Following a visit to Beijing (see review), my boyfriend, Dave, and I, Natasha, decided to visit the island of Hainan in the South China Sea for 7 nights in July.
We originally booked The Mangrove Tree Resort, but after a disastrous 2-night stay there (see review), we moved to The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya Resort. This move was well worth the extra cost!
Yalong Bay is a tourist area on the south side of the island of Hainan, 25 minutes from the town and international airport of Sanya.
This area is frequented mostly by Chinese and Russian tourists. Street and attraction signs are in Chinese and Russian. There is a good chance that we were the only tourists from the US during our vacation.
Communication is a big problem unless you speak fluent Chinese. Most people do not speak English.
We booked a Deluxe Ocean View room on the 5th Floor. This was a lovely, modern, spacious (about 650 square feet) room, featuring a nice balcony with an unobstructed view of the Yalong Bay and the pools. Furniture was simple and modern and the bathroom was large and consisted of high-end fixtures. The room also had a mini refrigerator where you could stock water and drinks purchased at the local supermarket.
The Ritz-Carlton resort is located on a wide stretch of the best part of the lovely Yalong Bay Beach, near the town of Sanya, on the south side of the Hainan Island. In July, weather was tropical, extremely hot and humid. Sea was very warm. Resort grounds were immaculately landscaped, vast and beautiful. There were several pools, including an amazing, endless lagoon type pool, located between the resort and the beach. This pool was like something from a postcard, with its sandy beach entrance, beautiful tiles and lighting, fountains loungers, etc… The resort offered pool-side, king-size cabanas that you could reserve at no additional cost. This was the most impressive pool we’ve seen in person.
Resort was located on the nicest stretch of the lovely Yalong Bay Beach. Sand was soft and sea water was warm. There were ample beach chairs available throughout the day. They also offered beach cabanas that were available on first come, first serve basis. Designated food and drink menu was available in the cabanas. Drinks were tasty but pricey.
Beach area and sea seemed pretty clean. However, after a torrential rain fall on our last full day, the entire area was overwhelmed with a terrible stench of sewers. This made us nervous about what we have been swimming in for the past week, and we never went back into the sea. This made us remember that we were in a country with less stringent environmental standards as compared to the USA.
Breakfast buffet was included in the room rate. Breakfast was very crowded, and unless you arrived early, there was a long line to get in. Food choices were numerous and included many traditional Asian and international options and a delicious freshly-squeezed juice bar.
Another remote dining option was located a convenient 5 minute, $5 taxi ride away at the Crown Plaza Center. Here you could find a variety of local and international restaurants and bars, a supermarket, pharmacy, clothing and souvenir shops. We took many trips to this center. The fresh seafood restaurant and the Thai restaurant were our favorite. The supermarket was a convenient and an inexpensive place to stock up on water, juices and liquor for the room.
Even though The Ritz-Carlton is an American resort, most employees did not speak English. Front office staff was pleasant but not very helpful. There was a constant sense of confusion. A lesson: keep yourself informed and don’t expect much service or information from the staff.
Also beware: do not expect the front office staff to inform you of any major storms or other serious events. Even though we confirmed our departure with the front desk on the day before we were to leave, they did not inform us of the top news, a typhoon approaching at the same time as our flight! We accidentally found this out from a pool cabana boy, and scrambled to change our flight. After many attempts to call the airline we found out that China Southern Airline does not provide English speaking agents. Fortunately the hotel travel desk showed Dave an email with details of the storms arrival time and allowed Dave to login to their internet to identify an alternative flight. Dave printed out the alternative flight and handed it to the hotel travel agent. Amazingly, the agent managed to login to the airline and change our flights for no charge. All subsequent flights were cancelled. Sadly, the Category 5 Typhoon did hit our beach, causing several deaths and major damage. We were lucky to get out of Yalong Bay in time. Spending extra 12 hours on mainland China waiting for our connection back to Los Angeles was well worth it. I don’t think I was ever so happy to arrive at LAX!
Visiting China was interesting. If you and a Western tourist and find yourself going to Yalong Bay, your best option is the Ritz-Carlton Sanya.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We offer 450 rooms with ocean, mangrove and lagoon view, including 66 rooms and suites in club level, 33 villas with private plunge pool. Eight dining outlets "will please discerning palates with signature favorites, seasonal offerings and even personalized dishes and beverages. We also feature a 30,000-sq.-ft. spa and fitness center with 24 treatment rooms; operated by world-renowned ESPA.... ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Ritz Carlton Hotel Sanya
- Ritz-Carlton Sanya
- Ritz Sanya