Do you prefer to get your first spa treatment before or after breakfast? Well, how about both? Sometimes life’s decisions can be tough, but not here, where the spa is all-inclusive...
Situated just one hour by air from HCMC, with golden sands, turquoise waters and fiery red sunsets, the island of Phu Quoc is one of the greatest Friday-night getaways for those of us living in Saigon.
As the international hotel and resort chains continue to spread upward and outward across Phu Quoc, Fusion Resort Phu Quoc, the fifth member of Fusion’s growing family of wellness-inspired properties, with its 97 low-lying “all-pool” villas and soothing back-to-nature vibes, offers something truly unique. From the “Breakfast Anywhere, Anytime” service, to small details like the trend-bucking booking confirmation it sends out, everything at a Fusion property is about parting with tradition.
“We’re not like other five-star resorts,” says Huong, our Fusionista (a super-friendly butler and a super-creative concierge rolled into one) as we take the complimentary 40-minute shuttle from the island’s international airport. “We’re more down-to-earth, more genuine, and much more relaxed.”
She’s absolutely right. I didn’t see any of the other hotels greeting their guests in the arrivals area with hugs and smiles and instant first-name terms.
“So,” says Huong, “what time would you like to visit the spa today?”
Eat, Beach, Spa, Repeat…
The “all-spa inclusive” concept is the highlight of every Fusion Resort and is something you won’t find anywhere else, with a menu of massages, facials and all-natural body wraps and scrubs.
Beyond the spa, the resort is also home to a stunning beach, a large communal pool, three distinct dining destinations, a fully equipped fitness centre, plus daily yoga, tai chi and meditation sessions. Each of the accommodation options—ranging from the one-bedroom garden villas to the five-bedroom Grand Beach Villa—also comes with its own outdoor pool.
If you can pry yourself away from the resort, your Fusionista can tailor-make excursions, tours and “locals-only” experiences, while guided hikes and bike rides into the countryside, plus complimentary on-site games and activities, mean you can stay as active or as restful as you wish.
Before we’ve kicked off our shoes, I know already that our one-bed beach-front abode is going to be hard to leave. Spacious, completely open-plan, with a deep sunken bathtub, open shower, and a shaded outdoor veranda overlooking our own private pool and our own private ocean, I wish we’d booked a longer stay.
The Fusion Lifestyle
After the mind-melting Natural Living Pepper massage, followed by reviving glasses of fresh fruit juice, it’s time for sunset drinks at Soul Kitchen, the resort’s laid-back pool bar and diner. Later, with the stars twinkling over the Gulf of Thailand, we indulge in a fresh seafood feast in the beach-front restaurant Pezcá.
In addition to the varied breakfast menu—available at any time of the day for delivery to your villa, to the beach, or to a table in the restaurant—Secret Garden is where you’ll find the immense morning buffet. With indoor and outdoor seating, the space is later used for lunch and dinner, serving Cantonese dim sum, Vietnamese delicacies and a variety of international favourites.
“In all of our restaurants,” says Huong, who has swung by the restaurant to ask how we’re doing, “our menus are carefully crafted. You’ll find plenty of treats, but also plenty of healthier choices. And our chefs are able to cater for any special dietary requirements, from plant-based to gluten-free.”
And that’s what really makes Fusion special. That personal touch.
Huong explains that she sees her guests more like friends than customers. “I love that I get the chance to make people’s vacations extra special,” she says.
Image source: Fusion Resort
Phu Quoc’s Hospitality Boom: The Future of Travel in Vietnam?
All around Saigon and Vietnam, you see (and hear) the signs of change. The economy is rapidly growing and many companies are leading the way with modern buildings, innovative businesses, and international amenities.
But it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. The infrastructure of Vietnam is having to work very hard to try to keep up with the rapid development. Waste disposal issues and slowly changing habits of many locals are obstacles to the success of new establishments. So how can the country adapt to growth while improving current conditions? Phu Quoc’s hospitality boom may be at the forefront of some solutions.
Image source: tripadvisor.com
Accommodation for the Masses in a Phu Quoc Paradise
Phu Quoc has changed dramatically in the last decade. Expansive resorts, scenic restaurants, and trendy bars now stand where trees and sand used to be. And there are no signs of this slowing down.
Pullman Phu Quoc Resort and Hotel is currently under construction. Premier Villas is in the works as well. Regent Residences Phu Quoc is set to become the first 6-star resort in Phu Quoc Island by 2020. Once complete, the Regent Residences will include 76 villas, 42 sky villas, and 120 hotel rooms, all exuding the highest standards of luxury and comfort.
Image source: hospitalitynet.org
The three major development investors in the area have carved out their own portions of Phu Quoc as well. CEO Group is developing the Sonasea Villa & Resort Complex in the Bai Truong area, consisting of internationally-recognized luxury hotel chains Novotel, Best Western, and Intercontinental, as well as smaller, mid-level hotels, villas, and hostels. The area is to set be a hub for leisure, amusement and eco-tourism in Phu Quoc.
Vingroup has taken over a chunk of northern Phu Quoc island through the Vinpearl Phu Quoc complex. Vingroup has built an amusement park there and the world’s second largest wildlife safari alongside premium accommodations in the hope of attracting foreign and domestic tourists.
The south of Phu Quoc is the new home of Sun Group, who opened the world’s longest cable car ride over sea in 2018 - one of our recommended best attractions in Phu Quoc. As part of the Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park, the cable car connects An Thới Town and Hòn Thơm Islet. Tourists have plenty of experiences available with nature and top-of-the-line luxury in the 1,000-room Sun Group resort and hotel complex.
Image source: vinpearl.com
With a total of 15,000 rooms rated 3-star and above, Phu Quoc has long passed the days of accommodation shortages.
Visitors to Vietnam’s Pearl Island of Phu Quoc
So who’s going to be staying in all those rooms? Airlines are getting in the game to shuttle new tourists to Phu Quoc. AirAsia now includes regular direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, which also connects the island to traffic from Europe. Regular charter flights bring visitors from China and Russia. Vietjet is planning to expand to flights direct from Seoul. Additionally, all domestic airlines have increased daily direct flights to the Pearl Island. As a result, Phu Quoc International Airport is expanding to meet the demands, aiding the process to swell the tourist population to five million annually by 2020.
To accommodate the differing nationalities of tourist, resorts have begun quite a curious trend. Resorts and hotels are catering their services around the general tastes and cultural sensitivities of their target market of guests. For instance, some resorts tailor their services around Chinese tourists, with daily buffets including traditional Chinese dishes as well as Vietnamese fusion. Well-known European brands follow luxury standards that guests from that region would naturally expect.
Still others, like Fusion Resort Phu Quoc, welcome guests from many different locales by offering unique services that can appeal to all nationalities. Fusion Resort’s “Fusionistas” are available to communicate with guests 24/7, in the guests’ language of choice, via their choice of messenger platform. Part butler, part concierge and part guide, the Fusionistas work hard to ensure that every guest, regardless of nationality, has an enjoyable stay at Fusion Resort Phu Quoc.
Image source: Fusion Resort Phu Quoc
Resorts Raising Service Standards on Phu Quoc
Transportation to get tourists to the island year round - check. Bountiful accommodations to fit a range of budgets - check. High quality staff to cater to all guests needs - well… While most foreigners living in Vietnam try to understand and accept the way things are done in Vietnam, many have been frustrated by the difference in hospitality industry standards to what they are typically used to. Particularly when on vacation, people expect a carefree and enjoyable experience. Fortunately, various hotels and resorts in Phu Quoc are leading the way here as well.
Phu Quoc has long had an issue with maintaining adequate staff to meet the demands of its visitors. There simply aren’t enough local Vietnamese living on the island that are highly qualified to serve the influx of foreign tourists in all of the luxury hotels and resorts. But the people are coming, so how is the demand for hospitality staff being met?
Several resorts are partnering with vocational colleges and schools to recruit and train workers from mainland Vietnam, as well as from Phu Quoc. The resorts provide accommodation and ongoing training to help ease the transition. Additionally, a few of the resorts take things a step further by providing above average wages, better benefits packages, and more opportunities for advancement. And their efforts are evident.
The staff at Fusion Resort Phu Quoc, for example, happily care for the guests with an unmatched standard of service, express high job satisfaction and familial relationships with management. This translates to higher retention rates than many of the other resorts on the island.
At Best Western Premier Sonasea Phu Quoc, employees are provided with a good range of insurance coverage (from social and health to personal accident), and those from outside of Phu Quoc are helped with relocation costs being covered. In addition, return tickets are offered so non-local staff can visit their families. Again, this kind of effort by a resort helps to create a higher level of employee happiness, and happy staff usually means happy guests.
Image source: Best Western Premier Sonasea Phu Quoc
Another facet of maintaining guest satisfaction is preserving the pristine nature of Phu Quoc. People go to the Pearl Island to bask in the glory of nature, but it can be easily destroyed if everyone on the island isn’t mindful of responsible preservation. To this end, over half of the island remains a protected wildlife preserve, even with growth plans for the next 20 years.
Furthermore, resorts and hotels in Phu Quoc are working, to varying degrees at the moment, to reduce waste, keep the island clean, and educate staff, the local population, and guests on sustainability practices. Perhaps one of the best examples is Mango Bay Resort. Their luxury villas have been seamlessly built into the natural landscape, they carry out great efforts to maintain the coral reef in their area, and staff are required to regularly participate in Phu Quoc clean up efforts in conjunction with local waste removal groups.
Video source: Contact BSTB
Phu Quoc Tourism is on the Right Path
In many ways, Phu Quoc feels like a sort of science experiment. Clearly, there is a demand for luxury resorts and hotels and higher standards of service in a pristine environment. And these resorts and hotels are proving that it is possible to maintain profit margins while being conscious of the sustainability of the island. Of course, there is still work to be done, but Vietnam on a whole can look to Phu Quoc as a good example of what can happen in the rest of the country.
Image source: steemitimages.com
If Vietnam is to meet its goal of being an internationally recognized “developed nation” in the next five to ten years, the country has to find the balance between proper waste management, infrastructure improvement, internationally recognized service standards AND economic development. Phu Quoc is at the forefront of positive development in Vietnam and set to be the most popular tourist destination in Vietnam. Time will tell how successful Phu Quoc will continue to be, but the future looks bright for the Pearl Island.
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
The Phu Quoc development plan announced by the government in 2004 and adjusted in the summer of 2015, makes provision for a massive investment and a huge development of large parts of this idyllic island. In the revised plan, land dedicated to tourism will cover 40 sq km; land for mixed tourism and housing 33 sq km, whilst forestry gets 374 sq km. In addition there is a 66 sq km buffer zone with close on 40 sq km given over to agriculture. This is not a small development. At the end of 2014 there were just 1,500 rooms for rent on the island, by the end of 2017 that will have risen to 10,000, with many more planned over the next 15 years.
Phu Quoc lies off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand. It is a mere 10 km from the Bokor National Park on the outskirts of Kampot. It is the largest of Vietnam’s islands with a total area of 593 sq km and one that has been the cause of constant argument of ownership between Vietnam and Cambodia. The capital of the island Duong Dong is situated on the west coast of the island at about the north-south mid point. This town will change beyond recognition as part of the development plan.
The government has decided that Phu Quoc is to become the biggest island destination in the whole region and they are pulling out all the stops to make this happen. It seems inconceivable that this beautiful island could become the next Bali or Phuket, but that is what they want. The resort style developments are already starting to arrive and are totally taking over the west coast of the island. From the enormous Vinpearl hotel and resort in the north to the newly opened Novotel in the south, huge swathes of land and being carved up and built on.
Broadly speaking the island’s development is being handled by two groups. Vinpearl will take on the north of the island, whilst responsibility for the south falls to the Sun Group.
Already open in the north is phase one of the Vinpearl hotel and resort, Vinpearl Land amusement park, Vinpearl Safari Park, the Vinpearl Golf Phu Quoc and the Vinmec Phu Quoc International Hospital. Impact on the local ecology has been huge. Local people are seeing big increases in the local economy and most seem content that this is good for the island. To the north of these opened attractions, the second phase of the Vinpearl development is underway, with one of the biggest building sites on the island just opening up. Based around a 17 hectare lake, it is simply massive. Whilst slightly south another huge development for Grand World has begun. It is rumoured that the country’s second giant casino, after the the Grand Casino at Ho Tram Strip, will be built here.
VinPearl Phu Quoc Resort & Villas on Long Beach, Phu Quoc - Source
The southern development along Long Beach is slightly different. The hotels and resorts here are generally speaking smaller and more eco-friendly, though this certainly depends on your definition. On Phu Quoc anything is classed as an eco-resort as long as less than 50% of the land is built upon. This of course raises as many questions as it does answers. No provision is made for sustainable building materials in the definition.
The Mercure Phu Quoc Resort & Villas at the northern end of the southern development has at least tried to make their resort genuinely eco-friendly. The impact on the local ecology here has been positive. This small hotel is virtually invisible until you arrive at its door. The 67 bedrooms are by way of individual villas, dotted around beautiful gardens, rich with trees and greenery. They even grow their own vegetables in and around the villas, supplying the kitchen with pumpkins, tomatoes, potatoes and other ingredients.
Moving south from the Mercure, you’ll find the Sunset Sanato resort and Luxury Villas (under construction); the Pullman hotel and resort (construction soon to start); the Novotel Phu Quoc (opened in February 2016) and the 17-storey InterContinental (under construction). The Sofitel is also coming here. The whole of Long Beach is being snapped up by developers who are facing a backlash from locals demanding access to what are, after all, public beaches. The government has said that some kind of access road 50 metres from the beach has to remain in place, but in some cases clearly no provision has been made for this. The famous pearl farm here is on borrowed time.
Moving across the island to the eastern beach area of Bai Khem, work is well underway on the large JW Marriott hotel and resort. This 5 star luxury resort will forever change this small but beautiful beach. The plans for the it do look beautiful and tastefully done. The Marriott is in the process of building a new road to the resort.
There is also a cable car ride being built connecting the island’s second largest town of An Hoi with the island of Hon Thom, also called Pineapple Island. The 8 km ride will be the longest aerial ropeway cable car in the world. As it passes over the islands of Hon Dua and Hon Roi, the towers will reach 160m in height. Construction started in 2015 and is expected to be completed in 2016 with the ride being fully operational by 2017. It will be capable of carrying 3,500 people per hour to the so far undeveloped Pineapple Island.
Many resorts are being planned for long Beach, including the Vinpearl Premium Villas - Source
Development on this scale of course requires a huge change to local infrastructure. New roads are planned and a widening and upgrading of existing roads is underway. The island currently has two landfill sites, a large one in the north and a smaller one in the south. At present the island manages all its own electricity needs but this is about to change.
Building an incinerator to fuel the island is planned, but this is fraught with difficulties: the island doesn’t create enough waste (yet) to keep an incinerator going full time. However an underwater cable is also being built to the mainland and the national grid; this was started in 2014.
In 2012 the new Phu Quoc International Airport opened its gates to the public. Short-lived flights to Singapore and Siem Reap were soon shelved, but new international flights are planned for 2017.
All this large-scale change will inevitably affect the micro economy on the island. Small bars will undoubtedly spring up everywhere, local restaurants will increase in number and probably quality. Phu Quoc is already famous for its amazing seafood and of course locally grown pepper.
Regardless of anyone’s opinions on the relative merits or disadvantages on the future of Phu Quoc, this tiny tropical island will never be the same again. Life for the 100,000 inhabitants is about to change, irrevocably.
The Rise of CSR in Phu Quoc’s Hospitality Industry
As with any popular tourist destination, Vietnam’s gorgeous island of Phu Quoc is not short of resorts. Island-wide, a growing range of accommodation caters for every budget and holiday experience. However, with such growth come concerns about sustainability and consideration for the island’s ecosystems. Thankfully, an increasing number of resorts in Phu Quoc’s hospitality industry are showing consciousness about their effects on the environment, social landscape, and local economy.
Resorts in Phu Quoc Realise That Staff Are People Too
Fusion Resort Phu Quoc is the pinnacle of relaxation and privacy for discerning travellers. The secret to the resort’s success, though, lies not in obsession with profits, but in the exceptional treatment of its employees. Staff receive a higher pay than at most resorts on Phu Quoc island and enjoy the “luxury” of two days off per week - uncommon in Asian hospitality businesses. As a result, employees enjoy a living wage and high job satisfaction.
Image source: agoda.net
Additionally, employees report feeling that there is a family environment at Fusion that encourages growth, collaboration, and high staff retention. The management at Fusion Resort Phu Quoc have it figured out - if you take care of the employees, they will work hard and ultimately keep guests satisfied.
At the family friendly resort of the new Best Western Premier Sonasea Phu Quoc, hired staff that are not local recruits are assisted with relocation costs and employees are provided with return flight tickets to allow them to visit their hometowns and families. Bonus allowances are offered for special life events and through company awards, and employees’ families are gifted discounted stays at the resort. Along with a comprehensive training and career plan, Best Western Premier Sonasea Phu Quoc knows these actions go a long way to keeping a happy staff, which then benefits their guests.
Image source: Mervin Lee
Preserving Phu Quoc’s Natural Beauty
Along the shores of Ong Lang Beach stands Mango Bay Resort, seamlessly integrated into the natural landscape. Unfortunately, many resorts are built at the expense of the natural ecology of the island; however, Mango Bay is different. When building the resort, the architects worked hard to avoid environmentally negative actions, such as cutting trees and clearing native vegetation. In addition, the landscape design includes only indigenous plant species.
Mango Bay has also taken measures to protect the coral reef in their section of Ong Lang Beach by discouraging fishing and educating guests to prevent further damage. Other resorts and businesses on Phu Quoc, and throughout Vietnam, could do well to take note of Mango Bay Resort’s initiatives to help preserve the long term viability of the country’s beautiful natural habitat.
Image source: Mango Bay Resort
Hospitality in Phu Quoc: Community Involvement
Smaller resorts are also doing their part to improve social constructs. Phu Quoc Ecolodge is a Vietnamese-owned and operated boutique resort in Cua Can. As the name implies, environmental sustainability of Phu Quoc is a core value of the resort. They use solar panels, provide glass bottles and refill stations for drinking water, and grow herbs and vegetables on site. The rooms remain delightfully comfortable and the property is breathtaking while maintaining a low carbon footprint.
Most notable, though, is the dedication to the local Phu Quoc community of the owner, Phong Bui. He regularly works with clean up efforts in the area and, though it’s a slow process, he patiently impresses upon his neighbors the importance of reducing plastics, keeping trash out of the water, and properly disposing of waste. Additionally, he supports the local economy by providing Phu Quoc-made and environmentally-conscious products at Phu Quoc Ecolodge. Change is easier when motivated by economic viability.
Image source: tripadvisor.com
Phu Quoc’s Plastic Reduction and the Use of Sustainable Materials
It has been impossible to escape the global plastic reduction movement in recent years (for good reason) and encouragingly, this trend is also gaining momentum with top resorts in Phu Quoc.
Supporting this movement in Phu Quoc is the company Bamboo Step, who are supplying a number of the island’s major hotels and resorts with premium quality bamboo drinking straws to ease the burden of single use plastic. Some of the best Phu Quoc resorts such as La Veranda, Fusion, Best Western Sonasea Phu Quoc, JW Marriott and Radisson Blu are all playing their part by using bamboo, grass or metal straws instead of plastic ones.
Image source: shutterstock.com
Going a step further at the plush Salinda Resort Phu Quoc Island, bamboo and grass straws are used as standard. Ceramic containers for bath products are included in all rooms, and carafes of filtered water are available for a small fee to cut down on purchased plastic bottles. Biodegradable and renewable materials such as Accoya wood were used in the construction of Salinda, showing that the sustainability commitment was present from day one.
Image source: shutterstock.com
It is clear that there is a lot of positive work being done at some of the excellent resorts in Phu Quoc, which gives good reason to be cautiously optimistic for the future of sustainability on the island. However, there is always much more that can be done and there are still plenty of challenges to making more significant progress; policies that are environmentally and socially responsible usually hit a resort’s bottom line, at least in the short term.
If the growing trends of sustainability and environmental protection gather increasing local and governmental support, then Phu Quoc, as one of Vietnam’s best places to visit, will continue its rise to becoming a sustainable tourist destination in all regards.
Experience the beautiful beaches of Phu Quoc courtesy of Eden Resort. You’ll thank us when you get there.
I landed on Phu Quoc around midday and looked around. I was in love already: the sky was bright and the weather hot and humid—a typical day in Southern Vietnam. It was easy to find the complimentary shuttle service that Eden Resort Phu Quoc provides for its guests, and the drive to the resort was pleasant. I was able to look out the window and enjoy the island sights, which were so different from the whirling cityscape of Ho Chi Minh City.
I knew immediately that this stay would be a wonderful change of pace.
When I arrived at the Eden Resort, I saw that it was aptly named: it truly was a green oasis. This was a resort that valued the quality of its landscaping. When I approached the lobby, I got a nice surprise: there were recycled decorations like driftwood accents. I mentioned this to the concierge, and she told me that all the lights in the swimming pools were LED-powered as well. I’ve always been eco-conscious, so it was nice to see a 4-star resort with a similar mindset. It really made the resort seem down-to-earth rather than stuffy or overly fancy, like some other high-rated resorts I’ve visited.
Once I received my key I headed to my beach bungalow. As I walked along the outdoor path and admired the greenery surrounding the buildings, I saw workers doing some construction and renovation. Since I moved to HCMC I’ve become accustomed to the sound of hammering and saws, but hoped it wouldn’t start at 7 a.m. the next morning (thankfully it didn’t).
I neared my beach bungalow and breathed deeply: there was that inviting smell of sea air. Indeed, the bungalow was right next to the beach and had an exceptionally beautiful view. The rooms were large and spacious, and the decorations were subtle, retaining the eco- friendly vibe I had noticed in the lobby. I put away my things and saw that there was an outdoor bathroom—a nice touch, although the humidity near the sea did cause a bit of rust to gather around the tap.
Although the room was beautiful, the pull of the ocean was too great to resist. I threw on my bathing suit and headed outside. The beachfront was a popular spot for the other guests, and for good reason. While the beach was lined with umbrellas and chairs, it was a bit difficult to find one that wasn’t marked with towels and bags. Once a free umbrella opened up, it was snatched almost immediately by another guest.
After a bit of waiting, I was able to grab my own umbrella oasis. I indulged in some light reading and general relaxation and headed to the ocean. The water was warm and the sand was soft: absolute perfection. It was quite a different experience from some of the other beaches I’ve been to in Vietnam, which sometimes have problems getting rid of the trash. Here the coast was clean and the water was clear.
Drinks on the Beach
After dinner at the Strelitzia, one of Eden Resort’s two restaurants, I headed to the Malibu Beach Bar, where I rounded off my night with a tropical nightcap at a beautiful, eco-friendly repurposed table. I chose a classic margarita, always my drink of choice, and mingled with the other bar patrons. I learned that the rooms of the hotel were just as nice as the bungalow, although one guest mentioned plumbing issues. Another guest talked about the different destinations on Phu Quoc (his favorite was a local pearl farm in the nearby Duong To Village). I replied that I didn’t want to rent a scooter for just one day, and he said he hadn’t—he has simply gone on one of the day-long “Seawalker” tours Eden Resort offers, which he really enjoyed. I found out that Eden also offers some daily fishing and snorkelling trips, which are less expensive than other tours on the island. This was welcome news, but unfortunately my flight was set to depart before noon the next day. There’s always next time.