LWSY Vietnam > Paradise Found at Amanoi, Ninh Thuan Province
It’s a very good sign when the hotel staff meet you airside before you’ve even walked to the luggage carousel. Having taken an early morning short flight from Hanoi, we arrived into Cam Ranh Airport mid-morning. 90% of those landing at Cam Ranh head north from the airport to the hustle and bustle of Nha Trang. Our driver settled us into his Aman branded Land Cruiser for our nearly 2 hour drive where we headed south. Complete with wifi, snacks, and an iPad loaded for you to choose your lunch or spa treatment on arrival. We were happily glued to the views.
Amanoi is remote, so remote you have to be collected and driven there. Known as somewhat of a meditative retreat on the tip of one of Vietnam’s largest natural conservation sites, Nui Chua National Park arriving here felt like we’d arrived to a secret paradise overlooking the East Sea and pristine Vinh Hy Bay in Ninh Thuan Province.
You can’t help but be struck by the breathtaking design of the place. It’s as if some kind of interior designed space ship of a resort just landed and nestled itself into this silent corner of the National Park. For this we have Denniston Architects and lead designer Jean Michel Gathy to thank. Responsible for some of the World’s most mind blowing hotel resorts including, Cheval Blanc Randheli and Andermatt, Aman Canal Grande, One & only Reethi-Rah and the Setai in Miami.
Check-in is more of a friendly introduction, a full line up of staff await you as you make your way through the magnificent arrival experience. All of your information and preferences are taken prior to arrival, so once you’re here, it’s time to switch instantly into holiday mode.
After a quick run around the restaurant and bar (I couldn’t sit still for a second there was far to much to see) we hopped in our buggy to take us to our Ocean View Pavillion.
At Amanoi, you rely on the buggys to get you from place to place. The resort is big, and steep, so no bicycles here. The pathways were excavated by hand during the construction of the hotel, so pathways are windy so not to damage tree roots and the surrounding landscape (e.g. hold on at all times).
Just so you have some idea of the landscape, I circled our pavilion below. Privacy and serenity guaranteed. We were fast becoming Aman junkies. The ultimate excitement for me with any holiday is the moment you turn the key to your room. Arrive along your winding pathway up the steps to your Pavilion. The air-con is a dream, and arriving to the curving roof peeping above the treeline is a magical site. Their latticed windows opening to breathtaking views of the ocean ahead, well it’s a beautiful arrival experience. Honeymoon central, this is a hotel room you could easily not need to leave for three days. I imagine some don’t.
The Pavilions are identical in design, and are at one with their magnificent surroundings. Views are either of Nui Chua National Park, the lake on the property overlooking the Spa Pavilion, or Vinh Hy Bay and the East Sea as ours did. The graceful Vietnamese design offers combined bedroom and living areas with a beautiful timber terrace with sun loungers, and large bathrooms each guest with their own side. Each room includes a king-size bed, sofa, writing desk, LCD TV with international channels (that you can flip round to watch in the bath 👊🏼), sound docking system (although not for iPhone 5 or 6s), wireless Internet, mini-bar and espresso machine. The shower opens onto the spacious deck, and the lighting is magnificent. With views for miles, nothing but ocean, this was ultimate luxury.
His and hers sun hats are provided to wear and take home, a trademark of the Aman brand standard. If we’d stayed in our Pavilion, we’d have never left, so we jumped back in the buggy to the Beach Club for an early lunch before hitting the beach.
Designed to maximise the views, The Beach Club is an immaculate space, overlooked by magnificent granite cliffs, with daily fresh fish from the local bay, the draw to this lunchtime destination. With a few fat cat types a few tables away, the hotel was certainly an interesting demographic. Young couples from the US, China, Mexico and the UK all settled into their lunchtime routines before hitting the kayaks and sun loungers.
Nothing says Vietnam holiday like kicking back with a glass of rosé and a bowl of Pho (?!). Well this is an Aman. Pho had to be tried every day on our 10 day tour. No sooner than you’ve put down your chopsticks though, the beach team are jumping into action predicting where you’d like to take your afternoon siesta.
A house rule across the board at any Aman, no bills to sign throughout your stay. This makes all meal times a breeze, and you don’t leave feeling that ‘oops I just spent a bit too much on wine’ feeling.
Lunch over and Etienne decided on an ocean swim, he proceeded to swim as far away as possible leaving me in the shallows, I was still battling my ‘I can’t touch the bottom of the sea bed’ phobia, so I splashed around until I persuaded him to hit the pools (yes plural) with me.
Pool A – The Beach Club. Perfect for a pre-lunch dip, great for lengths if the sea is a bit choppy.
A short buggy ride away and a quick climb up the excavated pathway you reach Pool B – The Cliff Pool. We may have interrupted an engagement photoshoot (quite the thing in luxury hotels nowadays) but we were happy to sit and take in the views before enjoying the pool to ourselves for the rest of the afternoon.
This is a good time to talk about service here at the Aman. It’s as if we have secret trackers attached to our flip flops. The staff will always know where you are, and always know what you want before you do.
I’m convinced someone jumped out of a tree with iced-water when I mentioned I thought we should drink something. In fact, it was as I was floating around like a starfish getting all prune like, that I had one of those moments to myself. How heavenly it was to be here. Regardless of us being here as guests of the hotel, my mind is always switched on to the guests who have chosen here over another Aman. The hotels are renowned for their remote locations, and it’s quite the effort to get here. Once you do though, and you find yourself with your arms hooked over the edge of this infinity pool, you feel like the happiest person in the world.
See, he’s the happiest (luckiest) person in the world…
As the sun began to set, it was time to head back to our room. Housekeeping here is like no other hotel I’ve stayed at. Maybe our room was checked on 4 or 5 times a day? With ice as frosty as can be 24 hours a day, to fresh flowers, fruit, towels, and notes left suggesting experiences to try.
A pre-dinner dip in the hugest bath watching the sky turn all shades of beautiful, I was floating on air by around 7pm just in time for a cocktail before dinner on the central terrace in the main Pavilion. See, isn’t the ambient lighting beautiful?
The sleekest bar in all of Vietnam? Perhaps more Shanghai skyscraper style than Vietnamese National Park, this is one very typical Jean Michel Gathy bar design. Strikingly handsome, with some beautiful photography of local Vietnamese culture. Fabulous cocktails enjoyed with the resort manager Sean, and en excellent evening service.
We opted for dinner on the terrace, and invited the head chef to select our supper. With such a beautiful menu, we had a major case of FOMO. A tasting menu was the perfect option for us to experience their favourite dishes. With a vast wine list, Etienne was never left feeling too far from home, and selected a very special French red wine for the evening. We enjoyed fragrant Vietnamese house specialities, fresh fish, and a selection of beautiful sweet plates before heading back to our nest.
Rising early, with a coffee first on our terrace before a morning walk up to the main Pavilion. Probably the only time of day you don’t take a buggy before the heat of the day really kicks in.
A standard holiday tradition. Shell collecting (most usually forgotten at every location).
Would you like some breakfast with your view…?
In the shade this morning, breakfast is as healthy as can be here at Amanoi. Smoothies in every colour, no buffet here (a relief really, such a waste). So a simple fruit plate, juices and sweet Vietnamese coffee. No breakfast Pho for me this time.
Our morning targets were as follows, swim, massage (me), gym (him). Lunch, siesta, check out.
I was invited down to experience a Signature Aman Massage in one of the five Couples Treatment Suites beside the lotus-filled lake. Amanoi’s Aman Spa is a destination unto itself, providing extensive facilities and a serene setting for relaxation and rejuvenation. The hotel prides itself on their wellness programme.
Amanoi’s fitness options include a spacious, light-filled gymnasium, the futuristic Pilates studio and a lakeside yoga pavilion. There are also two outdoor tennis courts. With a number of scenic walking, running and trekking routes on the property, you’re not short of fitness options here.
After my rejuvenating massage (in an attempt to wake me up a little prior to our 3 hour drive to our next location) we managed to squeeze in a final lunch at the Beach Club.
Images LWSY / Aman
It was interesting to hear that an average stay at the Amanoi is 2-3 nights for European travellers who tend to sandwich this luxury stay between exploring Vietnam. Guests closer to home stay 5-7 nights. Our 3 days was perfect, leaving was a struggle but we were excited for our next Aman experience wherever we choose next.
Amanoi features 31 Pavilions, a number with private swimming pools, and five Aman Villas, all positioned on the hillside with impressive views, think James Bond pads.
Amanoi provides five accommodation categories. Pavilions offer picturesque views of the surrounding mountains or the lake. Pool Pavilions feature a private swimming pool with panoramic views. Ocean Pavilions offer expansive views of Vinh Hy Bay and the East Sea, while Ocean Pool Pavilions offer similar views alongside private swimming pools (the dream and my recommendation).
Each Aman Villa consists of four or five free-standing bedroom pavilions, as well as living and dining pavilions and a large private swimming pool. A live-in housekeeper and cook meet all guests’ needs, including the preparation of Vietnamese or Western cuisine in the villa’s private kitchen.
To stay in an Ocean View Pavilion Suite as we did, from January 2016 rates start at $1,400 per night excluding taxes and service charges.
Thank you to Hill & Dean PR for arranging our experience, to Sean and your team for such an unforgettable Aman experience.
To book your own Amanoi experience just use my Tablet Hotels link above in the right hand column.
Read about my experience at Amanjena Marrakech here.