Gardeners at the luxury Mandarin Oriental, Sanya, need to be dab hands when it comes to shears. Nothing in the area seems to be electrified as far as trimming hedges is concerned, and Bill Bensley‘s superb garden design for this 26-acre estate includes masses of hedges. They need trimming, by hand, and the gal is also impressed that the results always seem to have exactly-flat, horizontal tops. Give an amateur a pair of shears and the top of a hedge would end up zigzag or wavy.
The gardening required at this 297-room resort is just mind-boggling. Take Villa 13, a 1,600 sq ft Sky Villa, two floors with a 40-foot private pool in the garden leading off the lower level (which has an integral salon, plus a twin-bedded room for your one-kid and its grandmother who has been brought along as babysitter). The garden’s surrounding hedges are immaculately trimmed, as are the surrounds of little resting places in public areas of the grounds, some of which would make ideal venues for intimate weddings.
I go to the spa, an enormous three-floor complex around an ancient banyan tree. Some take a 45-minute consultation with the TCM, traditional Chinese medicine, specialist, others opt for the two-hour Hainan‘s Hidden Secret, which includes a back massage with hot lava seashells. After whatever treatment you have chosen, relax in an outdoor area with beds surrounded by water features. I go to eat, in Fresh, sitting outside on a teak deck, listening to the waves. Sensibly the menu is both printed paper, and illustrated on an iPad. I must start with a flat circle of cured Norwegian salmon, delicious, as is the whole baby turbot, fresh, just as the restaurant’s name promises.
And breakfast, after a good night’s sleep, is fresh, too, with lots of juices, and many buffet stations, sitting indoors or out at Pavilion. Alternatively – if you are Sky Villa – try breakfast in this luxury resort’s stylish standalone The Cliff club lounge. Here, classical music wafts as you read a satellited newspaper, enjoying a small buffet with your choice of main course brought. Want to do as the locals? This is where you can choose Cantonese congee with ginger, spring onion and you tiao sliced chicken, white fish, pork tenderloin or century eggs, ideally downed with Huangshan Maofeng green tea. Methinks it is time for another gorgeous Mandarin Oriental, but where next?