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The Anam, Vietnam hotel review

The Anam, Vietnam hotel review

This luxury escape is perfect for those who want to relax in tropical paradise.

A quick drive from Cam Ranh International Airport, The Anam boasts a down to earth blend of contemporary style and Vietnamese design, with suites and villas surrounded by lush green hills and facing a long stretch of beach filled with some of the best sand in the country.

The facts

Traveller: C. James Dale
Room: Terrace Sea View Suite
Address: Lot 3, Nguyen Thanh Tat Boulevard, Cam Lâm, Khánh Hòa 650000
Date: April 2019
Best for: Relaxing for days on end in a secluded setting that oozes Indochine charm, sipping tropical drinks poolside, long walks on the beach and refreshing swims in the East Sea or Biển Đông.

The Signature factor

During the day, you’ll be sunning yourself by one of the property’s three pools (one of them for adults and older children only) or snoozing in the shade of a thatched umbrella on a corner of the 300-metre long beach facing the shimmering sea. Afternoons crawl to a finish as guests gather in groups on the long swath of grass that leads to the beach or at Beach Club, where you can enjoy free-flow drinks at sundown. For dinner, head to The Colonial restaurant for a delicious degustation menu, which features European dishes with a focus on classical French cuisine.

The concept

The Anam calls itself the “first true five-star colonial beach resort in Vietnam,” promising guests top-notch service, serenity and an ambience that will transport them back to a bygone era. When it first opened in April 2017 some of the architectural and design features were more Balinese in style, but a new management team shook things up and brought in more local touches, from the furniture to the art.

The hotel has more than 200 suites, rooms and villas, with a number of these located in a five-floor building that sits close to the reception area. The villas, some with pools, are spread out over the 12-hectare property.

The Anam has established a firm foothold on the northern Cam Ranh Peninsula, where other hotels are scrambling to grab market share. The owner is currently building a marina and conference centre next door to the hotel, complete with F&B and shopping facilities, as part of an effort to tap into the nascent MICE market.

First impressions

This little beachside oasis proves itself a capable competitor in Vietnam’s growing luxury travel scene. The red rooftops and white walls of the buildings are sheltered by some of the 3,000 palm trees that were planted on the property when it was being developed. The open-air reception area and breezy walkways further enhance the Southeast Asian vibe. A number of interiors have peaked ceilings made from varnished seagrass. The ubiquitous floral patterned tiles and dark wood furniture come from northern Vietnam. And the eye-catching photos that you’ll see in many common areas are by the award-winning photographer Mai Loc, a Nha Trang native.

The room

We stayed in one of the 72-square-metre Terrace Sea View Suites, which looks out over the verdant property and the shimmering ocean. It was a spacious room with a comfy bed and large balcony area. I loved the bathroom, with its grey tiling playing nicely off of some dark wood finishes, a deep bathtub and a tall rainshower. However, some of the interior design choices in our room weren’t as nice as ones I saw in other suites.

Top suite

The highest category accommodation at The Anam is the three-bedroom Family Hill Villa. At roughly 270 square metres, this two-level abode has a master bedroom on the main floor and two king bedrooms upstairs. Like other villas, this one has the peaked, seagrass ceiling and eye-catching paintings by local artists donning its walls. It also has a kitchen, a fully-stocked wine fridge with bottles from Italy, New Zealand and Australia, a private pool and two balconies with panoramic sea views. It’s the perfect choice for families big and small who want to enjoy that comfortable and convenient home-away-from-home feeling while they’re at the resort.

On my plate

The Anam has plenty of options for food lovers, from beer and burgers at the Western-focused Beach Club to classic Vietnamese dishes at Lang Viet Restaurant & Bar. We started off on a high with a bespoke menu put together by the delightful Chef Ye Chang Sheng, an affable young guy of Chinese extraction who actually spent a good chunk of his life growing up in South Africa. All of the dishes were paired with some nice wines, including a glass of sparkling Brut, a De Bortoli chardonnay and a marvellous Quinta do Noval Tawny 10 Year Old Port. The food, though, was the focus. I could go on at length about the fantastic ingredients, tastes and plating. Suffice to say, the cucumber gel with the amuse bouche was divine; the beetroot dish rivalled the one I had at the Sofitel in Hanoi, as chef Sheng promised it would; the celeriac purée that came with the pan-fried turbot fillet was nothing shy of perfect; and I somehow saved room before dessert for the cheese plate, which included a wonderful 12-month old Comté from France. Be sure to also try the four kinds of butter they offer with bread: regular, truffle, pesto with chunks of salt and sundried tomato.

It was a tough meal to top, yet we did enjoy the other food and beverage options at The Anam. I’d recommend the à la carte breakfast with mini buffet at The Colonial over the full buffet at The Indochine, which can feel frenetic when the resort is full.

Friday nights at Lang Viet Restaurant & Bar are dedicated to the Mama Cooking Vietnamese Buffet, which features dishes prepared by mothers of the staff. The story here is one of necessity being the mother of invention, The Anam didn’t have enough cooks on staff when they first opened, so they brought in the “mamas” to help out under the supervision of the chefs. Guests raved about the noodle dishes, bánh xèo, nem cua bể and other options so much that management decided to make the buffet a permanent feature.

I wish I could take home…

The sand from the beach. It’s so fine and silky, and it comes from natural sand dunes. Definitely some of the best in Vietnam and Asia.

Spa life

The Anam Spa is tucked away in a little corner of the resort near the lagoon pool. The menu is extensive and includes various massages, body scrubs, detox and slimming treatments, along with hair and nail care. After trying an aromatherapy massage, which offered extra attention to my hands and feet, I went back and paired a green tea scrub with an Indian head massage.

Staying in

It’s all about being outdoors at this resort. You can start your day early with a yoga or meditation session, then head to the beach to sit in the shade of an umbrella on a cosy lounger before venturing out on the water in a small, two-person sailboat. For exercise, drop by the gym to sweat it out on treadmills, the bike or elliptical trainer, which come with advanced Precor technology. You’ll find guests tossing around frisbees or playing soccer and badminton on the vast expanse of grass that’s adjacent to the beach. There’s also a tennis court and mini putt putt course. On rainy days head to the movie theatre, which has a few showings a day.

Stepping out

The Anam has a few things to consider if you fancy planning an outing. The resort is about a 30-minute drive from the coastal city of Nha Trang, where attractions include the Long Son Pagoda, the Po Nagar Cham temple complex, and the Louisiane Brewhouse. Guests can also try ‘The Anam Art Trail’, which allows you to tour homes and workshops of local artists. Or, if you’re a foodie, sign up for the ‘From My Family to Yours’ cultural food tour, which matches guests with Vietnamese families who will escort you around the farms, markets, cafes and shops they frequent in their daily lives, ending in a cooking lesson.

Given we were travelling with our five-year-old daughter, we opted to drive about 15 minutes from the resort to take part in the half-day Vietnamese Chocolate Factory Tour. It turned out to be a great choice. The folks at Fifty Fresh Farms Chocolate Factory couldn’t have been more welcoming as they told us about the history of chocolate and showed us what it takes to create the highest quality bars. After that, we were allowed to make our own chocolates with a variety of moulds. As the sweets solidified, we enjoyed an incredible tasting session, featuring hot chocolate and cocoa brewed with cacao butter (a rich source of magnesium, antioxidants and iron). Then came wave after wave of samples, from milk, white and dark chocolates to truffles and bon bons, some flavoured with chili pepper, Earl Grey or jasmine tea. Also unforgettable, the dried mango and pineapple covered with dark chocolate.

The accolades

  • The Gold List 2019: Best Luxury Overseas Resort by Luxury Travel Magazine
  • Luxury Lifestyle Awards 2019: Winner of the Luxury Resorts in Vietnam Category
  • Top 25 Spa Hotels in Asia 2019 by Smart Travel
  • Spa Awards 2018: Best Healing Body Wrap by Harper’s Bazaar Malaysia
  • Hot List: Vietnam’s Most Stunning Resorts by Escape
  • The world’s “Best Places to Travel” by Conde Nast Traveler
  • The 50 Most Romantic Holidays on Earth by The Telegraph
  • The Most Instagram-Friendly Luxury Hotels of 2018 by Australia’s Executive Style
  • The Best Infinity Pools in Asia by AFAR
  • The World’s Top Spa Suites for a Relaxing Retreat by Departures
  • One of Vietnam’s “finest” top luxury hotels according to CNN Travel
  • The Luxe List 2017 of Best New Hotel Openings by DestinAsian magazine
  • The Hot List 2017 of Best New Hotel Openings by Conde Nast Traveler

Insiders’ tips

As mentioned, The Anam is working to defend its turf given other hotels and resorts are creeping into the area. That’s good news for guests because there are a number of deals to be had, from extra attention at the spa to room upgrades galore. Make sure you ask ahead of time to ensure your visit is the best it can be.

Green thumbs up?

The Anam began a sustainability program in March 2018. It no longer offers plastic straws and puts recycled paper in dustbins instead of plastic bags. Water is warmed with solar power and the resort has a grey water recycling system in place. Grass cutters are battery-powered and not motorised. The next step is to cut the use of plastic water bottles, with plans underway to build a facility to allow the hotel to bottle its own flat and sparkling water, something more properties are doing to reduce their impact on the environment.

If only…

…management got rid of the TVs in the beach club. It makes it feel like a sports bar. Not the vibe you’re looking for at this kind of resort.

Final verdict

The Anam is not in the same calibre as a Four Seasons or Aman property, but it definitely holds its own in the five-star world. The location, the food and the staff make it a place well worth visiting.

Where to find The Anam

The Anam is about a 15-minute drive from Cam Ranh International Airport, yet still manages to maintain an out-of-the-way feeling.

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