A new dawn is breaking over one of Southeast Asia’s most beautiful coastlines and it no longer rises to the refrain of Good Morning, Vietnam.
|LING ROOM of the Nam Hai Five-Bedroom Pool Villa set up for an event.|
Far from the teeming streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Vietnam’s beguiling Central Coast offers a much quieter, calmer, and more relaxed welcome to travelers who want to blend sun, surf, sand and seafood with temples, markets, history and culture.
Vietnam’s road less traveled leads directly to Danang, a rapidly growing beach resort destination bristling with hotel and golf developments, and now easily accessible via new nonstop Korean Air services from Seoul. Suddenly, Vietnam is as compelling a vacation option as Phuket and Bali.
A vanguard of this change of pace is the multi-award-winning Nam Hai, part of the Singapore-based General Hotel Management (GHM) portfolio and widely considered the best beach resort in Vietnam.
Situated about 20 miles south of Danang and perched on 90 acres of palm-studded land on Ha My Beach, The Nam Hai set a benchmark in design-centric resort architecture when it opened in 2006 and retains its razor-sharp reputation today.
|NAM HAI VILLAS' design aesthetic is rooted in Vietnamese history, culture and architecture.|
The 60 One-Bedroom Villas and 40 Pool Villa Residences, ranging from one to five bedrooms, are set in five beachfront and horseshoe-shaped clusters—three on one side of the main reception, pool and restaurant complex, and two on the other side. Another row of elevated villas, boasting views of the South China Sea, are perched behind the beachfront villas.
The pick of accommodations is the Five-Bedroom Pool Villa, a 7,000-square-foot compound with vast living and dining areas and five separate sleeping villas with private butler service and direct beach access. Note: The most requested are the One-Bedroom Pool Villas which also have separate living and sleeping villas serviced by private butlers.
Our villa (1053) formed part of a Three-Bedroom Pool Villa complex with a private gated entrance, a shared living and dining pavilion, garden and pool. Note: The spacious multi-villa compounds are ideal for families or friends traveling together.
Each villa’s design aesthetic is rooted in Vietnamese history, culture and architecture with split-level living and sleeping areas, a raised platform with room for a king-size bed, writing desk and sunken bath, twin vanities and dressing recesses in the bathroom, and a private outdoor shower garden. For more details, contact Director of Sales and Marketing Albert Lafuente (alafue[email protected]; 011-84-838-256-000).
|NAM HAI has a free-form swimming pool surrounded by tropical gardens.|
The resort’s Vietnamese fusion dining experience is outstanding with New Zealand-born Executive Chef Richard Wilson sourcing the freshest produce from local markets and the resort’s own organic garden.
Note: The best tables are on the terrace of The Restaurant (recently renovated) overlooking the water gardens, and poolside at The Beach Restaurant looking out to sea. Contact F&B Manager Christian Acker ([email protected]; 011-84-905-905-065).
The Spa at The Nam Hai is equally impressive with eight spa villas (four single and four double) beside a lagoon of lotus flowers. Tip: The hour-long Vietnamese massage is the most requested treatment blending massage and pressure point work with five exclusive essential oils. Contact Spa Manager Desak Ambarwati ([email protected]; 011-84-510-394-000, ext. 7700/1).
While the resort’s three pools and beach beckon, Danang is surrounded by several authentic Vietnamese cultural attractions ripe for exploring from historic Hoi An to the temples of My Son, Marble Mountains, and Cham Islands just off the coast.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, the old Southeast Asian trading port of Hoi An, a 15-minute drive south of the Nam Hai, is a gem. Dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, and influenced at various times by Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, English, French and Portuguese traders, the ancient town is a labyrinth of beautifully preserved merchant homes, temples, museums and bustling shops, bars and restaurants.
Tips: A $5 entry ticket provides access to five cultural sites; Hoi An is famous for its rapid turnaround and high-quality tailors, the best being Yaly in Tran Phu Street; for the best banh mi (a delicious baguette filled with grilled meats, vegetables and chilis) in Hoi An, head for Phuong next to the central market.
Another must-see is the ancient temple complex of My Son, nestled in a lush valley about 30 miles from Hoi An. Lost to the wider world for centuries until they were rediscovered by French archeologists in 1898, the 1,500-year-old brick-built temples are a cornerstone of Vietnam’s Cham culture.
|THE SPA AT THE NAM HAI is set beside a lagoon of lotus flowers.|
The intriguing Marble Mountains, five miles south of Danang, are a group of five marble and limestone hills which became a stronghold for Viet Cong rebels during the Vietnam War. Today, visitors can climb one of the mountains to see caves, tunnels and pagodas which remain intact.
The Nam Hai can also arrange sunset cruises and snorkeling and picnic trips by helicopter to the Cham Islands. Contact Head Concierge Nguyen Trung ([email protected]; 011-84-979-415-118).
Korean Air offers daily nonstop flights to Seoul from major U.S. gateways and four nonstop flights a week from Seoul to Danang. We recommend the excellent Prestige Class (business) service on the most spacious A380 aircraft (New York and L.A.) with fully flat sleeper seats, super efficient cabin crew, and two private bar lounges for relaxing. More details can be found at www.koreanair.com.