The Visun Royal Yacht Club, China’s largest, plans to buy a helicopter for the use of its members. A golf course that charges $180 per round is opening 220 villas, each with its own butler, swimming pool and spa — “I want to get it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most spas anywhere,” the manager says.
Then there are the property speculators flying to this resort town from across China with bagfuls of cash, to buy apartments whose cost per square foot rivals parts of Manhattan. Five-star hotels during the recent Lunar New Year holiday charged $1,500 or more per night; one company charged $80 just to camp out in a tent.
In the last two months, Hainan, an island the size of Belgium in the South China Sea, has become a potent symbol of China’s economic vitality — or, perhaps, its excesses. Even in a country where new wealth spawns new tales of luxury living every day, Hainan is viewed with a mix of awe, envy and disgust.
The boom here, unfolding as much of the world grapples with a recession, is fueled by a first-of-its-kind edict from the nation’s top leaders: On Dec. 31, the State Council, the Chinese cabinet, issued a memorandum that said Hainan had been designated a “test case” in developing an “internationally competitive tourist destination.”
Read also about a massive new golf course being built on Hainan.