estate, all 45 acres of it, parkland and gardens, and the wedding chapel and beach, and masses of decorative and swimming pools. Some of the hotel’s 100 villas have their own sizeable pools. There is an Amrita spa, where the 12 ‘rooms’ are all villas – a best-seller is the 90-minute Hainanese lomi lomi, a massage with vanilla and coconut oil. There is an adjacent Agile golf course, named for the owner of this resort, Agile, a company belonging to Mr Chen Zhuolin, a billionaire who loves Raffles Singapore.
History is so important in the success of any luxury hotel. Old buildings, say Raffles Singapore or The Savoy in London, have history naturally. New buildings must acquire it. As I am on my way out, Raffles Hainan’s creative GM, Ugur Talayhan, shows me the room he is going to make into a Raffles museum. We stand in front of a giant painting that reminds me of the blue ocean beyond the white sand… a final memory, and I leave.