Lang Co is a fishing village on Vietnam’s central coast, an hour’s drive from Da Nang International Airport, which is a 90-minute flight from both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Banyan Tree Lang Co is close by on Laguna Lang Co, the country’s first integrated resort, a place — as we were to discover — that makes you wonder why you have to leave.
But first, a bit of geographical perspective, and what to do outside the resort:
Banyan Tree Lang Co is located between two of Vietnam’s most visited cities and UNESCO sites: Hue, the former imperial city, which is an hour away; and the charming little town of Hoi An, which is a 90-minute drive. Both are easily reached on the resort’s daily shuttle runs. A visit to Hue’s imperial citadel is a must to admire the emperor’s former residence, temples and pavilions. History and archaeology buffs will also appreciate a visit to the My Son Hindu temple ruins, another fascinating UNESCO site, which is 90 minutes from Lang Co.
Hoi An, with narrow streets, small shops and quaint restaurants, is known for its tailors who take your measurements and deliver your made-to-measure items in less than 48 hours. It is also famous for its cuisine;, one way to try its tasty specialties is on a street food tour that can be organized by Banyan Tree’s concierge team. Top Tip: In the small restaurant run by Miss Ly (011-84-235-386-1603) and her American husband Nathan, the Cao Lau Noodles, which are the local speciality, and the White Rose shrimp dumplings will delight even the most sophisticated palates.
We arrived at the Banyan Tree after dark, so our first impression was of twinkling lights high up on hills and colored lanterns hanging from trees, as a buggy brought us along pathways with lush plants and quaint bridges to our Beach Pool Villa. Here our villa host checked us in and showed us all the facilities, including how to get just the right mood lighting in the villa and the infinity pool, as well as on the ornamental ceiling-to-floor lacquered flower painting behind the bed.
On a two-mile crescent sandy bay on the East Sea, with the Truong Son mountain range providing a dramatic backdrop, the property is elegance personified, from its handsome façade and stately entrance to its immaculate landscaped grounds and 64 pool villas, 17 of which are on the beach. Head concierge Do Le Viet Lai ([email protected]; 011-84-234-369-5888) said the weather is dry from March to August with temperatures rising up into the 90s, while September to January receive showers.
A One-Bedroom Sea-View Hill Pool Villa offers 1,635 square feet of space and provides bird’s-eye views of the East Sea.
Our villa, No. 120, was the closest to the main building with its rectangular swimming pool, and the Water Court and Azura restaurants. The villas are inspired by the traditional architecture of the old imperial capital Hue and are particularly bright with tall windows on three sides. From the king-size bed we could see the beach and the sea beyond the infinity pool with its red-roofed day-bed pavilion and Jacuzzi. The bathrooms have windows looking out on the walled garden, dual sinks, showers, bathtubs and the iconic Banyan Tree seaweed-inspired motif amenity bags, slippers and robes.
The 32 Lagoon Pool Villas, which are entry-level and the most secluded accommodations, have lush lagoon landscape views. There are 15 Hillside Pool Villas: five measuring 1,635 square feet with one bedroom, three measuring 2,550 square feet with two bedrooms, and seven measuring 2,780 square feet with three bedrooms. They have impressively large living rooms with a dining table, and terraces that run the length of the villa with infinity pools and unparalleled views over the resort and the bay. Note: The road up to these villas is steep, so for children or elderly guests, buggies are the way to go.
General manager Brett Burton ([email protected]; 011-84-234-369-5888) told us that guests often say they feel they have the whole resort to themselves and that, at the weekly cocktail parties hosted by management, they like to share experiences. Burton said that for Christmas, New Year’s and the Vietnamese Tet New Year — January 25 in 2020 — it is necessary to book well in advance. For special requests or enquiries, the person to contact is Guest Relations manager Minseok Han ([email protected]; 011-84-234-369-5888).
With four restaurants to chose from, Banyan Tree guests can also avail themselves of the facilities in the next-door Angsana Lang Co, where there are another three restaurants, making for an exciting choice of dining options full of Eastern promise. The Angsana is a pleasant stroll along the beach, or guests can take a bicycle, a buggy or one of the small boats on the lagoon linking the two properties.
Breakfast is in the Water Court. And what a spread it is! There are live cooking stations with Western breakfasts and Vietnamese favorites, an eye-popping array of breads and patisserie, fresh juices, a selection of cheeses, sparkling wines and DIY Bloody Marys and margaritas (that was a first for us). And for guests who forget their reading glasses, there is a selection to choose from — one of those meaningful touches that put Banyan Trees into a league of their own. Post-breakfast, the Water Court has a Vietnamese menu with local specialities. The nearby Azura beside the pool does great pizzas, pasta and Mediterranean seafood.
The signature Saffron Restaurant perched on the hilltop is famous for its contemporary Thai cuisine. With spectacular views over the estate and coastline, it is a must for sunset cocktails. Fresh orchids and our name written on a leaf welcomed us to our table, and we chose the Khong Wang Ruam appetizers with prawns, chicken and sea bass, followed by soft shell crab with pineapple and tamarind. The flavors were exciting and the spiciness was exactly what we had requested, thanks to the attentive staff who expertly guided us through the menu.
A Beach Pool Villa at Banyan Tree Lang Co comes with a private swimming pool, a sun deck and a poolside sala pavilion.
The Angsana is a family resort and its bright Moomba beach and pool restaurant features grilled seafood and Asian dishes. In the evening, the Rice Bowl, with its low lighting, sets a relaxed mood for the menu of regional specialties and the intriguing rice-based drinks and cocktails in the Rice Bar. But the options don’t end here as guests can choose in-villa and destination dining: From the room service menu and cocktails served on floating trays in their private pools to butler-served poolside barbecues and romantic dinners on the beach. And every afternoon, a staff member, carrying a traditional shoulder pole, serves Vietnamese tea and delicacies in the garden.
The genuine warmth of the staff is typical of Vietnamese hospitality and is reflected in the well-timed and discreet way the villa hosts just happen to run into guests on their way to the beach, or come over as they’re finishing lunch to make sure that everything about their stay is gilt-edged.
Golfing on the Laguna Lang Co’s 71-par Nick Faldo course, yoga, Vietnamese cooking and Pilates classes, kayaking and mountain biking are all available at the resort. But no stay here is complete without experiencing the spa, where the therapists are from the Banyan Tree Academy, which is famous for its world-class professionals. In the large reception area, we were given a warm welcome by spa manager Arphatsara Thunngan ([email protected]; 011-84-234-369-5888 ext. 77400), who said guests should reserve treatments on arrival due to the high demand. In the exclusive comfort of the private villas beside the lagoon, therapists advise the most suitable holistic treatments, enquiring which incense perfume and aromatic oil guests prefer for the relaxing and rejuvenating massages.