This hotel deserves to be given a bit more of a chance than other reviews suggest, and it seems to be improving quickly (i.e. all construction finished now, no workers on site, etc.) but it still has some issues.
First, the location. There is nothing in Haitang Bay. I mean nothing, not a shop, not a building, nothing. Just a row of big resort hotels under construction and - hooray - a huge duty free shop is being built on the beach! Its a pretty sad state of affairs for tourism in Hainan when they think this is the answer (even worse, it probably IS the answer). On the other hand, there isn't much in Yalong either except hotels, and Dadonghai is a dump. So take your choice. On the site next to the hotel another resort hotel was being built (only 100m away) but surprisingly quiet! Maybe because the piles were all in and they were welding the steel structure, but honestly it didn't affect me at all.
Second, the beach. The beach immediately in front of the hotel angles down to the sea at about 40% and is quite narrow. It isn't safe for young children who lose control of their speed of travel going down the incline. The sea itself was quite rough the days we were there, which could have been good for bodyboarding but they closed the beach. This is a problem in Sanya, safety is really bad with lots of people who can't swim meeting the sea for the first time so they always err on the side of caution. Travellers who know how to swim and surf get upset being treated like children. And whoever in hotel management thought it was a good idea to hire out ATV 4 wheelers and let them drive along this narrow strip of beach must be an idiot, a child will be killed sooner rather than later. People who can't drive + narrow beach + 40% angle slope to beach = small children dropping into a kill zone.
Third, the hotel design. A good thing about the hotel is that it extends down to the beach with no intervening roads, and it is all private and seems well enough guarded. But it faces East, so no sunsets (sunrise should be nice though). But the narrow beach has made them insert a large artificial beach between the hotel and the real beach. This is a good idea but puts the hotel quite far back from the beach itself.
Fourth; the newness. You can't escape the fact it is new. People with clipboards walk around telling building contractors things they have to put right. The first thing to greet us after check in (after the famous cookie, more on that later) was a blocked corridor because workers were respraying paint. But overall, construction seems to be over and they just making a few improvements to the finish quality. But a lot of examples of poor service, especially on the F&B side. Whoever had the idea to open a hotel in China without a Chinese restaurant should be fired immediately. Almost 100% of the Chinese guests leave the hotel to eat lunch and dinner. You come to Hainan expecting some seafood, there is a seafood restaurant in the hotel near the beach called Pacifica but it prices around Rmb800 and up for 2 people. A hedge fund manager in Hong Kong might pay that in central but this is meant to be a family hotel (or is it....more on that later).
So the main question... who is this hotel targeting? I know a lot of hotels in Hainan struggle (you can tell by the bad TV ads they run with the hotel general managers begging people to come) and a big part of that is the visa situation and the fact that there aren't many reasonable 3/4 star hotels, just mega 5-star resorts. Most foreigners who live in China go once then give up and go back to Phuket or Bali. The fabled hedge fund manager in HK won't be coming here as he can just as easily go somewhere more hip. But given how many companies have reset their expense budgets in last few years, I don't think there will be so many conferences held here in future, but every hotel has a ballroom and conference centre to provide a secondary income stream (this one seemed to have too few break out rooms to be a contender). So the main target will be domestic tourists, who don't have big families and seem to not enjoy lounging around by a pool so much. I only come because my wife is Chinese and too much hassle to apply for visas to other places. I have been to Hainan at least 10 times now.
The most perverse thing is the famous cookie (on second thoughts - the statue is more perverse, see below). This might be appropriate in mid-West USA. But on a tropical island you expect to be greeted with something tropical, like flowers, fruit, something local...there couldn't be anything less local than a chocolate chip cookie. Upon arrival, you have to stand in front of a high counter whilst they check you in, and with a family that takes a long time because they have to copy all passports for police checks. It's really no fun to have to stand up for 10 minutes with hands full of bags and passports and then get forced to accepting individually bagged cookies. Again, who are they targeting? If families, you wouldn't have such a formal reception which is family unfriendly. I am sure they could find some happy medium where you sit down to check in and get some appropriate welcome (like a drink, it is a 45 minute drive from airport) reflective of the local surroundings. The last thing you need is more things to carry and prolonged discomfort. But I guess the marketing people back in HQ are ecstatic that people in China are now experiencing the fun of a doubletree cookie. They forget that the whole point is to make people feel at home.
The rooms are OK but we got the 'pool rooms' which actually don't lead into a main pool but a kind of ornamental pool running alongside the building. Something went wrong in the design so the patio is very small, and unforgiveably there are no railings or wall to stop small children falling into the water. They can walk straight out of the french windows of the room and splash - to the bottom of a 1.5m pool. We stay in a lot of pool rooms in other hotels and they almost always have gates to stop young children falling in. Again, unclear who they are targeting....because this isn't how you'd design a family hotel.
The actual pools are OK, the childrens pool is good with 2 water slides and a small sand-floored area for toddlers, but out of the maybe 200 seats around pool areas there are only 8 next to the toddler pool. They don't like to bring food to you sitting outside, the Splash bar only does drinks although they did run inside and get fries for us, but they were cold by the time they came back out. Again, hard to understand the business logic of this approach. In my experience, Chinese people don't drink a lot of alcohol outside of meal times but they love to eat. So why offer alcohol but no food?
Surprising to me was the weather, not so great and most pools were too cold to swim in except on last day on 7 April, but there are 2 heated jacuzzis.
One last point - and I loved this - just next to the jacuzzi pool entrance there is a sculpture of a woman pleasuring herself! Stark naked, eyes ecstatic looking skyward, hand on her unclothed crotch... Can't understand what this is doing there. Good conversation starter with the kids though.
Finally, there is a Conrad hotel next door which seems to be part of same company (if you insist on Chinese food they ferry you to this hotel next door) and which seems to target the nouveau-riche poseurs. This hotel even newer and emptier with an even weirder fountain sculpture plucked out of Kaiser Wilhelm Germany and dropped into Sanya. I guess someone thought that looked classy.
So, in summary - I guess I would stay here if it was cheap enough vis-a-vis the Yalong bay hotels. If you are with young kids and aren't too ambitious you can stay in the resort and do a couple of half day trips to monkey island (just avert your gaze from the monkey s chained by the neck and forced to raise flags to welcome you) which to be fair has a great cable car ride, or the hot springs (for the piranha or whatever they are which nibble your skin).
Here are my suggestions for management: 1) open a Chinese restaurant, 2) make it a seafood restaurant with local catches at reasonable prices that families can afford, 3) remodel the check-in and drop the cookie, really who cares, 4) review everything for family friendliness, e.g. no ATV rentals on beach. Oh, and move the statue of the orgasm to the Conrad next door. and 5) all hotels in Sanya have this problem - none of them want you to leave the hotel so they do absolutely NOTHING to introduce Hainan island to you. E.g. in this hotel there are no signs advertising trips, no travel offices, nothing to explain what the island has to offer. I really think this is treating the guests like idiots. No-one is going to spend all their time in the resort, for the long term good of tourism in Hainan they need to get people more engaged in the place than just spending their money in the 4 walls of the big resorts. In fact there is interesting stuff like the 911seaturtle people rescuing green sea turtles, but the big hotels don't want you to know that. And that is bad business because it stops people coming back, because people go away thinking it is boring. So please, big hotels, show something of Hainan's seafood, its minority cultures, its environmental movement. Not just golf, luxury brands, miss world and kitsch sculptures!
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