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History comes alive: Capella Sanya resurrects the ancient maritime silk route

The latest luxury resort development by Capella Hotel Group celebrates Chinese culture and history with design inspiration taken from feng shui, traditional Chinese gardens and the historic maritime silk route.

To visit luxury hotel Capella Sanya is to walk in the footsteps of the traders who used to ply the ancient maritime silk route – but without the same hardships.

Located in Hainan, the Chinese island province best known for its tropical climate, the property is the latest addition to Capella’s extensive portfolio.

Architect Jean-Michel Gathy of Denniston, a leading hospitality design firm, has created a sanctuary that pays tribute to the ancient trade route and the symbolism that abounds in Chinese architecture.

The journey back in time begins at the lobby, where a grand oculus in the ceiling directs streams of water into a central pool.

In Chinese fengshui, water symbolises wealth and abundance; directing it into a property brings riches to the place, in the same manner the maritime silk route brought wealth to China more than 2,000 years ago.

Given the importance of water in Chinese symbolism, the element features strongly throughout the hotel, flowing from the oculus in the lobby into serene pools that reflect the blue of the sky and the twinkling of the resort’s lights.

The landscaping is a contemporary take on traditional Chinese gardens. Under the shade of greenery, pathways wind around pools that take guests to the resort’s various buildings, topped by roofs with upturned eaves in the traditional Chinese style.

One of these paths lead to Lan Ting, the resort’s most formal restaurant, which serves modern Cantonese cuisine in a fine dining setting. Here, guests can take part in a kung-fu tea ceremony, a unique Chinese tea preparation routine that involves multiple infusions of the same tea, usually of an oolong or black variety, in a single teapot.

At The Library bar, experience the flavours of the various stops on the maritime silk route with specially designed cocktails featuring destination-specific herbs and spices.

Start in Venice with The Gondoliere cocktail comprising Campari, sweet vermouth, prosecco and homemade bitters before moving on to the Mediterranean port of Alexandria in Egypt.

Here, the Baniyan Market cocktail brings together flavours of honey, lemon and turmeric in a base of tequila. Mumbai is represented by Pukila Hee, rum spiced with fennel, cinnamon, curry and cloves.

At Sanya, the ‘final destination’, the Sanya Summer, local rice wine combined with Cointreau and coriander, is served.

A definite highlight at Capella Sanya is the Auriga spa. Spanning 4,020 square metres, it boasts Hainan’s first authentic Moroccan bath, a 125-square-metre heated lap pool, two floodlit tennis courts, 10 treatment rooms and a dedicated outdoor area for tai chi sessions. Also located within the spa complex is a state-of-the-art gym, as well as nail and hair salons.

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