Vietnam has been widely tipped as the next hot-list destination for 2014 beyond, with the country’s coast expected to see significant growth in visitor numbers due to its natural beauty and marine habitats. Whilst the country has long been known for its historic cities and UNESCO World Heritage sites, the last few years has seen the emergence of a number of 5-star luxury resorts along the South-central coast with beautiful beaches and exhilarating water sports complementing cultural and historic sightseeing opportunities. Red Savannah’s expert on holidays to Vietnam, Melissa Matthews, explores the luxury resorts along the South-central coast from the Nha Trang islands to Binh Thuan Province.
Vietnam’s latest 5-star resort is Amanoi, set on the most stunning coastline in Ninh Thuan Province, with white-sand beaches and rugged boulder-strewn shores. For Aman junkies this is manna from heaven and the service and cuisine is as one would expect from this world class hotel group. The Central Pavilion, based on the traditional Vietnamese communal hall, accommodates the restaurant, bar and a capacious terrace overlooking Vinh Hy Bay. The spa is a work of art: Set beside the lake and sheltered by verdant hills it offers five treatment rooms, two hydrotherapy suites and gorgeous relaxation lounges. Accommodation comprises 31 Pavilions and five Aman Villas. All bear the Aman minimalist signature, with cool neutrals and unfussy décor, as well as drawing on traditional Vietnamese architecture.
Amanoi’s well established neighbour, and a resort better suited for those looking for a little more rustic chic, is Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. These two resorts share the East Vietnam Sea, home to rare corals, an abundance of marine life and offering excellent snorkelling. Scuba divers should aim to stay between February and the end of August when diving conditions are best. All suites and villas - whether beachfront or nestled amongst the rock formations jutting into the sea - are sensitively crafted from wood, thatch and natural materials. There is plenty to suit the curious soul: when not indulging in well-being treatments, morning Tai Chi or Pranayama Yoga, there's a hiking trail over Heo mountain to the resort's private beach at Bai Nho, morning fishing trips, cyclo rides to local villages and markets or a visit to the hot springs and mineral rich mud bath.
The 1995 solar eclipse first brought visitors to Mui Ne, south of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and now those in search of a luxury retreat can enjoy Anantara's 5-star resort and spa on Mui Ne Beach. Steady winds create perfect conditions for wind and kite surfers whilst dune surfing is the latest craze on the nearby Sahara-like red dunes. This is a resort for winding down after exploring the crazy chaos that is Ho Chi Minh City. There's a well-stocked library for browsing, yoga classes, Vietnamese cooking classes for those wishing to explore the country's culinary heritage and a fabulous large pool shaded by towering palms for when you feel like indulging in some general nothingness. The 89 rooms, suites and pool villas are decorated in calming cream and dark wood furnishings punctuated by splashes of vivid orange, green and blue.
Further south along Binh Thuan Province's coastline, opposite the century old French Lighthouseon the secluded Ke Ga Bay, sits the Princess d'An Nam Resort Spa. The resort is designed by renowned Singaporean architect, Tan Hock Beng, and furnished by Vincent Koh, in modern post-colonial style with hints of colonial French and Oriental. The resort is a haven for those seeking the exhilaration of kite and wind surfing, whilst further afield you can enjoy rides into the mountains by vintage jeep or 4X4 or explore the Vin Hao mineral springs. The nearby peak of Ta Cu mountain can be reached on foot or by cable car, the reward being an encounter with Vietnam's largest reclining Buddha.
The go-to girl for luxury hotels, Lisa Corcoran knows how to travel in style. Join Lisa on her quest, with a little help from her friends, to seek out those special places which stand apart from the rest.