WHY SWIMMING WITH WHALE SHARKS IN MEX­ICO IS UNLIKE ANY­WHERE ELSE

ANN RICKARD CON­TIN­UES HER SE­RIES ON HOW TO EN­JOY AFFORDABLE LUXURY IN VIET­NAM

The Observer - - WEEKEND -

With the sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings made by fly­ing to Viet­nam with Jet­star, in­dul­gence is pos­si­ble. Af­ter an un­for­get­table stay at The Rev­erie, Ho Chi Minh’s six-star ho­tel, a short flight to the Cam Ranh area on the south-east­ern coast had us at The Anam, the re­cently opened five-star colo­nial beach re­sort. A per­fect con­trast to the city rush of Ho Chi Minh.

The luxury em­braces from the first step into The Anam’s al­fresco lobby with its tran­quil wa­ter fea­tures, fat-bel­lied pots, mo­saic floors and glow­ing lanterns.

The weather does its part – the re­gion en­joys an av­er­age tem­per­a­ture of 26 de­grees ev­ery day of the year.

Seam­lessly blend­ing a five-star ap­proach with a “no shoes, no news, no stress” phi­los­o­phy, ev­ery el­e­ment of The Anam has been de­signed to pam­per you.

The ebul­lient gen­eral man­ager, Mr Her­bert, en­sures his “how can we please you?” at­ti­tude fil­ters down through all staff. It is clear you are vis­it­ing roy­alty.

Wind­ing paths lead to 77 sig­na­ture de­signed vil­las and 136 rooms and suites peek­ing out from lush growth around glit­ter­ing pools. All vil­las of­fer strik­ing views of the ocean, head­lands, gar­dens or pools.

Whether sea or gar­den view, ocean-front or spa villa, there is ac­com­mo­da­tion va­ri­ety for all of us: fam­i­lies, sin­gles, lovers, cou­ples, se­niors.

Our ocean­front pool villa with sep­a­rate

liv­ing room and spa­cious ter­race looked across hand-cut grass, smooth as a bil­liard ta­ble, to the sea. The bath­room, im­por­tant to the well­be­ing in a glam re­sort, fea­tured grey slate stone tiling, deep tub and sep­a­rate rain shower. It opened to a pri­vate gar­den.

It keeps get­ting bet­ter the more you dis­cover around the re­sort: palm trees sway along 300m of white, sandy beach­front, sunbeds around pools beckon, and staff greet you with face-split­ting smiles.

Eat­ing and drink­ing at The Anam keep up the high stan­dard, with fine French din­ing in the el­e­gant Colo­nial Res­tau­rant.

The In­do­chine Res­tau­rant, with its wood ac­cents and luxe fit­tings, over­looks one of three swimming pools and is where the break­fast buf­fet of­fers Viet­namese and Western del­i­ca­cies. Themed buf­fets in the evenings fol­low on from fu­sion a la carte

lunch and af­ter­noon tea in this venue.

Be­tween 5–6pm in The Saigon Bar it’s free-flow and it means ex­actly that. Free cre­ative cock­tails, good wines and lo­cal beers flow gen­er­ously and that’s a lot to love, as well as the bar’s res­i­dent mu­si­cians, who play any­thing from moody jazz to Bee Gees hits.

Most peo­ple agree Viet­namese cui­sine is the fresh­est, finest and most vi­va­cious in the world, and the chefs at Lang Viet Res­tau­rant & Bar on the beach make full use of the sea and land and present su­perb dishes (the pho and banh mi are manda­tory eat­ing), in­fus­ing ev­ery­thing with the coun­try’s fresh herbs.

If you can tear your­self away from the warm arms of The Anam, Nha Trang is a 30-minute shut­tle drive away, where the fran­tic pace of the town shows lo­cal life in its vi­brant form, and you must brave the tsunami of mo­tor-scoot­ers as they weave care­fully around you while you ex­plore. Cul­ture, ad­ven­ture and food tours to Nha Trang are eas­ily ar­ranged at The Anam.

Back at the re­sort, more in­dul­gence in the Sri Mara Spa, where gen­tle ther­a­pists of­fer a high-touch, low-tech ap­proach based on tra­di­tional Asian heal­ing tech­niques. Ten treat­ment rooms, a steam room, sauna and out­door gran­ite jacuzzi, along with the fra­grance of lemon­grass and gin­ger grown on site, en­sure you are in spa par­adise.

The Anam opened in 2017 and has al­ready at­tracted a global fol­low­ing, and yes, Aussies are flock­ing for its value-for-money luxury and easy-to-get-to lo­ca­tion.

The writer was a guest of The Anam and Jet­star.

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