Tried & Tested
Park Hyatt Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City , American Airlines NewYork JFK – Los Angeles LAX A321 First Class
BACKGROUND Opened in 2005 and designed by Damansara Architects and EDC Design from Malaysia, the Park Hyatt – Hyatt’s “boutique” hotel brand – trades on the nostalgia of Vietnam’s former colonial period but with 21st century technology and comfort. It’s widely acknowledged as the city’s top dog for all things hospitality.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The hotel’s elegant, ivory-tone façade was inspired by and sits well with the surrounding French colonial architecture. The sweeping driveway to the stately entrance is a rarity in HCMC’s highly developed downtown. Both the lobby and adjacent Lounge Bar are decorated with Indochine-inspired furnishings, teak wooden floors and Oriental rugs. I found the front of house staff faultlessly on the ball – my limo door was opened and I was welcomed, after which my bags were whisked up to await me in my room during the few minutes it took to check in.
WHERE IS IT? Built on the former site of the war-era hotel The Brink, the Park Hyatt occupies one of HCMC’s most coveted pieces of downtown real estate. Most of the city’s cultural highlights – the Reunification Palace, Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, People’s Committee – are all within walking distance, assuming that you can take the 95-degree daytime average. HCMC’s after dark action happens in surrounding District 1 and District 3 and you don’t have to wander far for a good time – popular dining and drinking spot Xu, Blanchy’s Tash bar and fabulous restaurant Blanchy Street are all within a one block radius.
ROOM FACILITIES My fifth floor Park King room overlooked the landscaped gardens and pool, and its demi poster bed, insulated louvered windows and the wooden ceiling fan swirling languorously overhead found their contemporary counterpoints in central air and a 40”Sony LCD TV and iPod dock. The workspace was all business – generously sized with ample and accessible power points. Thoughtful touches abound: a handwritten welcome note from the GM, the closet that opened on both sides accessible from both bedroom and bathroom and complimentary twice-daily turndown and butler service.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Both restaurants – and the bar – were designed by edgy Japanese firm Super Potato and have been mainstays of the city’s dining scene since the hotel opened. On the ground floor, casual, contemporary Italian eatery Opera features an al fresco dining terrace overlooking the Opera House. Upstairs, Square One is designed to evoke a (very swank) Vietnamese marketplace, serving premium imported steaks and local and imported seafood against a backdrop of exposed brickwork and “stalls” of colorful fresh produce. BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The free span, 5,920-square-foot ballroom is divisible into three soundproofed sections. The four additional meeting rooms – two of which have balconies and lots of natural light – measure from 646 to 807 square feet, with two executive boardrooms for smaller gatherings. The hotel has a dedicated meeting services team and audio-visual connectivity is state-of-the-art, with high speed broadband Internet access, of course, in all function rooms.
LEISURE FACILITIES The fully equipped 24-hour fitness studio incorporates 19 Life Fitness machines, Jacuzzi, steam and wet areas. Outside, the hotel’s landscaped gardens cradle a 20-meter swimming pool. The excellent Xuan Spa offers seven treatment rooms and a smorgasbord of therapeutic delights.
VERDICT The Park Hyatt seamlessly weaves the opulence of Vietnam’s French colonial past with its energetic, edgy present. It’s the city’s go-to venue for business and leisure travelers alike. BT