The Nam Hai

Hoi An, Hue - Danang - Nha Trang, Vietnam Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Super-cool designer villas on the palm-fringed sands of Ha My Beach
OK, so you need a healthy bank account to check in here, but the wildly swanky villas are temples of contemporary cool, making this a slice of paradise on the silky sands of Ha My Beach. The Nam Hai is a design hotel, a fact you will acknowledge within 30 seconds of arrival as the view from reception shows a half-kilometre avenue of swimming pools and reflecting ponds tumbling down to the sea. Restaurants and a bar overlook it all, and a line of high palm trees flank the last pool like a platoon of soldiers standing to attention.

Summon a porter and you'll be whisked off to your wonderland villa. Some have their own pools, all open onto a horseshoe of sand that runs down to the East Sea. Inside you find effortless elegance: showers in private gardens, deep eggshell baths, super-cool tented beds on raised platforms, a wall of glass that opens onto a private terrace. Hoi An and My Son are both close, so try as hard as you can to prise yourself away. There’s a spa that appears to be floating in the water, too.

Highs

  • The villas are the last word in shipwreck chic
  • The infinity swimming pool overlooking the ocean is hard to beat, as are the private pools belonging to each Pool Villa
  • Hoi An (a quaint town with world-class tailoring and a beautiful French quarter) and My Son (the former capital of the Champa Kingdom) are divine. Both are UNESCO sites
  • There's 1 km of private beach on your doorstep
  • Terrific facilities for kids

Lows

  • People tend to cocoon themselves in their villas; this isn’t the most social place
  • You're 10km from Hoi An, but there’s a free shuttle bus to help you get there
  • The rainy season overlaps with Christmas
  • It's shockingly expensive but if you can afford it, you won't regret it

Best time to go

The best time to go is between March and August, with the sunniest months being May to July.The rainy season falls between September and January, the wettest months are November and December. The coolest months are December and January.

Our top tips

It’s really not worth coming for a single night. The hotels lends itself well to total relaxation, so we'd suggest holing up here for 3-4 nights.

Great for...

Family
Beach
Honeymoon
Foodie
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Beach Resort
  • 100
  • Restaurants and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Tennis Court
  • Snooker Table
Room: 1-bedroom Villa

Rooms

Enormous villas are all identical. Whitewashed exteriors give way to divine interiors. They mix wood and stone to magnificent effect and each one is dominated by a raised island of luxurious excess that rises with unimpeachable elegance in the middle of the room. At the front you find your bed, an enormous sprawling sea of white linen, with views that tumble over the sitting room below, cut through a wall of glass, shoot off across white sands and land in the ocean. A swivel TV stands to your left and comes with a library of in-house movies; it is connected to a BOSE sound system that links to your very own iPod. In front of the bed, steps lead down to kingly sofas on which to loll about; huge French windows open onto shaded terraces that come complete with a couple of daybeds, beyond which padded loungers bask in the sun on a trim lawn; in short, there are plenty of opportunities for lying down.

Slip back inside and saunter through your villa and you will pass a lacquered eggshell bath embedded in your island paradise behind the bed; this is exceptionally cool and it is quite difficult to spend a night here and resist the temptation to take a long soak. However, if you do, you will find other ways to cleanse yourself in your huge, super-stylish bathroom at the back (varnished wood floors, lacquered eggshell sinks). There are rain showers in dedicated wet-rooms, but if that sounds a little cramped, slide open glass doors and find a private garden that doubles as an outside shower; the space comes complete with stone statues and abundant plants. Elsewhere, Krups coffee machines, his and her wardrobes, beach bags, bath robes, stuffed minibars and fabulous bath potions. Expect the crispest cotton, the plumpest pillows, the comfiest mattresses. Best of all, come back from dinner in the restaurant and find the entire central island wrapped up in ivory curtains. Perfect.

Now you know what to expect inside, here’s the lowdown on other matters. There are 1-bedroom Villas, 1-bedroom Beachfront Villas (both for 2 people) and Pool Villas, ideal for families and groups. Beachfront Villas ring a horseshoe of sand that runs down to the surf. Most Pool Villas do the same, but one row is set back from the beach, with elevated views and serious privacy, while the 1-bedroom Villas are further back still. All Pool Villas have their own pool.

Pool Villas range from 1-bedroom to 5-bedroom villas. If, for example, you take a 3-bedroom Pool Villa, you will find 3 separate villas within your garden walls. One room will be slightly simpler; it comes without a raised bed and is set up to work as an office, but this only applies to 3-, 4- and 5-bedroom villas. Some are closer to the beach and others are set on the hill with spectacular views over the ocean. You also get a communal sitting room that opens onto a shaded terrace and which comes with its own flat-screen TV, a couple of sofas and a dining table. There are complimentary decanters of whisky and vodka as well as wine fridges. Pools get bigger as the number of villas increases, but all have lawned gardens with daybeds, loungers and parasols scattered around. Finally, you get private barbecues and butlers to fire them up, though room service will deliver, if that’s what you want.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Coffee maker
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

The main bar and restaurant overlook the swimming pools and are set back from the beach close to reception. They come in a clipped minimalist style with lots of glass and wood, very attractive lighting and a stylish array of cut-glass crystal globes, some suspended above water. The bar has a balcony, the restaurant a terrace. There is also an elegant open-air beach restaurant next to the main pool, which is nearer the beach.

The buffet breakfast is extensive and laid out beautifully. You’ll find freshly-squeezed juices and fruit smoothies, cereals and muesli, baguettes and croissants, pancakes and waffles, then eggs any way you want them with bacon and sausages, too.

The beach restaurant specialises in wood-fired pizzas and fresh salads, sushi and sashimi, is open for both lunch and dinner, Vietnamese style. That means regional favourites - such as banh vac Hoi An (Hoi An style steamed shrimp dumplings) and ca mu nuong la chuoi (grouper in banana leaf with spice paste) - designed to share.

Dinner at the main restaurant is more formal. Expect a blend of Indian and contemporary cuisine. Among the imaginative dishes to choose from are pan-fried duck liver with truffled leeks, steamed snapper with ginger and coriander, tandoori prawns with marinated watermelon cubes, mint chutney and chili oil; lemongrass panna cotta with citrus-mint salad, and chocolate-crusted foie gras au torchon with strawberry swipe, brioche and lotus seeds.

There is a full in-villa dining menu (breakfast from 6am-midday; lunch and dinner from 11am-10.30pm). Goats' cheese salad, wok-fried chicken and chocolate mousse or a plate of cheese can all be brought to you.

To eat out, pop into Hoi An, which has a number of popular old-town restaurants, cafes and bars, where you eat, drink and make merry in attractive courtyards or on river terraces. Mick Jagger once stopped for a bite at Mango Rooms, where excellent food has won itself a big reputation. The Hai Scout Café offers good Vietnamese food (if you’re impressed, return for cookery classes that start at the market, return to the kitchen and finish in the dining room); the restaurant supports the WWF. If you want to eat by the river drop into Restaurant 96, where the food is as good as the view.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: Private dining
Activity: The spa

Activities

  • Chill out by your private pool, one of the 3 (yes, 3) other swimming pools or bag yourself a spot of secluded sand on the private beach
  • Treat yourself in the sumptuous spa which offers an extensive range of holistic-based health and beauty treatments, with an emphasis on healing through aromatherapy, Ayurveda and herbalism, from Bali, India and Tibet
  • A sports complex offers badminton, tennis, a basketball court, a fitness centre, a sauna and a steam room
  • Go snorkelling or diving at the beautiful Cham Islands, which the hotel overlooks. Reception can arrange
  • Take the free shuttle into Hoi An and wander the very pretty old-town streets, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll find Chinese temples, a Japanese bridge, grand French colonial houses and traditional Vietnamese homes. There’s a market, too, and lots of lovely cafés
  • Catch a taxi boat through the river streets and discover yet more handicraft shops selling woodwork and silk products (the traditional Vietnamese lanterns are gorgeous)
  • Get some clothes made: Hoi An is a hot-spot for tailoring, and the prices are rock-bottom. Bring a suit and ask them to copy it or flick through the piles of design books for inspiration. They'll whip you up incredible imitations of YSL, Prada and Gucci for a fraction of the price
  • Don’t miss the much-ignored Museum of the Revolution. It’s above the rather dull Hoi An Cultural Museum and is full of fascinating propaganda art
  • Catch a tuk-tuk to My Son, another World Heritage site. This religious sanctuary was the capital of the Champa Kingdom, which flourished between the 4th and 13th centuries. A spectacular setting in a lush valley adds to the drama. My Son is one of the most important cultural legacies of Vietnam’s past
  • Visit the Marble Mountains, 18km to the north and on the road to Da Nang. You’ll find five forested limestone hills, which you can climb for the views or explore for their mysterious caves, which house elaborate altars

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Well being

Kids

Considered by some to be Vietnam's most kid-friendly resort, The Nam Hai is a great option for a successful family holiday.

A nice environment for children with Pool Villas set in their own private gardens, and this is a superlative beach. There are sofabeds in each villa (charged for over 4s), and there is a Kids Club on site with an impressive daily programme of activities run by qualified staff.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

All of the 1-bed villas are large enough for 2 adults and 1 child; if you've got more than 1 child, book any of the 2-5 bed villas. All have bathtubs and 1 sofabed per bedroom, as well as a baby cot.

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement. See Rates.

Baby equipment:

  • Cots
  • Baby bedding
  • Night light

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Creche/Kid's Club:

A huge garden house has been converted into an air-conditioned kids activity club with a timetable of supervised inventive activities for those aged 4-6 and 7-12. These include: arts and crafts such as making birthday cards and sand paintings, painting conical hats, working with clay, making Hoi An lantern and silk flowers; boardgames and toys including Scrabble, Lego, puzzles, Twister and Connect Four; treasure hunts; games like tug of war, hide & seek, musical chairs and limbo; and sports including badminton, yoga and basketball. Each age group also gets the opportunity to learn Vietnamese.

Children's meals:

Food is available all day and the main restaurant has a special kids menu.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pools
  • Games room
  • Sports complex with tennis, basketball and badminton courts
  • Children's DVDs
  • Toys and books for children aged 4-12
  • Complimentary Teen Club offering table tennis, table football, basketball, and snooker
  • Seasonal activities could include buffalo cart tours, kite-making and -flying

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Taxi boat around the river streets
  • Snorkel around the Cham Islands
  • Play on the beach
  • Explore the limestone hills and caves
  • Visit temples and the pretty old town of Hoi An

Families Should Know:

There are some steps and the pools aren't fenced. Staff can help if you need e.g. nappies, baby food and beach toys (there isn't a shop nearby). There is a mobile phone signal everywhere in the property.

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes
  • Hospital: 15 minutes
  • Doctor: 15 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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