Inside the Miracle of China’s Mission Hills

Mission Hills Hainan, China

Mission Hills Resort Haikou was built from scratch in just 18 months. (Image: Mission Hills)

(Last updated February 2021.)

In China, a land of economic miracles, no feat of engineering or construction is considered impossible. But the explosive growth of southern China’s two Mission Hills resorts, which together feature 22 golf courses, surely numbers among the Asian powerhouse’s most stunning recent accomplishments.

The twin resorts are the creation of the Chu family, led by Canadian-educated businessman Ken Chu. The family’s first golf property, Mission Hills Resort Shenzhen, which opened in 1992 in the city of Shenzhen (50 kilometres north of Hong Kong), is renowned as the world’s largest golf facility. Each of the property’s 12 courses was designed by a famous golf personality, including Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Annika Sorenstam.

In 2010, the Chu family consolidated its dominance of the Asian golf market with the launch of Mission Hills Resort Haikou, on the South China Sea island of Hainan. Built from scratch in an astonishing 18 months, the resort includes 10 courses, a palatial clubhouse, Asia’s largest spa, volcanic mineral springs, the Lava Lagoon water park, and a five-star hotel with 538 rooms and 12 restaurants. All of the courses were designed by U.S.-based Schmidt-Curley Design.

Mission Hills Resort Haikou sits atop the Qiongbei volcanic cluster, which 10,000 years ago spewed lava across much of the island. During the rapid but challenging construction of the resort’s golf courses, Schmidt-Curley was able to preserve 15,385 acres of lava rock and more than 20,000 trees. Approximately 50,000 additional trees were planted.

Now boasting a roster of more than 20 golf courses, Hainan Island has become one of Asia’s top tourist destinations. The sub-tropical island’s stunningly diverse landscape includes palm-fringed beaches on the South China Sea, a rugged mountainous interior, mangrove reserves and a protected rain forest. In the port city of Sanya, located on Yalong Bay on the island’s southern coast, luxury hotel brands including Sheraton, Hilton, Marriot and Ritz-Carlton crowd a beachfront that 40 years ago was deserted except for the shacks of fishermen.

Together, the two Mission Hills complexes employ 15,000 full-time staff. Chu, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Western Ontario, has estimated that his family has invested more than US$4.2-billion in its golf properties.

Mission Hills Shenzhen, Annika Course

The Annika Course at Mission Hills Resort Shenzhen. (Image: Mission Hills)