Luxury brands aim high
The resort list for Haitang Bay reads like a Who's Who of luxury brand names. Among the illustrious resorts that will open over the next couple of years are such household names as the Grand Hyatt, Shangri-La and Conrad, and boutique brands such as the Doubletree Hilton, Luxury Collection, Keewin Radisson and Kempinsky.
Haitang Bay's capacity will double every 12 months for the next few years until more than 30 5-star resorts are fully operational alongside another 70 luxury hotels.
'The speed of development here is beyond anything I have seen before,' says Stephan Stoss, general manager of the Sanya Marriott Resort and Spa at Yalong Bay. 'The infrastructure around the resorts - transportation, flights, labour supply - is being built almost as quickly as the resorts themselves.'
Stoss' counterpart over at Haitang Bay is Sean Baskett, general manager of Marriott's Renaissance Sanya Resort, which opened on March 18. Baskett arrived in Sanya after serving as general manager of the Marriott Hotel in Sydney for six years. Like many of the other general managers who have arrived in the past year, he is excited by the atmosphere of growth and progress, and the daily discoveries to be made in a newly developed resort island.
'Renaissance is about providing a discovery for our guests with intriguing, indigenous and independent experiences,' Baskett says. 'The resort has been designed to facilitate this, and every day I discover something wonderfully new - a nighttime swim in the resort's magnificent swimming pool, with spectacular fibre optic lighting creating the effect of stars floating on the water that changes colour at each moment; local delicacies such as Dongshan lamb and hele crab; evenings kicking back with a Haitang iced tea with fresh coconut juice and a concoction of spirits in our Star Fish Bar. It's really a daily journey of discovery.'
The mainland's recently declared National Coast will eventually have the capacity to host virtually any international meeting or convention. Massive, sprawling resorts, such as the Renaissance, are the backbone of Haitang Bay's hospitality sector.
Some of the statistics are quite impressive. The Renaissance Resort's meeting space has more than 2,500 square metres of banquet space, including a 1,430-square-metre grand ballroom. The Presidential Suite is one of the largest in China at more than 1,000 square metres, with four bedrooms, two swimming pools, a private dining room for 12 and lounge areas, including a huge television and entertainment system with Nautilus speakers. Access is by private elevator.
The amazing thing is not that the Renaissance has such opulence on offer, but that each and every resort going into Haitang Bay will offer something similar, all with elements and design that will be uniquely associated with each individual brand. The size and luxury of the Renaissance is actually the standard for any of the luxury hotels here.
The Keewin Radisson, for example, is building a massive 800-room, 55-villa resort with buildings that are connected via canals - you can actually check in via boat, foot or golf cart. The Doubletree Hilton, which just opened, is a 450-room, 50,000-square-metre luxury resort with a 2,400-square-metre swimming pool and 435 metres of private beach.
The entire Haitang Bay beach area is three times the size of Yalong Bay and, from the looks of the resorts that have already opened, the hotels will be built to scale.