As guests travelling to the Amano’i fly into Nha Trang’s Cam Ranh Airport, a one-hour flight from Ho Chi Minh City, we were greeted by a guest assistant and driver in a sturdy vehicle who took us on a 90-minute drive south to the resort. The last third of the journey bumped along a road still being constructed, which made for a slightly tortuous trip. On arrival, we were taken to the imposing central pavilion for check-in and a refreshing arrival drink. Following check-in, a golf buggy transport took us to our private pavilion.
Amano’i means “place of peace”. This peaceful haven with its 31 pavilions, some with private pools, and private villa complexes with central pools, sits high up on a forested promontory on a finger of land prodding into Vinh Hy Bay on Vietnam’s central southern coast. The Beach Club is at sea level on a sheltered golden crook of sand with views of the open sea and the fishing village of Vinh Hy. Amano’i is the only significant resort development within the borders of the isolated 30,000 hectare Nui Chua National Park.
The pavilions are reached through narrow walkways that wind off the main path through the low-slung subtropical forest. These open-plan pavilions feature a bed at one end facing the bathroom area, and a separate seating area with coffee-table books. The pavilion is entirely coloured in shades of white, stone and gunmetal grey, save for the two cylindrical room lamps encircled in Jim Thompson’s crimson silk. A delicate plaster cast lotus stencil embedded into the headboard behind the bed is a beautiful touch. Outside, beyond the expansive timber decking, our sleek oblong pool appears to teeter on the edge of the bouldery cliff.
Aman resorts ooze exclusivity. This is a place for romantic luxury, although the villas encourage family reunions. All the pavilions and villas are isolated from each other across the forest-covered clifftop ensuring absolute solitude. Socialising and swimming combine at the large infinity cliff-top pool next to the central pavilion, or the at the spilt-paint-bordered pool at the Beach Club.
Breakfasts tempt with Vietnamese or European choices – an aromatic beef noodle soup or eggs benedict with strong Vietnamese coffee. The light lunches, with a strong Vietnamese bent, include tasty minced beef in betel leaves. Equally, international lunch favourites such as club sandwiches and salads are offered. The Vietnamese Beach Club dinner menu tantalises with green papaya and soft shell crab (Dh56), grilled marinated tiger prawns with grilled aubergine with scallions and garlic (Dh104) and a delectable passion fruit panna cotta (Dh35).
The quiet of our ocean pool pavilion was the perfect place to retreat and admire nature. The carefully prepared, plentiful Vietnamese cuisine is a highlight. The signature Aman treatment at the tranquil spa by the Lotus Lake was superlative.
The unfinished road to the resort does nothing to enhance the appeal of a stay. Drivers need to learn their way about the main roads and staff would do well to learn more about the national park, birds and wildlife.
At the moment the Amano’i is still in its soft-opening stage, but as it recruits more Vietnamese staff, and staff learn more about the beautiful national park that encircles the resort, the sense of Vietnam at Amano’i will further capture the visitor’s interest.
The bottom line
Pool pavilions are from US$1,175 (Dh4,315) per night excluding breakfast and government and service charges of 15.5 per cent. Amano'i, Vinh Hy Village, Ninh Thuan Province, Vietnam (www.amanresorts.com; 00 84 68 377 0777).
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