Splashing Out In Hainan
If you don’t fancy the stereotypical white Christmas this year, why not splash out on a lavish beach break a little closer to home? Raffles Hainan is a short-haul, direct flight away from Shanghai, and the resort offers unparalleled luxury to sun-seeking guests, especially during the winter months.
The tropical island of Hainan is locally known as the Hawaii of China, thanks to sharing the same latitude with the American archipelago, and has long been a top beach destination for Mainland tourists. The island boasts the most blue-sky days in the entire country, and enjoys a lush, tropical climate all year around, especially after the monsoon season, which finished last month, just in time for the Christmas holidays! With an endless supply of the big four – sun, sea, sand and… seafood – it has managed to have enduring appeal as a convenient and enjoyable holiday getaway for many Chinese holidaymakers.
Thanks to the seemingly insatiable appetite from Mainland tourists for extravagant accommodation on the island, a glut of five star international hotels have been opening their doors over the past few years,
specifically in Sanya along the famous Yalong Bay strip. Although Yalong Bay is beautiful in its own right, the beach is now overcrowded with guests spilling out from the back-toback beachside resorts, and it’s hard to walk along the beachfront without unwittingly photo-bombing the selfies of amorous young couples frolicking along the shoreline.
Raffles Hainan, however, has separated itself from the Yalong Bay crowd, and is situated in the newly developed Clearwater Bay area, a convenient 40-minute drive away from Sanya Phoenix International Airport. This location allows for a more secluded holiday experience, with the hotel surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens leading out to powdersoft white sand and the sparkling waters of Clearwater Bay. By no exaggeration, this is probably the best beach we have ever seen in China, surprisingly clean, almost empty, with extremely clear water. There is also an element of authenticity about the place, with groups of locals heading down to the beach in the evenings to relax and small fishing boats bobbing along the horizon trawling for fish before coming into shore.
Raffles Hainan, the Singaporean group’s second property on the Mainland, benefits from the training and experience of the stalwart luxury brand’s operational knowledge and offers nothing but the highest standards of service. The grounds are meticulously sculpted, with an oasisstyle swimming pool surrounded by palm trees and foliage, contributing to the tranquil, relaxing atmosphere, even on a busy pool day. Children will also enjoy splashing about in the water or racing the paddleboats supplied by the hotel.
The resort takes its design cue from Balinese and Hainan ethnic hill tribes, with 299 guest rooms offering breathtaking views of the South China Sea and 32 villas with private landscaped gardens and pools. There are also seven food and beverage outlets, with highlights including exquisite Italian cuisine and fresh seafood under the stars in Sapori Restaurant and the chic Long Bar, which pays homage to its namesake at Raffles Singapore where the legendary Singapore Sling was created.
As Hainan is a domestic destination, expat travellers shouldn’t feel too guilty about purely staying in the resort for much needed rest and relaxation, rather than dashing around trying to soak up the culture, this is still China after all. For those who wish to stay in the resort for the entire length of their stay, the hotel has plenty of activities to keep guests occupied, not to mention the two champion golf courses, the North and South complexes at Clearwater Bay Golf Club, adjacent to the resort.
There is a big emphasis placed on the entire family at Raffles Hainan, with the complementary daily activity schedule catering to both parents and children. Families can play beach volleyball, join aqua aerobics and attend yoga classes together, or there is also a dedicated Raffles Rascals Kids Club, where children can enjoy cooking classes, magic lessons and much more, away from the eagle-eyed watch of frazzled parents. This then frees up some quality time for mums and dads to indulge in important activities such as taking a cocktail making class poolside at Sing Ken Ken Bar, learning how to create the newly invented Hainan Sling.
Due to the wide variety of high quality hotels and resorts on the island, there is an increasing need for brands to differentiate themselves and offer unique experiences to impress and delight guests. This season, Raffles Hainan has excelled themselves with the exclusive “Dinner In The Sky”.
An international dining and lifestyle concept, Dinner In The Sky will be offering visitors to the island a culinary experience unlike any other until 29 February 2016. This is the second time Dinner In The Sky has been hosted in China, after debuting in some of the most fashionable cities in the world, such as London, Paris, Rome, Tokyo and Shanghai, and now, Hainan!
For those unfamiliar with the experience, meals are hosted at a table suspended by a crane at a height of 50 meters above the ground. Attention is paid to detail at every stage of the experience, starting with a cocktail reception during “check in” at the welcome lounge prior to “boarding” the platform. Then, just before “take off”, attendants ensure that guests are securely fastened in before being hoisted above the resort.
Reassuringly, safety was paramount during the dining experience, and we were reminded of this when peering over the ledge on which our feet were resting as the seatbelt tugged on our shoulders restricting movement. The belt was expertly fitted beforehand to ensure that there was enough manoeuvrability to reach the furthest away wine glass from the table. It was a job well done. For the thrill seekers amongst the group, there is also a lever to recline the chairs back whilst hovering up in the air.
The hotel’s talented chefs were on their feet for service, and attached to the table’s railings by wire cords. Working skilfully at the centre of the table, and surrounded by the watchful eyes of their guests, they tirelessly prepped dishes, refilled wine glasses and, of course, took photos for discerning diners. After a wonderful dining experience, we almost didn’t want to touch back down on solid ground, but the hotel’s Long Bar and our plush room was calling our name.
The Dinner In The Sky experience is available for breakfast, lunch, high tea, dinner and evening cocktails, starting from RMB 999 per person. We suggest going for dinner to enjoy a panoramic view of the spectacular sunset over the hotel’s landscaped grounds and South China Sea. Events can be personalised according to specific requirements, and we think it would be just fabulous to have the first proposal in China, 50 metres up in the air, at Raffles Hainan.
For more information, contact Raffles Hainan. Tel: (898) 8335 8608. Email: [email protected].