Crystal-clear water, white sand beaches and lush green mountains form the back-drop for the elegantly styled architecture of the St Regis Resort Hotel on Yalong Bay, Sanya. As the firm responsible for the interior design, DiLeonardo International was tasked by the client – Yalong Development Co Ltd – to create a “flawless connection between exterior and interior”.

The interior design work started in September 2008, and from the beginning DiLeonardo was involved heavily in the space planning and landscape design with the owner, hotel operator, architect and landscape designer to assure a flawless connection between exterior and interior, as well as the landscaping design.

The owner requested a distinctive and quality resort hotel in Sanya, carrying the St Regis brand legacy. After a couple of rounds of brainstorming sessions with the owner and other consultants, DiLeonardo created a unique story for this property – Yacht Club, which stands out from its competitors successfully, and at the same time represents what St Regis lifestyle is all about.

Robert Macaruso, principal at DiLeonardo, and lead designer on the project, says: “At a first glance, the resort’s generous volume and space exudes luxury like no other; it starts from the arrival at the impressive Porte Cochere followed by the Main Lobby and it carries through the rest of the property. The St Regis Sanya has the area’s first private marina allowing guests direct access to the sea.

“A signature element in all St Regis lobbies is the feature murals at the reception desks; they are always engaging visual stories that captivate the imagination. We worked with a local Chinese artist to execute this art in a series of three, inspired by the native mangroves. The art is a mixed media that utilises crushed eggshells and lacquered paint.”

St Regis Hotel’s design philosophy aims to be uncompromising and bespoke – the goal was to incorporate both of these ideals. DiLeonardo’s solution was to introduce an interior space with well thought-out planning of water features, glamorous grand staircase, secret spaces, timeless diamond patterns, distinctive finishes and subtle detailing.

“At a first glance, the resort’s generous volume and space exudes luxury like no other; it starts from the arrival at the impressive Porte Cochere followed by the Main Lobby and it carries through the rest of the property”

Robert Macaruso, lead designer

The resort’s location on a wetland sanctuary and tropical mangrove offers unique opportunities to guests for cruises out into the marina or  excursions out to sea. The marina also allows resort guests to approach by boat to the property’s private docks.

The hotel’s interiors celebrate the sea, sand, marina and nautical elements in a casual, sophisticated and elegant environment. The impressive Porte Cochère and Main Lobby with their clean-lined voluminous spaces are appointed with yacht-like wood finishes, sand-coloured exotic stones, and furnishings upholstered in fabrics found on luxurious ocean liners.

Attention to detailing in finely finished woodwork and polished metalwork contrasts with rough-cut stone work to create an interesting juxtaposition that is both luxurious and relaxing and sets the tone for signature St Regis moments.

Touches of bespoke detailing make guests feel both at home and pampered. Throughout the public spaces, guest rooms and villas, timeless colour palettes – creamy neutral textures, with supporting contrasting rich raw silks and tonal damasks – offer simple, elegant environments reminiscent to those found in a finely appointed clubhouse, yacht, or trans-ocean ships of the past. The stately Grand Ballroom with fabric-wrapped drum shade pendants evoking sail details, lacquered wood and polished stone, will suit the functions of the who’s who in the yachting community.

Simon Zeng, senior associate at DiLeonardo and designer on the project says: “Architecturally, the hotel’s public and guest room space is generous, luxurious and comfortable, and since it is the first luxury resort in Hainan that luxury yachts can access directly, this makes it exclusive and extraordinary. Such an inspiring story of the Astor family who created the St Regis brand 100 years ago in New York, which makes us think this resort belongs to successful businessmen who love the ocean, it’s eclectic, nautical … it is a yacht club!”

Guest rooms and villas themselves offer a sophisticated and refined, yet relaxing guest-quarters-by-the-sea environment that will meet the discerning expectations of the St Regis guests. Within an ideal marriage of things past and present, guests will be pampered with personal service while at the same time remain connected to the world through discreet technology within the relaxed privacy of their own room.

“The materials used – indigenous ‘woven’ stone tiles, onyx vanity tops, and macore wood – are local to the region and support the clean-lined design of the guest room”

Giana DiLeonardo, partner

Generous in volume and space, the property exudes a luxurious resort feel. The open-air environment reflects its natural indigenous surroundings while maintaining the highest standards of luxury and sophistication. The interior design responds to the architecture of the building which ties interior spaces to the exterior, creating a sense of seamless flow throughout. The undulating roofline seen by guest as they approach by land or sea is echoed in the ceilings and structures of the main lobby and sets the tone for a dramatic arrival experience second to none.

“The idea of the colour scheme is all about natural and subtle,” explains Simon, “celebrating the sea, sky, air, sand, marina and the nautical elements. From the Porte Cochère to the lobby, check-desk to your room, we created an experience that makes you feel welcomed and being at home alike, so that you can relax and enjoy every single second of the day.”

The Drawing Room
Within the hotel lobby, The Drawing Room offers a selection of open-air venues for guests at all times of the day. This grand living room space within the clubhouse provides comfortable opportunities to sit, read and relax alone or to partake in an offering from the many selections at the Tea Bar.

Residential groupings of lounge chairs offer private moments that  frame the view of the sea beyond and lead guests out onto the terrace. Overhead, large-scale wooden ceiling fans turn slowly and evoke a feeling of casual elegance and entice guests to stay and enjoy an ice tea or signature bloody mary.

The bar in the Drawing Room becomes an active place to see and be seen in the evenings. The bar itself is a jewel fitted in lacquered wood with inlays of mother of pearl accenting its nautical surroundings.

The all day dining restaurant features a casual, residential open kitchen concept. Rustic wooden tables display delicious hot dishes as well as fresh iced sides. Painted built-in cabinetry evokes the feeling of the warm patina of many years of culinary delights having been prepared for the discerning St Regis guest’s palette. 

Residential-styled display kitchen, reach-in refrigerators, and collections of china and cookbooks create a relaxed comfortable environment with a sense of sophistication. The active sun-lit space spills out onto an outdoor terrace that accommodates alfresco dining with a view of the pool and sea beyond. In the evening, softly lit waterfalls cascade into serene pools surrounding guests dining by candle-light seated in elegant teak chairs.

This social, intimate wine cellar  envelopes guests in a rustic, cluster of grotto-like environments that are lined with wine storage racks and glass displays. Super-scale tailored wing back chair groupings allow guests some privacy, while at the same time being in the spotlight. Sommeliers can escort guests into private tasting rooms for more personal service.

Ornate glass pendant fixtures set into a brick-lined vaulted ceiling softly illuminate a communal tasting table and embossed leather club chair groupings. A diffused glass window wall allows the warm colours of the sunset to enter the space and set the tone for another memorable evening.

Ming Xuan
Ming Xuan is an elegant and casual Chinese restaurant with a fresh contemporary feel. Laquered woodwork on column cladding and vertical pillars that recess into the ceiling, pendant lights with square linen shades and bronze detailing, a crisp sandstone floor all share in telling the nautical story of this space which overlooks the marina. Elegant chairs upholstered in a range of citrus-coloured textured fabrics reflect the local flora and fauna.

This distinct and secluded restaurant is made up of a small enclave of pavilions – The Bar, The Restaurant, and The Private Dining Room – each connected by covered walkways and outdoor terraces. The warm and rustic interior environments are reminiscent of a home in a European seaside village. Painted plaster walls, wide wood plank flooring and whitewashed beamed ceilings provide a quaint and familiar surround for this active beachfront bar and restaurant.

Oysters displayed in tiered silver trays top the bar and encourage guests to stay and enjoy a champagne. The fresh seafood display and open kitchen in the restaurant provide the stage for the active selection and preparation process put on by the chefs and servers. A casual collection of painted chairs, iron light fittings and stone tabletops all provide the homey comfort for informal daytime dining as well as a casual elegant dinner.

Guest room and villas
As the discerning St Regis guest steps down the corridor preparing for their guest room experience, their senses are evoked by subtle seafaring details that allow them to feel as if journeying through a luxurious ocean liner.

George Cucitrone, DiLeonardo associate and project manager, says: “For the guestrooms and villas, we wanted that relaxed luxury to become more tailored. For example, one of the more important features of the St Regis guest experience is personalized butler service. We accommodated this by incorporating a ‘butler pass through’ into the planning.

“This allows a guest to place items to be serviced – clothing, shoes, room service – into a closet-like area that a butler can securely access from the corridor. Allowing for discreet, personalised service such as this really elevates the guests’ experience and enjoyment of the room.”

Fixtures that pay homage to maritime lanterns cast light that dances across the finely finished woven woodwork detail that warms the corridor while adding further depth to the two-tone flooring of light stone and rich wood.

Upon entering the 65sqm guest room, generous in volume and space, they are greeted by a collection of fine furnishings and sophisticated artifacts evoking their sense of worldly travel. Rich, high gloss finishes, polished metal and yacht-like detailing supported by the use of natural materials reflect the region’s unique local surroundings, providing a sense of place.

Hand-tufted, shell-inspired carpet leads the guest towards the place he will rest after a long day of exploration, discovery and bespoke service. The bed is framed by a beautiful headboard consisting of hand woven silk – a luxurious back-drop to a casually elegant guest suite. Creamy neutral textured fabrics are contrasted by local raw silks and softly coloured and patterned accents add dimension to the room.

Views of the sea, marina and surrounding mangroves and pools set the mood as guests settle into their sanctuary of relaxation. Elements of nautical whimsy, such as yacht cleats for hanging clothing to be pressed inside the wood-finished butler pass-through, add character while exceeding the guest’s expectation.

This guest room truly defines relaxed luxury for the guest, as they enter the bathroom to be greeted by a spa-like experience. Giana DiLeonardo, partner and principal on the project, comments: “My personal favourite is the bathroom experience.

"The layout of the room allows for a generously-sized bathroom, walk-in shower, and soaking tub that provide stunning views and is designed with state-of-the-art fixtures, and technology that is readily, yet discreetly available.

“The materials used – indigenous ‘woven’ stone tiles, onyx vanity tops, and macore wood – are local to the region and support the clean-lined design of the guest room. Its open layout is refreshing and creates a spa-like experience that I did not want to leave!”

The finished resort bears DiLeonardo’s commitment to this project – the impressive levels of creativity, the exemplary level of finish are redolent everywhere, and St Regis has another property which exemplifies the brand values perfectly.