TRAVEL: AT­LANTIS NOW

Can the new At­lantis re­sort on Hainan lure in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors in the wake of the open­ing up of China’s Hawaii?

The Peak (Hong Kong) - - Contents - STORY JANE LI

Can the new At­lantis re­sort on Hainan lure in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors in the wake of the open­ing up of China’s Hawaii?

The fa­ble of At­lantis tells of a mys­ti­cal is­land, ruled by mag­nif­i­cent kings with an enor­mous em­pire, which fell from the favour of the gods and sub­merged be­neath the sea in a ter­ri­ble cat­a­clysm. Nowa­days of course, be­ing sub­merged be­neath the sea is a lux­ury – pri­vate sub­mersibles and ex­otic Scuba des­ti­na­tions are part of the world of lux­ury travel.

But what about some karaoke and mahjong to go with your un­der­wa­ter ad­ven­ture?

This is the just one of the prom­ises of the new At­lantis Sanya re­sort, lo­cated at Hai­tang Bay on Hainan Is­land, about 20 kilo­me­tres from down­town Sanya. Hai­tang Bay, which faces di­rectly into the South China Sea and has a beach of over 20 kilo­me­tres, has been a tourist draw for years. In­ter­na­tional, five-star re­sorts have been open­ing up in Hai­tang Bay, one of sev­eral large bays near Sanya.

The new At­lantis Sanya, de­vel­oped by Fo­sun Group and man­aged by Kerzner In­ter­na­tional, prom­ises to be a new jewel in the crown for Sanya. The re­sort cov­ers 540,000 square me­tres and has 1,314 gue­strooms and suites. Prices for the rooms and suites change on a daily ba­sis and range from 1,788 yuan (HK$ 2,214) a night to 108,888 yuan for some of the suites, as of April 2018.

A par­tic­u­lar at­trac­tion of the new re­sort, which opened in April, is the new Po­sei­don Suite, a 340-square-me­tre space across two floors, one of which is sub­merged be­neath the Am­bas­sador La­goon. On the lower floor, where the bed­room is, guests can lie back and en­joy the view from enor­mous floor-to­ceil­ing win­dows that show­case the la­goon’s 86,000 marine an­i­mals as they swim past.

For those guests want­ing a more el­e­vated ex­pe­ri­ence, At­lantis Sanya also fea­tures top-level suites high up in the tower, with sweep­ing views of Haitong Bay.

Like its sis­ter re­sort, the At­lantis Dubai, the At­lantis Sanya re­sort has its own wa­ter­park (the 200,000-square-me­tre Aqua­ven­ture), the Lost Cham­bers Aquar­ium, which the re­sort claims to of­fer an in­sight into the an­cient At­lantis civil­i­sa­tion, and the Am­bas­sador La­goon, sup­pos­edly one of the world’s largest open-air aquar­i­ums. The re­sort also in­cludes ap­prox­i­mately 1000 saleable res­i­den­tial units, for buy­ers wish­ing to have a pied-a-terre near Sanya. It is for these rea­sons that Jim Qian, chair­man and pres­i­dent of Fo­sun Tourism and Com­mer­cial Group, refers to the de­vel­op­ment as a re­sort, not a ho­tel.

Speak­ing with The Peak, Qian es­ti­mated the cost of the re­sort at around 11 bil­lion yuan (US$1.7 bil­lion). Qian is bet­ting big on At­lantis Sanya – the first of its kind in the Chi­nese is­land prov­ince of Hainan – semi-of­fi­cially re­ferred to as “China’s Hawaii”.

“We have fa­cil­i­ties cater­ing to cus­tomers of all age groups, and that is one of the rea­sons why we are con­fi­dent it would at­tract fam­ily vis­i­tors, our tar­get cus­tomer group,” he said. “You couldn’t find these things, which have a strong ‘Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics’, in any other of the At­lantis re­sorts.”

Qian is con­fi­dent in the new re­sort’s abil­ity to repli­cate the suc­cess of the sis­ter project in Dubai – At­lantis, the Palm, which he says brings in around US$600 mil­lion in an­nual rev­enue.

“I have brought my fam­ily to At­lantis Sanya, and they all loved it,” he said. “The re­sort has ticked all the boxes a fam­ily-friendly des­ti­na­tion would have.”

At­lantis Sanya joins its sis­ter re­sorts in­clud­ing At­lantis, The Palm in Dubai, as well as The Royal At­lantis Re­sort & Res­i­dences in Dubai and At­lantis, Ko Olina in Hawaii, both un­der con­struc­tion. The three re­sorts are all op­er­ated and man­aged by Kerzner In­ter­na­tional, a lead­ing in­ter­na­tional devel­oper and op­er­a­tor of des­ti­na­tion re­sorts world­wide. The At­lantis in Hawaii is be­ing de­vel­oped by Hong Kong-listed Chi­nese Ocean­wide Hold­ings.

But per­haps the best rea­son for op­ti­mism about At­lantis Sanya’s prospects comes from the cen­tral govern­ment in Bei­jing. When The Peak spoke to Qian in late March, he was con­fi­dent the re­sort had the sup­port of Hainan’s govern­ment. Just two weeks later, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping un­veiled a grand ini­tia­tive to trans­form the is­land into an in­ter­na­tional tourism des­ti­na­tion and one of the world’s big­gest free trade ports.

The plans in­clude eas­ing re­stric­tions on sports lotteries and gam­bling on horse rac­ing on the is­land, mak­ing it unique on the main­land, and grant­ing visa-free ac­cess to for­eign na­tion­als from 59 coun­tries, among them, the US, UK, Ja­pan, Aus­tralia, Canada and most na­tions of Europe. An­a­lysts reck­oned this move would boost the num­ber of vis­i­tors to the is­land sig­nif­i­cantly.

Whether for­eign vis­i­tors will wish to take ad­van­tage of the new rules on visas and do some high­priced karaoke un­der­wa­ter is an­other ques­tion.

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