I scoured the globe looking for a place that spoke to me. When I heard the whisper of a new Aman resort nestled along the dramatic coastline of the east Vietnam sea, it was the love song to end all love songs.
Being an “Aman Junkie” (yes there is such a thing!) I knew this place would be exceptional. Aman resorts are an ultra luxury hotel chain and widely considered to be the best in the world. They are known for being retreats with low room counts and often removed from the high-traffic tourist hubs for a unique and exotic experience. Once you are here, you stay!
They have impeccable service and go way beyond the confines of what it means to be a luxury hotel. By impeccable service, I mean little things like you will never be asked for your name or room number, check-ins are done in-room and expect no actual reception desks or signing for bills as you go. An Aman experience is an outstanding, bespoke experience, so let me take you on my journey.
You arrive at Cam Ranh airport in Vietnam’s coastal city of Nha Trang and are whisked away in a shiny white Wi-Fi equipped SUV! Your driver, impeccably dressed and sporting a big bright smile, takes you on a 55 km drive through Nui Chua National Park. Spread over more than 29,000ha, it is jaw droppingly beautiful, covering marine and coastal habitats, hidden coves (and caves) and studded with rocky pinnacles so sculptural they look man-made. It is a dry and scrubby landscape, reminiscent of Sardinia
The resorts name “Amanoi” means peace place in Sanskrit and this property is the epitome of peace. A vast amount of land has been bought to ensure absolute privacy. The location is tranquil yet dramatic with rolling hills sloping down to the ocean.
It feels like a temple (albeit Armani style!) and perched like a belvedere. The entrance has a grand staircase, it is airy and serene, with an almost Japanese aesthetic of sliding doors, shrine-like colonnades and uncluttered spaces. The palette is uniform and features plain, pale oak and dark cement. Vietnamese antiques and artworks are discreetly displayed alongside bowls of tuberose and creamy orchids and hangings of gem-coloured raw silk.
The terrace off the Central Pavilion is perched high and set with cushioned seating reminiscent of ripe blood oranges and mandarins. The view, simply to die for. You could easily be perched aloft the Amalfi Coast or high atop the isle of Capri, just more remote and un-spoilt.
Guests (couples, mostly) do not gather in gregarious groups although the strikingly handsome bar is convivial each evening, especially at the long counter with club like leather tub chairs, each with its own table-lamp. Irresistible concoctions include chilli apple martinis and cinnamon mojitos.
Dining is as good as it gets. Breakfasts tempts with Vietnamese or European choices – an aromatic Pho beef noodle soup or fresh spanner crab omelette. Light lunches include vietnamese salads and tasty minced beef in betel leaves. Equally, international lunch favourites such as club sandwiches and fresh fish burgers are offered.
Expect a visit from the head chef at dinner time to assist when a major case of FOMO kicks in! The menu is amazing. Degustation dinners of Vietnamese delicacies, including fragrant claypot dishes, banana blossom salad and sea bass wrapped in turmeric leaves. Gulp young coconut juice fresh from the fruit or gorge on passionfruit souffle with white chocolate sorbet.
The beach club is like no other. An immaculate space, situated on the private and secluded white sandy beach of Vinh Hy Bay. This is laid back luxury at its best with a 45m black wet edge pool and perfectly spread sun lounges. Sip on fresh homemade ginger tea and order the daily fresh fish served from the local bay, the draw to this lunchtime destination. Down on the beach are the usual activities you would expect to find such as snorkelling, kayaking, windsurfing and hobie cats.
There are several accommodation categories, all individual pavilions, which are carefully integrated in the lush vegetation and offer complete privacy. The rooms are generously spacious and the interiors are ultra luxe and with floor to ceiling windows. My favourite pavilions are those with a private infinity pool overlooking the coastline below. Here you can experience the absolute solitude and sanctuary that is Amanoi.
As night falls you get lost staring at what appears to look like stars in the sea but in fact are the boats that dot neighbouring Vinh Hy Bay. They are fishing trawlers, not billionaires’ yachts, just small dinghies, but it is a magical and authentic sight you will not forget.
There is also a library, spacious gym, two tennis courts, a Pilates studio and lakeside yoga pavilion, as well as a spa offering traditional Vietnamese treatments aside a tranquil lotus filled lake.
I’ve always believed that some of the most fantastic experiences in life are born on a whim. In many ways, it was such serendipity that led me to Amanoi. I dreamed of a secluded paradise, a home where nature’s beauty reigned and the everyday world was but a distant memory. Here, my prayers were answered.
Where to next … xx Sirens and Seaplanes