Hainan Island: Heaven or hell for luxury hotels?
Everyone knows how fast international hotels are expanding in China. But when it comes to hotel density, no other mainland metropolis can compete with Sanya (三亚), a seaside tourist city on China’s Hainan Island.
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According to a recent press release from Hainan Tourist Bureau, the island currently houses 209 starred hotels, including 22 five-star properties.
Another 20 or so were built according to the five-star standard but have yet to be ranked, and more than 40 new high-end hotels on the drawing board.
Half of these high-end hotels and resorts are planned for Sanya, while the rest are dotted along the coastline of Hainan, aka “China’s Hawaii.”
Expert voicing concerns
Hainan’s official news site Hinews.cn posted a report yesterday, voicing concerns over Sanya’s fast expanding luxury hotel scene and the homogenization of its luxury hotels and resorts.
The report quoted a senior hotel management officer surnamed Xu, saying that all the international high-end hotels in Hainan have lost their own brand characteristics –- they are highly similar to each other and a lot of them are just copying other tropical-style resorts.
“[What Hainan is doing right now] is just introducing a few international brands, then copying the [decor and architecture] from those in Southeastern Asia or Hawaii -- they don’t have a lasting attraction to travelers,” lamented Xu.
“Why can’t these hotels promote their native Hainan style instead of playing copycat"” Xu asked.
Dr. Zhao Quanpeng (赵全鹏) of Hainan University noted in the same report that the homogenization of luxury hotels in Hainan is caused by Chinese people’s misconception that “Western lifestyle is more cultured” and “the more luxurious the hotel is, the more cultured the customers”.
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So where exactly is the future for Hainan’s hotel industry?
Many hoteliers believe Hainan should look into developing mid-range to low-end accommodations for a better balance because “most travelers care of prices as much as the relaxation”.
Yalong Bay (亚龙湾), the most popular beach in Sanya, was totally deserted 15 years ago until the Hainan government began developing the city’s tourism industry.
And the luxury hotel rush only started about two years ago when the central government positioned Hainan as China’s “international tourist island.”
On May 29, 2009, 10 five-star hotels and resorts broke ground at the same time along Sanya’s Haitang Bay (海棠湾).
During the first ten months of 2011, six new lavish hotels and resorts threw open their doors along the beach of Hainan, including Conrad Sanya Haitang Bay, Sheraton Shenzhou Peninsula Resort and Doubletree Sanya Haitang Bay Resort.