Cam Ranh is one of Vietnam’s most pristine deep-water bays and, with over 300 days of sunshine a year, is on the cusp of becoming the country’s newest tropical destination. The Anam is the first five-star resort on a peninsula in the bay, and will be a hard act to follow for the other properties currently under construction.
Just an hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh City, and 15 minutes from Cam Ranh Airport, The Anam, which is backed by low mountains and fronted by white sands and blue waters, exudes a laid-back sophistication. General Manager Herbert Laubichler-Pichler ([email protected]; 011-842-583-989-499) tells us that they planted over 3,000 palm trees to create the exotic tropical gardens. But the landscaping feature we fell in love with was the sweeping swathe of grass that runs down to the sea past the villas, as manicured and lush as a Jack Nicklaus green.
Herbert says that for the high season, from February to September, three-month advance bookings are essential, especially for the most requested three-bedroom Ocean View Pool Villas. He also says that sunrise can be enjoyed from all sea-view villas, with the sun setting behind the mountains.
Guests can choose from a wide variety of accommodations, ranging from nine different categories of villas to 96 Sea and Garden View rooms and suites in the Anam Deluxe Collection hotel. These all have balconies or gardens looking out over the ocean or the forest of palm trees. There are 15 connecting pairs of rooms, and the two Terrace Suites have separate living rooms and balconies with ocean views.
At the Indochine Restaurant, breakfasts include international and Vietnamese favorites. It also serves à la carte lunches and buffet dinners with daily themes.
The 117 villas — 27 with private pools — top out with the 10 Ocean View Pool Villas, three Ocean Front Pool Villas and the 12 2,900-square-foot Family Hill Villa With Private Pool Three Bedroom. There are also two Private Pool Villas on the hillside next to the spa with a therapy area for in-villa treatments, a steam room, a sunken Jacuzzi and a complimentary spa treatment per person per day plus a 25 percent discount on further treatments.
The guestrooms, suites and villas have splendid blue- and white-tiled floors that made us feel we were in the Mediterranean, and the dark hardwoods come from sustainable plantations. We liked the ceiling fan, which was perfectly in keeping with the colonial mood of the villa, and we fought a daily tug-of-war between our private pool and the large lagoon-like main pool. Of course we used both, and also the 300-meter-long beach for its calm waters where there are no motorized water sports. We loved strolling through the tranquil grounds to the various facilities although, more often than not, guests are picked up by a buggy driven by one of the smiling staff.
The Sri Mara Spa has a “high-touch, low-tech” menu and uses French Thémaé products and locally grown ingredients like lemongrass, aloe vera and ginger. Spa Manager Kadek Wina Jelita Wati ([email protected]) had us try the Topical Detox and Slimming treatment, which was very soothing, and is one of the four signature packages. Wina had us laughing when we asked her the name of the most popular masseuse: “Well, there is Le Oanh, Khong Loan and My Hanh, then Minh Nguyet, Bich Uyen and Than Hang and, of course, Kieu Anh!”
An Ocean Front Pool Villa at the Anam offers 1,615 square feet of space and comes with a private pool and a terrace.
The Indochine Restaurant’s breakfasts have live cooking stations and international and Vietnamese favorites; it also serves à la carte lunches and buffet dinners with daily themes from Italian to barbecue to Vietnamese. The Saigon Bar, which is popular for its happy hour cocktails and wine and champagne by the glass, has striking black and white photos by renowned Vietnamese photographer Mai Loc. Tip: Works by local artists can be admired all around the property.
The Colonial is the fine-dining restaurant and, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, the club lounge for selected suite and villa guests. Serving classical French cuisine in the evenings accompanied by music on the grand piano, it has a list of remarkably fine wines. Nice Touch: The afternoon tea is as pretty as a picture with salmon and cucumber finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, macaroons, mini lemon meringue pies and chocolate muffins on a tiered plate.
With its terrace overlooking the beach and adults-only infinity pool, the Lang Viet Restaurant is a real magnet for its western and Vietnamese menu, happy hours and the popular Mama’s Cooking evenings. These are the first of their kind in Vietnam, and are the real McCoy with the mothers of staff members cooking their family’s centuries-old recipes for guests.
The Anam is the first five-star, colonial-style beach resort in Vietnam. Shown here is the Beach Club pool.
The night we dined there with Wina, we had Bun Bo Hué beef noodle soup and Bahn Xeo crispy pancakes stuffed with pork and bean sprouts. They were so delicious we returned for seconds, and this left all five Mamas smiling happily. Tip: A candle-lit table for two can be set up on the lawn for romantic five-course barbecue dinners with a private waiter and chef. There is only one table per night, which means first come first served, so booking months ahead is a must.
The hotel’s 60-seat 3-D cinema has a daily afternoon show for children and adult fare in the evenings. In the Spa, there is a gym and a yoga room (yoga sessions are also done at sunrise on the stunning lawn). Guests can enjoy kayaking, kick volleyball, surfing and snorkeling and, for the younger set, there are organized futsal and water gymnastics in the main pool and the Kids Club. Golfers are catered for with the soon-to-open 27-hole Greg Norman Cam Ranh Links Golf Resort, which is just minutes from The Anam, and the Diamond Bay and Vinpearl courses in Nha Trang.
Nha Trang, which is 30 minutes from the resort, was once a fishing village and is now a lively resort town with cafés, restaurants, bars and shops lining its beachside promenade. It is fun to eat on the beach where vendors barbeque locally caught lobster, crab, squid, prawns and marinated meats. There are also many grill-your-own restaurants, and others with huge tanks of live fish. For more fancy fare, the iconic beachside Sailing Club is famous for the cocktails and sophisticated dining in its beach bar, restaurant and nightclub.
The Anam Terrace Suite in Anam Deluxe Collection hotel has a separate living room and balcony with views of the ocean.
Guest Relations Manager Nguyen Kieu Tin Thuong ([email protected]), aka Maya, says Anam guests love the Nha Trang Vespa Tours: Adventure tours to fishing villages and waterfalls and cultural tours that give a glimpse of traditional life. Maya can also organize trips to the offshore islands and private tours of the area’s archaeological sites.
Art lovers should not miss the Nha Trang Art Tours, which are the brainchild of General Manager Herbert and Nguyen Hong Van, who opened Nha Trang’s first art gallery. The knowledgeable and charming Van can accompany guests on these intimate tours, which bring guests into the homes of local artists and sculptors, and should be booked in advance through Maya.