“Super-cool designer villas on the palm-fringed sands of Ha My Beach”
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.
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.
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.
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 available by arrangement. See Rates.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
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.
Food is available all day and the main restaurant has a special kids menu.
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.