What makes a typical luxury resort in the Sanya area of southern Hainan Island, the gal asked herself? Well, you certainly need to be beside the seaside, as the old ditty goes. Consumers might be staying in highrises but they do like to be able to look down at gardens, as here at Anantara Sanya Resort & Spa in Hedong District. Beyond the gardens there must be beach, and then the ocean – this hotel is in the Ban Shan San Dao half-mountain-peninsula area, also known as serenity coast. It straddles Luhuitou Bay and Xiaodonghai Bay, giving over a kilometre of coastline.
Then you need lots of bedrooms. Big bedrooms are appreciated by the predominantly Chinese clientele. This hotel has seven-floor wings with 122 rooms in total, smallest size 510 sq ft. In addition, you need detached villas, which must have their own private pools – Anantara has 20 villas, all with pools, and separate salons/living-rooms, and half of them with integral spa rooms. Initially I wondered about safety, what with small energetic kids and the pools right by the bedrooms and day rooms, but then of course it is typically one child, travelling with two parents and in all likelihood at least one grandparent, who has been brought along as babysitter.
Again and again, touring the Sanya area, I am shown two-bedroom villas, one with a king size bed (the master bedroom) and one with two singles (for the child and granny). Of course this tends to make a little prince or princess of the tot. The more privileged children may have discipline instilled later, when they might possibly be sent overseas to school. Even as young adults some are spoiled – they are known as ‘second rich’, princeling kids of the ultra-rich, the ones who decide to come to your hotel at the last minute and leave whenever they want, regardless of reservation length. I think I would stay here for a long time, for the setting, the villas, the big spa, and the outstanding fries that energised my tuna salad lunch.
I was with Mac, the charming and gregarious Thai guy who oversees food here. He jumped ship from the adjacent InterCon a few months ago – no problem with his provided accommodation as both hotels have the same owner, Sanya Luhuitou Tourism Development Co., Ltd, so they share what is called a dormitory, staff accommodation for all levels, management down to new recruits. People jump from hotel to hotel, or from hotel to something else, the whole time. I hear of another luxury hotel here that had a staff turnover rate of more than 80 percent. That is right, over four out of every five employees, below management level that is, will have left by the end of a year. On my way out, I pass a local woman, in Hainanese dress, sitting on the floor with the warp of her loom draped over her stretched-out feet. What a lovely last memory.