After some exciting days in Hong Kong, A and I were ready for some quality time at the beach. We chose Hainan, a tropical island located in the South China Sea, which is also described as the Hawaii of the East. After hearing amazing things about it, we opted for the island’s most remote and luxurious resort: The Mandarin Oriental Sanya.
A Chinese island hideaway
We arrived at Sanya Phoenix International Airport on a sunny afternoon and were immediately hit by the heat. Luckily, the hotel’s chauffeur was already waiting, greeting us in Chinese and handing out cold towels and water. After a 20 minutes drive, we arrived at the Mandarin Oriental in Sanya. The resort is located at the southern tip of Hainan Island. With its private bay and lush garden surroundings, it instantly felt like a secluded hideaway.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the hotel manager and it’s team and immediately taken to our Ocean Breeze Pavillion by a golf cart. The check-in procedure which took place in-room was nice and simple.
More than just a room
Located just steps away from the beautiful seafront, our Ocean Breeze Pavillion was spacious and airy. The bed was big and amazingly comfortable, like in every Mandarin Oriental hotel we’ve visited so far. The decor of the room felt tropical but modern, with wooden floors, waved elements and colorful fabric details. Apart from a nice seating area in the room, there was also a big terrace with a seating area as well as very comfortable daybed.
The bathroom was generous, with a walk-in rain shower, a double sink and a big outdoor bathtub. I loved the fluffy towels and high-class amenities. The only disappointing element was the hairdryer, which was a tiny, travel sized version which made it hard to ever get finished with a blowout. I found this particularly strange, as I usually love the high quality hair dryers at the Mandarin Oriental. Storage room in the room was great, with a huge closet area and lots of hangers. Housekeeping did an amazing job and turn-down service offered complimentary water and anti mosquito spray, which can be a must when going out at night (it’s a tropical climate zone after all).
A tropical paradise
With its 12 hectares of beautiful lush gardens and its private bay, Mandarin Oriental feels like a remote tropical paradise. The resort offers three big outdoor pools, several water basins and a private beach along Coral Bay. The views are beautiful, the atmosphere is calm and laid back. Even though there were plenty of other guests at the time we visited, the beach and pool area never felt crowded or loud, as the resort is so wide-ranging. The pool area offered towel service, as well as complimentary water, fruit and magazines.
Service – as in every Mandarin Oriental Hotel – is excellent. As most of the guests and stuff are Chinese, the language barrier might be a problem from time to time, but several hotel team members speak good English and we always managed to communicate at the end somehow.
Let’s talk food
We had full board included in our room rate, which gave us the opportunity to try all the restaurants of the resort during our week in Sanya. Breakfast is served at the Pavilion, which is also the busiest and most casual restaurant within the resort. The choice is amazing, offering lots of Chinese and Western dishes as well as extremely fresh fruit and juices. The Pavilion offers all-day-dining, and we also had lunch and dinner there a few times. Everything tasted fresh and service was friendly and attentive. Once a week the restaurant hosts a Chinese BBQ night, which was a nice idea to mix things up and good opportunity for us to try new and traditional dishes.
Located next to one of the pool areas there was also Mee & Mian, a casual noodle spot which is only open for lunch. Again, the food tasted good, as noodles where home-made and cooked with traditional ingredients.
Our favourite venue for dinner was Fresh, a beautiful seafood restaurant offering al fresco dining at the beach. The food was extremely flavourful while the setting was very romantic. Last but not least, we also visited Yi Yang, an upscale Chinese restaurant serving traditional Cantonese dishes. We tried one of their tasting menus, leaving us full but happy.
Not only food, also the drinks, in our case served either at the Sunset Bar or at the pool, tasted amazing. I especially loved their tropical signature cocktails, leveraging local ingredients. Sunset Bar offers a two for one Happy Hour in the late afternoon, which is a nice way to relax while watching the sun going down. After all there is nothing better than a drink with a nice view, isn’t there?
The ultimate feeling of relaxation at the SPA
After some busy days in Hong Kong, A and I were in desperate need of relaxation when arriving in Sanya. So one of the first things we did was booking a SPA treatment. The SPA is beautifully located on the hillside of the hotel, nestled in lush gardens and offering a serene environment for our treatment. We booked the Oriental Essence treatment, a Mandarin Oriental signature full body massage. It was hands down the best SPA experience we’ve had so far, leaving us deeply relaxed after 80 Minutes.
After the treatment we sat down for tea and dried fruit in the nice SPA pavilion, with beautiful views of the swimming pond and the tropical gardens – it was pure bliss!
Passport & Palmtree Conclusion
Mandarin Oriental is a hidden gem in the South China Sea. I loved every part of our stay – from the remote location to the luxurious facilities and amazing service. If you are looking for a secluded tropical resort off the beaten track you can’t go wrong with this resort. It offers the perfect resort experience and if I ever go back to Sanya, this would be not only my first but only choice.
Have you ever been to Hainan? What’s your favourite resort? I would love to know!
Also, don’t forget to read my review of our Hong Kong hotel, which you can find here.