Amanoi in Vietnam

Best Western Hotels & Resorts takes on the up-and-coming and in-demand Phu Quoc Island as its newest Best Western Premier location.
Image: ronan crowley / CC BY-ND 2.0
Pool Pavilion at Amanoi in Vietnam includes a private swimming pool with panoramic views.
Pool Pavilion at Amanoi in Vietnam includes a private swimming pool with panoramic views.

Traveling solo for the “young and looking” is no phenomena. I did plenty in my 20s. Baby boomers and seniors, take note! Our numbers are at an all-time high, so if you have the means and are in good health then as Sally Bowles said, “What good’s permitting some prophet of doom to wipe every smile away?”

Sitting alone in your room isn’t too shabby if it’s the Amanoi in Vietnam. I smiled plenty. I made a detour there on my way to Virtuoso Symposium in Hong Kong, and once I got past the realization and accepted the fact that I would be experiencing this amazing resort on my own, I became even more observant. Prearranged VIP “meet-and-greet” transfers at most airports disguise any hint of senescence.

Amanoi is not just another luxury beachside resort. It offers total luxury and privacy, set in unique surroundings with beautifully designed accommodations that are located in individual pavilions. The resort is about 75 minutes by car from Nha Trang airport (roundtrip private transfers are included in the rates). Nha Trang is an hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh City. My evening arrival after driving through small Vietnamese villages, and in anticipation of what was to come, gave me my second wind. The arrival pavilion would be impressive anytime but at night, in the glow of the brilliant luminescence Aman is known for creating, long shadows played on the imposing structure to create an overture of what was to follow. When I was brought to my pavilion by golf cart, my senses were reawakened. The secluded pavilion accessed from a lit path is almost 1,000 feet and mostly open-plan. When I arrived, it was also bathed in dramatic lighting, which is easily controlled at the touch of a button. The king-size bed, resplendent in fine white linens and which I would soon be sequestered in, gave a new meaning to the term “Featherbed Ball” that as a child my favorite aunt would entice me with to get me visit. No time to unpack.

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The Spa provides a serene setting for relaxation and rejuvenation.
The Spa provides a serene setting for relaxation and rejuvenation.

I woke up in a perfectly quiet, temperature-controlled environment. No sound but the sight of rays of light sneaking in enticed me to rise and inspect my home for the next few days. Soon I was pushing the two enormous pocket doors on both sides into the walls. Now the pavilion seemed even larger. The views on one side were of the private garden entrance to the pavilion and the other of the bay and surrounding hills. On the bay side there’s an infinity pool. Not a plunge pool. All of this just for me! I decided to take a morning dip and went to look for my bathing suit in the luggage I still had not unpacked. Then, in all this seclusion, I decided it really wasn’t a necessity. The pool is heated and all at once I felt 20, no, 30 years younger. Too bad I was alone, but one has to make the best of a situation. While I clung to the edge gazing at the view with the sun rising and birds overhead, I experienced a slight tinge of guilt. I called my partner in New York. The Skype connection, due to excellent internet, was so clear it was hard to believe I was thousands of miles away. Ahh! The 21st century at a luxury resort.

It was time to unpack and, like most professional travelers, I’m pretty organized. The dressing room / bath area is super spacious with double sinks separated by a large bath facing a wooded area. On one side is a private w/c, while on the other side there is a rain shower, which has two sliding doors. One of the doors opens to the garden so that, in effect, you’re showering outdoors.

I decided to have breakfast in the main dining pavilion. One call and a happy face was waiting at the end of the path. The main dining pavilion is also typical of Aman’s well-known Asian-inspired architecture. There are no exterior walls and the ceilings are infinitely high, bringing the outside in. The view, menu, food and the service were all perfect; I could not find one thing to fault. After a fairly quick breakfast I went back to my pavilion and was astonished to find that staff had already been there. How did they even know I had left? At Amanoi it’s not just twice daily; it’s whenever you’re not there. Even ice is replenished.

The pavilion is dramatic enough that I decided to post some pictures on Facebook. After posting in haste, I realized there was a huge mirror, and I had posted a picture of myself taking the picture (with practically nothing on). Lesson learned. Look carefully before you post.

I was ready and even anxious when Amanoi’s sales manager called asking if I would like a tour of the property. We looked at several pavilions and they were all as special as the one I was in. The beach-front five-bedroom villa is in a class of its own. All of the bedrooms are in pavilions much like the one I was in, except for the addition of the living room pavilion and the main private pool surrounded by all the others. It’s worthy of an Architectural Digest cover. Interestingly, the rates are quite competitive and may be a bit less than other private villas of the same ilk around the world.

After my tour, I hit the private white-sand beach, which is large enough that it never feels crowded; and Amanoi has the beach chairs perfectly spaced. Immediately behind and raised but still technically on the beach is the beach club pool. The outdoor showers have hot and cold water controls. Adjacent is the restaurant. If you’re a beach person, you’d never want to leave. Again, the service was over the top without being intrusive. When you’re alone, Wi-Fi is even more important and here it was perfect.

The real test when traveling alone is cocktails and dinner. My advice to the solo traveler is to always make friends with the bartender. And so that’s exactly what I did. Every night my gin martini was prepared to perfection. It was here where I soon met Sean, the general manager. He’s most friendly, approachable and personable. I enjoyed spending an evening dining with Sean and his cheerful wife, Terry. They have been resident managers at other Amans and have great stories to tell.

The Yoga Pavilion offers a class with a view each morning. Shown above is the Hydrotherapy terrace.
The Yoga Pavilion offers a class with a view each morning. Shown above is the Hydrotherapy terrace.

A spa day at a beautiful resort is easy to enjoy alone. Amanoi does an outdoor yoga class with a view each morning. The gym has state-of-the-art cardio, free weights and every machine you’ll ever need to have a complete workout; also with a view. The treatment rooms are free-standing pavilions; one just for steam and sauna, which is reserved for one or two persons. Besides steam and sauna, it has a hot tub and cold plunge pool. When it’s time for your massage the therapist knocks on the door and escorts you to another pavilion. So, one hour of yoga, two hours in the gym, 30 minutes in the steam room and 90 minutes of massage. Talk about indulgence! Trust me, this regime is the perfect antidote. No stress now. I’m ready for cocktails and dinner, thank you. Another great day.

The next morning I ordered breakfast in, just to experience room service. At the time I requested, there was a tap on the door and while I took a dip in my pool it was set up a few feet away. It was a few minutes after breakfast when I received a call from guest services, asking if I’d like to go snorkeling. When was the last time someone called you at 9 a.m. asking if you’d like to go snorkeling? Why not?

Soon I was walking down a path to another small beach where I met two of Amanoi’s beach boys who had all the snorkel gear with them. We snorkeled for about 90 minutes and then one of their boats picked me up to take me to the main beach. After lunch we went sailing on one of their Hobie Cats.

My last day came too soon, for as each passed they seemed shorter. I couldn’t believe I would be leaving early the next morning. Bliss was over, and I was heading back to reality. Reentry was actually easier than I had anticipated. I was headed to Hong Kong and would soon be with many friends at Virtuoso Symposium.

Today, according to a recent research, more and more people are traveling alone and that applies even more to baby boomers and seniors. The 17th-century British poet George Herbert said, “Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’” He also said, “Living well is the best revenge.” Thank you Amanoi.

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