Every luxury hotel should show it has personality, and the boss of the place is the key figure to impart this. The gal finally arrives in her room at Raffles Hainan, in the Sanya area of Hainan Island, and there is a welcome from Ugur Talayhan, the GM (one gets to know him quite well, actually, as sensors miraculously turn all your televisions on whenever you come back into the room). This is an amazing and spacious resort, taking up 45 acres in all, and the walk between one area and another is such that it IS a case of ‘finally’ reaching your temporary home. But look on the bright side. You have had a jolly good, and much-needed, workout on the way.
And you look out at lovely gardens, and down to the beach. Clearwater Bay has fine fine white sand, and the beach becomes really popular as the sun goes down. Chinese want to stay as pale as possible. They do love to be beside the seaside, as long as they do not catch the sun as well. Raffles Hainan has 329 rooms, the smallest being 800 sq ft – and of the total, 100 are suites. I am 6006, a 2,200 sq ft Clear Water Bay Suite, and I have so much room I could host quite a sizeable party. Even in the starter rooms, it must be tempting just to stay in, or sit on the balcony and watch people coming and going down below.
This is China’s Hawaii, with year-round attractive temperatures, 300 days of sun, and cooling breezes. April to June have the highest humidity. Tonight a beach barbeque is being set up. Yes, it is windy, but that is one of the attractions of the Sanya area, in the south of Hainan Island. I, however, am going to do Italian, in the dinner-only Sapori, which has a lovely Venetian chef called Alessandro. His food is superb Italian-comfort, say caprese, followed by manzo, which here produces a platter holding slices of perfectly-cooked Australian sirloin with parmesan-covered rocket, and a tomato salsa. Ugur Talayhan used to be a chef, by the way – his background includes Windows on top of London Hilton on Park Lane.
The six-floor arms of Raffles Hainan, set in an open V, are mustard coloured. Behind the other wing, hidden from the sight of most, is, I dare to say, the luxury hotel world’s biggest outdoor wedding chapel. It is a giant inverted V, enclosed both ends and with easily enough space for 200 or more chairs inside. Get married here, and then go and enjoy karaoke in the Raffles Long Bar – even without a wedding, it sounded to be a jolly popular venue during my stay.