15 Tuesday October, 2013
Devoted Vietnam-lover and Ampersand's senior sales consultant, Mark Wright, recently stayed at Amanoi in Vinh Hy Bay and was one of their first ever guests. Despite being brand new, the resort was already operating like a dream; read on for Mark's full report, in which it appears Amanoi gets a glowing 10 out of 10!
Designed by Jean-Michel Gathy, Amanoi is the newest resort in the Aman Resort family, which opened at the beginning of September 2013. Their opening coincided beautifully with my planned trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, so it was a must to experience not only a new hotel but a new destination in Vietnam, Vinnh Hy Bay & Nui Chua National Park.
The first thing that struck me was the location. It’s in the complete opposite direction to everything else around Nha Trang. All of the hotels are north of the airport, whereas Amanoi is 55km south in Vinh Hy Bay. The first half of the drive is pretty non-descript and quite bumpy with the road being re-paved, but the final 30 minutes are breathtaking! I cycled along the Croatian coast last year and it reminded me very much of the Adriatic coastline between Split and Dubrovnik, with wide sweeping bays, steep rocky cliffs falling dramatically into the sea and giant boulders poking out of the green landscape. Arriving at Vinh Hy Bay from the north, you first see a few subtle pavilions and villas dotted around the southern end of the Bay – very unobtrusive, but you begin to realise it’s Amanoi. It is a testament to the design amalgamating with its surroundings. The location they have chosen (no doubt after years of searching) is spot on, secluded enough but near to the quaint fishing village of Vinh Hai in the bay. As with Amanjiwo and Aman Sveti Stefan, the setting is ideal. The joy of visiting a new location in a country I already love was an amazing feeling, a bit like discovering a new restaurant in your home city.
The pavilions are all uniformly designed, the only difference is in the views (mountain or ocean, Vinh Hy Bay or South China Sea) and whether they have a private pool or not. As it’s a beach property, it would be a real shame not to have an Ocean or Ocean Pool Pavilion as the views are spectacular. At other Vietnamese beachfront hotels all of the villas (except a few hill top villas) are on the ground level, and boats can sometimes cause a minor disturbance. At Amanoi the Pavilions are perched far enough from the sea for the passing fishing boats to be a distant romantic hum, but close enough to feel connected to it. One morning we got up at 05:20 to witness one of the best sunrises I have ever witnessed!! The fishing boats were chugging back into harbour after their night out at sea, the heavy blazing orange sun was slowly creeping over the horizon and we simply sat in silence for an hour watching the world awake around us from our private pool deck.
The Pavilions & Villas themselves are incredibly well thought out, with some of the best and easy-to-understand lighting I’ve encountered (lighting can sometimes be a real chore in hotels), the bathrooms have direct access onto the deck/pool area and the beds are extremely comfortable (not always the case with luxury hotels). The private pools are long enough to swim decent lengths in, unlike other properties in Southeast Asia, which I found to be beneficial. It means you can actually swim in your own private pool as opposed to simply paddling.
The food I ate over the 3 meals I experienced was great. Fish was heavy on the menu, naturally being situated next to a fishing village. At the moment they have 2 public dining options down by the beach pool and in the main pavilion (the highest part of the property). They have plans to develop a dining experience in the nearby village. The main pavilion, where the bar and main restaurant is located, is a true architectural feat with the best views of the area.
The Aman spa is incredibly indulgent (I sampled their signature Aman massage) and they have 5 couple pavilions and 2 nearly completed hydrotherapy suites. Pilates is also a big feature here, with some of the most up-to-date equipment I have seen in Asia and Erin, the British Pilates/Yoga instructor. Down by the beach (which is a lot larger than the pictures do it justice and great for swimming) they do have some cats, kayaks and snorkelling equipment for those active members. There is also top hiking in Nui ChuaNational Park.
During the 24 hours I was there I tried to fit in as much as humanly possible, along with enough time to relax and enjoy the property and the surroundings. Aman have managed to succeed again in marrying the design of the hotel with its surroundings and revealing a new corner of Vietnam’s stunning coastline to the world.
If you are thinking about travelling to Vietnam and want to experience something new in the height of luxury, a stay at Amanoi should be very high up your list.
To view more of Mark's photos on Facebook please click here.