Mary Gostelow revisits happy memories of a retreat on Hainan Island

Girlahead recounts her visit to Mandarin Oriental, Sanya

The arrival road for Mandarin Oriental, Sanya, skirts around Yalong Bay next to a naval base. At the hotel’s single-height, flat-topped welcome door a posse of greeters waited (all wore loose-fit camel trousers and white overshirts). A deep maroon buggy went up and down what seemed like over the hills and far away to Villa 13, one of 297 sprawled around the spacious site, an idyllic oasis that attracts some northern businessmen to move in for the entire winter.

I could live here easily. My 150-square-metre home is extremely agreeable, a salmon marble-floored home with cream linen-look walls. Go up five steps to the master bedroom, with indoor-outdoor showers, a double tub, and a bed that looks through an all-wall window, to see down over my 120-square-metre private infinity pool and on to the sea. Down 16 steps is the living room with another bedroom. I have cuddly white Ploh robes, terry and rubber slippers and a fabric beach bag.

The keycard holder has a folded resort map. I walked down past the club lounge and up and down rolling pathways to the gym, above a really popular outdoor kids’ playground. The spa complex is a soothing garden, with decorative pools, and the 18 rooms hidden in private courtyard gardens.

Dinner was outside at Fresh. We sat at private tables on big rocks overhanging the sandy beach below. I chose Hainan suckling pig, cassia bark jus, shiitake and king brown mushrooms, squid and soy caramel. This was complemented by a side of steamed sugar peas, broccoli, asparagus and almonds. A buggy just miraculously appeared and, back home, within half an hour I was fast asleep.

In the morning they had opened the club lounge for me an hour early. As I sat down I was brought Chinese, Hong Kong and international papers and offered coffee. I savoured an open glass jar of mango purée-topped yoghurt, some slices of papaya and an omelette (only put in the basil, not the other etceteras please). Could I possibly have another cup of coffee to take back to my villa as my coffee maker is not working? I was given a cup and saucer firmly wrapped in clingwrap but the server then insisted on carrying it back to my room. It is my pleasure, she said with a big smile. As I left in another buggy, she was serving other breakfast guests, but she gave me another smile and a cheery wave.

Mary Gostelow’s travelogue is

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