The delightful Anantara Hoi An casts a spell over all your senses and tempts you to return.
Text by Jan Yong |
Photography by Anantara Hoi An and Jan Yong
The luxurious imprint of Anantara Hoi An begins the moment the driver picked us up at Da Nang Airport, the nearest international airport to Hoi An. During the 40-min journey, we were treated to Vietnam’s favourite snacks and a selection of drinks while music (selected by us) accentuates the holiday mood.
On the way, we stopped for a few minutes to take pictures of the Marble Mountain, famous for its pagoda which can be reached via a lift (yes!).
Upon arrival at the resort, we were greeted very warmly by all the staff as well as the General Manager, Glen Campbell. Throughout our stay, the staff will greet us with a “Sin Chow” (‘hello’ in Vietnamese) accompanied by a warm smile. You can truly feel all your stresses melting away as you adjust to this relaxing vibe.
Quite unexpectedly for us, we were upgraded to a suite, just one suite away from the inviting swimming pool. Our suite was designed with a split level layout; the upper floor of the suite consists of a big bed and a Balinese-style bathroom (indoors) which leads to a lower lounge that opens onto a porch with comfortable day beds and a tranquil garden.[ihc-hide-content ihc_mb_type=”show” ihc_mb_who=”1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8″ ihc_mb_template=”1″ ]
Housed in a 2-storey colonial style building by the banks of the Thu Bon River, the spacious suite certainly raises the luxury quotient by one notch, making this a very atmospheric hideaway. Best of all, the boutique resort is located just a 2-minute stroll from the heart of the historic yellow-painted town.
To add to the delightful stay, I rented a bicycle (free for guests) to explore the former trading port, famed for its colonial architecture, traditional handicrafts, arts scene and café culture. At night, the entire town lights up with a festive glow – colourful lanterns line the streets, cafes and by the bridge across the river.
This UNESCO Heritage Site used to be a booming river town in the 17th and 18th century before the river silted up. This spelled the demise of the bustling port where merchant vessels from Europe, China, India and Japan used to disembark for trade.
Upon returning from my bicycle excursions, I went for a massage at The Spa. It was exactly what the doctor ordered – I emerged feeling totally stress-free and ready to lose myself in slumberland. But not without dinner first …
I had ordered the Australian Black Angus beef tenderloin which deserves mention for being superbly executed. Executive Chef David Eldridge deserves credit for overseeing what must be one of the best kitchens in Hoi An.
Held at the Lanterns Restaurant which is housed in a spacious French colonial style building, the setting is perfect for a romantic dinner. In good weather, you can look out from the upstairs balcony to the beautiful river view and imagine you are back in the romantic past when Hoi An played host to traders from all over the world. While breakfast was an interesting mix of Vietnamese traditional dishes, Western, Japanese and Chinese, tea time is when you can soak up the Hoi An vibe – by the swimming pool or at the terrace of Lanterns Restaurant.
You can even go on a river cruise on Anantara’s lantern-decorated boat if you feel adventurous. Further afield, you can choose to bask on Vietnam’s famously beautiful sun kissed sands on the beaches of Cua Dai and An Bang.
Most will agree that Hoi Ann is the most charming and picturesque town in Vietnam which is steeped in history. Doubtless, more hotels will be built there to take advantage of its natural beauty. “Perhaps too many as there are a lot of accommodations available here already including homestays,” observes GM Campbell. Some big hotels in Da Nang are promoting Hoi Ann as a day trip, but in reality, you would need at least 2 nights there to fully experience its considerable charms including its surreal night scene.
On the day of our departure, the 93-room resort was fully booked even though it was low season. The night before, there was a special message of farewell left in our suite – with a small souvenir and a card. And then next morning, we got another thank you note with signatures from all the staff. These personal touches speak truly of hospitality from the heart, making the Anantara experience like no other.[/ihc-hide-content]