Kaitlin Jane checks into the Amanoi on Vietnam’s south-east coast and discovers the many benefits of its pristine location between jungle and sea
After landing at Cam Ranh International Airport on Vietnam’s south-central coast, most travellers head north, towards the bustling beach town of Nha Trang. But Aman resorts have never been for ‘most’ travellers, and the exclusive Amanoi, located in the pristine Nui Chua National Park, about 60 kilometres south of Cam Ranh, is no exception.
This off-the-grid location is typical of many Aman properties, but a resort that encompasses 42 hectares of a 29,000-hectare park is exceptional even by the lofty standards of this renowned brand.
After a 75-minute drive, I arrive in the pristine coastal marine reserve. A sweeping granite staircase leads to the central pavilion and I am met with a cool towel and refreshing drink before being taken to my Mountain Pool Villa.
The resort’s 36 villas, residences, pavilions and spa houses – all designed by architect Jean-Michel Gathy – are scattered along the hilltop and gaze out over mountains, ancient boulders and the turquoise waters of Vinh Hy Bay and out to the East Sea.
My 125-square-metre villa opens up to the lush green forest on both sides with enormous sliding glass doors and also has a large infinity pool surrounded by a sun deck, which quickly becomes my favourite spot for morning and afternoon tea.
The clean design of the room embraces traditional Vietnamese style while incorporating the latest conveniences such as docking sound system, espresso machine, generous mini-bar and WiFi. There is also Netflix available on a TV that raises into view from a wooden table at the foot of the indulgent king bed.
The first thing on my agenda is a consultation with Josh, the resort’s wellness manager and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner. There are several personally tailored wellness immersion programs available, lasting from three to 21 days. All combine movement, body work, nutrition, mindfulness and spa treatments. After an in-depth conversation with Josh (including reviewing a questionnaire I had sent in before my arrival), we decide to focus on mindfulness, detox and cleansing, as well as hydration.
It’s an active schedule, starting at 6am with a guided sunrise hike to Goga Peak. My guide, Tuyen, and I trek to the top – about 20 minutes – where a stunning lookout awaits. The views of the fishing village below and the boats heading out for the day, all against the backdrop of the sun rising over the bay, are spectacular.
At 8am I head down to the lake for a group Qigong lesson on the floating pavilion surrounded by lotus flowers with the morning sunlight streaming in. We go over several different movements, reconfirming – yet again – that I need to incorporate this type of mindfulness into my routine.
By 9am I have done more exercise than I usually do in an entire day, and I’m ready for breakfast. But first it’s time for my Chinese tea remedy, one of two that I will experience each day, each brew specially prepared to help balance my yin and yang, which in Chinese Medicine is the key to good health. While it might not become a favourite beverage, it’s definitely tolerable, especially if balance is a consequence.
Breakfast in the shaded al fresco pavilion, which sits on top of the hill overlooking the property, is both delicious and delightful. I am presented with a custom menu that complements my wellness program and offers a varied selection of Vietnamese and Western dishes. According to traditional Asian medicine, food is divided into five groups: sour, bitter, sweet, spicy and salty, with each connected to an organ system. I always go local with the food when travelling and choose the vegetarian pho – a savoury rice noodle soup with shallots, basil, coriander and spring onions – accompanied by a seasonal fresh fruit platter and jasmine green tea.
By 11am, I am back at the lakeside spa to meet with Josh for some laser acupuncture, which is followed by a private yoga session with Shyam, the spa manager.
After lunch at the beach club and some chill out time at the adjacent pool, I once again find myself at the spa for another indulgence – a 90-minute hot stone massage that begins in the hydrotherapy room with a steam, spa and cold plunge. Despite the small stature of my Vietnamese massage therapist, she has incredibly strong hands and knows exactly how to manipulate my muscles to mush.
The Amanoi spa takes centre stage at the resort with its luxurious oversized treatment rooms, talented therapists and unique menu that includes both body and energy work. For a one-of-a-kind experience while enjoying utmost privacy, stay in one of the resort’s two Spa Houses. The Thuy Lien Spa House features a contemporary Moroccan hammam while the An Son Spa House boasts a Russian banya. Both include two dedicated therapists, a 15-metre pool, spa, steam room, cold plunge, three hours of treatments per day along with all of the standard villa inclusions. All this without ever having to leave the residence.
Before falling into bed, I enjoy a perfect meal of Vietnamese-style whole fish smothered in herbs and cooked in a clay pot with dipping sauce, smoky eggplant and rice paper rolls.
From their expert attention to detail to the philosophy that no request is ever too great, a stay at Amanoi is guaranteed to leave you relaxed, rejuvenated and on the right path to a healthier you.