Travel Diaries

China Has its Own Hawaii

by Joy Pecknold

Balmy breezes, palm trees, sandy beaches—China has all that. The country’s littlest province and largest island, Hainan sits 19 degrees north of the equator giving it those much-loved tropical temps. Where there’s warm weather, there are resorts, including the Mandarin Oriental in southernmost Sanya where I spend a weekend achieving max relaxation.

Mandarin Oriental Sanya beach Mandarin Oriental Sanya tea

In Hong Kong for work, I secure a last-minute Visa for the Mainland to escape the city din for a beach break. Just a 90-minute flight and 20-minute cab ride later, my travel companion and I pull up to the Mandarin Oriental Sanya. The first luxury resort to open in the region, it’s tucked away from town in its own idyllic bay and completely cocooned by lush flora. We explore the grounds, scoping out where we’ll set up to soak up rays tomorrow, and then head for our complimentary Afternoon Tea at The Cliff Lounge.

Sanya resorts

Around 6 p.m., we head up to the appropriately named Sunset Bar and enjoy a kalamansi margarita while watching the sun paint the sky in shades of pink, purple and orange.

The next day we wake late and partake in the breakfast buffet—I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more extensive spread—before heading down to the pool. There are three pools to choose from, and we settle on the one with the broadest view of the South China Sea. The afternoon goes like this: swim, sun, stare at the sea, repeat. There’s also a perfectly-made pina colada in the mix too.

Sanya resorts

To make sure we’ve reached peak chill, we book foot massages. The Spa at the Mandarin Orient Sanya feels like a resort within a resort. Its 18 treatment rooms encircle a large garden with myriad pools, where one can reap the rewards of meditation post-treatment, set to a soundtrack of bird songs and splashing water. Afterwards, we amble over to the resort’s seaside restaurant, Fresh, and catch the last of twilight before digging into a giant plate of locally-caught crab legs.