Cam Ranh peninsula, Vietnam


It is 5am. All is quiet except for the gentle sound of waves lapping the beach. In front of me is a glorious sunrise painting hues of fiery crimson and gold across the sky. I stand alone – a little sleepy perhaps – but fully taking in the beautiful view and appreciati­ng the morning serenity.

Because I know what comes later in the day – a bustling community of families and kids looking to get away from the city. But that’s the charm of Alma Resort – you could choose to sit back and relax or join in the crowd and enjoy the many activities offered here.

Accommodat­ion for all

Located on the up-and-coming Cam Ranh peninsula east of Vietnam, Alma Resort is a family-friendly destinatio­n fronting Bai Dai Beach. I am lucky enough to stay at the Ocean Front Pavilion, one of the 580 oversized suites and pavilions in this 30-hectare mega-resort. It is spacious and wellfurnis­hed, complete with a living area, fully equipped kitchen, dining table and a private pool with a sweeping view of the ocean. It feels like a home away from home – cosy and comfortabl­e. The Pavilions make up just half of the resort, because on the other side are two tall buildings housing the suites, restaurant­s and other facilities. The suites are like regular hotel rooms and may be a little further from the beach, but they all have large balconies and a bird’s eye view of the peninsula and nearby mountains. Getting around is only a buggy ride away or a scenic walk along landscaped gardens.

When I say Alma is a mega-resort, it really is mega. There are 12 swimming pools that cascade down toward the beach, a waterpark, 13-treatment room spa, 70-seat cinema, convention centre, amphitheat­re, art gallery, science museum, gymnasium and yoga room, 18-hole mini golf course, a youth centre with virtual reality games, a kid’s club, watersport­s centre and even an “Alma Mart” mini supermarke­t. Judging from the gleeful smiles of kids running around the resort, I can safely say that no one, young or old, feels bored. There are so many activities and entertainm­ent options that the most stressful moments are probably deciding what to do for the day.

A foodie’s paradise

Variety is the highlight here. There are five main restaurant­s and dining places that cater to all diets and palates. Alma Garden, the main family restaurant, is a busy dining space with an open-air patio and live cooking stations that evoke a marketplac­e atmosphere. It’s where many guests come to have their daily breakfast buffets and dinner feasts (I suggest arriving early to book your table). For Japanese and contempora­ry Asian cuisine, head to Asiana. Besides sashimi platters and dim sum, the restaurant offers a world-class range of sakes and Japanese whiskies. La Casa serves up a delectable slice of Italian culture, serving family favourites like fresh handmade pizzas from its a la carte menu.

Atlantis, as you can tell from the name, specialise­s in fresh local seafood served in a casual alfresco setting right on the beach. With flavourful dishes like Nha Trang Seafood Salad, it is easily my favourite dining spot at the resort. Quick and affordable food can be found at Alma Food Court. At this one-stop culinary hub, there are six different food outlets offering something for everyone all day long, from burgers and ice cream to coffee and hearty bowls of pho.

There are four bars to grab daytime drinks or evening tipples. Alma Lounge is a cafe and bar situated at the main lobby area where groups of family and friends can kick back, have a drink and listen to live music from the resident singer and pianist. The American Bar is a lively space with karaoke rooms on the second floor, while the Beach and Pool Bars are idyllic spots for margaritas and tropical cocktails.


Phu Quoc island, Vietnam

Phu Quoc island reminds me of holiday hotspots like Phuket and Da Nang – it has beachfront hotels, white sandy beaches, charming fishing villages, seaside restaurant­s and night markets – but without the hordes of tourists and cheesy attraction­s. It’s a perfect balance, which is why now is the best time to visit the island.

A hidden gem is Fusion Resort, a luxury resort tucked away on a private beach of Vung Bau Bay. It has an allspa-inclusive concept, which means that for each night’s stay, you’ll enjoy a spa treatment at Maia Spa & Wellness at no extra cost. So if you are looking to pamper yourself with a “spa-cation” and shake off the stresses of the modern world, this could be the place for you.

A luxurious stay

There are only villas in this 130-key resort, all with either garden, river or ocean views. The one-bedroom Garden Pool Villa is elegantly designed in earthy tones with an open-plan living and sleeping area, and a large en-suite bathroom featuring a sunken bathtub in the centre.

It is clearly meant for couples. The space is dimly lit (it could use some brighter bulbs) with the bathroom separated only by a curtain, and a doorless shower area. It is a little disconcert­ing for those who still value privacy in the bath, with or without a partner. That said, the outdoor pool, garden and lounge area do offer enough seclusion with surroundin­g high walls and thick foliage.

All amenities expected of a luxury resort are here, except that drinking water come in cans, toiletries are packaged in paper, and refillable soap and shampoo are on the shelves. It’s a sign of the resort’s sustainabi­lity efforts in cutting down plastic usage.

It does not stop there. The resort works with WWF (World Wide Fund) Vietnam to collect and recycle plastic litter through regular community clean-ups. Sustainabi­lity efforts also extend to the Farm Village which aims to help guests reconnect with nature.

 ?? ?? Beachfront Pool Pavilion
Beachfront Pool Pavilion
 ?? ?? Atlantis
 ?? ?? Sunrise at Alma Resort
Sunrise at Alma Resort
 ?? ?? One-Bedroom Garden Pool Villa
One-Bedroom Garden Pool Villa

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