An ideal tropical paradise
Yalong Bay is known for the gentle surf and soft white sands that make morning and evening strolls along the coast enjoyable for those looking to relax and leave the workplace behind for a few days.
China's wealthy come here for a brief escape from the hustle and bustle at luxurious beachside resorts. 'The Chinese market is demanding an international standard, the best standard,' says Wolfgang Boettcher, general manager of the Sheraton Sanya Resort at Yalong Bay.
'And, in terms of beaches and resorts, Yalong Bay is one of the best I have ever been.'
That is saying something, coming from a man who has spent 20 years in resort islands such as Bali, Phuket and Langkawi. The Sheraton was the first international resort to open here, in 2002, but several major resorts followed soon after: The Marriot in 2004; the Hilton in 2006; and the Ritz-Carlton in 2008; along with several other major international resorts, including The Pullman at Yalong Bay and The St Regis Resort.
The whole strip is a cultivated garden facing the hills behind Yalong Bay and a stunning array of landscaped gardens and swimming pools facing the beach and the ocean. Each resort has its own special take on the open, breezy tropical paradise that guests are eager to experience in Sanya.
The Marriot boasts a beautiful, circular terrace - with soft, colourful curtains - that overlooks the ocean. The whole terrace stays warm and sunny, while the wind-blown curtains provide a cool and refreshing atmosphere.
The Sheraton has the advantage of time. Since 2002, a garden first planted by renowned landscape artist Bill Bensley has become a living, breathing ecosystem which accentuates a balance between nature and modernity that each resort here tries to project.
'You must establish a balance between nature and city life,' Boettcher says. 'Here you can both be in nature and as connected as you like - and I find that is an important selling point for our guests.'
Hilton's general manager Jean-Pierre Mainardi says: 'One of the great things about Sanya is the weather. It never gets unbearably hot - personally I think from October to March is the best time [for] vacations here [in] Sanya.'
Every resort in Yalong Bay can provide the ultimate connectivity with an immersion into nature - it's the little differences between each resort that resonate with particular guests and make them return over and over.
The Hilton, for example, has a well-groomed garden that never escapes its bounds, and achieves a controlled beauty that mixes well with the large swimming pools. The garden provides a contrast with the untamed ocean just a few metres away.
The Ritz-Carlton has given an entire swathe of land over to chief engineer and all-round handyman Uncle Martin. Uncle Martin's garden is a huge hit with families and children - rare plants and flowers hide little nests of baby chickens, squirrels and pigeons. Children can wander around the garden for hours while upstairs, in the main lobby, adults can feel the strength and majesty of the massive columns that support this fantastic resort.
'Sanya is comparable to Miami as a leisure destination,' says Ritz-Carlton's general manager Michel Goget. 'Florida was the getaway destination in the United States for decades and there is no question that Sanya is the same thing for China.'