Our review of Amanoi. With 31 pavilions spread out over hundreds of acres overlooking the South China Sea, Amanoi is as private as guests desire.
Azerai Can Tho
Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai
Located just six miles from the Old Town of Hoi An, the Four Seasons Nam Hai is the region’s most impressive property and arguably the best all-around beach resort in the country. With 100 guest villas spread out over 86 acres, the resort sprawls between lush palm filled gardens and a fabulous wide, white-sand beach. Each of the villas boasts both indoor and outdoor living areas, outdoor showers and views over the landscaped gardens and East Sea. The rooms are decorated in dark woods and the double vanity bathrooms open out to private gardens with outdoor showers. In the sleeping area, traditional raised platforms in the Vietnamese style hold king sized beds as well as a writing desk and eggshell lacquered bath tub. While some find the room design sleek and sexy, others are annoyed by the many levels of climbing up and down stairs and platforms. The villas are located along four sand filled horseshoe shaped common areas that flank the property’s main buildings and lead down to the beach. Golf carts and bicycles are available to run guests between distant villas and the main house, but the best accommodations are those on the beach and close to the main area. Some villas can be almost 10 minutes away from the main resort area on a cart, so Indagare can help with selecting the right villa. Sizes range from one-bedroom to five-bedroom pavilions, which are popular with families as they have their own pools. All pool villas also have butler service.
As you descend from the main reception area towards the beach, the cascade of tiered infinity pools are the focal point. Guests may divide their day between loungers by one of the pools (lap pool, quiet pool and family pool) or on the beach where waiters proffer cool towels and drinks, while a lifeguard keeps an eye on those in the sea. There are two excellent restaurants, one with an emphasis on Vietnamese food and another offering Western and Indian cuisine. An on-site organic garden supplies much of the produce to both venues. While most guests will spend some time exploring Hoi An or Hue, the resort offers plenty of activities on property to supplement a beach holiday. There are daily yoga and meditation classes, tennis courts, a fitness center, a ping-pong house, library and a world-class spa complete with 8 overwater spa pavilions. The Nam Hai is an ideal home base from which to visit the ancient citadel of Hue, Old Town Hoi An or the beaches of Danang.
Hotel des Arts
InterContinental Asiana Saigon
Opened in 2009, the über-contemporary InterContinental is part of an upscale multi-use complex that occupies an entire city block near the Old Saigon Post Office and Notre-Dame Cathedral. The 305-room hotel is located in a 21-story glass tower and upper-floor accommodations have sweeping city views. Most everything, from the cavernous lobby that holds a florist and newsstand, to the sleek interiors and teched-out guest rooms, has an efficient, corporate feeling. The luminous guest room interiors, however, have a lot of character, with splashes of warm colors, sleek wood-accented walls, modern furnishings and sprawling bathrooms, with soaking tubs and rain showers, separated from the bedroom with sliding doors. There’s a spa with seven treatment rooms, and a state-of-the-art health club on the third floor, but the hotel’s pièce de résistance must be the 65-foot outdoor swimming pool, which is made of Plexiglas and surrounded by loungers and a large grass space (the connection between the hotel and the residential tower), where guests can lounge overlooking the city and far-removed from the bustle.
Park Hyatt Saigon
At the Park Hyatt, all the details—location, design, award-winning restaurant, service—work together to create an exceptional experience. True, it doesn’t have any real competition in Saigon, but even if the city were chock-a-block with five-stars, this property would stand out.
Housed in a neoclassical, nine-story building, down the street from the opera and in walking distance to the major shopping streets, the hotel has a soaring lobby and spacious adjacent lounges, as well as a pretty garden with a large swimming pool and leafy plantings. All that space makes it feel serene and worlds removed from the city hustle outside. The design firm entrusted with the interiors hails from Malaysia, but the main inspiration here is Indochina, albeit a modern, thoroughly updated version of it.
The thoughtful attention to details continues in the 252 serene guest rooms, which feature king-size beds, plush carpets, wooden shutters framing the windows and an ingenious wardrobe with sliding doors that can be accessed from the spacious marble bathroom on one side and from the hallway leading to the door on the other. The most tranquil rooms are on the upper floors overlooking the oasis-like courtyard with the gardens and pool. Since its 2015 renovation, the hotel’s accommodations have been brightened and updated to white, cream and beige interiors, pairing soft-hued tufted headboards and French colonial furnishings with intricate Asian–inspired carpeting. Accommodations feature modern touches, as every room and suite is outfitted with an iPad, Nespresso machine and light censors. Visitors will enjoy the hotel’s nod to its ancestry with the nightly ‘bedtime stories,’ a series of notes left for guests at turndown that describe the hotel's local culture and royalty of the past.
The Xuan Spa, with seven treatment rooms, is considered the city’s best place for pampering and relaxation. The hotel also has two lovely restaurants, both of which should be on your list even if you’re not staying here. Opera, the more casual Italian bistro, with a glass-encased patio, is a great choice for those who have maxed out on Vietnamese cuisine; Square One is the city’s uncontested special-occasion restaurant with a split menu featuring inspired Vietnamese classics and Western-style grilled meats.
Six Senses Con Dao
The short flight from Ho Chi Minh to Con Dao is typically filled with Vietnamese families armed with bundles of paper-wrapped flowers making pilgrimage to the tomb of Vo Thi Sau. The country’s most famous heroine is said to grant wishes to those who make offerings, and the most auspicious time to visit is midnight, when the inky sky clouds with incense.
This sense of magic pervades the island. Six Senses Con Dao is set on a long, sparkling crescent of beach protected by Elephant Mountain, named for its resemblance to an elephant dipping her trunk into the sea. The water, ranging in color from aquamarine to royal blue, is crystal clear, with visibility as far as 100 feet deep. On a good day, you can see straight to the bottom of the sea from atop a paddleboard.
Particularly after a stay in electrifying Ho Chi Minh, arriving at Six Senses Con Dao is instantly calming. There are no cars or scooters zipping by, only bicycles and buggies. Friendly staff in traditional conical hats ride past on bicycles and greet guests with a smile and a xin chào. There are no other resorts visible from the beach, only tree-topped mountains and traditional fishing boats bobbing in the distance. At night, their lanterns mingle with the twinkling stars.
The design of the property, which opened in 2010, is a contemporary take on a traditional fishing village with a Vietnamese restaurant, shop and complimentary ice cream bar forming its charming main street. The villas are a continuation of the village theme, but entirely elevated: this is the land of the private pool villa. Room interiors are airy and minimalist and feature sweeping views of the sea. The reclaimed teakwood floors feel worn underfoot and conjure a cozy cabin vibe. Light streams in through windows that line the ceiling. The romantic canopied beds are topped with mosquito netting that is unfurled at night, should you choose to eschew the air conditioning. The bathrooms, some of which are open-air, are contemporary in style with an outdoor shower and a soaking tub. The in-villa dining team sets up beautiful meals on the terrace, by the pool or in bed.
Those who enjoy walking out of their villa and onto the sand will be happiest in the single-story and duplex oceanfront pool villas set on the beach. For couples seeking more privacy, the ocean view duplex villas are set slightly higher on the hill and offer sweeping views from the upstairs bedroom and balcony. The contemporary two- to four-bedroom villas, the sleekest rooms on property, are ideal for families, boasting a full kitchen, large pool and expansive communal living area. Each villa is assigned a butler, available by direct dial to assist with all requests.
When not lounging by their private pool, guests can busy themselves with stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling, yoga and cooking classes, or treat themselves to an afternoon at the fantastic Six Senses spa. Those on a longer stay may enjoy visiting Con Dao town for a historical tour and a syrupy-sweet Vietnamese iced coffee. Young travelers will find plenty to keep themselves entertained with a great kids’ club program, movie nights, ping pong, kayaking and sailing. The restaurants feature traditional Vietnamese flavors as well as expertly prepared Western dishes made with local seafood and fresh herbs.
Six Senses Ninh Van Bay
Aboard a speedboat zipping away from the mainland, the first glimpse of Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is a dazzling cove. Next, granite boulders stacked in dramatic formations come into view, followed by a smattering of thatched roofs along the beach and up the hillside. A deck reaches out to sea, and on it a line of smiling, waving staff. It’s a far more elegant arrival than washing up to shore, but Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is every bit a castaway paradise.
Set on a peninsula in the east Vietnam Sea that is only accessible by boat, Ninh Van Bay runs along the side of a forested mountain and cascades down to a crescent-shaped beach. A coral reef buzzing with technicolor marine life lies just a few feet off the shore. Sandy pathways lined with lush forest connect the villas to the three restaurants, main pool, spa, water sports center and tennis courts, all accessible by bicycle or buggy. Each villa is assigned a butler, available by direct dial to assist with every request.
Of the many luxuries at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, one of the most extravagant is space. The 59 villas have soaring ceilings, oversized open-air living rooms and terraces opening up to generous private pools. The bedrooms are a study in barefoot luxury: whitewashed and spotless with textured walls, romantic canopy beds and wood-paneled ceilings. Many rooms have a beckoning bay window with a lounger that can seat two overlooks the sea. Stylish bathrooms are airy with earthy details: bamboo ceilings, indoor and outdoor showers and an authentic wooden Japanese soaking tub.
The beachfront villas are duplex-style, with the bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor and an open-air living room upstairs boasting panoramic views (this area is ideal for an in-room meal). Romantics seeking privacy and seclusion will love the Water Villas, set in the rocks past the beach and only accessible by foot on jungle pathways. These villas feature a private pool carved into the rocks and sit directly over the sea, with wooden steps leading down to the water, just a few strokes away from the reef. The overwater deck provides a totally romantic setting for a private BBQ dinner at sunset.
The jaw-dropping Rock Retreat is a totally private, two-bedroom extravaganza with a large pool carved into a boulder and is accessible by speedboat or a 20-minute walk through the jungle. The newest villa is the gorgeous three-bedroom hilltop reserve, which boasts the largest pool on property, a spacious deck and incredible views to the sea and Nha Trang in the distance.
Active travelers can spend their days snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, water skiing, hiking through the jungle or fishing. After a long day on the water, the Six Senses spa is a serene sanctuary in the jungle with open-air elements and award-winning treatments. For those looking to experience more of Vietnam, cultural tours to the local villages and working rice fields can be arranged.
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
The city’s most storied hotel, opened in 1901 and managed by French group Sofitel since 1989, is the only five-star property in central Hanoi. Its two buildings, the original Metropole wing and more recent Opera wing (so called because it fronts the street that leads to the Hanoi Opera), enclose a beautiful courtyard with a pool and adjacent lounge plus a leafy garden, creating the feeling of a serene resort within a city. The lobby in the original French-colonial villa contains a massive wooden check-in desk, a grand staircase and a light-filled atrium. The sense of history is so strong you can almost see the ghosts of Graham Greene (who has a suite named after him) and Somerset Maugham floating through the elegant spaces.
Which wing you should book in depends entirely on your taste and sensibility. The 109 rooms in the three-story Metropole wing have soul; the 255 ones in the seven-story Opera wing have space and big bathrooms. In the Metropole wing, colonial-inspired rooms have wide-plank hardwood floors, teal-green shutters, gracefully sloped fauteuil and high ceilings. Modern touches included a Philips flat-screen television, Jacuzzi bathtubs in the Metropole Suites, L’Occitane or Hermès bath amenities and Wi-Fi. Those requiring more space may prefer one of the rooms in the newer addition (which was renovated in 2007), many of which have spectacular views of Hanoi, dashes of color and more modern decoration. Indagare Tip: Be aware, however, that groups traveling together are often booked in the Opera wing, so its lobby is busier than the elegant arrival oasis on the other side.
Among the highlights of the property are a gorgeous multi-level spa, five restaurants (including excellent French and Italian outposts), the Epicerie de Metropole (a mini grocery serving coffee, pastries, chocolates, sandwiches and housemade ice cream), two vintage French cars available for tours and a UNESCO World Heritage site on site: an underground bunker that was discovered in 2011, and which can be toured daily.
The Reverie Saigon