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Discover incredible design by Bill Bensley at this luxury resort in Vietnam

This Bill Bensley-designed five-star resort in Danang is home to one of the most endangered primates in the world. 

Opened in 2012 and designed by Southeast Asia’s most renowned architect and interior designer, Bill Bensley, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort occupies 39 hectares of lush land on the Son Tra Peninsula Nature Reserve in Danang, Vietnam. Each level of the four-tiered property is designed after a theme – Sea, Earth, Sky and Heaven – all connected by a funicular railway that leads to a private bay. This is the property that propelled Bensley to superstardom, and he continues to be involved in all renovations, additions and refurbishments to this day. Around every corner is a new and inspired interior concept, each more creative than the next.  Located 40 minutes drive from Danang International Airport, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is a five-star luxury resort with 189 rooms and suites, plus private residences and multi-room villas. Beautiful, opulent and staffed by some of the world’s friendliest people, this is the most beautiful resort in Vietnam.

The facts

Traveller: Laura Barry
Room: Club Terrace Suite Panoramic Ocean View
Address: InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, Bãi Bắc, Thọ Quang, Sơn Trà, 550000
Date: May 2024
Best for: This is an opulent and visually arresting Bill Bensley-designed property set on the coastline of Danang’s jungle. Aesthetes, nature lovers and those seeking a luxurious resort escape will find happiness here.

floating booths at citron at InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort
Citron © InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

The Signature factor

One may be forgiven for thinking the resort’s private funicular, four-tiered topography, Michelin-star chef and Bill Bensley-designed architecture and interior design are the key drawcards at InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula, however, the real treasure can be found hiding in the trees.

This resort is one of the only locations in the world where people can come face-to-face with the critically endangered red-shanked douc langur monkeys, a beautiful monkey species native to Vietnam. Estimates place surviving numbers between 1500 and 4000 globally, in isolated pockets of jungle in Laos and Vietnam. The largest surviving population is in Son Tra Peninsula Nature Reserve in Danang. Guests can take nature tours guided by a zoologist.

Buffalo Bar and the terrace at La Maison 1880 © InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

First impressions

While the drive from Danang International Airport to InterContinental Danang Sun Penisula Resort is a scenic journey with the coastline on one side and jungle on the other, the natural beauty almost pales in comparison to the resort’s lobby. Towering columns, riots of flowers and natural light flood the white-washed space. It’s grand yet elegant, characterful yet chic. I get a warm “xin chào!” (hello) from every staff member and a complimentary hibiscus mocktail that soothes the effects of Danang’s 30-degree heat and 80 per cent humidity. The gardens are thick and flourishing with palms, almond and banyan trees lining the paved resort thoroughfare. It’s an idyllic tropical paradise with a huge personality – a Bill Bensley signature. The check-in staff provide a thorough introduction to the hotel (complete with a map and activities timetables) then I’m driven to my suite in a golf buggy.

The concept

Bensley reportedly spent more than a year immersing himself in the cultural landscape of Vietnam and Danang to create the concept at InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula. Architectural features typical of Vietnamese design appear throughout, with inspiration drawn from the rooflines of local villages, pagodas, the ancient town of Hoi An, the palaces of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hue, plus dragons, elephants and lanterns. The colour palette ranges from subdued white-washed public spaces accented with pops of orange and blue, to yellow, reds, pinks and greens all anchored by black timber or rattan furniture and detailing.

The room

Measuring in at 80 square metres with 180-degree ocean and jungle views, the Club Terrace Suite Panoramic Ocean View is ornately designed and comes with Club InterContinental benefits. With a king bed, double vanities, gargantuan stone tub with ocean views, a rain shower and high ceilings, this suite is perfect for couples or singles who appreciate waking up to a view of the sunrise peeking over the mountain.

Club Terrace Suite InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort
Club Terrace Suite © InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort & © Laura Barry

Highlights from the mini-bar

The mini bar is a highlight reel of everyone’s favourite beverages, including Pellegrino and Aqua Parma waters, Sprite, Coca-Cola, Red Bull, and local Vietnamese beer Larue Special. A selection of Nespresso pods are available for those early morning caffeine hits, while those who prefer a pre-bedtime herbal tea will be delighted by the TWG tea assemblage. However, my personal favourite is the midnight snack chest, filled with Hello Panda cookies, Oreos, Haribo gummies and blocks of Vietnam’s finest artisan chocolate, Marou.

Top suite

Those looking to get as close to heaven as possible should book a stay in the four-bedroom, two-storey pool villa. The 705 square metre villa is located on the ‘earth’ level and it has panoramic views of the coastline and mountains, four bathrooms, three private pools, outdoor terraces, al fresco dining, and each bedroom has a private living room. The villa can host up to 12 adults or eight adults and eight children under 12.

Four-bedroom, two-storey pool villa
Four-bedroom, two-storey pool villa © InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Dining at InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula

Guests can immerse themselves into the culinary landscape of Vietnam at InterContinentsl Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. Sample typical Vietnamese fare at Citron where traditional pho is the most popular dish. Book dinner at French fine dining establishment La Maison 1888 by Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire and opt for the chef’s table for a seasonal menu and epic dessert spread, it’s the perfect venue for engagements, celebrations and life milestones. Kick back and relax with cocktails in the swinging chairs or sunbeds at Long Bar, or go full carnivore at the barbecue restaurant Bare Foot. Located inside La Maison 1888 is Buffalo Bar, an elegant spot for pre-dinner tipples. In-room dining is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a menu that echoes Citron’s offering. If you’re looking for an afternoon tea experience, visit the Club Lounge in the late afternoon.

Chef's table at La Maison 1880
Chef's table at La Maison 1888 © InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

The facilities

InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is a destination in itself. There’s a yoga pavilion for early morning sun salutations, a palm-fringed pool, a rooftop pool, a spa offering everything from massages and facials to frequency yoga, a well-equipped gym, a kids’ club called Planet Trekkers, a private cinema, conference rooms, private event spaces, and a shuttle service direct to downtown Danang or Hoi An.

I wish I could take home…

The Diptyque toiletries, squishy slippers and the Dyson hair dryer (complete with attachable accessories) are incredibly difficult to leave behind upon departure from InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsul Resort, but the real temptation is the tea cups, plates and colourful rugs adorned with the adorable monkey motif – a recurring theme throughout the resort.

Private beach © Laura Barry & Yoga pavilion © InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Spa life

Mi Sol Spa is named after tones in the musical scale, and the concept is shaped around the impact sounds and vibrations can have on the human mind and body through the frequencies. The spa integrates the use of tuning forks into their treatments to imbue each session with the effects, such as Mi which has a frequency of 528 Hz that reinstates equilibrium and stimulates love, and Sol which has a frequency of 741 Hz, believed to cleanse the mind and body from blockages and toxins.

The spa provides all sorts of treatments, from frequency yoga and facials to massage, manicures, body scrubs and more. The journey always starts at the spa reception where a tea ceremony eases you into your wellness journey. Herbs – cut from the plant right in front of you – are brewed into a relaxing tea in which guests partake before being whisked away to their private treatment villas that are sprinkled throughout the ‘Sea’ level. The staff are welcoming and professional, delivering exceptional services in Zen-like surroundings. Choose from 60 and 90-minute sessions to multi-hour wellness immersions.

Mi Sol Spa reception © InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Sustainability

InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort operates according to Green Engage principles, an IHG company-wide effort to monitor and reduce environmental impact. Through it, the resort tracks its ecological footprint through metrics such as water and energy consumption and waste production and makes adjustments or changes accordingly. InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort has also gone single-use plastic-free, removing plastic packaging and products from all areas of the resort. The resort also conducts regular beach checks and forest cleanups.

Additionally, when Bill Bensley designed InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, the building was structured to exist in harmony with the surrounding natural landscape and wildlife, rather than at odds with it – and to protect the natural habitat of the Red-Shanked Douc Langur monkeys. This species is one of the most endangered primates in the world, with only around 2000 surviving animals remaining in the wild, and the largest community can be found on the Son Tra Peninsula – within the resort. To accommodate their furry residents, large trees are planted alongside roads so the monkeys can cross without having to walk on the ground, and where the roads are too wide for natural planting, the resort has built five treetop ladders for the Douc Langurs. The resort also actively plants an abundance of their preferred almond trees to ensure they have plentiful food. There are five monkey families living here, and if guests see them, they’re instructed to remain still, quiet and avoid eye contact so as not to frighten the shy Douc Langurs.

Red-shanked douc langur monkey
Red-Shanked Douc Langurs © Laura Barry

Staying in

The resort has a full activities roster that includes HIIT workouts, pilates, Vietnamese coffee tastings, coffee art class, mocktail making class, Vietnamese cooking class, fishing, kayaking, snorkelling, paddle boarding, nature tours, kick boxing, and wine tastings in the private wine cellar. Be sure to ask to see the bottle of 1967 Petrus Pomerol or the Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux from Henri Jayer 1994, worth around US$75,000 and US$10,000 respectively.

Each suite has complimentary Wi-Fi, large televisions, working spaces and there’s an on-site private cinema that plays children’s films during the day. There’s a kids’ club, Planet Trekkers, which has PlayStations, climbing equipment, toys and other enrichment activities. Love karaoke? There’s an entire building dedicated to it. Choose from rooms themed after Coco Chanel, Tina Turner, Brigitte Bardot and more.

Planet Trekkers kids club and funicular
Planet Trekkers & Nam Tram © InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Stepping out

InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is located a 30-minute drive away from downtown Danang and the resort provides a free shuttle service for guests who want to explore the beachside city. Start your morning at XLIII Coffee then check out the caves, shrines, temple and pagoda at Marble Mountain. Don’t forget to visit the Dragon Bridge which has a five-minute fire and water show in the evening.

Dragon bridge in Danang
Dragon Bridge © Laura Barry

The Linh Ung Pagoda and the Lady Buddha religious sites are just under a half-hour drive from the resort. Lady Buddha is believed to be a protector of Danang, placed on the coastline where typhoons are most likely to hit. The pagoda itself is huge and beautiful with intricate detailing, and the Lady Buddha is the tallest in Vietnam, towering 67 metres into the sky. Here, you’ll find Buddhist temples, manicured gardens and spectacular bird’s-eye views over Danang.

Linh Ung Pagoda, Lady Buddha and Buddhist temple
Linh Ung Pagoda, Lady Buddha and Buddhist temple © Laura Barry

InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort also provides a free direct shuttle service to the ancient town of Hoi An where you can walk the streets of yesteryear. From picturesque restaurants to cool bars and relaxed cafes, Hoi An is filled with lanterns that hang above every street and shopfront. Watch Teh Dar, the Vietnamese acrobatic show at La Lune Centre; visit the night market for souvenirs and street food; watch the sailboats carry lanterns along the river; get yourself some custom-made clothing at one of the many shoe and garment tailors. Fuel your visit with banh mi from Madam Khanh the Banh Mi Queen, grab cocktails at the Market Terrace Bar and dinner at Morning Glory Signature right on the riverfront. Grab a taxi for a short drive to Roving Chill House, a cafe set in the rice fields.

Shops and streets in Hoi An
Hoi An © Laura Barry

Where to find InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is located on the coastline of the Son Tra Peninsula Nature Reserve, a 40-minute drive outside of Danang downtown proper. Danang is a coastal city home to more than one million people that is quickly gaining a reputation as being the Miami of Asia. Positioned in central Vietnam, Danang is accessible with direct flights from Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Singapore and Hong Kong, among others, in less than two hours. Hoi An ancient town is less than an hour’s drive away, as is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hue and the ruins of My Son.

club lounge at InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort
Club Lounge © Laura Barry & Club Lounge buffet © InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

The accolades

  • InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort has won the following awards:
  • Best Resort in Vietnam by DestinAsian Reader’s Choice Awards 2024
  • Asia-Pacific’s Top Beach Hotel by Now Travel Asia Global Travel Awards 2024
  • Top 5 Resorts in South East Asia by Travel & Leisure World’s Best Awards 2023
  • Best Hotel in Vietnam by DestinAsian Reader’s Choice Awards 2023
  • World’s Best Family Resort by Haute Grandeur Awards 2023
  • World’s Best Resort Spa by Haute Grandeur Awards 2023
  • Best Spa in Asia by World Spa Awards 2023
  • Best Holistic Spa Treatment by Destination Deluxe Awards 2023
  • World’s Best Private Spa Villas by World Spa Awards 2023
  • Vietnam’s Best Wedding Hotel by Haute Grandeur Awards 2023
  • Asia’s Best Wedding Hotel by Smart Travel Asia Best in Travel Awards 2023
  • Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator 2023
  • 24th Best Resort in the World by Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards 2022
  • Vietnam’s Number 1 Beach Resort by Travel and Leisure’s Best Awards 2022
  • Resort of the Year by Harper’s Bazaar Star Awards 2022
  • Asia’s Best Incentive Hotel by The World MICE Awards 2022
  • Vietnam’s best Luxury Beach Resort by World Luxury Hotel Awards 2022
  • La Maison 1888, one of the world’s leading fine dining restaurants by 50 Best Discoveries 2021
  • Asia’s Best Resort Spa & Vietnam’s Best Resort Spa by World Spa Awards 2021

Celebrity sightings

InterContinental has played host to many notable figures, including Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

outdoor garden pool at v
Garden Pool © InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort & Long Pool © Laura Barry

Insiders’ tips

  • You can catch a glimpse of the Douc Langurs on the walkway behind the Long Bar and the road leading right from Citron.
  • The Long Pool is the best place for peaceful rooftop lounging by the pool sans children.
  • Get to Citron for breakfast at 6:30am to enjoy the private use of the floating alfresco booths shaped like an inverted nón-lá, the iconic Vietnamese conical hat.
  • Arrive at the yoga pavilion 5-10 minutes prior to the class start time to get a spot by the open doors – there’s no air conditioning in this pavilion.
  • If your room doesn’t include it, purchase per day access to Club InterContinental to enjoy the use of a dedicated Villa Host, and get complimentary daily breakfast at Club InterContinental Lounge or at Citron Restaurant, complimentary evening cocktails and canapés at Club InterContiental Lounge, and access to the Club InterContinental Lounge for afternoon tea, among other privileges.

Final verdict

If you’re travelling as a family, a couple, with a group of friends or on your own, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is the only place to stay in Danang. The jungle, beach and endless ocean are all within a few minutes’ walk from any one of the suites and villas on the property. With a huge selection of on-site activities, eateries, wellness immersions, and incredible access to one of the world’s most endangered species, the resort has something for everyone. The interior design will surprise even the most experienced aesthete at every turn, and the architectural topography of the resort itself is stunning. The menu at each restaurant is seasonal and ever-changing, the staff are warm, welcoming and happy to help no matter the problem. This is what luxury is supposed to be.

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