The Future of Hospitality in Vietnam

By: Molly Headley

Head 24 floors up to the Social Club roof bar on the top of the Hotel des Arts, and there, buoyed by the beat of the DJ’s music, you’ll find a landscape of night sky, city lights and hotels as far as the eye can see.

hospitality in vietnamImage source: hoteldesartssaigon.com

In Vietnam it seems that every day a new hotel chain is breaking ground. The Mandarin Oriental is set to open in 2020 in Saigon, while Best Western plans to launch a new resort in Phu Quoc after beginning its Vietnam expansion in Vung Tau in 2017.International hotel brands have made Vietnam a key area of focus.

This is unsurprising when you consider the numbers. In 2017, market researcher Statista reported that the hotel sector pulled in more than US$391 million in revenues in Vietnam and is predicted to grow 15.9 percent year on year. By 2022, the earnings will more than double to US$890 million.

#iAMHCMC interviewed the general managers of three top hotels in HCMC to get their take.

David Wicker, the GM of the New World hotel in Saigon, has seen the changes over the six years he’s been living in Vietnam. He wrote in response to emailed questions that within the cities there has been “a reasonable increase of new 5-star properties. But the huge growth has happened in places like Phu Quoc, Danang, Hoi An, Quy Nhon as well as destinations such as Sapa and Ha Long Bay.”

hospitality in vietnamImage source: newworldhotels.com

As Tourism Increases so do Fears of Market Overload

The customer demographic across Vietnam is predominantly Asian (Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Taiwanese) with Australians, Europeans and North Americans rounding things off. This is generally similar to the rest of Vietnam other than Phu Quoc and the central coast where there is a stronger Russian presence. The travellers also include a growing number of Vietnamese domestic travellers, who increased from 17 percent to 20.4 percent between 2014 and 2016.

“The middle class is growing,” Wicker wrote, “and so is the new-found discovery of travel—more planes flying to more locations within Vietnam, more people have cars, local tour operators are able to secure very attractive prices for domestic and regional travel, which fuels more demand.”

Carl Gagnon, the GM of the MGallery Collection’s Hotel des Arts Saigon, said that “[domestic travellers] are one of the biggest focuses for Hotel des Arts. It’s a good position to be in because if ever the world becomes more precarious in a certain region, then it is important to have your local market support you.”

Olivier Revy, Sofitel Saigon Plaza’s GM, has worked for 25 years in Asia and has some qualms about how quickly the hotel industry is growing. In China he saw first-hand how an overload in hotels can work against the interests of the industry. Revy said that “[Vietnam] has to be very careful that the supply of rooms is not too much compared to the demand. In Singapore [the authorities] spent years controlling the hotel construction and in the end a city with a certain order was created. In Vietnam for the moment there is not a lot being controlled.”

All three GMs agreed that Vietnam is far from the saturation point, for now.

Gagnon said that “it’s fine for five years at least. It’s just the beginning for tourism in Vietnam. When you start seeing all these top brands in hotels coming to the country it means the country is serious for business.”

The statistics agree. According to a 2017 report by Grant Thornton there was a 5.6 percent increase in occupancy rates between 2015 and 2016 and an 8 percent increase in RevPAR (revenue per available room). This past spring the Sofitel’s occupancy rate averaged close to 80 percent.

But, that is not to say that there are not problems in the foreseeable future.

Well Trained Employees Hard to Hold on to

Wicker wrote that hotel training “remains well below international standard as a result of a combination of cultures coming to terms with modernity and change. There is still a negative overtone that must change—‘it’s alright if things go wrong, or if I made a mistake, or if the customers are not totally happy with some aspects of service delivery. After all, this is Vietnam!’”

hospitality in vietnamImage source: newworldhotels.com

Another issue that both Revy and Gagnon mentioned is the fact that once staff have been trained to the level expected of a 5-star hotel, they can be poached by other hotels.

“Unfortunately, this is something that happens a lot so we have to be very fast with our succession plan”, Gagnon said. “In more remote areas like Phu Quoc and Sapa, the market is developing fast. There is not always a sufficient local resource to fulfill the staff needs. So then people need to be brought in but once the employees get things figured out they get poached by other hotels.”

However, there is a positive development in hotel training in Vietnam. Beyond the big names in schools like Vatel there are some smaller schools that are working to train young people who would normally not have access to education and stable career paths. STREETS International teaches kids from the streets how to work in the culinary and service industry. Their students are then placed in 4-5-star hotels. KOTO, which stands for Know One Teach One, is a social enterprise that also helps disadvantaged youth succeed in the hospitality sector.

How to Deal with Waste Management

Both Hotel des Arts and Sofitel are part of the AccorHotels Group, which has the biggest footprint in hospitality in Vietnam. Some of the group’s current holdings include Novotel, Ibis, Mercure, and Pullman, while more Accor properties are being planned. There are already 30 Accor hotels in Vietnam, with 15 more soon to come, Gagnon shared. And what all these properties have in common is the focus on sustainability. The GMs agreed that waste management is a trend that should be implemented industry-wide.

hospitality in vietnamImage source: ahstatic.com

The AccorHotels has put into effect a program called Planet 21 which aims to make the hotels more eco-friendly.

There is an enormous amount of waste in the food and beverage portion of the industry. The Hotel des Arts follows a program created by Winnow Solutions, which weighs each amount of food that is not consumed in order to create a running tally of what is consistently being wasted. Chefs can then gear their menus towards sustainability.

“Customers need to understand that quantity doesn’t always rhyme with quality”, Gagnon said. “Some guests do not understand this approach. They want kilometres of food and mountains of abundance. But the Hotel des Arts is not the place for this type of consumption. We’re about filling the garbage as little as possible.”

Wicker offers this word of advice to the hospitality industry: “Don’t reinvent the wheel—follow, copy, adapt to similar plans that have succeeded in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.”

And for locations like Phu Quoc and Nha Trang, which risk sharp growth followed by a tourism burn-out, Gagnon and Revy agree that the hotels, competitors or not, need to band together along with the local authorities and NGOs to create a reasonable growth plan.

As Gagnon put it, “The beauty of the country is easy to break. And if you break it, you break the ‘golden goose’ for everyone. A sustainable approach to the environmental impact is not optional.”

Banner Image source: hoteldesartssaigon.com


Falling in Love with Vietnam All Over Again at The Island Lodge

By: Leroy Nguyen

An Eco Friendly Tropical Hideaway

Get the Blood Pumping and Experience the Real Mekong Delta

East Meets West at the Culinary Table

Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate

I have lived in Saigon for a little over a year now. And in that time I have seen all the main attractions. From the majestic limestone Karsts of Ha Long Bay, and the romantic charms of Hoi An Old Town, to the instagram haven of Da Lat, and the heavenly beaches of Nha Trang and Phu Quoc. These are all amazing destinations and I do highly recommend to see all of them, but at times it can seem as if the rest of the world has the same idea, and are scrambling to visit these popular locales also.

For a truly exclusive, tranquil, and rejuvenating getaway many seem to overlook the grand Mekong Delta. Only a 2 hour drive from Saigon just over the Rach Mieu Bridge and tucked away on the edge of Unicorn Island in the sleepy town of My Tho, you’ll find one of the most unique eco lodges in Vietnam. The Island Lodge is a charismatic and inviting Mekong hotel with all the charm and personalised service to match any of the best boutique hotels in Vietnam. 

The Mekong Delta is usually reserved as a day trip for locals and tourists alike, only to return home exhausted from a jam packed schedule and the usually steamy weather. I’m not interested in this type of go-go-go non-stop travel. In an area with so much to see and with so many secret charms to discover The Island Lodge is the perfect overnight escape from Saigon. Whether you’re craving a quick getaway during the week or want to plan the perfect weekend away somewhere near Saigon, a stay at The Island Lodge is a convenient choice that goes above and beyond all expectations.

An Eco Friendly Tropical Hideaway

Upon reaching Unicorn Island and leaving the main highway, an intricate network of narrow roads lined with lush green grass, overhanging trees, and brightly coloured flowers instantly transports me to a foreign land that is worlds apart from bustling Saigon. The grounds are so remotely located that the only way to access the main entrance is via golf buggy. The Island Lodge is hidden behind tall, perfectly manicured hedges and upon pushing open the heavy wooden doors I am blessed by a secret sanctuary that is so completely unexpected.

Quiet smiles of warm local staff welcome me and I am ushered to a seat and encouraged to sip on freshly pressed juice whilst savouring gourmet hors d'oeuvres throughout the entire check in process. I have only just stepped foot inside and already I feel as if I am being treated like royalty. My luggage is kindly brought up to my room and the rooms do not disappoint. 

The Island Lodge

Eight Mekong River View rooms are perfectly suited to accommodate couples or solo travellers. Amply sized with giant beds, custom made locally sourced furniture, whimsical mosquito nets, and handsome ensuite showers all in accents of bamboo, wood, rope, and woven straw makes it feel as if I am staying in a gorgeous and luxe Balinese bungalow. The highlight of the room? The generous private terrace with heart tugging views of the Mekong River. Sinking into the deep terrace seating and staring out onto the fishing boats as they slowly drift by, this really does feel like a true escape, and I forget that I am mere moments away from Saigon.

Four additional Garden View rooms are privately located away from the rest of the living quarters and are ideal for families or larger groups. Bathrooms come complete with lavish his and her sinks and deep stone baths accommodating for those that love to soak their stresses away, or who have children that need bathing. Cots are also available upon request. 

The Island Lodge

A personalized note on my bed has me beaming as I read of how The Island Lodge is admirably adopting eco-friendly actions towards a brighter future for our planet. 100% pure and natural toiletry products are provided in refillable handmade earthenware pots to help reduce the use of single use plastics, and two glass bottles of purified water are refilled daily in an effort to do the least possible damage to the environment. Mini Bar fridges have been skipped entirely to greatly reduce energy waste, and even the coffee pods provided in each room are 100% compostable.

Get the Blood Pumping and Experience the Real Mekong Delta

After a deep and heavenly sleep, wake up bright and early and start your day off right with Muscular Awakening along the Mekong River. A 6:30 am call time is usually a big ‘NO’ for me, but as soon as I exit my room I have no regrets. The sky is an exquisite mix of pale French blue and creamy peach, and the central garden of densely packed coconut trees and frangipanis makes my senses sing. This is going to be a good day.

I am greeted at the edge of the quiet river by my local instructor Miss Ly, a bright and bubbly beauty who instantly energizes me with her effervescent attitude. An hour of simple stretches, light cardio, core training, and breathing exercises gets the blood pumping and gives me the tenacity to face the rest of the day’s exciting adventures. Miss Ly is very responsive and is happy to amp things up or tone things down in terms of intensity and makes sure to enforce the necessary time out to admire the captivating sunrise and sneak in a few cheeky holiday snaps.

The Island Lodge also offers a list of incredible bicycle tours that are not to be missed. For me, these tours are the main drawcard of the lodge and truly provide an immersive, ‘off the beaten track’, authentic local experience of real Mekong Delta living. Choose your style of bike, Classic, Mountain Bike, or Electric, and take a scenic boat ride down the Mekong River to Ben Tre province. From here follow your friendly tour guide and sit down to a Vietnamese breakfast in a bustling street market, visit a fish farm and learn of the laborious 2 year process from sociable and talkative local farmers, or visit a cacao farm and dive deep into the familiar and intoxicating aromas of coco as you follow the entire process from cultivation, harvesting, fermentation, and drying.

The Island Lodge

Ben Tre province is also known as the ‘Coconut Kingdom’ and a memorable bicycle ride to one of the local coconut farms has me literally dodging low hanging pomelo fruits and overgrown tree branches. The wildness of it all, the narrow unbeaten paths, the laughter that ensues from riding through nature’s untamed obstacle course, this is exactly the kind of invigorating experience that my soul has been pining for, these are the memories that I will remember and laugh about decades from now, this is an adventure that is so unique from other destinations I have visited and stayed at.

I have fallen in love with Vietnam all over again.

East Meets West at the Culinary Table

Michel and Francoise, a delightful French couple with a reserved demeanour and an infectious passion for laughter, opened The Island Lodge five years ago. Decades ago Michel’s grandparents were in fact based in Ha Long for work, and his own father was born right here in Vietnam. Having grown up in Alsace himself, Michel recalls fond memories of his grandmother teaching his mother the secrets to making the perfect Pho and demonstrations of how to correctly use chopsticks.

The Island Lodge

This colourful family heritage is particularly evident at Le Comptoir de Marthe et Edouard, a brasserie style restaurant affectionately named after Michel’s grandparents. Here, local chefs provide an extensive menu of authentic French and Vietnamese signatures to please any palate, any time of day. 

For breakfast guests are generously offered an all you can eat a-la-carte menu. Start your day with a local specialty, Hu Tieu from My Tho, a flavoursome noodle soup generously filled with thin rice noodles, slivers of pork, and juicy prawns, or a hot toasted Croque Monsieur alongside a basket of French breads, pastries, and jams all expertly made in-house, and an assortment of vibrant tropical Vietnamese fruits.

From the lunch and dinner menu my personal favourite is the Avocado Tartare with Crab Meat, which is all at once fresh, bright, creamy, and light. The delicate richness of the avocado and quail egg compliments the dominant sweet crab meat that has me reminiscing of the abundant seafood markets and summertime in Lyon. The signature Quiche Lorraine comes highly recommended and indeed hits the spot. The large slice is thin and served hot, but don’t let it’s simple appearance fool you, the lashings of melted French cheese and rich buttery handmade tart pastry makes this dish definitely ‘good for the soul’. Fully live out the summer holiday vibes and sip on French rosé or order a refreshing ice cold glass of Apple and Ginger Organic Craft Cider proudly made in Saigon. 

The Island Lodge

I wander around the restaurant space and find precious vintage photographs of the Scour family from 1937 swimming in Ha Long Bay, as well as framed passports and educational transcripts that date back to 1949. Michel’s adoration of his family and love for his heritage rings clear and The Island Lodge is a celebration of everything French and Vietnamese.

Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate

For a lodge that houses only 12 rooms, the grounds are truly expansive. The enormous residence and limited occupancy means that my every need and want is well attended to and my stay feels incredibly exclusive. This getaway has been a great way for me to switch off from my everyday city life and the perfect opportunity to slow down and focus on me. In this fast paced digital age it is so important to take the time out to reset your frame of mind, away from the pressures of work and deadlines.

If you’re not so actively inclined, then there really is no need to leave the lodge grounds at all. Everything you need is right here. The Island Lodge Spa is ready to knead and stretch out every knot you may have, and if your reflection in the mirror is looking rather dull of late, the expert therapists will leave you glowing and quenched with all natural pure cosmetics in uplifting exotic aromas of cinnamon and star anise. 

The Island Lodge

In the centre of the lush gardens sits Le 10° 19′ 44”, a tropical bar that focuses on Michel’s other passion… rhum. I saunter over post massage, past the regal koi fish pond and towards the enchanting hut that sits centre stage. During Happy Hour the bar offers a Buy-1-get-1 deal that is too good to resist. The Ti Punch in particular, regarded as the national drink of Martinique (of which Michel’s partner Francoise calls home), is an addictive mix of Martinique Rhum, sugarcane syrup, and lime juice that is dangerously easy to down and will have you licking your licks whilst fast ordering the next round.

My favourite area of the lodge? The grand infinity pool with ample sunbed seating is the perfect spot to laze the day away with a good book, but is best savoured during my favourite time of day… sunset. After an eventful day full of physical activity and local adventures I dip myself into the gorgeous pool, look out onto the Mekong River and exhale. The Island Lodge offers total serenity, with only the trill of cicadas and the chirping of swallows floating into twilight. The clear evening sky is an alluring dance of mauve and fairy floss pink that darkens into tones of aubergine as night falls. I have never seen a sunset quite like this in Vietnam. It takes my breath away and I will remember this moment forever.

The Island Lodge

Despite the gorgeous well appointed rooms, the divine menu of French and Vietnamese delights, the spectacular vantage of Mekong River, and offshore adventures into local villages, the greatest feature of The Island Lodge for me is the staff. All locally appointed, the service at The Island Lodge is faultless, quiet spoken, happy, and genuine. I can sense that the staff at The Island Lodge are all happy to be working there, from the receptionist who gladly shows me around the grounds as we talk of his past travels to Australia, to the personable massage therapist who politely enquires of how I find living in Saigon, the yoga instructor who loves to talk of her passion for photography, and the energetic gardener who remembers my name and is eager to strike up conversation every morning, The Island Lodge holds many charms. Charms that will surely have me coming back. Charms that make me fall in love with Vietnam all over again.

The Island Lodge

390 Thoi Binh Hamlet, Thoi Son Village, My Tho City, Tien Giang Province, Vietnam
For reservations, email The Island Lodge directly:
reservation@theislandlodge.com.vn
The Island Lodge offers guests a Privilege Transport service. A private, no-fuss, safe, door-to-door transport option with wi-fi. 7, 16, and 29 seater options will have you and your group travelling comfortably and in style straight to the lush grounds of The Island Lodge. The Privilege Transport service is available for guests anywhere within the Mekong Delta area and covers as far north as Da Lat. Contact The Island Lodge for further information: contact@theislandlodge.com.vn

Image source: The Island Lodge


Fusion To Open 10 Hotels and 1,385 Hotel Rooms Across Vietnam

By: City Pass Guide

The wellness-inspired hotel group will launch new brands and expand into emerging destinations

Fusion is substantially expanding its Vietnam’s presence by tripling the number of properties in the Land of the Blue Dragon. Over the next three years, the pioneering wellness lodging specialists will launch 10 new hotels and resorts, representing 1,385 rooms and private villas, suites, and apartments. Expanding into exciting emerging markets, the brand’s new properties will open in developing destinations that span the length of the country.

“We see a tremendous opportunity to expand Fusion’s presence in the country,” explained Peter Meyer, chief executive officer of Fusion. “Recognising that there are so many beautiful, and largely undeveloped destinations in Vietnam.”

Fusion Suites Vung Tau, located in the weekend getaway beach destination near Saigon, is set to welcome guests from early 2020. This chic new-build features 100 apartments and 71 suites, a spa with 12-double bed treatment rooms, aerial yoga studio, rooftop infinity pool with cocktail bar, and the Suite signature Fresh Restaurant.

Fusion Resorts

The oceanfront Fusion Resort Quang Binh is located at the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park. Also located in this park is Son Doong, the world’s largest cave. Fusion’s three hectare property will feature 60 private villas, each with its own plunge pool. The resort will offer a spacious spa with treatments included in the nightly rate, and several dining options. This latest resort addition will start taking bookings in late 2020.

Fusion Resorts

Maia Quy Nhon, will be the first of a new brand line. Fusion breaks ground on the property late this year, and expects to open by mid 2020. Maia will continue Fusion’s wellness ethos, but the focus will be expanded to a more immersive foodie experience. Culinary journeys will be tailored to the location, and guests will be able to choose a different program each night of their stay. Options include experiences like farm-to-table & sea-to-table dining, a local food tour, cooking classes as well as pop-up dining. One complimentary daily spa treatment will round out this new brand’s offering.

“Food is an integral part of any holiday adventure,” said Meyer. “Vietnamese cuisine has now become popular worldwide. Playing to this cuisine’s popularity, we want to take guests beyond well-known dishes like pho and banh mi, educating them on the histories of these iconic foods and other lesser known regional specialties.”

Fusion Resorts

The completely new product of HIIVE will also be introduced in 2020. With a business traveller focus, this three-star plus line will cater to the lodging needs in Vietnam’s industrial zones and developing townships. Five HIIVE hotels are slated for development over the next three years in four different locations. These include Binh Duong, north of Ho Chi Minh City; Bac Ninh, just east of Hanoi; Hai Phong, on the northern coast; and, Dong Nai, also near HCMC.

Another hotel is also set to join Fusion’s growing inventory. Adding to their existing hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, plans are now underway for another property in Vietnam’s largest city. A new Fusion accommodation option will open with 146 rooms in the heart of District 1, the city’s culinary and cultural hub.

Similarly, in the most developed beachfront destination of Da Nang, Fusion currently operates two hotels - the spa-inclusive Fusion Maia Da Nang and the Fusion Suites Da Nang. The latter located on a major access road across from the beach. During 2021, Da Nang will see Fusion’s latest generation resort with the opening of Fusion Resort & Villas Da Nang. This luxury property of 157 hotel rooms and 85 villas will offer comprehensive facilities & spa amenities, which will set the standard on the beach strip.

With a portfolio of about 550 keys, wellness-inspired Fusion currently has four high-end spa-inclusive resorts and two modern apartment-style suite hotels. Their locations include the tourist destinations of Da Nang, Hue, Phu Quoc and Cam Ranh, and the country’s most important commercial center of Ho Chi Minh City.

ABOUT FUSION 

Fusion is a pioneer of wellness-inspired hotels and resorts and the only fully vertically integrated hospitality company in Southeast Asia. Blending an innovative ‘all-spa inclusive’ approach to wellness vacationing with their signature ‘breakfast anywhere, anytime’ concept, they offer welcoming, down-to-earth hospitality in outstanding holiday destinations to create unique, memorable experiences that set them apart from others.

Fusion Resorts blend stylish and sophisticated accommodation options with bed-to-beach living and holistic wellness to provide a fresh take on the traditional beach vacation. Fusion Suites give urban adventurers or family explorers a place to recover in a city to discover, mixing comfort and convenience with funky, fun and informal. Fusion Originals are bold and brave, leading the way and setting trends, dedicated to the originators and pioneers who change the world by daring to be unique. Fusion Retreats are health conscious and fitness focused, rebalancing body, mind and soul in sanctuaries of holistic restoration and indulgent pampering.

Fusion currently owns and manages 6 properties in Phu Quoc, Cam Ranh, Da Nang, Sai Gon and Hue. The company is expanding its portfolio with new hotels and resorts opening in Vung Tau, Quang Binh, Hoi An and Quy Nhon.

For more information, contact:
Ms Minh Thu Lam – Group Marketing Director at minhthu.lam@fusionhotelgroup.com
Ms Hong Phuong Nguyen – Communication Manager at phuong.nguyen@fusionhotelgroup.com

Image source: Fusion Resorts


Fusion Resorts in Vietnam Invite Weddings and Romance

By: City Pass Guide

Alba Wellness Valley by Fusion

Fusion Resort Phu Quoc

Fusion Resort Cam Ranh

Fusion Maia Da Nang

Wellness-inspired resorts launch honeymoon, wedding and commitment ceremony packages 

Guiding guests down white sand aisles, crafting romantic backdrops for beachfront vow renewals, and catering to the romantic whims of enamoured couples, Fusion Resorts across Vietnam are rolling out new wedding packages, ethereal commitment ceremony setups, and indulgent honeymoon possibilities.

“We’ve seen a clear rise in honeymooners and couples who want to say ‘I do’ at our properties over the last few years,” said Atilla Erda, chief operating officer of Fusion. “We believe it’s because Vietnam has the right balance of stunning beaches, rich cultural experiences and exoticness, without the high price tag of some other popular honeymoon and destination wedding locations.” 

Fusion Resorts

Saying ‘I do’ in Vietnam’s Former Imperial Capital 

The newest member of the wellness-inspired hotel & resort brand, Alba Wellness Valley by Fusion, taps into its natural location, surrounded by verdant mountains and steamy hot springs, and is launching a new wedding package.

The comprehensive offering includes set-up of the ceremony location amid lush tropical gardens, a celebrant, a photographer to capture the ceremony and reception, a champagne fountain, live music and an MC, a banquet service inclusive of wedding cake, a room for the bride to get ready with a makeup artist, and a complimentary honeymoon night with a late checkout. The resort can host up to 100 wedding guests and has a range of accommodations from private bungalows to chic suites overlooking a lake. 

“Our authentic Japanese onsen spa and our range of wellness activities, from sunrise yoga to water meditation in our natural hot springs, helps our couples find balance at an exciting and busy time in their lives.” said Hylton Lipkin, general manager of Alba.

Wedding package prices start at USD236 per person for the three days, two nights package and applies for weddings with a minimum of 40 guests. 

Fusion Resorts

Sandy Nuptials on Vietnam’s Largest Island

The all-spa-inclusive resort, Fusion Resort Phu Quoc, has just launched the "Lovers Embrace," an intimate beach wedding package on a tropical island.

Couples who wish to say ‘I do’ on the resort's white sand beach will be able to walk the aisle through a bamboo archway and say their vows under a wedding arch dressed in white silk and fresh flowers. All that's needed for the service is provided, including a wedding guestbook, boutonnieres and bouquets, and a welcome drink for guests before the vows. A wedding gala dinner is also included with set menus of the bride and groom's choice, two-hours of live music, and two-hours of free-flow beverages including beer & wine.

The couple (and their guests) can relax pre- and post-ceremony at Fusion's Maia Spa & Wellness Facility, with at least two therapies per day being included in the room rate. Massages, wraps and facials, along with wellness activities like yoga, are on offer there. Each villa also has its own private plunge pool to unwind in.

Package rates start at USD 3,850 for 10 people and from USD7,950 for 50 people, exclusive of the nightly room rate. 

Fusion Resorts

From Proposal to Vow Renewal on the Beach in Cam Ranh

The all-spa inclusive Fusion Resort Cam Ranh beach resort on Vietnam’s south central coast is introducing two new romance-filled packages: one for romance and possibly a proposal, and one for couples who want to reaffirm their commitment. 

‘From the Heart’ is for couples looking to pop the question or just enjoy a romantic evening on the water’s edge. Guests of this package enjoy a two night stay in a one-bedroom garden villa with private plunge pool, along with breakfast anywhere and anytime and a minimum of two spa therapies a day. At night, a private beachfront BBQ is set up on the sand, with a personal chef grilling up freshly-caught local seafood (vegetarian options are available with several different BBQ menu options) served with sparkling wine. Prices start at USD1,787 per couple. 

‘Moonlight Lovers’ is for couples who want to create a lasting memory by saying ‘I do’ one more time, or who want to reaffirm their love for each other without the legal preparations. In addition to what’s included in ‘From the Heart,’ a celebrant is also arranged to guide lovers through a commitment ceremony. Prices start at USD2,256 per couple. 

Fusion Resorts

Beachside Honeymoon Experiences in Da Nang

Fusion Maia Da Nang’s Celebration Menu is a pick-and-mix of insta-worthy experiences for couples. 

The Floating Romance Tray sets the tone for a weekend of amore with pink sparkling wine paired with fresh Western and Vietnamese bites, and floating letters spelling L-O-V-E on the surface of the guests’ private pool. Each tray starts at USD75. 

The Fresh by the Sea experience is a candlelit beachfront dinner for two with a stellar selection of seafood, like Vietnamese king crab, razor clams, sea snails and grilled langoustine. Dinner for two starts at USD195. 

Other options include several in-villa Bath Bliss packages that combine sensuous essential oils, naturally therapeutic herbs, zestful citrus fruits, or a room full of balloons for a romantic and picture-perfect evening. Each bath set-up starts at USD32.

These experiences complement the resort’s range of all-inclusive spa treatments that couples can enjoy together.

ABOUT FUSION 

Fusion is a pioneer of wellness-inspired hotels and resorts and the only fully vertically integrated hospitality company in Southeast Asia. Blending an innovative ‘all-spa inclusive’ approach to wellness vacationing with their signature ‘breakfast anywhere, anytime’ concept, they offer welcoming, down-to-earth hospitality in outstanding holiday destinations to create unique, memorable experiences that set them apart from others.

Fusion Resorts blend stylish and sophisticated accommodation options with bed-to-beach living and holistic wellness to provide a fresh take on the traditional beach vacation. Fusion Suites give urban adventurers or family explorers a place to recover in a city to discover, mixing comfort and convenience with funky, fun and informal. Fusion Originals are bold and brave, leading the way and setting trends, dedicated to the originators and pioneers who change the world by daring to be unique. Fusion Retreats are health conscious and fitness focused, rebalancing body, mind and soul in sanctuaries of holistic restoration and indulgent pampering.

Fusion currently owns and manages 6 properties in Phu Quoc, Cam Ranh, Da Nang, Sai Gon and Hue. The company is expanding its portfolio with new hotels and resorts opening in Vung Tau, Quang Binh, Hoi An and Quy Nhon.

For more information, contact:

Ms Minh Thu Lam – Group Marketing Director: thu.lam@fusionresorts.com

Ms Nguyen Hong Phuong – Communication Manager: phuong.nguyen@fusionresorts.com

Image source: Fusion Resorts


Airbnb My Guest

By: Sivaraj Pragasm

When Airbnb first appeared elsewhere in 2008, it created a new alternative for travellers seeking a nice, personalised home in non-touristy parts of the city they were visiting.

However, the idea of home-sharing came with concerns, mainly from homeowners who weren’t too sure if it was a good idea. After all, not everyone is comfortable having a stranger in their home. Here in Vietnam, things took a while to warm up but by 2016, the number of listings in Ho Chi Minh City alone tripled from the previous year with up to 3,500 listings across the city. So, how did that happen?

A Natural Extension to a Local Concept

Thi Nguyen, who runs a few listings of her own in Ho Chi Minh City, sees Airbnb as a natural extension to the Vietnamese homestay concept. “It's an opportunity to showcase our living and cultural abode to our visitors,” she says.

“So what we give is more than just a room for the night. It’s an experience which you can't get in most hotels.”

airbnb viet nam

Originally from Hanoi, Thi moved to Saigon eight years ago and runs her own events company. Needing funds to feed her passion for travel, she opened up her apartment for rent and she’s never looked back since. She currently has 11 listings on the site.

A Fresh Tourism Industry with Potential

“Vietnam’s tourism industry is very fresh compared to most other countries in Asia, which brings about both opportunities and challenges,” says Thi.

This sentiment is reflected by Hue-born Tai Phan, who spent the last few years working and studying in both the United States and Vietnam, specialising in finance and real estate investment before relocating to Da Nang where he decided to start his Airbnb venture.

airbnb viet nam

“I was back in Vietnam consulting for some investors and had a house with empty rooms,” he says. “I used Airbnb before and liked it, hence I wanted to experiment with hosting part-time. Thousands of guests and many properties later, I’m still enjoying this ‘ongoing’ experiment as if it was my first week doing it.”

Selling the Experience

People like Thi and Tai represent the archetypical modern business entrepreneurs of Vietnam by taking full advantage of an existing online model to provide a service.

Both of them also strongly believe in the importance of not being dodgy, by establishing a credible online presence in the form of well-taken photos and descriptions of their listings, and going the extra mile by giving local recommendations on places to visit and things to do.

airbnb viet nam

Guidebooks often give you recommendations that are tourist-friendly but may be slightly pricier, so you will never get to know about that particular com tam stall down your street which the locals swear is the best in Vietnam.

The Perfect Mix

According to Forbes Magazine, one of the main reasons why the Airbnb model is working so well in Vietnam, and especially in Ho Chi Minh City, is because it conveniently incorporates a perfect mix of Vietnamese culture in the form of sharing and entrepreneurship, which is a fast-rising trend among the Gen-Y and Millennial demographics in Vietnam.

However, infrastructural issues such as power outages and water shortages are also major issues among guests, although some hosts like Thi and Tai have their respective solutions.

Thi ensures that all plumbing, electricity and air-conditioning equipment are constantly maintained and replaced.

airbnb viet nam

Tai ensures that he has contacts for electricians and contractors who can respond within an hour, but if that doesn’t work, “You can explain to your guests sincerely about these issues in a friendly way and they would understand,” he says.

The Future of the Sharing Economy

Tai believes he can further expand his enterprise by recruiting good people.

“The objective is to create a hospitality group that can help travellers maximise their time during their stay and give good suggestions as to where to go and what to do.”

airbnb viet nam

Just like Tai, Thi plans to expand and focus on selling the experience, rather than just the accommodation. In the case of HCMC and Vietnam in general, this could mean a new generation of hosts who incorporate the spirit of entrepreneurship into the sharing culture that runs deep in this country.

Image source: Thi Nguyen


Vietnam’s New Position in Affordable Hospitality

By: City Pass Guide

Vietnam really is an astonishing country, its people are resilient, cheerful and welcoming. When you consider that they have spent a millennium defending themselves from various incursions, it is remarkable that they are so accepting of foreigners. The giant neighbour is something of an elephant in the room, but that apart, they welcome strangers here more so than most countries. They remain industrious, peace-loving and one of the most driven people we have met. They are also quick to forgive and forget as the many American’s living happily here will bear testimony.

Growth and More Growth

A 2006 study by Agence France-Presse, the third largest news agency in the world, placed them as the happiest race on the planet. By 2016 they have become even more satisfied as the country enjoys a growth of GDP in excess of 6.5%. Their excellent work ethic coupled with good planning has them performing better than any of their Southeast Asian neighbours, who are achieving about 4.4% growth. The future looks good as well, with the World Bank, last year, saying that these factors have meant a developing confidence which will hold them in good stead for the mid term.

Photo by: Bear Beer Photography

Country Director for Vietnam for the Global Bank recently said, “This is a good time to solidify macroeconomic stability and rebuild policy buffers, including through decisive efforts to rein in fiscal imbalances and tackle remaining vulnerabilities in the banking sector.” The amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) has also been improved by a raft of recent trade deals, adding further to the improvement of Vietnam’s standing among ASEAN countries. Turnover in total exports was up 9.2% over this period due mainly to a large increase in mobile phones, electronic equipment and computers.

TPP and Lifted Bans

Further good news comes in the form of the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement: analysts are stating that Vietnam will be the biggest beneficiary of the 13 nations involved. The signatories of the TPP account for 40% of global GDP and Vietnam could see theirs increase by as much as 8%. At the same time it is expected to add 17% to real exports and 12% to its capital stock. The ASEAN group is looking healthy from Vietnam’s point of view as the association is now the country’s third largest export market following USA and Europe.

Photo by: UN ISDR

There have been significant changes in foreign ownership and share trading recently. This will stimulate growth and investment, and reduce sectors where foreign investment was banned from 51 to only 6. This, in addition to the abolition of the 49% cap on foreign ownership of shares on the stock exchange, will now allow foreign investors to fully acquire listed companies, excluding, of course, the banking sector.

A New Class of Travellers

Vietnam’s affordable hospitality sector is set to take off with news that low cost carrier, Vietjet has just added two new routes. They now have connected Ho Chi Minh City with the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur and Tainan City in Taiwan. More routes are planned as well.

Photo by: DAIHYUN JI

Millennials are being seen as a new class of traveller. The Vietnamese are prudent by nature, meaning that the cheaper hotel accommodation sector is likely to find a new home in the country. The new brand of cheap hotels offer good Wi-Fi connectivity, meaning that young business people are taking advantage of a good deal as well as the more expected backpacker crowd. The Malaysian experience bears this out with the mid-priced hotel brand “Vivid”, set to open in Georgetown by 2018. Penang is predicted to enjoy something of a renaissance in the M.I.C.E. business with the addition of two new convention centres.

Photo by: Ronald Tagra

Malaysia’s MM2H visa is valid initially for a period of ten years, depending on the validity of the applicant’s passport, and is also renewable. Penang is now seen as an exciting potential growth area for Vanguard Hotels. Together with other on-going projects in Kuala Lumpur, this adds up to US$40 million worth of investment in Malaysia for the Vanguard Group. The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) recently released a new consumer research report which they called “Stepping Out of the Crowd: Where the Next Generation of Young Asian Travellers is Heading, and How to Win a Place on Their Travel Itinerary”. This examines travel trends of young Asians and explains how secondary destinations and further attractions will benefit from the rise in outbound travel from Asia.

It looks highly likely that the $60-80 hotels will be seen as sensible choices for travellers in Asia. Vietnam looks to be a prominent player in the new market of affordable hospitality in Asia.

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