China’s ‘Hawaii’: from prison to pool villas in a few hundred years

Hainan island, or China’s ‘Hawaii’ as it is known to many Chinese, is situated in the far south of China. It is, in fact, at the same latitude as Hawaii and is popular for its sandy white beaches, sun bathing and water sports. However, from the Tang Dynasty through to the Ming Dynasty (618-1644), it was a place of exile and imprisonment. Hainan island was far from the central plains of Chinese civilization and its climate would be considered uncomfortably hot in a time when sun bathing was not a pastime of the wealthy and air conditioning had not yet been invented. Exile would’ve been far easier for the outlaws and outcasts who used to reside on Hainan island if two new hotels that will soon be opening there had opened a few hundred years earlier. In a sign that Hainan island is becoming more upscale, both the Mandarin Oriental and Banyan Tree hotel chains are planning to open resorts there. Banyan Tree, known for their outstanding spa treatments, is planning a resort that will consist entirely of villas with private pools.