Taste & Travel
Azerai Resort Can Tho.
ALTHOUGH I'VE VISITED VIETNAM MANY TIMES, I HAD NEVER MADE THE TREK DOWN THE Mekong Delta to the beautiful city of Can Tho. The town is aptly known as the Rice Bowl of Vietnam, as this region is responsible for more than half of the nation's rice production.
This part of the delta, a three-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City, is also known as Cuu Long (Nine Dragons) referring to the nine tributaries of the Mekong River which enrich the soil and support ancient riverside farming and fishing communities. With its burgeoning economy, impressive floating markets, picturesque canals and diverse river culture, Can Tho is a popular tourist destination.
The spectacular new Azerai Resort Can Tho opened last year on Au Islet in the midst of the Hau River. A ten-minute boat ride whisks guests from the riverbank Arrivals Pavilion to the hotel's private pier. Set on the quiet island away from busy traffic, the hotel's 60 spacious rooms are spread over eight hectares, overlooking the river, lush gardens and a lily-pad-filled lagoon.
The centerpiece of this secluded resort is a 31-metre infinity pool surrounded by shaded sun-loungers and comfortable sofas, along with an informal cafe and outdoor bar.
The airy cafe offers an all-day menu featuring regional and international dishes focusing on local seasonal produce and ingredients, from aromatic Vietnamese phos, fresh tropical fruit platters and hand-pressed juices, to fresh salads and woodfired pizzas.
The open-air covered lounge and bar overlooks the infinity pool and is the perfect setting for small bites and refreshments during the day, an informal Afternoon Tea with sweet and savoury options, or a tranquil sunset with pre-dinner cocktails.
Set beneath a canopy of ancient banyan trees, the resort's evening-only Grill specializes in freshly caught seafood, succulent steaks and poultry, along with seasonal salads and organic vegetables.
Accommodations are in 30 two-room, traditional-style villas, filled with natural sunlight from floor-to-ceiling windows. Each villa has an outdoor terrace with loungers. The comfortable modern interiors are light and neutral in tone and embrace the use of local materials. The rooms can be combined using an interconnecting door to create two-bedroom facilities, which are ideal for families.
A fully equipped gymnasium pavilion overlooks the Hau River. Guests also have access to a Pilates studio and dedicated yoga and meditation villa. A Junior Zone caters for kids with a swimming pool and an indoor pavilion equipped with a range of arts and crafts activities, books, games and educational films.
The Azerai is a serene tropical oasis in the midst of a bustling city, suitable for romantic travellers or for the whole family. Day tours by www.canthorivertour.com cover the busy morning floating markets where hawkers display loaded sampans of pomelos, pineapples, pumpkins and other local produce, and where you can meet local rice noodle producers, cacao farmers and other artisans.