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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

Shanghai Daily - - STYLEHAI -

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.

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