The luxury hotel that is Kempinski Hotel Haitang Bay in the Sanya area of Hainan Island has many unique features, thanks to the owner’s creative mind. He obviously visited a Venetian resort, probably in Macau rather than Las Vegas, and was impressed by its canals and gondolas, and hence he put in five miles of canals, with gondolas, into the massive seaside estate that includes his resort, plus 25 letting villas (all with pools) plus 25 luxury villas for sale (also all with pools), golf putting, and more.
There is a wedding chapel, not as big as the one at Raffles but striking, nonetheless. Come out of the chapel and head straight for your souvenir photos by the beach, for once, if you are Chinese, braving the strong sunlight. There was a wedding here last week. A Shanghai entrepreneur – not a government official, note – took over all 25 letting villas, probably 75 rooms in all, and he flew in his Maserati to be able to drive around town, so to speak. Yes, there is still a lot of money in China, as we all know (just avoid displaying it if you are anyone with any possible connection to government).
The whole beach area is so vast that the hotel’s beachboys zip around on Segways. Want a green tea? No problem, coming right back. As we stop our buggy, taking us on a tour of the property, a Segway operator – you cannot really call them ‘drivers’ – fishes a couple of plastic bottles of ice-cold water out of a pocket. Just what we needed. Luxury is what you need when you need it, not before and not after. I am generally vehemently anti-Segway. Why don’t people WALK, and use up calories? But in this instance, they make sense.
There is a Chinese restaurant, but for any other kind of food head down 48 stone steps from the hotel’s main lobby into a lovely, high-ceilinged area where you can sit inside, or outside. I dine outside, on the terrace, with Rudiger Hollweg, GM of this lovely hotel, and his wife Anne. It is Italian buffet night, and we eat antipasti galore, followed by a memorable beef cheek, or rather two cheeks, with lots of vegetables – the jovial chef, Jerry Tan from Malaysia, comes out to explain he has been cooking it for four hours.
Breakfast, in the rear of this lower level space, must not be missed. There are several buffet stations and I happen to be near to one that has chocolate doughnuts. Well, I learn something every day in my global tour of luxury hotels, and today’s lesson is that Young Chinese Love Doughnuts At Breakfast. But all ages are great breakfasters, putting everything, sweet and sour, on to the same plate. They eat early, and they eat fast – leaving all the more time for shopping…