Having recently talked to a Dutch GM and his compatriot chef, at Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, now it was the turn of a German duo, GM Andreas Kraemer and chef Lucas Lommatzsch, left. They hold the fort at InterContinental Sanya Resort, a gigantic complex right on the beach – the owner not only has this beauty but another luxury hotel, the neighbouring Anantara, and several apartment blocks. This 343-room hotel actually also has villas but Chinese, who, not unusually on Hainan Island, make up 97% of guests, apparently like rooms in the main 11-floor hotel as they can look down at the sea from their spacious terraces.
Twelve percent of these Chinese guests are repeats, which show they also like the product. They are welcomed, on arrival, by a local flautist – see above. She wears local dress and, unusually, she is playing through her nose not her mouth. Apparently this is a Li tradition going back over a thousand years: a single bamboo section has a hole at the nose area for breathing and two or three holes to be covered by the fingers to produce notes. Come to think of it this should not be more difficult than playing by mouth but it just seems a little unusual. There are local touches, too, in the bedrooms here, with batik fabric panels hanging on walls. Over lunch Andreas Kraemer told me he expects more Europeans as of the end of 2018, when Thomas Cook begins direct flights to Sanya from several destinations.
Fly direct into, and back out of, Sanya and you do not need a China visa, which is a great inducement, and apparently central government, as well as the Hainan authorities, really want to encourage incoming foreign tourism. So what perks can intrepid travellers expect? As of last Sunday, June 4th, there is a weekly plunch, namely a poolside brunch: choose your price point, for unlimited amounts of Prosecco, or China’s own Chandon, or, from France, Moët itself (the slightly-sweeter Chinese bubbly, by the way, is made in north-central China, as a joint venture between LMVH’s Moët Hennessy and the government of Ningxia). Then on Friday’s this hotel hosts a VIP cocktail party up on the tower’s rooftop, above the most extraordinary fretted exterior of the main hotel. Get VIP status by sensibly buying-up for access, week-long, to the separate Club lounge, right down by the beach. Actually the fretted exterior is not so extraordinary to anyone who knows the road to and from Singapore’s Changi Airport. As you drive to it, on the left is the sculptured shape that is Crowne Plaza Changi Airport. It, like this particularly Sanya hotel, is by the Singapore architects WOHA, whose portfolio also includes the equally memorable greenery-infused PARKROYAL on Pickering Singapore. Here, they have done their signature exterior, but confined the integral greenery to planters on all bedrooms’ balconies. Yet again I realise that luxury hotels do need differentiators, and InterContinental Sanya Resort has plenty, including, one assumes, lots of German efficiency.