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Rich Chinese architecture at Capella Sanya, Hainan Island

On the southern end of Hainan, China, this beachfront retreat was inspired by the history of the Maritime Silk Road.

The design of Capella Sanya reflects rich Chinese cultural elements combined with the beauty of nature and luxurious architectural spaces,” says Jean-Michel Gathy, founder and principal architect-designer of Malaysia-based Denniston International Architects & Planners.

“For example, flowing water symbolises success in China, so we have created a complete central water system that starts at the lobby with a water fountain and flows down through the resort. Serene, reflective pools, another distinguishing feature, are layered throughout the resort.”

Co-created by Denniston and Bensley Design Studio, which has offices in Bangkok and Bali, Capella Sanya on Hainan Island welcomes guests with a stunning water feature called the Dream Pool of Essays, which spans 4,257 sq m. Everywhere, Jean-Michel references Chinese culture. He used feng shui principles in the spectacular lobby, where a dome trickling water into a central pool symbolises prosperity.

  • Capella Sanya Hainan Island
    Capella Sanya on Hainan Island.

At the top, the circle represents heaven while the square at the bottom refers to the earth. “This is a resort respecting Chinese culture and Chinese symbolism”, says Jean-Michel. “We respect the way the Chinese live and what we have here is genuine.”

Early Tang dynasty poet Zhang Ruoxu, the legendary Maritime Silk Route and nature were three key sources of inspiration. The decor, cuisine and landscaping were all taken into consideration as well to create a coherent, harmonious project in which several meditative spaces invite guests to slow down.

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Designed amid lush gardens overlooking the South China Sea, Capella Sanya comprises 190 rooms and six private villas where Chinese elements and contemporary design meet. The colour red, a Chinese symbol of energy and wealth, is present throughout different areas of the hotel, from the tiled roof all the way to the Steinway piano in the library.

The bars, lounge and four restaurants, including the fine dining Lan Ting – reachable through a traditional Chinese garden with ponds, passages and pathways – as well as the infinity pool and the 4,020 sq m Sanya Auriga Spa resembling a giant canopy housing an authentic Moroccan bath and the region’s first Snow Cabin, among other features – all contribute to the peaceful ambience.

All in all, this coastal China resort offers a cultural journey inspired by Silk Road stories in a secluded, relaxing environment.

Learn more about the hotel here.

This article was originally published in Home & Decor.

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