Lines are drawn in battle for the coast
A 22km stretch of coastline along Haitang Bay is set to be the next battlefield for top-tier hotels in Sanya. This piece of real estate is poised to become a high-end leisure and resort area.
The first wave of new hotels began operations last year when Doubletree Resort by Hilton Hotel, Conrad Sanya and Renaissance Sanya Resort & Spa opened their doors. In the coming few years, Haitang Bay will have the highest concentration of new top-tier resorts in southern Hainan, with more than 38 local and international five-star hotels set to make their appearance.
After its soft opening early this year, Kempinski Hotel Haitang Bay will celebrate its grand opening on July 1. With 572 rooms and 52 villas, the resort comprises four interlinked parts - a hotel complex, villas, meeting rooms and a conference centre, and a golf course and spa. Guests can be taken to their rooms, or to any of the hotel's restaurants, on a private gondola along a 1,200-metre-long river.
'Haitang Bay is characterised by uncrowded beaches, better water quality and its location, which is right in front of Wuzhizhou Island, a big attraction,' says hotel general manager Bernard Mercier.
He says the opening of the Hainan 301 Hospital this month, and the scheduled opening of the Duty Free Shop in 2014, will attract a variety of visitors. 'Unlike Yalong Bay, Haitang Bay needs time to become a destination in its own right. Hopefully, with all the new quality developments, we will become the major player.'
Mercier says that, as Kempinski Hotel is still at its pre-opening stage, he does not have high expectations and it will take some time to reach its targets. 'Our top market segments will be the MICE [meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions] sector, tour groups and FITs [free independent travellers]. We will announce promotions focusing on different market segments when our hotel is fully opened,' he adds.
The 507-room Renaissance Sanya Resort & Spa opened in March last year and has an area of more than 140,000 square metres, boasting the largest lagoon in Sanya. General manager Sean Baskett says the venue experienced a positive start this year, hosting many large MICE events for multinational and Chinese companies. 'Our performance exceeded expectations. There was also very strong demand from leisure guests during holiday periods as they wanted to try a lifestyle resort.'
Baskett says that, as Haitang Bay is a relatively new resort area, introducing its beauty is also a challenge, and he is delighted to have the support from the Sanya and Haitang Bay governments.
For Sanya, he says, the greatest challenge is to increase passenger capacity at Sanya International Airport so that more mainland and international visitors will travel to the city. 'With many new resorts in Sanya, the market is offering very competitive pricing for such high-standard facilities,' he says.