High times in Haikou

The following two tabs change content below.
The famous Haikou Century Bridge lights up Haikou Bay

What an experience my return to Hainan for the first time in four years has turned out to be.

Having moved to The Westin Haikou after five nights at Marriott Haikou, adjacent to the sprawling Hainan International Convention and Exhibition Center, I’m enjoying a nicely chilled glass of Chilean Chardonnay on the terrace overlooking Haikou Bay with the magnificent Haikou Century Bridge lit up beautifully in the night sky.

Have Interim Bureau will travel – ‘The website that never sleeps’ steps up production late into the Haikou night

I have been in Haikou for the third China International Consumer Products Expo (Hainan Expo), an extravaganza of a trade show on a scale that almost defies belief. Watching the crowds pour into the event in their thousands upon thousands over the final two days open to consumers, it was amazing to think just how long China, like the rest of the world, had been in the grip of the COVID-19 crisis. The country has moved on with impressive pace and Hainan is an early beneficiary.


(Not) far from the Madding Crowd at the Hainan Expo.


More of that event over ensuing days, but I have also taken the opportunity offered by my return to this beautiful island to visit several of its duty free retailers.

Lovely to catch up with CNSC General Manager Catherine Zhang and Jason Cao, Vice President of Global Consumer Boutique (Hainan) Trading Co, operator of GDF Plaza
Wangfujing wows: The recent Hainan offshore duty free debutante showcased its presence with this vibrant stand
I am pictured here with Lara Netherlands, the inimitable Host of Hainan International Media Center, part of Hinews, The Moodie Davitt Report’s media partner on Hainan island
Lara and I filmed a special report on the Expo for Hinews
China Duty Free Group and its parent China Tourism Group enjoyed a suitably strong presence at the show

As noted in my last Blog, I was privileged to attend Wangfujing Duty Free’s Grand Opening of Wangfujing International Harbour City last weekend. You can read the first part of my pictorial reviews here with more to follow in coming days now that I (almost) have time to breathe.

I say ‘almost’ because it has been almost frenetically non-stop since. Talk about ‘The website that never sleeps’ – this week it has never looked like getting a single wink.

I visited Riyue Bay and Shimei Bay, beautiful spots on the east coast, not far from Wanning. Riyue Bay is considered Hainan’s top surfing spot
A rare murky day in Hainan cannot dull the brilliance of the natural environment
Surf’s up on Hainan’s west coast

A red-letter day for Wangfujing International Harbour City

After a soft opening in January, Grand Opening day arrives for Wangfujing Duty Free

Mr Bai Fan, General Manager of Beijing Tourism Group and Chairman of Wangfujing Group, and Sun Lingling, General Manager of Wangfujing International Duty-Free Harbour City, led a compelling Wangfujing torch relay ceremony steeped in company tradition
I was honoured to make some congratulatory remarks at the beginning of the ceremony. “Today’s opening represents another triumphant step forward for Hainan’s duty free and tourism industries and for the Free Trade Port Programme,” I noted.
The winners of the first Wangfujing International Duty-Free Harbour City Cosmetics Festival hosted by Cosmo Beauty receive their awards
A sublime Chinese ballet performance highlighted the post-inauguration lunch
I am pictured here with Grace Zeng, Vice President of Wangfujing Group and Deputy General Manager of Wangfujing Duty Free by the Tom Dixon boutique. The store is notable for its mix of beauty and lifestyle brands, combining internationally renowned favourites with several newcomers to the travel retail channel.

cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex

On Thursday I visited the extraordinary cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex in the fine company of China Duty Free Executive Vice General Manager Luke Chang and Assistant General Manager Michelle Sun.

We spent four fascinating hours touring this magnificent facility followed by an excellent Italian dinner on site at the Simona Restaurant, part of an impressively diverse dining offer that complements the vast retail programme.

With Luke Chang and Michelle Sun after a tour extraordinaire
It’s showtime at cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex and what a backdrop this is

It’s going to take me several reports and scores of photos to sum up an experience that stretches far beyond shopping and into heritage, entertainment, education, spectacle, dining and more. Luke and Michelle gave me not only a retail tour but a plunge into Chinese culture and the hugely ambitious ‘Shopping + Tourism + Culture’ philosophy that underpins this remarkable development. From hundreds of shots (to be shared later), I have shared a few highlights below.

Fasten your seat belts, it’s time for the Fly over China experience. Those with vertigo look away now.

Today I was able to view GDF Plaza in Mova Mall and Times DF (Shenzhen Duty-Free Group with support from DFS) at Mission Hills for the first time, both businesses opened during my COVID-enforced absence. How strange it is to have reported on both retailers’ multiple developments since their early 2021 openings and to be only now visiting them for the first time.

Again, my full reports on both stores are to follow but I have picked a few standouts. As you can see, there’s some tremendously exciting stuff going on in both locations, particularly in beauty and spirits & wine.

GDF Plaza

The Moodie Davitt Report receives a warm welcome to GDF Plaza 
Great to catch up on-site with  Global Consumer Boutique (Hainan) Trading Co (operator of GDF Plaza) Vice President Jason Cao, whom I have known for 20 years dating back to his time with Sunrise Duty Free
What an evocative Chinese backdrop for this shot of Jason, me and Lisa Wang, Operation Director of Global Premium (Haikou) Duty Free Plaza Co
GDF Plaza has done a superb job in association with leading brand partners such as Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail in its premium wines & spirits zone. Look out for our full report coming soon.
Jason Cao showing a characteristic sense of Veuve

Times DF

Chill-out time with a fashion show at Mission Hills Haikou. Note the giant Times DF signage.
I received a wonderful welcome from the Times DF management before a compelling tour of the precinct. Look out for my full report soon.

Times DF offers an alluring array of top-class spirits boutiques from some of the world’s most renowned brands

I was honoured to be invited on Saturday night by Times DF to attend a Diageo Global Dinner at The Ritz Carlton, graced by their respective leadership teams and DFS China representatives. What an occasion, with some superb blended whisky (Johnnie Walker Blue Label and King George V) on show, followed by the newly released Talisker 44 year old, a magnificently deep and complex single malt, whose finish went on long into the Haikou night. I will bring you a fuller report on our main site.

What better dinner companion is there than Diageo Global Travel Head of Greater China Angela Chen, a passionate and knowledgeable advocate and ambassador for the Diageo business
With Diageo, Shenzhen Duty Free and DFS leaders

Now this is what you call an unveiling. What an appetiser.

A nice moment with the DFS Group China and Hainan teams

It was good to share a glass with members of the incredibly hard-working Hainan Provincial Bureau of International Economic Development (IEDB) team, Vita Gong (left) and Director of Exhibition and Events Division Liu Peng

Witnessing at first hand the investment in high-quality retail from all the retailers I met has reaffirmed my confidence and belief in the Hainan offshore duty free market. All see 2025 (when the island becomes completely tax free) as an opportunity, not a threat.

They are also passionate about developing a consumer experience that is more than purely transactional. The focus on culture and experience is as intoxicating as the wonderful aromas of that wonderful Talisker 44 Year Old from earlier this evening.

Hainan’s development over the past ten years has been remarkable. But I believe its future promises even greater things. On Monday I say a fond farewell to Hainan. It’s been a long time between visits but from now you simply won’t keep me away.

  • Stunning Exhibition Martin! I am surprised not to see more of global industry presence at Haikou. MoodieDavitt as always leading the way!

Comments are closed.