From Mui Ne, it is a three-hour drive north to Amanoi, which opened last October. Happily, guest services at Anantara had booked us a comfortable four-wheel-drive vehicle with an experienced driver, since stretches of the highway are still under construction and the resort is located in the wild Nui Chua National Park north of the town of Phan Rang.
Set in thick vegetation, which afforded complete privacy, our open-plan pavilion proved an ideal place to forget about the passage of time and the tribulations of the outside world.
Amanoi’s setting is spectacularly beautiful: The rolling hills are thickly covered with bright-green vegetation, while craggy cliffs plunge into the cerulean sea. Designed by Malaysia-based Belgian architect Jean-Michel Gathy, who has worked on many other Aman properties, the hotel’s main pavilion is a high-ceilinged contemporary building with open walls and a gabled roof inspired by the local architecture. Set on a hilltop, it is reached by a long flight of covered granite stairs and houses the resort’s restaurant, library and bar. An open-air terrace commands magnificent views over the serene waters of Vinh Hy Bay. Having been offered tea and freshly baked pound cake, we were transferred to our private Pool Pavilion by electric golf cart, the standard means of transportation on this spread-out property.
Set in thick vegetation, which afforded complete privacy, our open-plan pavilion proved an ideal place to forget about the passage of time and the tribulations of the outside world. Built of teak, it was expansive and exquisitely decorated, with a cathedral ceiling, picture windows on all sides, granite and teak floors, and oak-framed furniture. Several large red silk lanterns on dimmer switches provided an exotic touch.
The extremely spacious bath could be shut off from the main room by sliding doors and came with an oversize soaking tub, two vanities in front of
a picture-window wall, and a stone-lined shower. A door led directly from the bath to the deck and the large private pool on the side of the pavilion facing the sea.
The resort includes two spectacular infinity pools, plus a private Beach Club, with a restaurant set beside an expanse of white sand. An exhaustive menu of water sports is provided. In the sumptuous spa, many of the treatments use traditional Vietnamese ingredients such as aromatic herbs, rice and coffee. Complimentary yoga classes are offered daily, and Pilates and other guided workouts are also available.
Ultimately, Amanoi is a tranquil and deeply relaxing place in which to hide away from reality.
It is not close to Vietnam’s major cultural sites, and although the local excursions are interesting, they are scarcely life-changing. Given this splendid isolation, it is fortunate that the Belgian chef is so talented. We ate extremely well from both the Vietnamese and Western menus, enjoying pho, the classic noodle and bouillon soup with fresh herbs, for breakfast each morning, and an excellent rack of New Zealand lamb for dinner one evening. The opening of Amanoi confirms Vietnam’s rapid emergence as a major destination for luxury travel. The many devotees of Amanresorts will now be able to construct an extraordinary tour of Southeast Asia with stays at Amanoi, Amanpuri in Thailand, Amantaka in Laos and Amansara in Cambodia.
AT A GLANCE
LIKE: The exceptionally attractive and comfortable pavilion accommodations; the magnificent site; the outstanding spa.
DISLIKE: Senior staff can be a bit chilly.
GOOD TO KNOW: The best weather is from January to August. Because of its isolation, the hotel is not a good base from which to tour. For local excursions, the Cham temples near Phan Rang are worth visiting, but go to Bau Truc pottery village only if you’re curious to see the potters at work, as the products themselves are very basic.
Amanoi 95 Ocean Pavilion, $1,100; Ocean Pool Pavilion, $1,400. Vinh Hy Village, Ninh Hai District, Ninh Hai District, Ninh Thuan Province. Tel. (84) 68-377-0666.