A villa on the river
NOwords are spoken, but as our driver pulls up inside the gates of the Hoi An Marina Resort & Spa our contented smiles say it all. After the hurly-burly of the traffic in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, and the bustle of the ancient city of Hue, my family and I are pleasantly surprised by the tranquillity of this haven on the country’s central coast, just minutes from the heart of old Hoi An.
The four-star resort, which opened in December, is set amid manicured lawns dotted with hibiscus and palm trees that stretch to the languid Thu Bon River, where traditional fishing boats ply the peaceful waters.
Yet just a short walk away is the Japanese Covered Bridge, symbol of Hoi An’s World Heritage- listed Ancient Town and its popular tourist precinct.
Our one-bedroom Marina Pool Villa is configured as an L-shape around a private spa pool. We have expansive views of the river through full-length sliding glass doors, and internet televisions (with free WiFi) in the living room and bedroom. Our request for an extra bed for our nine-year-old son is cheerfully met — within minutes staff have arrived to set it up in the living room.
The resort features 12 villas with tasteful oriental furnishings and flourishes and all the expected mod cons. We are told there are plans to increase the number of villas to 80 within two years.
While ours is a spacious 100sq m, other options include garden villas and river view villas, slightly smaller at 90sq m and less expensive but equally well equipped. The resort spa offers massages, facials, manicures and pedicures and it’s tempting to just relax and succumb to pampering. There are also hands-on cooking classes and a food tour with the chef, including a visit to Tra Que organic herb gardens, to a village market to purchase ingredients and a return trip to the resort by boat. The concierge desk or travel agencies in Hoi An proper can also organise guided tours to the Cham dynasty relics at My Son, the Cham museum at Da Nang, traditional villages and waterways.
But we want to explore independently at a leisurely clip, so we collect complimentary bikes from the concierge and trundle through the resort gates to check out the surrounds and get a bite to eat at one of the dozens of excellent and inexpensive restaurants nearby.
At night, lanterns are lit all over Hoi An and the heritage town sparkles in its romantic river setting.
When we return our bikes, we discover our home away from home has been similarly lit in a magical display.
By the next morning, as we tuck into a hearty breakfast on the lawn in front of our villa, under trees laden with tropical fruit, the river lapping before us, the cares of the world have completely evaporated. CHECKINGIN International couples and families. WHEELCHAIR ACCESS Yes, discuss your exact needs when booking. BEDTIMEREADING WhenHeaven and Earth Changed Places, a memoir by Le Ly Hayslip. STEPPINGOUT Bikes for guests’ use. BRICKBATS Full dining facilities will not be available until the development is completed. BOUQUETS Excellent service; unbeatable location.
Hoi An Marina Resort & Spa in central Vietnam