A Weekend in Paradise at Novotel Phu Quoc Resort
I was lucky enough to be invited to the Novotel Phu Quoc Resort for a media familiarisation, and can truly say that it was an unforgettable experience.
At the airport arrivals hall we were greeted by the Novotel shuttle bus for the 9 km journey to the resort.
It now being lunchtime, the group was told that we would be having lunch after a quick freshen-up. It’s the little things that make a big difference, so the complimentary fruit platter with personalised welcome message and bag with some local specialities provided a sense of personal service for such a large resort. After a quick rainfall shower and change of clothes it was time to come to grips with what else the Novotel Phu Quoc Resort had to offer.
First Culinary Impressions
Seated at a lovely pool-view table in the all-day dining restaurant, Food Exchange, it was time for the indulgence to begin. Food Exchange offers an extensive buffet selection as well as an a la carte menu. There were many stations around the restaurant serving Western, Asian and Vietnamese fare, with the famous Phu Quoc seafood featured in many of them.
As a seafood lover, I wasted little time in sampling some of the freshest squid, shrimp and scallops I have tasted in Vietnam. I’m not a big lunch eater, and diligently restricted myself to a frugal three plates. My favourites were the seafood curry, Hungarian potato salad, seafood pasta and the refreshing variety of salads.
Pina Coladas by the Pool
After a satisfying lunch, we were given an opportunity to relax and enjoy the resort’s facilities. First stop for me was a quick retreat to my room to get some work done. I was lucky enough to have been given a Superior Suite on the third floor. If it wasn’t for the sun shining in a cloudless-sky and the temptation of a pina colada by the pool, I think I may have not left the room for the rest of the stay.
The suite featured a separate living room, standing bathtub, rainfall shower and a double-sized balcony with spectacular views over the pool, surrounding villas and all the way to the Long Beach area. The design of the resort aims to maintain the feel of a traditional Phu Quoc fishing village, with the smallest beachfront buildings being the One Bedroom Villas with private pool that resemble traditional fishing huts. Away from the beach, the buildings become progressively larger until you reach the main building housing 366 rooms.
On my way to the beach, I passed the spa and decided to grab a nice cold drink at the beach bar to enjoy while sunbathing. There I noticed the fantastic range of homemade ice creams for only VND40,000 per scoop. Being adventurous with ice cream flavours, I tried the blackcurrant and Phu Quoc pepper. It first gave the tongue a kick of the hot pepper, then instantly soothed by the cold blackcurrant creaminess. Perched on a lounger under the merciful shade of a well-manicured palm tree, I enjoyed a few hours of swimming, relaxing and reading – an idyllic afternoon.
A Sunset to Remember
As the sun began to set, we were lured to the beach-bar area by the enchanting melody of the in-house band that performs six nights a week. We were treated to some simple yet delicious Vietnamese-inspired canapés to accompany a few glasses of wine whilst watching one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen.
That night we would be dining al fresco at the beautiful Phu Quoc Seafood Restaurant. Sampling the island’s best catch is obligatory for any selfrespecting seafood-lover. We were each given a cold, refreshing towel scented with lemongrass and ginger, which truly awakened the senses.
For starters, we were silver-served a tangy salad followed by a smooth and creamy lobster bisque. After selecting our items from the a la carte menu, they were exquisitely presented on a haring platter. Shrimp, squid, scallops, whole crab and cobia (also known as black salmon) were all on offer, but my hands almost subconsciously reached first for the Oysters Kilpatrick, which didn’t disappoint.
A very relaxed and conversation-filled meal ensued, enjoyed at a leisurely pace with some of the group beginning to fall into a siesta in the large, comfy chairs. To round off the evening, we were served a scoop of the homemade vanilla ice cream served on a bed of honey-drizzled mango and a master-crafted sugar tuile, which again sparked the table back into conversation.
The following morning, we received an a la carte champagne breakfast back at the Phu Quoc Seafood Restaurant. Not being one for morning alcohol, I started the day with my routine ca phe sua da while enjoying the fresh fruit platter.
A Sunday breakfast in a 5-star hotel on Phu Quoc is always a treat and this was no different. After considering a few options, I settled for one of my favourites (which, no matter how hard I try, I have never been able to perfect at home): eggs Benedict. Being from Scotland, my preferred accompaniment would have been smoked salmon, but sadly I was informed that it was not available. An alternative offer of smoked ham turned out to be a more than suitable substitute.
As most of the group were booked on earlyafternoon return flights, the hotel organised a whistle-stop tour of Ho Quoc Pagoda and the famous Phu Quoc Market.
After two strenuous days of relaxing, sunbathing, wining and dining, it was now time to relieve those niggling aches and pains with a rejuvenating massage at the hotel spa. I decided to go for the sports massage and a facial. The massage was exactly what the doctor ordered: firm, focused and just the right amount of time spent on each area. This was my first ever facial, and I couldn’t stop laughing when the products were being applied: they felt ticklish and made me giggle like a little schoolgirl; even the therapist, Ms. Huong, had a chuckle to herself.
Some people might feel the prices here are high compared to their normal VND250,000 massage in a local Ho Chi Minh City spa, but you cannot compare hamburgers with Kobe beef. Novotel Phu Quoc Resort has searched far and wide to employ only the most highly skilled professionals. My masseur at the spa, Mr. Quy, has 15 years’ experience in the industry and was hired from Saigon. My therapist has six years’ experience and relocated from Binh Thuan. For me, anything to do with your body and well-being should focus on quality over price. I’m sure we’ve all heard about someone’s horror massage that left them walking like the hunchback of Notre Dame.
What Could be Improved
With an unobstructed view of the sky and ocean, my room enjoyed the sun non-stop from dawn till dusk. Even with the A/C on maximum setting and net curtains drawn to block direct sunlight, it felt too warm.
However, when the sun relented on the second day, so did this small issue. On the first night of our stay, the hotel was hosting four corporatefunction events entailing a gala-dinner and musical entertainment, which can be a bit noisy if you are in relaxation mode.
Address: Duong Bao Hamlet, Duong To Commune, Phu Quoc
Phone: +84 7 7626 0999