Skip to content
April 6, 2017 / oneworld82

Haitang Bay – China Southern Business Class CAN-HAK, Bullet Train to Sanya, and the Conrad Sanya

Sanya, at last. The Hawaii of China. Or so they say. Opinions vary wildly among people who have visited the island, and I was very curious to check it out for myself. As part of our trip, we would spend the last five nights in Hainan, the first four at the Conrad Sanya Haitang Bay (villa with private pool) and the last one in the more renowned Yalong Bay, at the Ritz-Carlton. Let me tell you right away: Sanya is awesome! Miles of pristine beaches, top-notch hotels, good Chinese food, privacy, great shopping – you have it all. Sanya it’s not cheap – this is the rich and famous’ playground after all – but it’s not too expensive either by Western standards (and you get a lot more for the same $ amount). Let me tell you how it was.

Hilton lobby early in the morning

Hilton lobby early in the morning

First, our journey there started with a hiccup, as we missed our original flight (booked with only 7,500 DL miles o/w in business class) due to our taxi driver (he took the long way around to charge us more) and my negligence (I thought the flight would leave 30 minutes later than it did). That meant that once at the airport I had to look for alternatives – thankfully I was able to book still through DL SkyMiles two tickets in business class to Haikou, the capital city of Hainan Province and less than two hours away by train from Sanya. This would add significantly to our travel time, but at the same time I realize how lucky I am to have so many miles at my disposal – those extra 15,000 miles I had to use to rebook the flight literally saved me $600. Amen.

0196a420e464f1555e51a4ce3a981472cdd82425ee 01ef3d291ce0a0dd5788ba773741f5725732f7d87e

We had to wait a couple of hours before our flight, so we went through security and proceeded to China Southern Airlines first class domestic lounge. Before I go on, let me say that Baiyun airport is truly stunning – state of the art facility with impressive architecture. We found the lounge after a five minutes walk post-security, and upon showing our boarding passes we were promptly admitted. The lounge was nice for being a domestic lounge (much better than other airlines’!), and it had a nice seating area overlooking the tarmac, another seating area against a wall with newspapers and magazines, and then a main sit-down dining area.

Shopping along the way

Shopping along the way

Lounge entrance

Lounge entrance

0162122f3f4e0c1db632ee052e5fca6ef15fec8d50 01922effcd93189b700237a06934c34a1c21cb9ef9 01681c4e9fd93e16aa8a3a5013a86e59f123a25b5d 0100f86980281e6b0715c9a2f132589e798da7aa21 01792b3c9e01add6694acc89234df03f193aee49ad

Being morning we decided to have some breakfast. To my delight (and Thuy’s dismay) most selections were Chinese, and they included made-to-order noodle soups, eggs, assorted buns, and then a more Western selection of pastries, juices, and coffee beverages. Overall the food was decent, and it managed to fill us up until lunch for Thuy and dinner time for me.

01f12ed68ad27aa5ec1a1a9afe3aceb0599d4a7a08 01296f58f26afa628b923ba72ef3f7c072ecff5aaf 01183807b4e3640c16632cd570180bbdfb9d979c62 01745e798cde74952708c9fef46543fdeac9e8e09d

Dining area

Dining area

01c0db8ef8f95e7084ac9f44d758b32e279bfec988 01dc64356d5946795b703e8143952daf60eccc6ce9 018ad0ff183a588b13e823effe03eb089da9d989d0 01c06f76639923f5f77da40ad8dba7e31a572c0b29 012b1d50e08d76bb45a41ab22d8b160476e4e001c6

Around 40 minutes before departure we left the lounge (which was quite cold) and started walking to our gate. Our plane started boarding shortly after.

Chinese love their cigarettes

Chinese love their cigarettes

Flight CZ6776, CAN-HAK

Wednesday, Nov 30th, 2016

Business Class, Seat 2D

10:35a – 11:55a

Airbus A320


The first class in this flight was similar to first class on domestic US routes, and it only had one row or four seats. We were seated on the left side of the plane (facing forward). We were offered pre-departure beverages (water or juice) and newspapers. The flight attendant was very attentive, she took care of our jackets, and would check back on us every five minutes or so. Impressive.

01a69dc47d9652c81687ed27bf894d3e68332e50b1 011da19eed29ccd4c8cf9d2f66a7cd1d422f2a37e9 01ae51a2048705c682e39683aae719ec9cc435fbae 01ec18f52a0f996dc571331cd856bc6b7e5494da06

Eventually, 2 more people joined us in first class, and soon after boarding was completed and we were ready to leave.

The flight was completely uneventful. We were offered another soft drink together with some packaged snacks and a towel – but given how short the flight was nothing much was given us. I did appreciate that we were given a Samsung tablet with movies and tv shows pre-loaded in them – a nice touch for such a short flight but again quite unnecessary given that the overall flight was 45 minutes or so.

Upon landing in Haikou, a minibus for first class customers was awaiting us to take us to the main terminal – now, that’s great service! 😉

01d4176887af1a328c067968644e840854985206e8 0111e5ea04ec4ce92bf8323e25fa69329744d36a42 0139ca9ed8cdd0a9676001e47611de4eb560b8f8a1

Haikou airport is small, but to Thuy’s delight it had a Burger King…  I can’t help but LOL. The terminal is connected to the train station, which is served by bullet trains serving Sanya. The walk was probably around ten minutes, and when we arrived to the ticket office, we found chaos. There were automatic machines and one teller, but as using the machines was much less straightforward than you might think we ended up lining to talk to the agent for some good 15 minutes. The first two trains were unfortunately full, so we had to book ourselves on the 2.30pm train which meant we would have to wait about 2 hours in a bare terminal with only a couple of convenience stores. Great. Also, first class was full, which meant we got stuck in second class.

We took our seats in the waiting area, and then we had a good hour of people watching (helped by some packaged ice cream!). It looked like most of the people there were migrant workers with the odd vacationer here and there. Most people had packaged luncheons, and did not look nearly as thrilled as we were to be going to Sanya.

Fancy a snack?

Fancy a snack?

In any case, the train arrived right on time and we boarded our coach – the whole process was rather chaotic since Chinese still do not seem to have mastered the art of queuing up. I got a glimpse of the first class cabin – it looked really nice and comfortable with armchair-like seats. The second class through wasn’t half as bad, as it was similar to the first class on the train to Guangzhou. The train was very full, and it had rows with a 3-3 seats configuration.

01556d1b798902916db2ae89fb2f61102af60b8df5 0149fc7f3ca46e80c21c1b161441a356d07866dd7b 0144d12c201797d4e09cb4c12b984f8bcb9b17406f

Food and beverages were offered for purchase throughout the trip, which lasted about 1h40m. The scenery along the way ranged from ugly townships to stunning forest, river, mountain, and village landscapes – I tried to take some pictures but they cannot do justice to the rural views we enjoyed.

dsc_0421 dsc_0423 dsc_0424

Tired wife

Tired wife

dsc_0426 dsc_0427 dsc_0405 dsc_0406 dsc_0407  dsc_0417 dsc_0419

After arriving in Sanya, a 20 minutes taxi ride took us to our hotel for these first four nights – the Conrad Sanya Haitang Bay.  We were greeted by the courteous staff (which would prove to be overall excellent throughout our stay) with flower garlands. The lobby of the property was beautiful, with a nice reflective pool by the entrance and an attractive bar overlooking the sea and the main gardens. There wasn’t a proper desk but rather a nice room with sofas and two desks. Check in took but a few minutes, and we were explained all the benefits that came with our stay and status. The property, although expansive, did not have many rooms – most of the hotel is made up by private villas or very large rooms with private pool – only a small number of proper hotel rooms are present. In fact, I would say this hotel is as secluded and as private as it possibly can get. To get to our room we were shuttled by golf cart – and each room has a special cart button on the phone to arrange pickup and drop off around the hotel and the sister property, the DoubleTree.

to our villa!

to our villa!

The villa we stayed in was impressive. It had a foyer with walk in closet in front; to the left, the bedroom with a nice king bed and a lounging area with sofa and armchair. In front, a sliding glass window with our large plunge pool.

dsc_0437 dsc_0432 dsc_0435 dsc_0438 dsc_0436

To the right of the entrance there was the bathroom, which featured a deep-soaking tub and a shower stall with rain shower. Sinks and mirrors were at opposite sides of the room, which made the bathroom easy to use for two people at once.

dsc_0442 dsc_0443 dsc_0444 dsc_0445 dsc_0446

The villa had marble flooring in the living area and heated tiles in the bathroom. There was a minibar, which was stocked with Oreos and soft drinks (complimentary and refreshed every day).

dsc_0428 dsc_0429 dsc_0430

Overall, the room was great, although the shower stall smelled like mold and there was cigarette ash in the toilet stall. Also, the last day our room was not cleaned and our complimentary laundry – two pieces a day per person – not collected – a real let down for such a property especially since we called to report that.

dsc_0447 dsc_0449

The bed was comfortable, and the temperature controls worked well. The best part of the villa, hand down, was definitely the pool. While it was not heated, it was spectacular. It had a sheltered covered area with chairs and a table, and two sun chair with thick paddings (on a wooden deck). The pool was secluded and no one could really see inside. The water was rather cold, but during the day (with the sun shining) it was actually nice to jump into it.

The common areas of the resort were probably the most spectacular part of it. A central pathway led from the lobby and restaurants to the beach. The gardens were lush, perfectly manicured, and reminded us of a botanical garden. Unfortunately, the pools in the upper part of the resort were not clean and the beautiful fountains along the path were kept off during weekday – probably to save money during low occupancy periods. The same is true of the outdoor Jacuzzis near the main infinity pool (which in all truth was very nice). The Jacuzzis looked abandoned – like they had not been used in months or years. Sad. Overall, I got the impression that the hotel was struggling financially, because overall service and cleanliness were great.

dsc_0450 dsc_0451 dsc_0454 dsc_0456 dsc_0663 dsc_0665

The beach was alright, although the chairs were not attended by anyone and overall looked in poor state. Haitang Bay, we found while visiting, is rather unspoiled and tends to be windy during wintertime, which makes the sea impractical to swim in. That’s not necessarily a problem, as the beach is long and has a sense a wilderness to it. We took a lot of pictures there – sunrise was especially beautiful witt the rugged beach and sea as background.

dsc_0550 dsc_0575 dsc_0573 dsc_0572 dsc_0545 dsc_0608 dsc_0597 dsc_0661 dsc_0652 dsc_0589 dsc_0585 dsc_0587

Breakfast was served at the main Italian restaurant, and it was buffet. It featured a good selection of hot western dishes (eggs made to order, bacon, tomatoes) and Chinese dishes (including made-to-order noodles and steamed buns). The selection of pastries and bread was good as well. On top of that, a “special of the day” (usually salmon) was served at the table, and there was a small menu of a la carte dishes as well. Overall, breakfast was ok (good quality), but the spread could have been better in all fairness given this is a luxury hotel. The service, though, was excellent – every member of the staff was truly eager to help and, even though their English skills were limited, they really tried their best.

01f96385f7fa694794d896e03c2734f68d51a7ef7f 01ca22c8c2b869e0eb962cb53107e2e362c083ed9b 015cf594be1ca1b11ed985ca93b4e644b9c1812a63 0146474bd5751a70faaaec83bebdd16744e9b5b47f 0117a576bf73dfb2a7c90a49f9dbe71664a6712fab 0121f8bc63495144c2e5586e1f3371faa34e86604e 015bafa1aed3e2c2583698ad488dd4c95c8f621e39

While at the Conrad we dined once at the Polynesian restaurant at the nearby DoubleTree. The hotel was mostly outdoor, and while there we could enjoy live music which was nice. The food was very good as well – I had fish which was delicious.

0174b6a1ab94ca6f6055e9f6b99d0122ed82716036 0100b17a391da802a6b3f1152f84fdf8a60ff84715

In another occasion we dined at the main restaurant at the Conrad – Thuy had pasta and I had Wanchang chicken. Thuy’s portion was huge and very good – a lot of good mozzarella together with tomato sauce and cherry tomatoes. My Wanchang chicken – better known in the West as Hainan chicken – was delicious – very well executed.

01bffd835ae3ccfcd6ee0bb44ce52f5423bba2be9e 01339d22cd45ac3684d57bf9f38de18069b58f0fca

Given that the hotel had only two restaurants, we ventured out the other two nights for dinner. Haitang Bay is home to an increasing number of luxury resorts, so finding decent restaurants around is not hard. Taxis among them are plentiful and cheap – a round trip journey between the hotels in the strip doesn’t cost more than $10.

One night we ended up at the Royal Begonia, a SPG Luxury Collection property and home to Cantonese restaurant Yue. The restaurant was very attractive, and the food excellent. We had fried rice, broccoli, and Wanchang chicken – everything was delicious. There also was a local musician playing a local instrument – an added bonus. I must commend Thuy who was a great sport. Although she is not a fan of Chinese food, she came along every time without complaining too much just to make me happy. Such a lucky husband I am!

019240e169f64d2f549b87504d7d780e4281f94b86 01ee48a5b46f20753cff3cbb3dfacbb328ce6e381d 0132d91405a1aa4887b2ab2311eaee5faa381fccc3 01e3fab9c0a1485ea5bc29726eea4be37bc3dff77a 0115f5564ea897d26db772cdbe1211dece0336cf0d 01650e3e56314b725403f5e5e2c08dadea9e6b1820


The last night we decided to skip Chinese food, and to check the pub at the Renaissance Hotel. While the hotel is technically in Haitang Bay, it’s not on the main strip, which meant a long taxi ride was necessary to get there. In hindsight, we should just have gone to Yalong Bay – it would likely have been a better choice. The pub at the Renaissance was smoky and a little dodgy. We decided to sit outside, and we order some burgers and wings which were overall alright but expensive.

01d6d3833e4b0398748cb5ca7e71df87402292217f 01ed1276833e1a57c98aacd86484adcdad10889bd2

Every meal we seemed to spend around $50 – bear in mind this is a resort city for the rich so nothing is cheap (Yalong Bay is slightly different, while local tourists from the Chinese middle class mostly stay in downtown Sanya or the less fancy Dadong Bay).

One of the day we also went to the biggest duty free mall in the World, conveniently located in Haitang Bay. They did not joke when they said biggest in the World – this duty free mall was spectacular. Lots of international brands could be bought here at prices comparable to the Western ones. The best shop of all, though, was one at the top floor that sold slightly defective items from the main shops at deeply discounted prices. Thuy bought a Max & Co dress and a jacket at 90% and 40% discount respectively – the items were in excellent conditions and a great bargain!

Free pickup

Free pickup

0142321024b3721428ca5c3212febb68f834361c99 0174ac3a61a699b06bfdba27adf821eeb26547a2d3 01db61abadadbcd8a69d0d4e0b8b5862774ba5c27b 01310bb808e5ad5458ac05979c775372ddb9b178a6 01badd2baccb78f2f30177cc2797a80cd86487551d 0145cdad7b3823984c93f63ab2a413d482082001ad 0188730d993f061b24ce67bc1366b4b50eef4a0b79

So, what do I make of Haitang Bay overall? It’s still a work in progress, I would say – as the many hotels under construction (including an Atlantis resort) demonstrate. Still, the Conrad was overall a very nice hotel (albeit with some limitations) and the beach – so rugged and unspoiled – was very nice. Most of all, the place is relaxing. At our hotel in particular, we never noticed too many guests and we always felt we had a lot of privacy – a very welcome change from our everyday lives.

I will speak about Yalong Bay in detail later, but overall the Ritz-Carlton there offered us a better overall (albeit shorter) experience and I would recommend travelers and vacationers to stay in Yalong Bay instead of Haitang Bay – at least for the time being.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: