Six Personal Travel Managers Join Inaugural Flight and Famil to Haikou
When Hainan Airlines recently launched their direct service between Sydney and Haikou, it marked the introduction of a new route to a destination in China that is, as yet, unfamiliar to many Australians. Six of TravelManagers’ personal travel managers (PTMs) were honoured to be invited to participate in the inaugural flight and then join a famil to discover the delights of Hainan Island for themselves.
Hainan Island is China’s southernmost point, separated from the mainland by the Qiongzhou Strait (also known as Hainan Strait): the city of Haikou at its northern end is the island’s largest and serves as Hainan Province’s capital and gateway.
TravelManagers’ Daniel Price, who is a representative for Windsor, VIC, was one of the invitees on the inaugural flight and subsequent famil and says he would love to return to Hainan Island to explore at a slower pace, spending more time around the smaller villages in less built-up areas.
“The countryside areas of the island, such as Baoting, offer more authentic, indigenous experiences such as the Li and Miao Cultural Heritage Park, where you can learn about the minority people who still inhabit the island,” Price explains, “and there are resorts here that are away from the built-up areas of the cities.”
Personal travel manager Jo Patton says she had not even been aware of Hainan Island as a destination prior to participating in the famil, but the representative for Ulladulla, NSW, says she is already planning a group trip back later this year, describing it as “a tropical paradise”.
“With direct flights from Sydney, it’s so easy to access. From the hot springs dotted all over Hainan to the beaches, the history and most of all, the warm and friendly local people, everything came together to make it a fantastic destination,” she enthuses.
“Meeting the local guides and hotel staff was amazing – they are all so welcoming and passionate about their beautiful island,” Patton adds.
On the fourth morning of the group’s famil, their itinerary saw them visit Mission Hills Resort, often referred to as ‘golfers’ Disneyland.’
“The golf courses on the island are some of the best in the world,” Price says. “With ten courses already completed and a further dozen planned or under construction including Ritz-Carlton, Hard Rock hotels and a WetnWild waterpark, it really is renowned as heaven for golf lovers.”
Personal travel manager Lillie Smith, representative for Toowong, QLD, says that despite having no idea what Hainan Island had to offer prior to her visit, she now has a clear idea as to which clients she would recommend the destination.
“It will definitely appeal to my golfing clients, those who enjoy some pampering and hot spas, or those who simply love a luxury ‘flop and drop’ beachside holiday,” she says. “As an example, our stay in a gorgeous villa at the Mission Hills Resort Haikou was a fabulous experience and one that I will recommend to many clients travelling to Hainan.”
TravelManagers’ Carolynne Cannon, representative for Mindarie, WA, says she considers it invaluable to have the opportunity to experience emerging destinations such as Hainan Island for herself, as it allows her to provide tailored advice to her clients that will make their holidays run more smoothly.
“For example, I now know from personal experience that many shops and even department stores don’t accept credit cards as a form of payment, so my clients need to ensure they change enough cash at hotels or at the airport to cover their purchases,” she explains.
TravelManagers’ Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal, says the company was thrilled to have six PTMs invited to take part in the inaugural flight and accompanying famil.
“We see it as an endorsement of our PTMs’ reputation for expertise, knowledge and specialist service when it comes to designing customised holidays that are tailored to their individual clients’ requirements,” Gazal says. “Taking advantage of opportunities to familiarise themselves with relatively unknown destinations like Hainan allows our PTMs to continue to deliver on that reputation.”
Cannon describes Hainan Island as an exciting emerging destination that she believes will particularly appeal to clients who will appreciate the unique combination of traditional culture, fantastic golf, spa and mineral spring indulgence and relaxing beach holiday – a view shared by her colleagues.
“Highlights for me included soaking in the mineral springs at Mission Hills Resort and waking up surrounded by mountains and jungle at the DoubleTree Resort in Baoting. There are still relatively few English-speaking visitors coming to the island, so it’s a wonderful option for those who wish to immerse themselves in a different culture and language,” says Price