Grand plan unveiled
Just less than 30km away from Sanya city is a strip of land that runs for 22km along the coastline, hemmed in by mountains and surrounded by lush wetlands.
The swathe of tropical forest and beaches is called Haitang Bay and it is the local government's largest and most ambitious project yet.
'Five luxury resorts go up here every 12 months,' says Zhao Leiwu, the deputy secretary of the Haitang Bay working committee. 'How many other districts can say the same thing?'
Not just five, six will open this year and another 10 next year for an eventual 32 5-star resorts and more than 70 3- and 4-star hotels. This massive development plan will support one of the largest international leisure and vacationing areas in the Pacific Rim, rivalling tourist hubs such as Cancun in Mexico and the Sunshine Coast in Australia.
The local government has split the Haitang Bay area up into three major districts that will include theme parks, massive swimming pools and hot spring facilities, a world-class marina, ocean sports complexes on Wuzhizhou Island, and one of the region's highest-quality medical facilities.
'In the future, the world's highest political leaders will be able to feel safe and comfortable here at Haitang Bay's facilities,' Zhao says.
The three districts - northern, southern and central - each has several resorts and hotels in addition to their own special attractions.
The southern district, encompassing the Tielu Harbour and Linwang areas, will have 24-hour entertainment and dining complexes attached to 'world villages', all based on an International Convention Centre.
The hospital - a subdivision of the famous PLA hospital in Beijing, is also in the southern district in addition to the Olympic Bay sea sport and recreation area, and the Yacht Club and Marina.
The central district, Longjiangtang, is the first stop for tourists arriving at Haitang Bay from Sanya. This area has several world-class resorts, luxurious ocean view apartments and a retirement centre. The central district is also located within protected tropical wetlands.
The northern district - Fengtang, Yezhou and Tufu areas - will be the site of the International Duty-Free City, the Fengtang Theme Park and a Hewlett-Packard sponsored animation park.
The Yezhou area is primarily protected wetlands and wild coconut groves, with a mixture of world villages, minority villages and luxury apartments.
'We are committed to protecting the environment and the local indigenous culture,' Zhao says. 'So, not only do we have eight separate Li minority villages that will be authentic and lively, but we also have several protected green areas that are the responsibility of the local authorities.'
The Tufu area of the northern district is very forward thinking: the district is home to hotel management colleges, educational institutes and exhibition halls.
The management school resonates well with local hotel general managers, who all say that they may face a labour shortage soon if there isn't a large influx of capable personnel.
'We also realise that the transportation network for Haitang Bay needs to be modern and efficient,' Zhao says.
'We have highways and railways that will feed into the Haitang transportation network directly from Sanya.'