“A luxurious, eco-chic resort by the papaya-green waters of Ninh Van Bay, with a restaurant, a small spa and private plunge pools”
The 35 palm-thatched villas have a chic Asian style, with vaulted ceilings, red-teak furniture and comfy beds draped in mosquito nets.
We stayed in one of the Hill Rock Pool Villas, which are blended into the trees and reached via wooden steps to the plunge pool and open-sided living pavilion. From here, an internal staircase leads down to the ground-floor bathroom (with his and hers granite sinks, a walk-in shower, a circular sofa and a bathtub set in a wooden platform) and up to the top floor, where there’s a bedroom, a balcony and another toilet, all with a partial ocean view.
The 2-Bedroom Beach-Front Pool Villas and Lagoon Pool Villas sit in rock gardens accessed by attractive wooden swing gates; the former have direct access onto the sand, while the latter face a casuarina-fringed lagoon. Most have ocean views, but you'll sacrifice a little privacy in return. The lounges have terrazzo floors and polished tadelakt-style walls, and the huge bathrooms (with swing seats on ropes) lead to courtyards with alfresco rain showers and striking bathtubs hand-carved from local pink granite. The plunge pools, set at the front of each villa, are rimmed by bazan stone from Lai Chau in northern Vietnam and surrounded by pine decking with bamboo seating, loungers and umbrellas. Some of the Lagoon Pool Villas have 2 ensuite double or twin bedrooms flanking a central living area, and the lounges in 2-Bedroom Beach-Front Pool Villas can be made up as additional bedrooms on request.
All villas are equipped with tea and coffee-making facilities, complimentary biscuits and well-stocked minibars. Bedrooms are air-conditioned, with TVs, DVD players and iPod docks.
The open-sided restaurant overlooks the beach, with some tables arranged on the terrace and others right on the sand. Pretty candles are placed in huge table-top vases, and potted ferns and palms are carefully arranged here and there. The food is well prepared, aromatic and delicious, with extensive menus covering Vietnamese, pan-Asian and international cuisine. Much of the seafood is local, and vegetables (some from the on-site garden) are organic.
The full eggs, bacon, salmon and spinach repertoire is available at breakfast, as are pancakes and waffles drizzled in a dazzling array of sauces. Platters of pastries and jams are also served, along with pho (Vietnam’s national dish of beef or chicken noodle soup). Breakfast can be served in your villa at no extra charge.
A la carte dining is offered for dinner, in addition to changing set menus - perhaps Asian one evening and international the next. Set meals might start with an amuse bouche of seared tuna and squid, followed by soup or a spicy prawn salad. The main might be seafood with garlic water spinach and steamed rice, while dessert could be a sweet green-bean soup. The choice of à la carte options doesn't change often but it's huge (it would take weeks to eat your way through the menu), with an alluring array of meat and fish such as Nha Trang grouper, Ninh Van Bay lobster and Australian beef.
Lunches are lighter, with Australian burgers, Vietnamese baguettes (banh mi) and salads.
Private dining can be arranged - perhaps a barbecue on the beach, a sunset meal for 2 on the jetty, or an intimate dinner on a boat moored in the bay - and the resort often hosts themed evenings such as Vietnamese street-food buffets or Japanese feasts. There’s also a well-chosen wine list, and a bar amid the boulders. The isolated location means there are few other restaurants nearby, but if you want a change of scene staff can arrange meals at Ka Lam, another small resort owned by the same chain.
Children of all ages are welcome, but we feel the resort is best suited to older kids and teens who can make the most of the watersports and the jungle setting. There are a few hazards for toddlers, including unfenced pools and rocks.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Lagoon Pool Villas can take an extra bed, and some have 2 double or twin bedrooms; the lounges in the 2-Bedroom Beach-Front Pool Villas can be set up as additional bedrooms on request. Cots are also available. Note that no extra guests, nor any children under the age of 12, are permitted in the Hill Rock Pool Villas.
Babysitting is available for a charge.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Children’s meals are available in the restaurant.
There’s a programme of activities for older children and teens, including the likes of shell-jewellery making, cooking classes, Vietnamese craft sessions and cupcake-decorating. Kayaks, pedal-catamarans and windsurfing lessons await at the on-site watersports centre, and bikes are available free of charge.