Mandarin Oriental, Sanya
What We Love
- The beautiful tropical beachfront setting, surrounded by lush gardens and pools
- Expansive rooms, and decor inspired by local indigenous communities
- The excellent spa, where treatments are performed by traditional Chinese doctors
What To Know
- A 15 percent service charge per night will be collected at the Jetsetter checkout
- Especially well suited to families; all accommodations are large, and there are lots of family-friendly facilities
- The beach, while lovely, is very narrow and shelly (read: hard to walk on) and not very swimmable, as the currents can be quite rough
- WiFi is an additional cost of $16 per day
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
This modern beachfront resort eschews Mandarin Oriental’s typically opulent style (shades of gold, brocade fabrics, rich jewel tones) in favor of wooden accents, tribal fabrics woven by Sanya’s native Li and Miao people, and indigenous artwork. The public spaces are dotted with antique jewelry, framed and hung on walls, and decorative vases in vibrant colors. The low-slung buildings don’t obstruct the views of the surrounding gardens and crashing ocean, and the slate-gray roofs are modeled after local homes. The sprawling layout comes courtesy of lauded landscape architect Bill Bensley; the 30-acre plot is made up of tropical gardens, pathways, palm tree–lined swimming pools and impressive water features.
Bed and Bath
The 297 guestrooms are capacious (Entry-level Terrace Rooms start at 650 square feet). Common features include the use of native woods (in the floors as well as the furnishings) and Mandarin Oriental’s standard luxuries (high-thread-count linens, surround-sound entertainment systems, and espresso machines). All feature walk-in closets and private terraces or balconies overlooking the gardens. Bathrooms are kitted out with oversize tubs and large walk-in showers.
The superlative spa is a 35,000-square-foot village with gardens, ponds, pavilions and elaborate treatment rooms with outdoor baths, private steam rooms and alfresco massage areas. This is Hainan Island’s only spa to be certified in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and a range of services provided by a TCM doctor are on offer, including indigenous massages. Oh, and tai chi classes are taught by a shaolin kung fu master. There are plenty of fun activities on-site, including a rock-climbing wall, kayak rentals and a golf simulator. The dining options are generally excellent. There are 10, including the beachfront haute seafood restaurant, Fresh, and the Phoenix Tea House, where you can sip through more than 100 different tea varieties. The property is located on protected Coral Bay (it’s the only hotel on the island to have its own bay), and the beach, although beautiful, is very narrow, full of shells, and doesn’t offer many swimmable spots, as the current can be quite rough. Luckily, the three pools, with their sunken bars, landscaped “beaches” and many loungers, more than make up for seaside shortcomings.
In the Area
The hotel’s own beach might not be the best for aquatic pursuits, but nearby Wuzhizhou, a butterfly-shaped island 18 miles off Sanya City’s coast, is a popular spot for snorkeling and diving. Sanya is a big surfing destination, and lessons are on offer at nearby beaches (the hotel can arrange them). For another adrenaline-filled experience, try Wuzhi Mountain, where you can raft the rapids-filled Wanquan River. Or for a wildlife fix, head to Nanwan Monkey Island, a state-protected preserve for macaques on a peninsula at Hainan Island’s southern end.
How to Get There
We stayed at the MO over Chinese New Year --the busiest season of the year. For this reason, I was determined to find a low occupancy, full-service resort so that it wouldn't ever feel overcrowded and we also wouldn't have a need to leave the grounds. The Mandarin delivered perfectly.
The grounds: I assume the resort was fully booked or nearly so. Yet, with only 270 rooms spread over a huge spread of land, it never felt crowded. The grounds are gorgeous and the resort's position is utterly private. Pools, spa, kids club, and rooms are spread across a huge expanse connected by foot paths, stairs, and pleasant little seating and lounging areas. Palms, flowering bushes, and red lanterns are tucked into every corner and there are many little nooks to discover. From the balcony, I could watch birds and chipmunks playing on the palm trees each morning. The whole place feels like a tropical village. There is even a charming little bugle that plays at sun-up, noon, and sun-set! Buggy service (golf carts) is available to get around but we mostly walked and didn't find it bothersome. MO has its own private bay and there are no other hotels nearby. Some might prefer to be near other hotels and shops in the popular Yalong Bay but we loved the solitude here.
Beach and pool: As many have noted, beaches are not top-rate in Sanya. And even for those determined to swim, the local regulations seem to prohibit swimming more often than they permit it. Nevertheless, the beach is a major feature of the resort. The pools overlook the ocean and there are lounge chairs, hammocks, and seating areas all along the coast. We also had fun walking along the water's edge and looking for crabs. There are 3 pools. The highlight is the Activo pool which has an artificial sandy beach and protected shallow pool that is perfect for kids. A waterslide in the deeper section is a nice perk (but too fast for me!). The nearby heated pool was a plus on the windy days. And finally, Tranquilo is the adults-only pool though I am not sure I saw anyone using it. Pool side service is available everywhere (we found it worked best if we walked to the snack bar to order --then staff would deliver to our chairs). Towels, infused waters, pool toys, and pool floats were always available.
Food and drink: We enjoyed nearly all of the food in the hotel's line up of restaurants. Dining on the beach at Fresh was particularly memorable. The drawback here is the cost. to be expected at a luxury resort but still a jaw dropper. Drink selection was great with plenty of wines, beers, and cocktails to choose from. Our one complaint was that cocktails were very sweet and weak (no matter what you chose) for the price. That said, weak drinks aren't a bad idea when you're spending the day in the sun!
Staff: We came with low expectations for spoken English but were pleasantly surprised. Although, we were one of very few non-Chinese guests, everything was written in English and the staff were eager to help. There was always one strong English speaker in every part of the resort and we got to know some of them quite well. After a few days, we felt like family here. Staff popped by to ask how our day went, to make suggestions for activities, to drop off some fruit, or to follow up on an earlier conversation. Ivan, Ricardo, Abdul, Aimi stood out to us. I regret we can't recall all the names.
Kids: Our 4 year old wants to live here permanently so that tells you something. There are so many family friendly details here (but also quiet spaces to retreat). Kid menus in every restaurant. Kids bathrobe and toiletries in the room. Kids pool, pool toys, and floats. Staff doting on our child at every opportunity. There is a also a kids club which was satisfactory. There is a soft play area and an indoor/outdoor pirate ship. You can drop your child off to play at no extra cost. My only disappointment here was that the kids club staff seemed very hands off. Basically you signed your child in and left him/her to play alone. This surprised me because every other hotel staff member was so engaging with our child. This set-up will work better for children with siblings or friends at the resort (luckily our daughter befriended other guests early in the stay). A big reason I chose MO was because of the Kids Camp program which allowed our 4 year old to spend a full day hunting crabs, following treasure hunts, making crafts, etc. while my husband and I enjoyed some R+R. I was nervous but she had a blast! And the staff even sent me photos throughout the day.
The room: I fretted over room selection because, at this high price point, I couldn't justify getting a suite and I was worried that our family of 3 would be cramped in a standard room. However, it worked out well. We got a garden room which was spacious, nicely decorated, and clean. The bathroom has a beautiful open concept and you could close up parts of it though, we would probably have preferred a traditional bathroom for family use. We had a lovely view of the gardens and beach. Most importantly, I'm glad I didn't spend extra money on a large room because we were barely in it! We spent most of our days by the pool.
Activities: We got to celebrate Chinese New Year at the hotel and there were wonderful activities including a lion dance and red envelope gifts for children. We had a blast. I'm not a spa-goer so I cannot speak to the service there but there are many daily activities for guests to take part in --cooking classes, tai chi, yoga, meditation, etc. The staff also helped us arrange activities outside the resort and coordinated everything from transportation to reservations to bike rental.
Comparison to Ritz: During our stay, we went over to the Ritz-Carlton in Yalong Bay so I could check it out as an option for the future. It had been one of my other top choices. It's a lovely resort but so different from MO and I am so very glad we chose MO. The Ritz is bigger and glitzier. The resort grounds are spread across one giant expanse with people and activities everywhere. It felt like an outdoor festival. There were lots of neon signs after dark. We even saw flashing neon go-karts. The staff we met were nice but seemed overwhelmed. It was glamorous but we were so grateful to come back to the quiet gardens at MO.
Overall: Can't wait to come back. We got the business cards of several staff and plan to keep in touch.
One week business trip. Great food, great service, excellent view. Staff are very helpful. Unfortunately the pools were closed a couple of times due to the weather, but can't help that. Safety first. The breakfast buffet is very good. Tried all the restaurants and was not disappointed.
We stayed for 8 nights in M.O Sanya.
First at all, the hardware (garden and rooms) is wonderful. The beauty of the park has no equivalent to my opinion. Villa are huge and well decorated. The silence at night is perfectly respected even if the resort is full. Swimming pool near the beach is great with some shadow zones which is highly appreciated. Our villa was with private pool and that was just amazing with a great view of the sea and the park.
What about the software(service and cleanliness)? after a little problem with restaurant and cleanliness of the room, the managers, from communication to general manager had been just perfectly perfect. They improve the service to perfection , worthy to Mandarin Oriental .
To resume, it was a fabulous stay in this Mandarin Oriental Sanya, very close to a 100% . Used to come in Sanya each year, those 9 days will stay in our memories for long , at least till our next stay in M.O next year
A very peaceful stay but very hot and humid. Plenty of pools to swim and relax , breakfast top notch, other restaurants good but very expensive has are drinks. Rooms very comfortable and value for money. Beach not the best, cannot really swim, lots of sharp coral. Customs at airport painful, we did not need a visa, only at hotel for 4 days. Will go again to Sanya but will try further North. Staff great but not in your face.
Have been to Mandarin Oriental Sanya several times in the past 6 years, but its quality is clearly declining fast in terms of guest quality (noisy, uncivilized, dirty), staff proficiency (barely a handful of experienced and friendly employees), food (breakfast buffet), maintenance of property (pathways and stairs not cleaned). Room was dirty, balcony likewise, water kettle was leaking, amenities not replenished, bath towels in pitiable condition, request not passed on.
No service on beach, chair covers full of marks, small narrow beach dirty (cigarette buds). General manager not visible to voice concerns.
Check in with 2 months old baby was extremely slow, inconsiderate.
Buggy service on arrival also not giving us priority with crying baby.
Mandarin Oriental Sanya is sadly a far cry from what it used to be!