Three first-class resorts in Vietnam
Far from the frenetic Vietnam of popular imagination, Natasha Langan explores three luxury oases among the tropical vegetation and the white-sand beaches.
Vietnam is known for the frenetic pace of its crowded cities, chaotic traffic and choking exhaust fumes. But get away from the cities and the beauty and calm of the countryside will take your breath away. The country has more than 30 national parks, which are home to a wide range of rare species. Since the opening up of the country, visitors can experience these unique environments in comfort thanks to a number of first-class hotels that have sprung up in the last ten years. Here are three of the best.
Six Senses Con Dao
The island, once a penal colony with a brutal history, is now a national park, with coral reefs, populations of critically endangered dugongs a manatee-like sea mammal and breeding grounds for green and hawksbill turtles. The island itself is rich in dense tropical rainforests, which have rare orchids, glorious butterflies, macaques, black squirrels and many other unusual species.
These attractions are within easy reach by moped or guided tours provided by the hotel, but you may find it hard to drag yourself away from Six Senses. It is luxurious without feeling stuffy or restrictive and the welcoming staff will soon put you at your ease. You can eat Western Asian fusion food at the main restaurant overlooking the beach, or delicious authentic Vietnamese food in the central area of the resort, where home-made ice cream and cocktails made with local tropical fruit are on tap.
Scott Dunn offers seven nights at Six Senses Con Dao from £2,450 per person, including return flights and private airport transfers. See ScottDunn.com, or call 020-3432 8836.
Air-conditioned cars pick you up from the airport and transport you through the dramatic landscape of the park into the discreet luxury of Amanoi, where you'll be greeted at the central pavilion. The villas are spread across the hillside and overlook either the lake or the coast, and are set far enough apart for a feeling of quiet privacy.
From our private infinity pool we could see the spa building, which has private treatment rooms offering a range of award-winning treatments to buff and relax you from top to toe. If you're feeling energetic, the beach club overlooking white-sand beaches and the bay can take you scuba diving, snorkelling or kayaking.
For a dramatic meal, eat in the central pavilion's restaurant, set high on a hillside with a deck offering spectacular views along the coast, which you can enjoy while feasting on local seafood cooked in a traditional Vietnamese style. Vibrant coloured birds fly right up to you while you sip on a locally inspired cocktail. I've never been so sorry to leave a place.
Amanoi costs from US$650 per suite per night. The rate is subject to 16.6% tax and service charge. See Amanoi.com.
Stay at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, nestled in a secluded private bay in the Son Tra Peninsula, also called Monkey Mountain, just a 15-minute drive from the city. All the rooms and villas have panoramic views across the sparkling bay and South China Sea. The landscaping of the resort is spectacular, designed to blend in with the rainforest and attract birds, butterflies and even the odd visit from the resident monkeys. The resort has its own cable car, restaurants including La Maison 1888 run by the three-star Michelin chef Pierre Gagnaire and an award-winning spa.
A night at InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort starts from US$400, based on two people sharing a Classic King Room. See Danang.Intercontinental.com.