Daily Activities

Every moment of the day at Mandarin Oriental, Sanya is filled with activities for everyone – for couples and for families.

The daily activities can rejuvenate your bodies, enrich your minds, create healthier lifestyles, and fill your bellies with food and libations.

If you have a passion for food and cooking, or simply enjoy cooking shows and eating, the daily cooking classes are an attraction in and of itself.

Upon turn-down service each evening, guests are given a list of the next day’s Daily Activities. One hour of the afternoon slot is for the cooking classes which vary each day of the week.

Reserve 24 hours in advance with the front desk so the kitchen can prepare the proper amount of ingredients. Best of all: it’s free.


Mandarin Oriental, Sanya: Cooking Classes

The cooking classes teach one dish each day from local specialties like Hainan chicken rice, Chinese classics like baos and dumplings, international selections like sushi, and even seasonal treats like Christmas gingerbread houses.

Beyond the kitchen, there are even afternoon classes for cocktail making. The bartender teaches guests to concoct classic drinks perfect for the beach.


The Format

The cooking class venue depends on the dish of the day. Chinese classics like the baos are taught in the kitchen of Yi Yang, the resort’s Chinese restaurant. Local specialties like Hainan chicken are taught in the Pavilion, the main dining area of the resort. Dumplings and noodles are taught al fresco by the Mee & Mian noodle bar kitchen. And, cocktails are taught in the Sunset Bar to enjoy the cool drinks.

Lessons are primarily taught in Chinese with an English translator. Aside from the demonstration, recipes are given in both languages and easy-to-follow photos laying out the ingredients and methods.

The chefs, which vary according to the kitchen and dish, demonstrate the techniques and then patiently guide each student until they can nearly master the hands-on aspect of the class.

Students are motivated to focus and work hard on producing quality and quantity of the dish because after it is cooked, steamed, boiled, etc., the finished product is then yours to savor.


Mandarin Oriental Sanya Series

  1. 1. Mandarin Oriental, Sanya: An Introduction
  2. 2. Rooms, Suites, and Villas
  3. 3. Spa and Wellness
  4. 4. Dining Options
  5. 5. Fresh – MO Sanya’s signature beachfront restaurant


The Pavilion Kitchen. When you enter the designated kitchen for the day’s cooking class, the chef and his assistants are already preparing for the ingredients, mise en place, and recipes for the lesson
The star ingredient for Hainan chicken rice. It all starts with the local chicken, Wenchang chicken which originates in the northern part of the island. The poultry is naturally grown and fed, plump, and meaty. The quality of the chicken translates to the quality of the taste
Straight into the techniques. The chicken is first dipped several times into a pot of boiling water. This ensures the chicken retains its juiciness and the skin keeps the same color. After the dippings, the bird is gently placed into the pot to simmer
While the chicken simmers, it is time to cook the rice. After sautéing the rice grains with base flavor ingredients, hot chicken broth is added to the rice, and then it is left to steam and simmer until cooked. The flavor of the rice comes from this initial high-heat sauté
More techniques – learning how to properly cut the chicken. Part of the enjoyment of Hainan chicken rice is the presentation of the cut chicken. The chef patiently demonstrates how half is prepared, and then the second have is your hands-on lesson
Cutting the chicken is also about de-boning. The breast, wings, and legs are detached; and then the wings and legs are meticulously deboned to make the eating process easier and more enjoyable
Cut and almost ready to eat. The deboned pieces are placed in the bottom layer and the breast is neatly cut into strips and layered on top for presentation purposes. The meat is easily cut because of the tenderness from cooking
Ready to eat. After the hands-on demonstration, it is time to taste the lesson. A setting is prepared for you at the Pavilion tables as you wait for the chicken, rice, and sauces fully plated and served
A generous afternoon snack. Between two persons, we shared this serving of chicken and each had our own cup of chicken rice. The tastes, textures, and lesson made every bite even more succulent and delectable
Another day, another cooking class. Barbecue pork buns, char siu bao, in Yi Yang. The kitchen in the afternoon is cleaned and quiet before the dinner service making is a perfect venue to make Chinese buns in the Chinese restaurant’s kitchen
The cooking classes are catered for adults and children alike. The chefs and his staff have a tremendous amount of patience helping every student learn the proper techniques. The Mandarin Oriental touch is in its caring hospitality
The ingredients for the lesson. Steam baskets, the barbecue pork filling, and the rollers for the dough. Recipes in both Chinese and English with instructional pictures are handed out to every student to review before the lesson begins
After the dough process is introduced, which is pre-made because of hours of risings, the chef rolls the dough and then teaches the class how to break off pieces for the bun. It is a quick technique that requires momentum and no hesitation
Once dough pieces are broken off, the chef teaches the class how to form the bun wrapper with a roller. The dough is moderately thin with thinner edges. A light dusting of flour makes the dough not stick to your hands and surface
Filling time. About a tablespoon of filling is scooped in the middle and then the chef teaches the technique to pinch the dough several times to form the bao. It appears seemingly simple, but the first few, or several, tries proves more difficult
Practice makes perfect. The class time allows you plenty of practice to learn the proper techniques. But the end of the lesson, you will surely pinch together a somewhat decent bao worthy to be eaten
As you form the baos, you place them into steam baskets. The more you make the more you can eat – that is certainly incentive to focus in on making quality and quantity of barbecue pork buns
Steamed and ready to be eaten. From the finished products, you can tell which baos were made in the beginning and which baos were expertly demonstrated by the chef. The importance of pinching the buns properly are evident from the bursting baos
The perfect, picture-worthy bao. The evenness of pinching the dough is essential for holding in the filling and the aesthetics of presentation. The steaming hot buns are so satisfying, and you can taste the quality of the ingredients because of the hotel’s five-star standards
Another day, another cooking class. You can really stay as long as there are cooking classes that peak your interest. Ingredients are laid out for Jiao-zi dumplings, a classic in Chinese cuisine, often seen home-style cooking
Like with the baos, the dumpling chef demonstrates the rolling of the dough to break off pieces for the dumpling wrapper. The technique is similar, wherein the difference is this dough is rolled thinner and formed into smaller pieces
And also like the baos, the dough pieces are flattened with your palm and then little rollers are used to form thin flat circles for the dumpling wrapper. These wrappers should be evenly thin in comparison to the bao wrapper
Then, you scoop the filling onto the wrapper and the chef demonstration the clamping technique to form the dumpling. It looks and seems so easy, but this takes a lot of practice to seal the wrapper properly
Practice makes perfect, and practice makes for more dumplings to eat. The incentive for working hard and fast is to have a bigger plate of dumplings after the lesson is over. You are working for your meal
After much practice sealing the wrapper, I think I finally got it. It is a messier hands-on lesson but so enjoyable for all ages, even the young children just starting to learn about ingredients and cooking
The dumplings are piled onto plates to be taken to the boiling station. The dumplings we all made will be freshly boiled for about 4-5 minutes and then served to us at our table setting. Hard work will soon be rewarded
The chef masterfully boiling the dumplings – look at his cross-arm technique. The dumplings are plated and divided for each of the couples, families, groups, etc. so each table can enjoy their own plateful of jiaozi dumplings
Another afternoon snack is served. These daily cooking classes are really the perfect afternoon snack. Guests learn about Chinese cuisine through hands-on demonstration and then feast on the fruits of their own labor
In each class, students wear customized Mandarin Oriental Sanya kitchen aprons, which is most vital for these hands-on lessons involving flour and rolling of dough. Aside from washing of hands, students are also given hot towels to clean their hands
Beyond the kitchen, there is even cocktail making classes at the Sunset Bar. The knowledgeable bartender teaches you a recipe for a cocktail, demonstrates it, and then it is your turn to make a glass
The classic Cuban mojito – a perfect beachside cocktail. The lesson included insight into the ingredients and techniques for with the mint. You can even make the cocktail according to your preference of alcoholic strength. Cheers!


Mandarin Oriental, Sanya
12 Yuhai Road
Jiyang, Sanya City
Hainan, China
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Disclaimer:  This stay was graciously hosted by Mandarin Oriental, Sanya.  All opinions, as always, are my own.

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