The 2008 It List

by Ondine Cohane

Hainan Island, China

Think of what Hawaii means to Americans, and you'll quickly understand this tropical island's rising reputation in China's travel vernacular. But exchange Honolulu's high-rises and crowds for empty beach and gentle surf, add in coral reefs, sleepy mountain towns, rain forests, and hot springs, and you'll find the country's answer to Phuket or even Bali. Indeed, the island, located southwest of Hong Kong and not far from the Vietnamese coast, has a distinctly Southeast Asian vibe that has proven popular not only with domestic visitors but as a side trip for international travelers doing the cultural circuit of Shanghai and Beijing. In another welcome similarity with Hawaii, islanders (from the Li minority) tend to be more relaxed than their mainland counterparts. Among the luxury-hotel operators planting a flag on Hainan this year are Mandarin Oriental, with 297 rooms on a private beach, and Banyan Tree, whose luxury resort/spa complex includes 49 villas with individual pools.

Mandarin Oriental Sanya
Tel: 86 898 8868 9828

Banyan Tree Sanya Resort & Spa

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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