Shed your coat and soak up the blast of hot air that greets you in Sanya, China’s tropical paradise on Hainan Island. Just laze around, soak up the beauty, try the cuisine and rev up an eco-dune buggy, writes Yue Chen
After a whole year of hard work, it’s time to find a place to chill out and recharge the batteries. Where to spend the vacation? Tropical paradises come to mind: Hawaii, the Maldives, Phuket, Thailand, and Bali, Indonesia. Finally we chose Sanya, a city situated in the same latitude as Hawaii and enjoying gorgeous Yalong Bay. Good weather, lush green, fantastic food — it’s got the lot.
Most important — we can enjoy exotic tropics without leaving home and without paying too much during the festive season.
Sanya, only three hours’ flight from Shanghai, lies in the southernmost tip of Hainan Island. Blessed with year-round sunshine, sandy beaches and complemented by a mix of cultures and customs, it is truly amazing and refreshing.
We stop off the aircraft from chilly Shanghai: A wave of heat greets us. Shedding our heavy down coats, we feel relaxed at once and head straight to tranquil Yalong Bay.
If you’d like to cushion yourself from the real world for a while, the Sheraton Sanya Resort perfectly fits the bill. It has 511 rooms, three restaurants, a couple of bars, a number of swimming pools and a long white sandy beach.
Entering the hotel, we immediately feel at home. When a staff member spots you, you can expect to be greeted: “Hello, how are you?”
We choose a superior seaview room. From the balcony, the view is stunning: endless rolling hills, serene gulfs, clear blue sea and silvery sand beaches — three times as long as that in Hawaii.
Looking down, there’s a lush tropical garden with swaying palm trees, lagunas winding through the garden, and a 18-meter-tall Christmas tree (said to be the tallest in Yalong Bay) in the center of the resort.
The landscaping was designed by a Bali company, so you may feel the mood of that southern Indonesian island.
Swimming, reading, sunbathing, eating, drinking, sleeping — no e-mail, no conference calls, no paperwork — we don’t feel the passage of time in this natural setting of sands, crystal sea water, endless seashore and pristine vegetation.
After we recharge a bit, we try some beach and water sports: beach volleyball, kayaking, scuba diving, deep sea fishing and many others.
The area protects its coral reefs and you go snorkeling to appreciate the beautiful formations, with many kinds of tropical fish of fantastic colors and shapes. The clear water allows you to see 10 meters’ depth from the surface.
We try a beach buggy, a new two-wheeled selfbalancing electric vehicle “Segway,” just launched at Sheraton. No accelerator, no brake, no clutch, all we need to do was to shift our body weight. Gliding on the white beach, enjoying the amazing sea view, it is fantastic.
Tasting the Hainan dishes is a must on any journey. Sanya always temps its guests with delicious seafood and luscious fruits the year round.
The four famed, authentic Hainan dishes are Dongshan goat, Wenchang chicken, Hele crab and Jiaji duck. The hotel’s Chinese restaurant prepares all to perfection. The fine dining restaurant Lotus serves Western food, while the Spice Garden serves mostly Pan Asian food.
For those seeking body-mind balance and relaxation, the hotel’s Mandara spa offers many treatments to relieve stress and calm the mind — that includes a great massage. Climate: Sanya has a tropical monsoon climate with warm weather throughout the year. Temperatures rise in March through November, with monthly averages ranging between 25-28 degrees Celsius. May through October, monsoon season brings short daily rains. Transport: Taxis are convenient, but travelers must negotiate a price before setting off. Most hotels offer car rental. Accommodation: There’s a string of international and domestic five-star resorts along Yalong Bay. Sheraton Sanya Resort is one of the best, overlooking the South China Sea and just opposite the magnificent 18-hole Yalong Bay Golf Club. For more information, visit www.sheraton. com/sanya. Sanya is a paradise for seafood lovers. Both the star-rated hotels and a number of roadside booths serve the freshest seafood. The No. 1 Market is a popular bargain place. Shopping is a must, so don’t forget to choose some sea products and beautiful decorations for yourself and your friends.