Alone on the Beach recently spent 5 nights in a Park Villa on Hainan Island in Sanya, China at the fantastic Park Hyatt Resort. In true "alone" spirit, there was a general absence of people on the beach; we shot the above photo with nobody visible for a mile mid-day on a lovely November afternoon. The Park Hyatt is the lone occupant on the beach other than a couple of over-the-top residences, though a nearly completed 183-room Andaz is next door and will eventually share the bay with the Park.
The hotel's modern exterior facade, truly unique, is the creation of Belgian architect Jean-Michel Gathy of the design consultancy firm Denniston. Arriving at night, the various rectangular boxy buildings are illuminated with a warm yellow glow. As one descends the winding road down to the private cove, this lighting against the black of night in the otherwise deserted bay evokes being dropped into a distant moonscape. In juxtaposition to the exterior architecture, the interior is adorned, stunningly, with some thousand plus pieces of art, from paintings to sculpture to woodwork to paper craft. Everywhere you turn, there's something to examine and admire. It has the feeling of being invited to a museum after closing hours. You could spend a whole rainy day perusing the art (though true to the name "Sunny Bay" it was beautiful our whole time there).
Despite what appears to be (and honestly is) a massive structure, the entire hotel has only 205 accommodations, of which 17 are villas. The villas on the basis of interior and exterior layout are roughly similar, though they are marketed as either Park Villas or Ocean View Park Villas. The ocean view locations tend to look out over the bay slightly (though honestly, not commandingly), and the ones not so designated have more private gardens. Alone on the Beach opted for a private garden villa, #2, which happened to be the closest to the resort amenities. But none of them are exceptionally far afield and, while they offer on-demand buggy service, its an easy walk to wherever and we didn't avail of that except when coming in and out with luggage.
Giant sliding doors opened from the living room in both directions towards the rather sizable rectangular private pool. It was a cozy indoor-outdoor setup and the outdoor area had plenty of lounge chairs and table seating. The villa had a very residential and modern feeling overall. Two king bedrooms, each with a master bath, framed different east and west wings of the villa with the common area in the center. It was hot when we were there, and the air conditioning was more than suitable when needed. Everything was in top functioning order and the privacy aspect was really nice. It felt great to be able to escape to somewhere completely alone without interruption, though we swam as much in the ocean and at the large communal pools as in the yard of the villa.
The hotel's common areas are rather inspirational. In particular, the very long 130 meter main pool is held out as "one of the longest pools in China". We watched someone start to do laps and thought for sure he'd be tired out after one time up and down, miraculously he did 17 to our count! The restaurants offered quite a varied set of experiences, in particular we enjoyed the hot pot (though our Chinese friends called it "tourist hot pot" owing to the individual pots and especially the very fancy ingredients, which was way more than fine with us) as well as the library and adjoining bar with sea view terrace. The libations there, including a number of premium house-infused liquors, were very carefully curated and the skill of the mixology and presentation was in sync with any major world city. A nice place for a sunset drink, and as well we found ourselves back here after dinner each night of our stay.
This was Alone at the Beach's first trip to Sanya, but several sets of our Chinese friends who joined us and are regulars in town said that the Park Hyatt, and Sunny Bay, well beat out the other luxury offerings most of which are in Yalong Bay which they described as very touristy and often crowded. It seems like we chose quite well taking into account our desire to be alone on the beach. Recommended.
AOTB Rating: A-