Photos courtesy of Paul Dingman
Known as the Eastern Hawaii, China’s Hainan Island now has a new take on paradise with the MGM Grand Sanya. “The owner sought a sophisticated resort that celebrates the area’s sub-tropical and Chinese locale,” explains Julia Monk, senior principal and director of hospitality interior design HOK Shanghai, who completed the design under New York-based BBG-BBGM. “The end result is an energetic and inviting guest experience.”
Beginning with the lobby, the resort introduces a nature-inspired yet urban look. “The lobby was one of the most challenging design elements,” says Monk. As the owner specified the largest lobby in the city, design architect WATG and BBG-BBGM toured Sanya properties with measuring tapes in hand-eventually finalizing the 13,000-square-foot lobby. “The focus of our design became how the space could express the scale of the lobby,” says Monk. “This led to the creation of the butterfly element, an object that filled the space, yet also offers fluidity and transparency.”
At the southernmost tip of the island, the city of Sanya attracts visitors with its beaches, mountains, and butterfly population. “Rather than incorporate a literal use of the butterfly, we abstracted their structure and color in a surprising and refreshing way,” says Monk. “The [lobby] sculpture represents an abstraction of butterfly wings, enlarged to a fantastic scale.” This 747-pound sculpture uses steel and a reinforced resin-coated finish for a soft, almost transparent appearance.
The Papillon ultra lounge continues the butterfly theme in an urban setting. Made up of the AOC bar, a dance floor, a back lounge, and a VIP area, the lounge recalls the insect with its blue palette. “The Papillon Ultra lounge was designed to exude action and movement,” explains Monk. “In using rear-lit irregular surfaces, the result is a lively, exciting space that entices dancers and revelers to become immersed in the environment and enjoy themselves.” Light projections of butterfly wings illuminate the backlit dance floor, which is surrounded by tree-like columns inspired by the migration of the monarch butterfly. The secluded back lounge calls to mind a butterfly cocoon.
In addition to native flora and fauna, the unique locale also inspired the remaining interiors. “We integrated traditional and classic Asian motifs in unusual ways,” says Monk. The fine dining restaurant, Silk, applies the idea of Chinese silk markets into its design. “At the markets, we saw wall after wall of bolts of silk stacked horizontally,” she describes. “We literally brought this concept to dress the walls of Silk.” Rich woods, crystal chandeliers, and traditional Chinese motifs complement the material. Along with deep red, orange, and yellow-gold hues, LED lighting simulates the effect of silk strands.
The guestrooms in particular integrate natural materials such as mother of pearl, rattan, honey-colored woods, and stone. The darker stone flooring contrasts against the traditional light stone floors in other Sanya properties, “anchoring the room and creating a coolness,” says Monk. “The overall effect is reminiscent of the locale, with a modernist flair.” The freestanding villas, each designed around private pools, also use cool neutrals to emphasize the calming, tropical environment.
“Part of our design challenge was to adapt this urban brand to a seaside resort,” says Monk. “In marrying these two concepts together we were able to create an experience that is truly unique.”