A view of the Atlantis Sanya resort. (Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn)
Two weeks after the central authorities unveiled plans to develop South China's Hainan, the island saw the opening of its first seven-star hotel Atlantis in Sanya, taking a further step toward the goal of growing into an international tourism destination.
Shanghai-based conglomerate Fosun International Ltd has invested around $1.74 billion in Atlantis Sanya, which held its opening ceremony on Saturday. Dubai-based Kerzner International is responsible for the management of the resort.
The 540,000-square-meter luxury resort has a total of 1,314 rooms and features an aquarium, ocean-themed activity facilities and underwater suites. Families are its major target market. Cirque du Soleil, in which Fosun acquired a major stake in 2015, will stage performances in the resort.
Atlantis Sanya is the third in a series, with the first two in Dubai and the Bahamas. The Palm in Dubai generates about $600 million annually.
Guo Guangchang, chairman of Fosun, said Atlantis Sanya will help to redefine vacationing and propel Hainan into "a new era of world-class hospitality and tourism".
Qian Jiannong, senior vice-president of Fosun, said the luxury resort will help to attract more overseas tourists to the city as Sanya is still less well heard of globally compared to Bali or Thailand.
"The globalization of tourists will help to offset the seasonal sales differences. Chinese tourists prefer to travel to Sanya during winter, especially during the Spring Festival holiday. But overseas visitors usually come in summer, when they take their annual leave," he added.
Fosun acquired a majority 98 percent stake in French resort group Club Med in 2015. Its Club Med Sanya, which was renovated and started operation two years ago, now sees about 30 percent of its guests coming from overseas, Qian said.
Starting from May 1, Hainan will adopt visa-free entry policies for overseas visitors coming from 59 countries and regions including the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. Qian said Fosun will help Thomas Cook－the British travel agency it holds a majority stake in－to study the possible itineraries from Europe to Hainan, given the fact that there might be direct routes from Hainan to Europe starting operation by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, Fosun is likely to carry out tourism projects combined with medical facilities and services in Hainan, since the group has abundant medical resources in its business portfolio, Qian said. As the development plan also touched upon the sports sector, Fosun is looking at the possibility of establishing some equestrian projects in Hainan.