Sanya Supplement: Sensational Spas

By Kerry Allen & Linda Atkins

Clear blue skies and sandy beaches, there’s perhaps nowhere more perfect than Sanya for taking a bit of time out and getting some much-needed TLC. And what better way to do so than with a relaxing spa treatment? Talk Magazine sampled three of the best spas in China’s harmonious answer to Hawaii.

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Sanya

What: Hot Lava Seashell Treatment (80 min)
Where: The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, Sanya. 12 Yuhai Lu, Sanya City. Tel: (898) 8820 9999. Web:
Why: For a unique massage treatment new to Hainan
How Much: RMB 1,258 + 15%

The Spa is enclosed within the Mandarin Oriental Sanya’s very own secret garden, and within this beautiful, natural enclosure, further secrets lie within. One of these is the new signature treatment that the hotel has recently introduced, the Hot Lava Sea Shell Treatment. This is a special massage that uses tiger striped clam shells filled with lava gel, said to help stimulate the skin’s natural renewal processes and give guests firmer and healthier looking skin.

My treatment began with a soothing foot bath in rose petals before moving onto the massage bed to begin my full body treatment. My therapist expertly rubbed a pearl powder and rice milk body scrub onto my arms, legs and back, soothing my tired skin and alerting my senses to a range of irresistible scents.

She then began to perform the signature part of the treatment, massaging my body with the hot lava sea shells. The warming oil being spread along my back was pure bliss, and along with my expert masseuse’s kneading techniques, did absolute wonders in helping me unravel from the burdens of my busy life. At times the oil felt as though it might burn my back, but never reached a temperature that might have been dubbed uncomfortable. On the contrary, I felt enveloped in an aura of bliss, and the soft clicking of the shells against each other aided me towards a temple of rest.

When the treatment came to an end I relaxed in The Spa’s little landscaped gardens with a cup of herbal tea and some dried fruit, keen to pass on my very unique experience.


What: Aromatherapy Massage (60 min)
Where: ESPA at the Ritz-Carlton Sanya. Yalong Bay National Resort Area. Tel: (898) 8898 8888. Web:
Why: To take your Sanya escape to a new level of relaxation
How Much: RMB 800 + 15%

Looking out over the beautiful, pristine beaches of Yalong Bay in itself might be enough to transport your average person to another world of peace and tranquillity, miles away from the fast pace of Shanghai living. But to fully make the most of this otherworldly retreat and recharge those low batteries, no stay in the Ritz-Carlton is complete without a visit to ESPA, the hotel’s popular little spa refuge.

Run by ESPA-trained professionals, every treatment at ESPA employs a blend of European therapies and Eastern philosophies with a range of hot stone and essential aromatherapy oil treatments. Having selected the Aromatherapy Massage, an intensive oil massage to relieve the tensions of day to day living, I filled out a form declaring a few basic medical details, and then was led to my ‘Jasmine’ treatment room.

My masseuse had chosen a blend of calming oils based on my desire to unwind (however there are also oils to help you detox, relieve aches and pains, recover from jetlag and boost your immune system). After showering, I underwent a blissful full body massage in a truly relaxing environment, with special attention being given to my lower back and shoulders, areas that I’d indicated needed most attention.  

The oils smelled heavenly and after my treatment came to an end, I enjoyed a cup of jasmine tea in the spa’s relaxation area, looking out over calming water features in an elegantly decorated courtyard. At 2,788 square metres the grounds of ESPA make it one of the biggest spas in Hainan, and a wonderful way to while away a lazy afternoon, worlds away from civilisation.

Banyan Tree Spa Sanya

What: Oriental Ritual Treatment (150 min + 30 minutes refreshments and relaxation)
Where: Banyan Tree Spa Sanya at the Banyan Tree Sanya Hotel. 6 Luling Lu, Xiaodonghai Tourist Zone. Tel: (898) 8860 9988. Web:
Why: Because Banyan knows best
How Much: RMB 2,000 + 15%

With award winning spas worldwide, the Banyan Tree enjoys widespread recognition for its holistic therapies, using East-meets-West techniques. And so I arrived at the Banyan Tree Sanya’s spa, nestled within a romantic and ornately decorated setting, with high expectations of my three hour Oriental Ritual treatment, said to be inspired by an early medical text from Tibet.

And needless to say, my treatment did not disappoint. Beginning with an oil massage, my masseuse worked vigorously to rub and tug away at the kinks that had formed in my back and lower waist, stimulating the flow of qi throughout my tired and broken body.

What followed was a body scrub using jasmine and lavender products to smooth the dry skin on my legs and back, enriching my nose with their calming scents, and sending me on my way towards a state of complete and utter bliss. My skin was then thoroughly worked over once again by my masseuse, who applied a soothing moisturising oil, leaving my skin increasingly more supple and soft. I was then left to slip into a relaxing bath scented with lavender oils, thus concluding my heavenly treatment and leading me to have the best sleep I’d had in weeks. 

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