Sanya is a place of relaxing luxury resorts. That was exactly the plan for this trip and exactly the location we were looking for. The island is a beautiful getaway about one hour from Hong Kong and decent connectivity. The place is well developed, neat and infrastructure matches a good developed city. [pullquote style=”pullquote” ]Sanya is all about resorts, hence as good as they are[/pullquote] That said, there is little much that needs to be cared and known about Sanya as a city. Yes, there are markets to see, local food to try and so on and on, but that can be done in a better, more indeginious way in many other cities of China. Like we said above, there is little more about the city to look forward to, other than the many resorts lined along the coast of the island. In essence, a visit to Sanya is as good as the resort you stay in. Period.
Renaissance by Marriott – Ideal for getaway seekers, relaxing 2 days and more away from the city hustle and frantic pace, especially in those in cosmo cities such as Hong Kong. The resort is a self sufficient property where one can easily spend more than 3-5 days given the number of facilities there. A great place for family with kids or a couple or a group of friends.
- Airport/transfers: Sanya Pheonix Int’l airport is a small airport and seemed a very to-the-purpose airport. For transfers after arrival, most good hotels here have their own airport buses which we suggest strongly to use. [pullquote style=”pullquote_right”] You would find a lot of cab drivers ready to take you shouting “taxi!, taxi!) [/pullquote] . But be ready to be charged exorbitantly, unless you are ready and have the patience to bargain hard and find some nice driver to take you. We heard that for a drive costing about RMB200, you can be charged as much as RMB500-800 if you are not bargaining or behave quite naive. Nevertheless and again, like in most places, transfers through hotel buses are most efficient.
- For departures, usually there are resort shuttle buses as well with fixed schedules while you can of course book private cars or just hop into one of those taxis. The departure hall gives a feeling of a relatively simple airport now being popular destination but wanting of some upgrades, such as an air conditioner, for the least
- Phone connection: I do not think it is easy to get a phone connection in China, but since you are mostly in the resort, which have wifi, (free at least in the public places), there is hardly a need to have phone connections in Sanya, since we were not stepping out anyways. Also, we were having WiFi in our room but that is charged for most rooms.
- Money exchange: Again, as a thumbrule, do not exchange FX at the airport. We did while we were in HK only and the rate difference was close to 5-6%.
- Language: Most staff people in the resort could speak conversational English except the guards, helpers etc who kept calling their seniors. I think that should apply to most other resorts also as it has been the case in most China hotels I have stayed in.
- Getting around: For those who are willing to step out, there are taxis quite freely available but again, language can be a challenge so best is to know the local names (or get it written from hotel staff). The cabs, if they are on meter reading, which they are in most cases if not all, will be reasonable.
- Food: Outside, the food will be local Chinese while the Renaissance resort had a lot of choices. The breakfast was quite sumptuous with many options including Chinese, SE Asian, Continental, Western etc. The lunch/dinner menu was kind of OK, not great options really. Food quality and preparation seemed nice. For street food, the place has options in the YalongBay market, but again, Sanya is not the place to try local stuff. The resort island is simply for something else, and it is great in what it is built for – luxury relaxing destination!
- Tipping: Tipping in China is not as mandatory as in the US and almost all hotels and restaurants charge service charge of 15%. However, you are expected to tip especially if you enjoyed the service or at least seem to do that. Nothing wrong in that we think and typically a tip of 5-10% goes a long way. That said, I am not yet sure if the service charge is a charge for the tips or more like a service tax to the government.
- Airport Transfers: As mentioned above, the best way to take the airport transfer to the resort is via hotel buses only. They are free in most cases and safest way to travel but most importantly, when on vacation, there is little we would like to haggle on and spoil the vacation mood 🙂
All said and done, it was quite an exciting journey from HK to Sanya. Our flight (Hong Kong Airlines, UO series) got delayed due to typhoon and then last minute change of the worn out aircraft tyre. We reached just 20min before the scheduled bus departure time of Renaissance, Sanya and though we requested the hotel staff by phone to delay the bus by 5-10min, they were quite strict that it will go on time only.
So, we had a quick run to the exit gates. However, we ran our way through the arrival gate of the airport, being the first to be at the immigration counter in an otherwise near empty airport (at 10pm). This helped a lot. We exited from the international arrival gate and ran our way to the domestic arrival terminal car park where all the resort buses are lined up. Just in time, although to our dismay, we were the only passengers on the bus. We thought they could have been kind to our request hence, but later realized they had a pick up stop at Yalong Bay market as well.
More about Renaissance by Marriott, part of the Marriott chain and built only in 2011.
Reviews about Renaissance Hotel:
Renaissance by Marriott, view from the lobby
The hotel seems a pretty much self sufficient and contained place and has quite a variety of facilities.
For those who love to be in the water, you can be spoilt for options. There is this enormous lagoon pool (1.2m depth) lined at places with pool side chairs, as well as the deep lap pool for those looking for serious swimming, the private beach of course.
As with all resorts, I think the pools is the central attraction and this one does not disappoint at all.
One of the largest pools in resorts we have seen, very beautifully made and with a restaurant and bar by the pool which serves drinks and hot snacks directly to the pool, you don’t even need to get out of it to enjoy…
We booked the deluxe room but were upgraded to Grand Suite (the most luxurious suite for couple). The room lived up-to its name and well, was grand in size and luxurious indeed with default facilities. The rooms generally had balconies which offered great view. Room service was decent and timely and the staff was extremely helpful generally. They did genuinely try to work out solutions in case they didn’t have something readily available which is pretty much what we appreciate. Can’t expect everything from everywhere but sometimes, just the intent helps.
Grand Ocean View Suite of Renaissance Resort, Sanya
Landscaping at the resort, view from the room
The view from the resort was stunning, to say the least. A perfect blend of manicured gardens, beach at the background and summarized by a calm sea and clear blue summer sky. I have to say that we got lucky with the upgrade they gave us to the suite, but the view pretty much is the same if you have a beach side room. The evenings cannot get more romantic, at least the weather tries to set the right mood!
Sunset at the resort
View of the resort from the entrance
Simply food, the hotel food was very decent. The breakfast was a bufett with Chinese, Asian, Western continental options along with salads, fruits, sweets etc. There is ample sitting place so that was a good thing since only at the breakfast place did we realize there are otherwise so many fellow people staying at the resort. Otherwise, the resort almost seemed like very little occupied, but that was due to the vastness of the place, so thisanother point of appreciation, especially if you want to spend quaility time away from the hustle of the city.
Back to the food, there is another Starfish restaurant and the food we ordered from there (mostly Italian and satays!) was quite decent. I did appreciate the fact that it was in decent quantity and not wanting me to have 2-3 main courses. Variety I think we found a bit wanting for more, especially after day 2 but the staff did tell us they are changing menus after 3 days which they told they do after every few days. Too late we were out by then.
Breakfast buffet served at the main restaurant within the resort
From the star cafe, served at the Beach Cabana … great service and hospitality!
The resort had events planned for each day of the week such as fishing, volleyball, soccer etc.
We took part only in the beach volleyball as on most days we chilled out at the grand lobby or their bar.
Sanya City view
Notice that the city review takes a backseat in this blog. Yes, you guessed it right, why. Sanya is more about the resorts you than the city. Nevertheless there are few things to check out.
Yalong Bay Market
Enroute the airport, we stopped by the Yalong Bay market to get a better feel of the city given that we were in the resort for all the while. There are few restaurants there which offer local cuisine but given our time crunch, we didn’t try that. The mall around this area was pretty much higher end and for tourists it seems, though the local individual shops around the region offered decent variety of local stuff such as ornaments, tea sets and so on.
It seems the place is pretty popular with Russians as we saw many shops with Russian and only Russian written on its billboard while all other languages took a back seat. But that was not surprising as we had also seen many Russian tourists coming to the resort for almost the entire stay at our hotel and more over, the hotel had some Russian staff as well.
Yalong Bay market
Shops at the Yalong Bay area. Notice the shops having Russian as a more prominent language in their front boards
Sanya International airport from the entrance
Sanya Airport had a nice rustic feeling to it. It is a relatively small airport and seems only small flights come tot he place, which is understandable since it is only a small town resort place. The pics below are of the departure terminal for international and Hong Kong / Macau flights.
The airport is pretty simple in terms of built and facilities which are complete but up to the point. No duty free shops while there are 2-3 convenience stores as you wait at the departure hall for the boarding. We loved the architecture and wooden built of the airport terminal building although given that we went in peak summers, an Air conditioned terminal would have been more comfortable, but guess they want to maintain the raw feel of the building, which we think is fair.
The interior of the airport having a rustic feeling of a small city airport
Well, with this comes an end to a totally relaxing and enjoyable (and luxurious feeling) trip. Overall, I would think if you are around Southern China and are looking for a great resort vacation, this is definately at the top of the contenders. At least as of 2012. Am hopeful it will only get better.