Du Liyin, the director of Sanya Tourism Development Bureau, comments that Sanya is not only a paradise for holiday makers, but is also a popular destination for meetings, incentive travel, conventions, and exhibitions.
With world-class meeting facilities and an all-season suitable beach, Sanya is not only the place for "the most fantastic national events", but also a warm and environmentally-friendly destination for Global Fortune 500 companies. Each year, Sanya receives about 6,000 MICE (meetings, incentive travel, conventions, and exhibitions) groups.
Today's Sanya is much more than "the remotest corner of the earth". It has become a "capital of MICE". Through extensive marketing in recent years, the city's MICE industry has grown bigger and stronger. The local government works with companies in promoting the city's MICE resource and this has brought considerable economic results. With the increase of Sanya's reputation and credit, many big companies, from both home and from abroad, have begun to choose Sanya for their events. Meetings and travel has grown rapidly as a new kind of travel product. This month, we will provide a special report on why Sanya has risen as a fashionable MICE city.
Natural Resource Vs Big Events
Like "Which came first the Chicken or the Egg?" the reason why Sanya has become a hot MICE destination is open to debate. Is it Sanya's beautiful scenery and fine weather that attract meeting organizers, or have major events like the Miss World Final, Mr. World Final, New Silk Road Model Competition, and Golf Tour Matches helped the city increase its reputation and made its tourism facilities attractive to the whole world?
Located at the southernmost tip of Hainan Island, Sanya is the only tropical seaside city in China and it flourishes with green plants all the year round. When it is "a hundred leagues locked in ice, and a thousand leagues of whirling snow" in northern China, it is warm and blossomy in Sanya. Incentive travelers can not only engage in such outdoor activities as swimming and beach volleyball when they are in Sanya, but also appreciate the natural scenery of "beautiful Sanya and romantic earth corner": enjoying the warm sunshine of Hainan Island as well as the blue sea water and relax in the agreeable weather. Their spirits will be uplifted and they will feel full of energy for the coming year.
Apart from its fine weather, Sanya also features ten major tourist resources of sunshine, sea, beaches, climate, forest, animals, hotsprings, cliffs, country gardens, and folk customs. The approximately 200 kilometer meter coastline of Sanya encompasses such famous scenic spots as Yalong Bay, Da Dong Hai, Deer Looking-around Park, Sky Corner, Haishan Unusual Spectacle, and Nanshan Culture Travel Zone. In addition, it has the five basic elements for modern travel-sunshine, sea, beaches, green plants, and clean air; and it features such unique tourism resources as rivers, harbors, hotsprings, cliffs and caves, gardens, tropical plants and animals, and folk culture.
Attracting Event Organizers With Promotions
With the steady maturing of Sanya's tourism market, companies from both home and abroad have begun to bring their events, such as annual meeting, trade fair, communications meeting and symposia, to Sanya. The city is now fully capable of hosting multitudinous large scale events and is attracting big international events. Some years previously Sanya municipal government had already listed MICE as one of its development strategies. Through the joint efforts of the local government and private enterprises, Sanya's service concept, price advantage, natural advantage, and influence have become apparent.
The developing and ever more comprehensive meeting and tourism facilities of Sanya have made the city more attractive than ever before. There are many professional meeting planners offering high quality meeting services, and the high end star-grade hotels in Yalong Bay, Sanya Bay, Da Dong Hai and Shimei Bay all offer thoughtful services to event organizers. With the constant improvement of its software and hardware facilities, Sanya has become a premier choice for meeting planners.
Many international events, including four Miss World competitions, The World's Strongest Man, and the Jinji Award, have been held in Sanya. In addition to fine weather and the city's popularity, hotels have played an important role in this process. This month we have selected several hotels to help analyze the roles that hotels have played in the MICE industry.
Kempinski Resort & SPA Sanya
Kempinski Resort & Spa Sanya is set along a 300 meter exclusive private beach located on the most southern tip of China. The resort has a total of 396 spacious rooms which include a 2,600 square meter presidential villa, 12 spa villa rooms, 20 suites, and 20 cabana rooms which are luxuriously appointed and designed to provide the utmost comfort and style.
The Kempinski Resort & Spa Sanya boasts a wide variety of indoor and outdoor multifunctional meeting facilities. The hotel's 800 square meter pillarless grand ballroom with 10-meter-high ceilings is connected with a meeting and exhibition cum rest area and an outdoor tropical garden. The hotel offers eight meeting rooms with a total area of 1,400 square meters that can accommodate from 15 to 1,000 guests. The tropical lawn area is an ideal place for exhibitions, photo shoots or a cocktail party. A renowned European car manufacturer held their new auto release conference at the hotel's Convention Center Garden and on the beach, while another European auto maker chose the hotel's lawn for their annual meeting. Both achieved their desired results. With regard to food, the hotel makes it possible for MICE clients to create their own menu or buffet, or the client can choose from a range of menus the one that is most suitable for their event and guests.
Puneet Singh, the general manager of Kempinski Resort & SPA Sanya, believes that the MICE market in Sanya is becoming extremely competitive. Through working closely with public relations and event management companies in Beijing, Shanghai and Sanya, Kempinski Resort & SPA Sanya is seeking opportunities to attract companies to hold their events in the perpetual tropical paradise of Sanya. In Puneet Singh's view, the mild weather is a great advantage for Sanya in becoming a MICE destination. Compared with busy metropolis cities, Sanya is free from traffic congestion and air pollution. It has beautiful beaches, flourishing tropical plants, a great number of golf courses, and world famous places of interest; all this has made it a valuable choice for meeting planners. In addition, Sanya has seen a rapid development in the past decade and its investment in infrastructure will no doubt attract more and more international hotel brands and this means that Sanya will play a more and more important role as a destination for the MICE industry.
International Asia Pacific Convention Centre and HNA Resort Sanya
International Asia Pacific Convention Centre and HNA Resort Sanya has a total of 473 rooms, seven restaurants serving a wide variety of cuisines as well as a recreation center on the sea, three swimming pools, a hotspring pool, beach volleyball and football, tennis, Mejia, and other recreational facilities.
The conference center, which occupies totally three floors, features a total area of more than 3,000 square meters and has 16 halls which can cater to from 20 to 1,000 people and is suitable for an international ministerial meeting of 600 people. In addition, the hotel has an outdoor island bar and spring which can hold a business event for 100 to 800 people.
Henry Liu, the general manager of International Asia Pacific Convention Centre and HNA Resort Sanya, states that International Asia Pacific Convention Centre and HNA Resort Sanya is a five star hotel owned and managed by HNA Group. The hotel has an abundance of airline resources and maintains a good partnership with Lucky Travel Agency which is also managed by HNA Group. The hotel provides a convenient airport shuttle service as well as downtown transport and local travel services. It can offer perfect one-stop services for food, accommodation, transportation, travel, and recreation. The hotel hosted the "World Family Summit 2004" when delegates from 30 countries from around the world gathered at the hotel's meeting and conference center. The hotel provides six-track audio equipment for simultaneous translation and offers special food for Islamic guests.
As to the future of Sanya's MICE, Liu believes that with abundant natural resources and pleasant climate, Sanya is ideal for holding all kinds of conferences and incentive travel. There are many top brand hotels and resorts in Sanya, so they can advance the level of the local hospitality service. With the improvement of local tourism environment, Sanya will be an important destination for global incentive travel organizers.
Sheraton Sanya Resort
Sheraton Sanya Resort offers 511 rooms and its Ocean Ballroom which is 1,250 square meters in area and 10 meters high, and which can host 1,400 people. In addition, the hotel has 11 multi-functional rooms ranging from 22 to 150 square meters. The four lawns of the hotel can also be used for outdoor events such as BBQs and cocktail parties. The hotel has hosted an evening party for 1,200 people from Unilever as well as the inaugural ceremony of China Ecological Tourism Year 2009. It's worthy of mention that, during the Bo'ao Asia Forum 2008, Chinese president Hu Jintao who was staying at the hotel held a grand welcome ceremony for the heads of state at the Yaochi Garden of the hotel and he also inspected the PLA parade there. This was the first time that the head of China had held a welcome ceremony outside of Beijing since the founding of the People's Republic of China: China's Foreign Ministry called this a diplomatic innovation.
Stephen Ford, the general manager of Sheraton Sanya Resort, introduced to China Hospitality News the events that hotel has held: part of the Miss World Final 2003; the Miss World Final 2004 and Miss World Final 2005; a roundtable meeting in 2004 for 108 renowned monks who came from the Buddha societies of the Taiwan Strait, Hong Kong, and Macau to visit Nanshan for the "Nanhai Guanyin"; the Sanya City Name Card launch-English name card launch ceremony in July 2006; a 1.000-people themed party at Yalong Bay Central Square in late January of 2008 for the Oriflame company which was holding an incentive event for their high acheiving employees from around the world; and during the Bo'ao Asia Forums in 2008 and 2009, the Chinese president received foreign guests in the hotel's Ocean Ballroom.
Ford said that as a result of combining the city's characteristics with its unparalleled natural resource, Sanya's MICE events such as Miss World, Mr. World, The World's Strongest Man, New Silk Road Model Competition, and World's Shadow Boxing Conference, are mostly related to nature, fitness, healthcare and environmental protection. Environmental product releases held in Sanya include the Lexus hybrid power cars release, which was held in January 2009 and was attended by more than 300 people. The perfect combination of MICE with tourism makes Sanya both a MICE destination and leisure destination and this will certainly speed up its steps towards becoming an "international tourism island".
Sanya Marriott Resort & Spa
Sanya Marriott Resort & Spa offers 456 deluxe rooms and it features three swimming pools, a steam room, tennis courts, and six restaurants and bars providing Chinese and western food as well as Hainan local gourmet dishes.
The hotel has 1,250 square meters of meeting space, including an 830 square meter pillarless grand ballroom divisible into five sections. For a unique experience the hotel also has large outdoor meeting areas including the beach lawn and fountain square, in addition to the 450 meter beach itself.
Karl Hudson, the general manager of Sanya Marriot Resort & Spa, told China Hospitality News about the hotel's advantages in meeting organization by citing a successful case as an example. Hudson said that a meeting organizer wanted a separate area to hold their event and meet with their clients. Using the company's colors and logo as their inspiration the hotel created a chic-cafe setup that provided the ideal place to communicate and do business. The organizer was offered the opportunity for their clients to take advantage of staying in a resort by bringing along their families as well. This meant that in addition to the business delegates the hotel had to cater for a large number of children. The hotel created a ‘Kids Camp' which was a special area filled with activities to keep the children entertained when they were not enjoying the pool. While their children were entertained, the clients could relax and were able to focus on business.
Regarding the hotel's strategic plans, Hudson said that as a global holiday resort, Sanya Marriot Resort & Spa is constantly expanding its overseas market. It periodically attends tourism exhibitions in the European, Russian, and Asian markets to increase its popularity abroad as well as retaining its domestic clients. To this end, the hotel keeps training its associates and developing the strength of their dedicated event management team. Besides, Sanya is China's only tropical city. Both the MICE and the FIT sectors are destined to keep growing. Plus, the local government is working tirelessly to promote Sanya and trying to make a "Forever Tropical Paradise" for its clients.
Gloria Resort Sanya
The Gloria Resort Sanya offers 403 rooms and suites and a president villa with breathtaking views of the South China Sea. The hotel can provide various international cuisines, Cantonese food and seafood, as well as Japanese dishes. The hotel has four outdoor swimming pools, an indoor fitness center with four table tennis courts, an archery field, and various beach and water sports programs.
The Gloria Ballroom is large enough to easily accommodate 550 persons for a function or a conference of international stature. The Ballroom can be further partitioned into two smaller multi-functional rooms. There are also 10 smaller meeting and function rooms with a capacity of up to 100 persons each and with natural day light views of the South China Sea. Crowned with the biggest outdoor garden in the Yalong Bay, the hotel totally provides more than 8,800 square meters of meeting space and is able to host more than 2,500 persons for outdoor banquets. The latest addition, the Sea Breeze Lawn, boasts over 2,500 square meters and is just a few meters away from the white sandy beach on the South China Sea. It is suitable for all kinds of events and team building activities. Apart from the outdoor gardens, the Bay View Patio and Sea Breeze Pavilion are also able to cater for different sizes of outdoor event with different atmospheres. For meeting events, the hotel's food and beverage team can provide innovative tea breaks. Guests can enjoy Chinese style dim sum while they are served by girls dressed in traditional Han Dynasty apparel.
Sergio Bretti, the general manager of Gloria Resort Sanya, says that as China's first deluxe five-star resort, Gloria Resort Sanya has had more than 12 years of resort operations and service experience. About 80% of the hotel's clientele is from mainland China; and that's why the hotel is targeting the domestic market by expanding its clientele from west China and east China cities such as Chongqing, Chengdu, and Nanjing. The overseas market is definitely affected by the current world economic crisis and the strength of the Chinese currency. However, the hotel will not give up on this segment and will continue to increase business from this segment by offering flexible rates and value added packages through overseas online travel agents. It is targeting to increase the overseas market percentage to 25-30% in next one to two years. To this end, the hotel has offered customized meeting packages, including providing free meeting rooms, free rooms, and an airport cab service.
Bretti believes that with efforts of the Sanya government in introducing Sanya as an international island to the world, the opening of duty-free shops, improvement in infrastructure and the scheduled new airport and expansion of new air links, Sanya in next five years will become one of the best-known and most popular destinations for both the MICE and the leisure markets.
Grand Metropark Resort
Guan Tieshan, the general manager of Grand Metropark Resort, told a few things about Grand Metropark Resort to China Hospitality News. Grand Metropark Resort is located at Yalong Bay Golf Villa Center, occupys a total area of 100,000 square meters, and is surrounded by a 36-hole golf course. The hotel offers 108 villas with independent swimming pools and 110 luxury rooms and an area of 6,500 square meters for Chinese and western food, as well as Japanese and Asian food, British style bars, a spa center, fitness center, children's center and multifunctional rooms. In addition, the hotel has several outdoor swimming pools, various fitness centers, and water sports programs.
The hotel has six multi-functional halls and meeting rooms with a total area of 1,000 square meters. Its pillarless grand ballroom is six meters high and can host various meetings, and celebrations. In addition, the hotels has advanced lighting, audio and video equipment, projector and wire facilities, and many different types of space options to cater for various demands.
Da Dong Hai
Resort Intime, Sanya
Resort Intime Sanya boasts 416 rooms and 90% of the rooms have private balconies overlooking the South China Sea and the lush garden. The hotel has featured restaurants providing Hainan food, European continental delicacies, seafood and tropical forest wild delicacies. In addition, the hotel is equipped with a large variety of recreational facilities, beaches, and water sports.
Wang Lixin, general manager of Resort Intime Sanya, says that the hotel advocates the dual concept of business and leisure and provides professional services for clients. For meeting facilities, the hotel has a multifunctional ballroom of 550 square meters that can be divided to host from a dozen to several hundred people. In addition, the hotel has many different meeting venues for business negotiations, product shows, and banquets. The hotel's outdoor meeting venues include the Intime lakeside wooden rafts which can host a maximum of 80 persons. The pool-side can host 200 people for themed parties and grill parties.
The Russian New Year Party is held at the hotel every year with graceful garden views, wonderful acts and plentiful food and beverage for people to welcome the New Year.
Le Meridien Shimei Bay Beach Resort And Spa
Six international star rated hotels are scheduled for Shimei Bay, however Le Meridien Shimei Bay Beach Resort and Spa is the first hotel to open here. With 275 guestrooms, eight villas, and six private therapy spa centers, the hotel provides independent meeting centers, an open air beach amphitheater where volleyball, football, golf, or many other team building activities can be organized. Moreover, the hotel has the only outrigger canoe on Hainan island and provides various Chinese and western food and creative dishes.
Terry N. Ko, the general manager of Le Meridien Shimei Bay Beach Resort and Spa, says that the hotel is targeting high-end board meetings, seminars, incentive trips and annual meetings. So they are equipped with advanced facilities, experienced staff, and tailor-made special packages for MICE groups.
Ko believes that there are quite a lot of MICE hotels opening in Sanya with good conference facilities. With more than 10 hotels in the pipeline, more and more MICE buyers will choose Sanya as a meetings and incentive trip destination. In addition, Sanya has a unique advantage with tourism resources to facilitate arrangements for meeting organizers. Together with the rescheduling of domestic flights to Sanya, it is more convenient to come to Sanya from mainland China now, and this supports the developing MICE market there.
It is said that Shimei Bay Red Fort Luxury Hotel is in the pipeline and construction is expected to be started in May 2010. Another hotel from the group, Shimei Bay Westin Hotel, is also in the planning stage.
For the convenience of its guests, Le Meridien Shimei bay Beach Resort has organized many taxi routes.