Top 7 Honeymoon Spots in Vietnam

By: Aleksandr Smechov

We list the best of the best for honeymoon destinations in Vietnam. Any of the luxury resorts below are also great to celebrate wedding anniversaries or vow renewals.

The term “honeymoon” sprouted sometime in the 1500s, and meant the wavering affection (honey) of a married couple was analogous to the periodic phases of the moon. Later, the term came to mean the span of time after the wedding signifying the “indefinite period of tenderness and pleasure experienced by a newlywed couple.” Again, the moon referred to the marriage’s predilection to be “no sooner full than it begins to wane.”

Etymologically a half bittersweet, half cynical term, the word grew into its more optimistic counterpart during the Belle Epoque, the 40-year period in European history characterized by the burst of artistic endeavors, scientific discoveries and new technology.

The modern interpretation has come to mean plunking down serious cash for an exotic heaven-on-earth where you’re treated like Saudi royalty. So why not choose the best of the best, in one of most affordable honeymoon destinations on earth? Vietnam’s rich flora, kind smiles and great food make it a great choice to spend the sweetest epoch of your marriage.

Ana Mandara Dalat Honeymoon

Who is it for: The older couple; fans of woodland solitude and cool weather

Why it’s an ideal honeymoon spot: This is as authentic as it gets in Dalat. While the city has its fair share of kitsch (eerie swan paddle boats, anyone?),  Ana Mandara has managed to hold on with dear life to the most romantic aspects of the 1930s, when weary French officials retreated to the pine-covered highlands for some seriously meditative R&R.

Since these were personal villas, each room has its own unique furniture setup, layout and ambiance. The wooden floors, antiquated furniture and canopied beds makes your dwelling feel like a secret forest cabin you and your lover are using to escape from the tumultuous world outside. Except instead of broken plumbing and wild animals you get a heated pool, clawfoot bathtub, rain shower and panoramic views of a colorful Franco-Vietnamese city.

How long should I stay: Three days and two nights should be enough time to explore the grounds and try the excellent breakfast buffet, get a massage at La Cochinchine spa, and head down and explore the city center.

Offers: Being the city of fatalistic lovers (most of Dalat’s lore ends in a Romeo and Juliet scenario), much of Dalat is geared towards honeymooners. Ana Mandara is no exception, and offers a really well put together package that includes one night in a Villa Room, daily breakfast, round-trip airport transfers, a city tour by vintage car, a candle-lit dinner, an hour long body massage and further discounts for just VND 3.9 million per person. Not bad at all. City Pass also offers a 30% off voucher.

Six Senses Con Dao Honeymoon

Who is it for: Anyone who can afford it

Why it’s an ideal honeymoon spot: This is Brad and Angelina’s turf (well… they stayed there once in 2011, but it was big news in the tabloids). It’s a 45-minute flight by charter flight that takes you directly from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Dao Island, where a Mercedes van picks you up and drops you off at Six Senses.

You are taken to what might arguably be one of the best beaches in Vietnam. The sand is flat, firm and stretches out for a few kilometers. The water is beautiful and snorkel-worthy. The private villas all come with an infinity pool and butler. Movies are projected nightly in the open air, the F&B is excellent and the service is meticulously geared towards pleasing literally every need. Understandable considering you’re paying around VND 12 million per room. But for that you get stuff like a pre-check-in checklist offering anything you might need on the house, from razors to nail clippers to scented pillows to snorkeling gear, and even the type of music you want playing upon entering your private villa for the first time.

The island is nice, and you can visit a prison (not very romantic but fascinating nonetheless), snorkel or dive in the clear waters (this is Vietnam’s best diving spot), hike for hours at a national park, or rent a catamaran and languidly paddle about the sea. But keep in mind shis is the kind of place where you indulge in the ambiance of the resort, have fun with your large bed and politely ask your smiling butler to get you those nail clippers.

How long should you stay: you’re spending a few hundred just on the charter flight there, so might as well stay three or four nights before you head back. This is a premier honeymoon destination – you’re going to want to stay as much as you can reasonably afford.

Offers: While there are no honeymooner-centric packages, they do offer discounts ranging from 10% to 28% for early, non-flexible and extended stays.

Princess D'Annam Honeymoon

Who is it for: Honeymooners with kids; boutique hotel lovers

Why it’s an ideal honeymoon spot: Not too far from Phan Thiet, Princess is a 3-5 hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City, making it the closest beachfront resort on the list. The hotel is sleek, private and remote. You get your own villa, 24-hour service and some pretty sites: the East Sea, canyons, dunes and a nearby village where you can get some local fruit and coffee for cheap.

Princess has an excellent kids club, and provides adults some decent entertainment like cooking classes, football, fishing, karaoke, surfing and other fun diversions. If you’re tugging along some little ones for the “familymoon,” Princess is probably the best option on the list. And it’s on the lower end of the luxury price spectrum (around VND 5 million for a private villa at a luxury boutique resort reasonable).

How long should you stay: Three to four nights should do it. It’s a small, relatively secluded area, so you might want to make some taxi trips to Phan Thiet to check out the city, or just explore the surrounding area. The resort is very well-constructed, well-maintained and quite beautiful overall, and should do well if you only stay there the entire time.

Offers: Citypass offers a 25% off voucher.

Bassac Cruises Honeymoon

Who is it for: The older couple; river cruise lovers

Why it’s an ideal honeymoon spot: You don’t typically imagine barges floating along rural Vietnam as romantic. Bassac turns the notion on its head. You get on one of three fully-equipped boats constructed in the style of a traditional rice barge, traveling overnight from Can Tho to Cai Be. And when we say fully equipped, we mean it. Soundproofed cabins for lengthy “bed testing,” AC, hot and cold water, three inclusive meals with superb food and knowledgeable staff that can answer your questions about the Mekong Delta or Vietnam. It’s quite pampering for such a rustic context, but not distastefully extravagant. Costly, but well worth it.

The project is headed by French engineer Benoit, whose meticulous attention to details is unprecedented. Every aspect of the boat is made to take you away from daily stress and place you in a serene, culturally-conscious environment. You float by rice fields, sugar canes, a floating market, and the Delta’s various flora. You see the difficult life of farmers and reconsider your own situation. It’s quite eye-opening. And it’s quite romantic.

How long should you stay: The set overnight itinerary should be enough time to experience riverfront life in the Mekong, and indulge in the barge’s services.

Offers: City Pass offers a 15% off voucher.

Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang

Who is it for: Beachfront lovers; couples who want to be close to the action

Why it’s an ideal spot for a honeymoon, a wedding anniversary or a vow renowal trip: Don’t confuse this one for Ana Mandara Dalat mentioned earlier – it’s quite different in style. This one is for the beach lovers who don’t want to stray too far from the busiest coastal city in Vietnam. It’s also the only resort actually situated on the beach in Nha Trang, instead of sitting across the road.

It’s a great hideaway, despite its proximity to the city. The noise levels are sufficiently low, and the gardens, the dedicated beachfront and the sleek pools all magnify the serenity. Ana also features one of the best breakfasts you’ll find in the region. If you’re the fancy-dinner-by-the-pier type, the resort can set up a table at the end of long wooden pier, which is quite nice when the starts begin to show face.

On a side note, the resort is managed by Six Senses, known for their world-class spa facilities. Do yourself a favor and visit the spa if you’re staying here.

How long should you stay: Two or three nights should be sufficient if you’re just there for the resort. If you want to explore Nha Trang – and the city has a good deal of landmarks and restaurants to discover – you may want to opt for up to a week. With a voucher or 3rd party site, you can get each night for under VND 5 million for lower end rooms and around twice that for more luxurious options.

Offers: The Six Senses website is featuring a honeymoon package for three nights that includes airport transfer, a bottle of sparkling wine, chocolate and tea, fresh fruit on arrival, and a departure gift. You also get your room set-up for the honeymoon, a sunset cruise for two complete with champagne on the deck, a 50-minute massage in a couple room, and a three course dinner on the beach, with the option to create your own signature menu. City Pass also offers a 30% off voucher.

The Nam Hai Honeymoon

Who is it for: Luxury-minded older crowd not into loud partying, but still looking for something sleek and sexy to slip into

Why it’s an ideal honeymoon spot: The Nam Hai has five bubbles on TripAdvisor. And that’s with over 1,200 reviews. It’s difficult not to rehash what’s already been said. But based on our time there, here’s a few relatively objective observations: the rooms are very well decorated. Sleek, sensual and with a nice view of the beach meters away. Lounging by the pools is idyllic, and the beach sand is spotless. It is easily one of the best hotel in Vietnam.

Service in general is top class, as is the steep price (US$ 500 and up). Every private villa gets a butler who obliges your every whim. Little details like staff using electric buggies and bicycles to lessen the noise and pollution of the resort push The Nam Hai over the edge and into veritable 5-star territory. They’re genuinely inclined to give you a world-class treatment.

On a side note, the resort is close to Hoi An, a quaint city that’s quite romantic. It’s 15 minutes by car and worth a stroll through.

How long should you stay: At least two nights. If you can expend for more, go for it. Two nights to a week is best.

Offers: They have a Romance in Style package running until the end of 2015. It includes airport transfer, a welcome bottle of champagne, a private BBQ dinner, a love bath ceremony and special honeymoon amenities and souvenir. City Pass also offers a 15% off voucher.

An Lam Saigon River

Who is it for: jungle paradise lovers; riverside enthusiasts

Why it’s an ideal honeymoon spot: There’s nothing quite like it in Vietnam. A boutique resort with only 19 villas, An Lam Saigon River is only a few years old, but it’s already butting heads against superstars like The Nam Hai and Six Senses.

You begin with a 20-minute boat ride along the Saigon River. It’s pretty unassuming until you approach the smiling staff greeting you with welcome drinks along a remote, jungle-like pier. Palms, bamboo and other tropical flora grow naturally around the grounds. The resort itself is small, but the owner, a polymath of sorts, single-handedly designed the 19 unique villas himself, which are worlds of their own.

Each villa is a fusion of the best elements taken from luxury coastal hotels, a sort of beautiful hodgepodge that works synergistically to literally uplift you as you walk into the room. Each room, despite being wholly different from the next, is arranged to produce a seamless flow, an organic feel that meshes with the wilderness outside. It’s modish, it’s wild and it’s romantic, no matter what villa you stay in.

How long should you stay: Two nights minimum are a must. A day lounging around your room, the pool, the restaurant or anywhere else on the grounds is a wholly different experience than any hotel in the country can provide.

Offers: There are no offers at present.

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An Authentic Travel Experience Through Homestays

By: Tran Thi Minh Hieu

About a decade ago in Vietnam, the word “homestay” only appeared in discussions about Vietnamese students studying overseas. Very few people thought that they could start a business by offering their own house for tourists to stay.

Now, it’s becoming a growing trend in the country’s tourism industry, bringing changes to communities and new experiences for travelers.

Staying at a local house is not only cheaper, it also allows travelers to experience the daily life and culture of the local family. It’s like coming to a friend’s house, and having a friend to show you around their favorite places in town. You might get to try their favorite food, have meaningful conversations and do different things than tourists normally get to do.

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This is why many travelers, especially young people, are looking for homestay options when they travel around Vietnam. With the rising demand, homestay travel is becoming serious business, with a host of new homestays and new destinations regularly putting their names on the map.

Sapa, A Homestay Heaven

Sapa is one of the first destinations where homestay travel started gaining popularity. The small town lying on the edge of the highest peaks in Vietnam is full of ethnic minority groups, with a diverse and intriguing culture that adds to the amazing scenery. While the town is lined with big and small hotels, homestays are very popular, and even tour operators also include this in the itinerary.

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Lu Van Khuyen, Chief of the Department of Culture and Information of Sapa told Nhan Dan newspaper that within 10 kilometres from Sapa township, there are more than 1000 homestays. Some people come and stay for weeks or months.

Que Lan, a recent homestay traveller to Sapa, shared her experience on Instagram.

“Here everyday I can learn new things and meet new people. Everyday there’s a routine — after I’m done with my work, I’ll do the housework, and sometimes Nu takes me for a ride to her store so I can walk around the [Cat Cat] village. My Cat Cat is so beautiful.”

Community Changer

Following the footstep of their most famous cousin, other towns in Vietnam’s Northern mountains are offering homestays to gain more visitors. In the vast terrains where it’s too hard to grow crops, the life of local people is getting easier thanks to homestays.

Video source: City Pass Guide

Ha Giang province is known as the northernmost province of Vietnam, difficult to reach but full of pristine treasures: flower fields and forests, ethnic costumes and festivals, and traditional houses. In Nam Dam village, Quan Ba district, from 2012 to 2015, non-governmental organizations Caritas Switzerland and PanNature worked with local Dao people to build 30 houses and 18 homestays, and develop trekking routes to support tourism in the village.

The most prominent homestay in Nam Dam village is Dao Lodge. It was designed by architect Hoang Thuc Hao and his colleagues from 1+1>2 Architects, using the ancient techniques of the rammed earth house, which involves compressing a damp mixture of earth and clay into a wooden frame and then remove the frame to make a wall.

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In another remote part of Ha Giang, Hoang Su Phi district, Helvetas Vietnam and the Center for Rural Economy Development (CRED) supported local Dao people to build homestays. It was no easy job, as the Dao people here live in stilt houses, and traditionally raise livestock on the ground under the house.

As Ban Quay Chang, a homestay owner in Hoang Su Phi, told Vietnamnet, “It took us months to decide to move the cattles some hundred metres away from the house. We have been keeping cattles close to our home for generations, so we can’t change that overnight.”

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Language is also a challenge. Unlike in tourist-friendly towns like Sapa, people in Hoang Su Phi have never been exposed to English in their life, so initially they struggled to communicate with their international guests.

However, when there’s a will there’s a way. They bought smartphones and went to English classes in the district’s center.

A Countrywide Movement

Now with the help of travel booking sites and apps, you can find homestays almost anywhere you want to go in Vietnam, from popular destinations to remote areas. Here’s a list of homestays that will make you want to pack your bag and go there.

- RiceRoad Homestay (Sapa/ Pu Luong)

- Phơri’s House (Sapa/ Hanoi/ Saigon)

- Mr Linh’s Homestay (Bac Kan)

- Le Bleu Homestay (Hanoi/ Tam Dao/ Hoi An/ Da Lat/ Saigon)

- Old Yellow House (Hoi An)

- Countryside Homestay (Phu Yen)

- Mui Ne Connect (Phan Thiet)

- Kokoro Home (Nha Trang)

- The Dalat Old Home (Da Lat)

- Cocohut Homestay (Ben Tre)

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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.”

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

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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.

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.

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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.”

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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!’”

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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.

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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.”

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Top 5 Beach Resorts in Vietnam

By: Tom Owen

We explored the very best beachfront resorts in Vietnam. You could visit any of the luxury beach resorts mentioned as a fantastic way to celebrate your honeymoon or a landmark birthday, or just as a truly decadent vacation treat.

Sipping a cold cocktail on a white sand beach, with a dense jungle at your back and the lapping of the tide gently soothing your senses – what could be better? Vietnam’s luxury beach resorts are some of the best in Asia, with luxurious accommodation available at affordable rates all along the country’s 3,200 kilometers of coastline.

Fantastic Vietnamese food and the sunny warmth of both climate and its people make this a great choice for relaxing and unwinding in stunning surroundings.

Six Senses Con Dao

Who stays here? You mean, aside from Brad and Angelina? The Hollywood couple stayed here once in 2011 putting Six Senses Con Dao firmly on the luxury travel map.

What makes it such a great beach resort? It takes less than an hour to reach by charter plane, directly from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Dao Island, where a Mercedes van picks you up and drops you off at the resort.

Situated on one of, arguably, the best beaches in Vietnam, with flat, firm sand that stretches out for a few kilometers and inviting blue water, the private villas all come with an infinity pool and butler. Films are projected nightly in the open air, while the food and drink options are second to none. The service is finely-tuned, leaving no stone unturned in pursuit of a pleasurable stay for the customer.

With a hefty VND12 million price tag per room, it should be no surprise that the service is immaculate, but there are plenty of other aspects which go beyond the basics and may surprise even the most well-travelled luxury-aficionado. A pre-check-in list offers anything you might need on the house, from razors to nail clippers to scented pillows to snorkelling gear. Guest can even specify the music they want playing upon entering their private villa for the first time.

The island is a beautiful and scenic attraction in itself, but if you prefer some more activity in your day then there are options to suit most tastes. For the history buff, there is a (now-decommissioned) prison which makes for an interesting visit.

For experienced and inexperienced divers alike there are abundant opportunities to explore what is widely known as Vietnam’s best scuba diving location, while those who prefer to stay above the surface can rent a catamaran for the day.

How long should you stay? As one of the most desirable and delightful resorts in Vietnam and with an outlay of around USD100 all but unavoidable for the charter plane, you’d be missing out if you didn’t spend at least four days here soaking in the atmosphere.

Offers: Six Senses Con Dao offers discounts ranging from 10% to 28% for early, non-flexible and extended stays.

Princess D'Annam

Six Senses Con Dao

Who stays here: Families with kids in search of some luxury treatment.

What makes it such a great beach resort? A short distance from Phan Thiet, Princess d’Annam is around a 3-hour trip by car from Ho Chi Minh City, making it the nearest beachfront resort on our list to Vietnam’s largest city. If you have young kids in tow then Princess is probably the best option. And it’s on the lower end of the luxury price spectrum (around VND5 million for a private villa).

The hotel is peaceful, secluded and stylish. For your money you get immaculate 24-hour service and some beautiful sights: the East Sea, rolling sand dunes and an unspoilt local village where you can pick up local fruit and coffee on the cheap.

What marks Princess out as a top spot for families is its excellent kids club – with a raft of activities on offer. That’s not to say adults will feel left out though, with cooking classes, karaoke and surfing all available at your request.

How long should you stay? Three or four nights. In such a small and secluded area you might consider taking a taxi trip into Phan Thiet to check out the city for something to do.

Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang

Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang

Who stays here? People who want to balance the beach with some lively city life.

What makes it such a great beach resort? Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang is for beach lovers who don’t want to be too far away from Nha Trang, the busiest coastal city in Vietnam. It’s also the only resort in town that’s actually on the beach, instead of across the road.

This idyllic beach resort is a delightful hideaway despite how close it is to the city. The noise is low enough not to disturb your stay, while the gardens, the exclusive beachfront and the inviting swimming pools all boost the peaceful atmosphere.

Six Senses, known for their world-class spa facilities, are the managing company behind Evason Ana Mandara so do yourself a favor and make use of the facilities here.

How long should you stay? If you want to explore the bustling city of Nha Trang, which has plenty of landmarks to check out, then around five days will be sufficient. If you’re all about that beach then stick with two or three nights only.

With a voucher you can get each night in the lower-priced rooms for under VND5 million. For the more luxurious options the cost is almost double. 

The Nam Hai

The Nam Hai

Who stays here? The luxury-minded older crowd, no loud partying but plenty of fun.

What makes it such a great beach resort? With more than 1,600 reviews the Nam Hai has five bubbles on TripAdvisor – that’s no mean feat. When we visited we spotted a few things that made this beach resort stand out: the rooms are beautifully decorated with a nice view of the beach meters away; lounging by the pools is idyllic; and the beach sand is spotless. Of all the hotels in Vietnam, this place is easily one of the best.

Service in general is straight out of the top drawer and the price tag matches this (USD500 and up). Every villa comes with its own butler, ready to oblige your every whim, and small but significant details like the low-emission, low-noise electric buggies and bicycles used by the staff give the Nam Hai a push over the edge into veritable 5-star territory. This is the place for world-class treatment, rest assured.

How long should you stay? At least two nights. If you can afford more, go for it. Two nights to a week is best.

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas

An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas

Who stays here? Luxury travellers in search of peace and seclusion.

What makes it such a great beach resort? The peace and tranquility of An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas marks it out as a truly special spot to get away to. Whether you’re an expat based in the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, or on your way through Nha Trang as part of a tour of Vietnam, you’re going to want to make time for a visit to this truly special spot. 

The dense trees and jungle in which the villas are situated helps to build up the sense of privacy and serenity, despite the near proximity of other holidayers. You may not be the only ones here, but it’ll certainly feel that way.

With a private butler for every villa, you’ll find that your merest whim is indulged almost as soon as it enters your mind – this is a place to leave behind any memories of the outside world and submit yourself to total indulgence.

The breakfast at An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas stood out as extra-special – not only is it a la carte, but you can order to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content.

How long should you stay? Situated on a remote and totally private peninsula, the resort is accessible only by boat transfer – this adds a little bit of time to your transfers, and for this reason we’d recommend staying two-three nights here rather than just one. 

And that completes our list of the top beach resorts in Vietnam. If you think we’ve missed one off or want to share your experiences at one of the luxury hotels mentioned in the article then please leave a comment! If you’re planning your own trip to the best beaches in Vietnam, check out our top 10 most beautiful beaches in Vietnam.