Ten must-trys in Sanya

Here’s what not to miss at Mandarin Oriental, Sanya

Ianthe Butt writes on travel trends for titles including Condé Nast Traveller, Brides and British Airways’ High Life.


Hainan is nicknamed the ‘Hawaii of China’ for good reason. A tropical island off China’s coast, it sits at a latitude of 18 degrees north, similar to Hawaii, and offers palm-fringed golden beaches, rugged mountain trails and a burgeoning surf scene. Mandarin Oriental, Sanya is surrounded by 12 hectares of manicured gardens on a stunning stretch of coastline on its southernmost tip. The vibe is laid-back beach chic, yet you’re just moments from Sanya city. Before you depart the hotel, here are the things not to miss.

Get whisked away

“Too much of anything is bad,” as Mark Twain once put it, “but too much good whisky is barely enough.” Fellow bon viveurs should make a beeline for MO Blues, which has a world-class whisky selection of more than 100 specially selected labels, including 42 single malts. Sip on a wee dram accompanied by a cigar from the walk-in humidor, and live jazz.

Hit the water 

Adventurers will find plenty to explore at Mandarin Oriental, Sanya which even has a private coral beach, overlooking Coral Bay. Scoot across its azure waters on a SUP board, glide through them by kayak, or don snorkelling gear to check out the tropical fish. Trips for scuba junkies to explore reefs surrounding nearby Wuzhizhou Island can be arranged, as can surfing at boarders’ hot spot Riyue Bay.

Have a superior supper

Yi Yang translates as “near to the sea” and even in the realm of world-class seafood restaurants, this is next-level stuff. Overseen by Master Chinese Chef Leung Po Lam, and beneath a distinctive carved wooden ceiling, this Cantonese restaurant also offers dishes from steamed abalone to local Hainanese specialities such as Wenchang chicken rice.

Take your time

Book your treatment at the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Sanya –  the only resort spa licensed in Traditional Chinese Medicine in Hainan – which offers acupuncture treatments alongside other Chinese remedies including cupping and acupressure. If you’re not sure which to choose, book the Chinese Time Ritual and a spa therapist will customise a treatment to suit you.

Steep yourself in history

The Brits have nothing on China, where taking tea is both a ritual and an art form. At Phoenix Tea House, a suitably zen space decked out with ancient teapots and tomes on tea-leaf history, there are more than 100 varieties of tea to choose between, including Pu-erh (a fermented tea from Yunnan province) and the legendary Xi Hu Long Jing. But connoisseurs and truly dedicated tea-lovers comes here for the blends which contain rare, century-old leaves.

Tee off

Sanya is a golfers’ paradise, with multiple world-class courses. The best of the bunch are arguably the Robert Trent Jones-designed 18-hole Yalong Bay Golf Club – renowned for its ‘dragon claw’ layout – and the scenic Sun Valley Sanya Golf Resort, which has 27 championship-level holes and offers a challenge for experts as its 18th hole is China’s only par 6.

Set the scene

Whether it’s a view of the mountains, the South China Sea, or Coral Bay which you want to wake up to, Mandarin Oriental, Sanya has a range of two-bed villas to allow you to tailor your vista. Each is ultra-luxe with smart touches: think Ploh high-thread count linens, and tribal-print patterns. The Ocean View Pool Villa has a private garden and infinity pool, while the Coral Bay Deluxe also has a sundeck and gazebo ripe for leisurely lounging.

Noodle around

Looking more like tapestry weavers than chefs at work, watching traditional noodles being ‘pulled’ into ribbons by the culinary team at beachside Mee & Mian restaurant is mesmerising stuff. Try the signature La Mian “Lanzhou Style” hand-pulled noodles served with thinly sliced beef shank, beef broth and spring onion.

Quench your thirst

The importance of innovative cocktails and mocktails has never been higher on the agenda of discerning travellers. Classics with a twist served at Sunset Bar include a Spiced Mary with Sichuan peppercorn infused gin and a zingy Calamansi Margarita.

Make use of the Kids’ Club

From swashbuckling their way around a pirate-themed adventure playground to learning calligraphy or taking a cookery class and even Shaolin kung fu sessions for wannabe martial artists, CoCo Kids’ Club has plenty to occupy pint-sized travellers. Activities are ticked off in kids’ personalised Mandarin Oriental, Sanya passports. All of which frees you up to do something else…

Immerse yourself in Sanya

Combining contemporary design with laid-back beach chic, Mandarin Oriental, Sanya is an idyllic hotel on Hainan Island.

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