While the rest of Vietnam steams ahead, all-villa resort An Lam Retreats Ninh Van Bay stays calm and collected. Pitched between tropical jungle and beach, it’s accessed only by boat, meaning you’re forced to power down and unwind once there. The Jungle Spa, with its open, airy treatment rooms surrounded by natural streams and birdsong, might be your first port of call, followed by a cocktail at the elevated Sen Deck bar. But the real centrepiece is the architecturally striking Sen Restaurant, which looms, lotus-like, over Ninh Van Bay – resembling Vietnam’s national flower.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability (a fee may be charged). Earliest check-in, from 2pm.
Double rooms from £292.46 (VND9,024,444), including tax at 15.5 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast, served in the Sen Restaurant.
The hotel is geared up for honeymooners, with barefoot beach cocktails, dinner under the stars and the chance to take a private boat out at sunset, all available for newlyweds (and not-so-newlyweds).
The hotel takes no holidays, so you can plan yours whenever.
At the hotel
Two bars, spa, yoga sala, sauna, gym and jungly grounds. In rooms: fruit on arrival, butler service, outdoor space (either a private terrace or separate pool), free bottled water, coffee- and tea-making facilities, WiFi, TV, DVD player.
Our favourite rooms
The owner’s background as a wood importer (with his own furniture factory) takes root in the smart, stand-alone villas. Inside and out, wood intertwines with other natural materials, from curtains hand-dyed using local plants to wardrobes decorated with bamboo canes. The Beachfront Pool Villas are best for those who want immediate access to the sea, though the Treetop Pool Villas – with their dramatic views over Ninh Van Bay – take some beating.
The main, freshwater pool falls in line with the hotel’s organic ethos by resembling a natural lagoon, shaded by swaying palms and with direct access to the beach. For adults only, its Balinese-style, double day-beds help set the grown-up tone. All rooms except the Jungle Rock villas also have their own private pools, so there’s no risk of early-morning sprints for the sunloungers.
Set in the surrounding rainforest, the Jungle Spa has two open, airy treatment rooms – ideal for honeymooners and more-established Smiths seeking sanctuary. There’s no nerve-jangling spa music here either: natural streams and birdsong are your only accoutrements. Thailand’s natural skincare specialists Thann supply the products for treatments that span from facials and four-handed massages. A yoga sala and gym are on hand for woodland workouts.
Soludos espadrilles and Kate Spade straw hat, with lots of light, layered linen.
Daily, round-trip boat transfers from the mainland to the resort are included. No outside food or drinks are allowed at the resort (staff will store this for you till check-out if you wish).
All ages are welcome. Extra beds are available from US$75 a night (includes breakfast).
The resort uses natural spring water from a mountain stream to supply bathrooms and for drinking water (after filtering). A solar-power system is used for heating it and glass bottles are provided instead of plastic.
The wooden-slatted, open-air design of the Sen Restaurant means that sea views are in strong supply. Tables look out over the hotel’s private pier towards the bay and its string of humpback islands. As the tide ebbs, large rocky, boulders emerge.
Off-duty Alice Temperley: flowing fabrics and a free spirit.
Good looking with substance to boot, the architecturally arresting Sen Restaurant specialises in Vietnamese cuisine, from super-crispy spring rolls to signature pho noodle soup (…though we wouldn’t say no to the crispy Vietnamese pancake either). The same striking building also houses a open kitchen where chefs put on a nightly show and craft flavourful, fresh seafood dishes.
Set in the semi-open petals of the Sen Restaurant’s lotus-like roof, the Sen Deck is the place for far-reaching views of Ninh Van Bay. It's open from 3pm till late evening and the emphasis here is on cocktails, from Singapore slings to sidecars… prepare to work your way through. By day, on the ground floor of Sen Restaurant, you can order healthy, lemongrass teas, fresh-fruit juices and tropical smoothies.
Chef Truong and his local Vietnamese team keep the Sen Restaurant serving from 6pm until 10pm. The rooftop Sen Deck operates from 3pm to 11pm. Breakfast is served from 7am until 10am.
There's an around-the-clock room service menu, with breakfast from 6.30am-10.30am; à la carte from 10.30am-10.30pm; and a reduced selection from 10.30pm-6.30am.
Secreted away at the southern end of Vietnam’s stunning, S-shaped coast, An Lam Retreat Ninh Van Bay sits with the jungle-clad Hon Heo (Orchid Peninsula), overlooking the sea and a string of southeast Asian islands. Nha Trang is the nearest city.
The main points of entry to Vietnam are Hanoi in the north and, most conveniently for An Lam Retreat Ninh Van Bay, Ho Chi Minh City in the south. From Ho Chi Minh City, you can connect with Nha Trang’s Cam Ranh International airport via a range of airlines. Contact the Smith24 team for bookings.
Vietnam’s main railway line runs between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, stopping at Nha Trang Station, 15 kilometres away from An Lam Retreat Ninh Van Bay.
Car hire is unnecessary in a resort that’s only accessible by boat. On arrival, the hotel includes road transfers from Cam Ranh International airport to its mainland pier, before a 15-minute boat journey across.
Worth getting out of bed for
This flick-off-your-flip-flops resort is designed for those who want to escape. Maybe you’ve whizzed around Vietnam’s main sights already, or you’re straight here on honeymoon – either way, it’s time to relax. Being cut off by water means real-world distractions are kept to a minimum. And the hotel's water features provide settings for romantic moments, whether you're hiking to a natural stream to stop for a picnic or taking a dip in the hotel's Love Pond, a secluded beauty spot where you can while away the day with sparkling wine and snacks. Or set sail before sunset for a catamaran trip with the most colourful of views. Though, for those that do want to explore, there’s the eighth-century Cham temple of Po Nagar just outside Nha Trang, with its russet-red collection of four towers rising from the foothills of Cù Lao mountain. Another Nha Trang highlight is Long Son pagoda, famed for its peaceful gardens and gleaming-white Buddha statue, raised atop Trai Thuy mountain. Both are easily accessible on day trips, as An Lam Retreats Ninh Van Bay runs a handy (and free) daily shuttle back and forth to the mainland. Finally, foodies should delve into Dam market, which brims with all the unusual ingredients that make southeast Asian shopping trips so enthralling, from soft-shell crabs to souvenirs. For Halong Bay-style natural beauty, head to Heo Sin Chai Cave at low tide, which opens up to reveal a series of sea-smoothed boulders and an iridescent, internal lake. A hike to An Lam stream is also accessible behind the hotel. The resort runs many of these guided excursions for Smiths who don’t want to go it alone.
Having a destination restaurant on your doorstep means you don’t have to go far for a good meal.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from An Lam Retreat Ninh Van Bay in Vietnam and unpacked their conical nón lá hats, a full account of their coastal break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside An Lam Retreats Ninh Van Bay in Vietnam…
The first thing that strikes you about An Lam Retreats Ninh Van Bay is its imposing, orb-like Sen restaurant, which hovers over the water like a lotus – Vietnam’s national flower. Everything about this laid-back resort seems to sit in an eternal lotus position – eyes closed, palms raised skywards – the Zen antidote to Vietnam’s zing. A stay at An Lam Retreats Ninh Van Bay is all about living in the moment and letting go. You’ll feel your shoulders unfurl as you putter across the waters of Ninh Van Bay towards this boat-accessible-only resort, set between a crescent-shaped beach and jungle-clad mountains. Once you’ve passed the impossible-to-miss restaurant, the rest of the retreat blends organically into the hillside. And not by accident: the owner is a wood importer, so natural materials – from the stilted Treetop Pool villas to the airy Jungle Spa – take root.