Hot List 2009

Banyan Tree Sanya Resort and Spa, Sanya, Hainan Island 

6 Luling Road

Sanya, Hainan Island
China 572000

Tel: 866 822 6926 (toll-free)

Tel: 86 898 8860 9988

If there was any doubt that Hainan has shed its unsavory reputation—originally as a place of exile and more recently as a magnet for Chinese mass tourism—this exquisite resort on Luhuitou Bay proves it. Its 61 villas, all with private pools, are set amid a man-made lagoon teeming with fish, long grasses, and bullfrogs, whose evening chorus is a magical experience. But every feature of the place is a pièce de résistance: the indoor-outdoor bathroom, with a sauna and a gigantic granite tub set in a black-tiled lotus pond; the two dramatically situated restaurants; the impeccable service; the graceful fusion of the contemporary with the traditional (such as shower spouts ingeniously constructed out of bamboo); and, of course, the spa. And you can indulge guilt-free—Banyan Tree is mindful of the environment and purchases many of the objects, fabrics, and furniture from local craftsmen (whose wares are also on sale at the Banyan Tree Gallery).
When to go: November through early March, if you like it less hot and humid.
Which room to book: Although even the standard villas are massive, Deluxe Pool Villas come with a separate living area and study.
Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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