Ideally set on a mountain-backed beach that feels completely private but is still near the coastal town of Nha Trang, Evason Ana Mandara hotel is the perfect balance of seaside seclusion and city adventure. Each of the large, stylish rooms offers a view of the garden, sea or beachfront and all include a private terrace. It’s a lush retreat for families, beach bums and city slickers alike.
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A 30-minute foot massage or body scrub for two people
Noon, but flexible subject to availability and a half-night charge before 6pm (after a full night's tariff kicks in). Check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £174.75 ($239), including tax at 15.5 per cent.
Rates include welcome drinks, a fruit basket and breakfast.
Evason Ana Mandara is home to a watersports centre for that aquatic adrenaline buzz. Choose from speedboat trips to nearby islands, parasailing above the coast, jetskiing or waterskiing on the water, or snorkelling and diving below the waves. When you come up for air, the Six Senses Spa is a must for post-sport pampering.
At the hotel
Six Senses Spa, kids' club, fitness centre, activities centre, tennis court, DVD/CD library, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: free broadband (WiFi on request), flatscreen satellite TV, DVD/CD player, iPod dock, minibar, free bottled water, Jacuzzi and rain shower, terrace.
Our favourite rooms
Choose between garden, sea or beachfront views, all with private terraces. Deluxe Sea View Rooms 301 to 309 are super-handy for the restaurants, swimming pools and sand, or invest in a Deluxe Beachfront Room for uninterrupted ocean vistas and unbridled beach access. For a real treat, the Ana Mandara Suites offer seductive private walled gardens and alfresco rain showers.
You're spoilt for choice with two generous pools and an expansive beach. The pool near reception is family-friendly so might be a touch lively for the childfree. The infinity pool has an inviting drop off blending with South China Sea horizons.
The five treatment rooms in the Six Senses Spa are palm-frond flanked, thatched open-plan pagodas where sea breezes and the scent of heliconias drift through. Alongside yoga and t’ai chi classes there’s a wide range of traditional Thai, Indian and Vietnamese treatments, using lotions and potions crafted with local flowers and herbs. Choose to indulge or internally cleanse with a menu of massages, body wraps, body scrubs, facials, couples’ treatments, manicures and pedicures, reiki, acupuncture, hot-stone therapy, meditation, and classes for children and adults. Accompanied over-12s are allowed in the spa (female therapists are allocated for 12–15 year olds’ treatments).
Bright sarongs and loungey thongs: that’s the Aussie kind Mr Smith, you’ll have to negotiate with Mrs Smith about her choice of swimwear.
On arrival you'll receive a handy ‘map in a bottle’ to navigate the resort. Smoking is allowed in designated areas only.
Welcome: baby cots are free; extra beds cost US$60 a child a night (though under-11s can stay for free if they don't require an extra bed).
Kids of all ages – you're right on the beach.
Deluxe Sea View and Garden View Rooms, as they offer interconnecting doors. Private terraces in all rooms, and a private walled garden in Ana Mandara Suites, means you've got your own off-beach area to lounge or regroup too.
The resort operates the Just Kids! club for the smalls, catering to four to 12-year olds, open 9am–12pm and 2pm–5pm daily (US$15 for a half day; US$25 for a full day, excluding meals). Gainful activities embrace everything from arts, crafts and cooking indoors to beach games and outdoor fun. Think sand pictures, beach soccer and treasure hunts. Babysitting is available outside these hours or for kids under four, charged to your account. The club is free for kids attending under their parents' supervision.
With two main pools and a long, golden-sand beach on tap, kids will be easily entertained; it's the only beach resort in downtown Nha Trang where you can spill straight on to the sand. Alternative distractions span watersports (including snorkelling and diving for older kids), island tours, sunset cruises, tennis courts and a kids club, as well as the usual city fun in surrounding Nha Trang. The hotel also offers a brilliant three-day sailing course for youngsters, designed to encourage them to work as a team, learn about water safety and the skills of boat balance, steering, nautical language and wind direction. The course costs US$150 a child, starts at 9am and ends at 12 noon, and culminates in a little test on the third day. By the end of the course, your nipper will have earned a Basic Level Sailing Certificate issued by the Sailing Center Vietnam Company.
The pool nearest reception is geared towards families, with a lifeguard, inflatables and a shallow end.
Kids are welcome in the hotel's restaurants any time, and there's a children's menu. Staff can heat up milk or food for infants.
Available for US$12 an hour (free at the kids club between 9am–12pm and 2pm–5pm); book a day in advance.
No need to pack
Baby cots or high chairs.
Extra beds for older children are available for U$60 a child a night.
The hotel takes eco concerns to heart, serving up organic, locally sourced food where possible, recycling and offering free bicycles for touring. It also tries to employ local staff and runs charity schemes to benefit the community.
The top tables are undoubtedly to be found on the beach on a balmy night. For top of the tops, go exclusive with dinner on the jetty, on the yoga platform near the spa, in the wine cellar with wine pairings or in your villa to rev up the romance.
You might just get away with a sarong as this is Beach Town, Vietnam. Come on Mr Smith, David Beckham pulled it off.
The indoor/outdoor Ana Pavilion Restaurant serves a gourmet mix of local, global and fusion dishes embracing culiinary journeys such as Nha Trang Bay lobster and chive risotto, with seven beach tables for soaking up sea views. The poolside Ana Beach House restaurant and lounge offers Mediterranean dishes and fresh seafood.
The Lobby Bar, beside the Ana Pavilion Restaurant, is a relaxing spot that stays open until the last guest leaves. Sip wines by the glass, slake your thirst with a cool beer or try a Lemongrass Collins with fresh lemongrass and ginger. The indoor area segues into a banyan tree-sheltered courtyard if you'd rather mosey outdoors. For a more aquatic atmosphere, you can also enjoy chill-out tunes and cocktails at the Pool Bar. Don't miss the free weekly General Manager’s Cocktail Party when the boss takes care of drinks.
Both Ana Pavilion Restaurant and Ana Beach House dish up until 10pm.
Available 24-hours a day, room service covers pretty much everything on the menu.
Evason Ana Mandara is the only resort on Nha Trang’s spectacular beachfront, fringed by rows of swaying palms. It’s just a 20-minute walk (or 10-minute taxi ride) from the city’s restaurants and bars, and it can easily be reached from the rest of Vietnam.
Fly into Cam Ranh International Airport (www.nhatrangairport.com), about 45km south of the resort (a 40-minute drive). Transatlantic flights arrive via Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport or Ho Chi Minh City Airport. Flights across the Pacific connect to Ho Chi Minh City from Kuala Lumpur International Airport then fly to Nha Trang. Local taxis charge around US$10 to reach the hotel from the airport.
The Reunification Express (run by Vietnam Rail; www.vr.com.vn) stops at Nha Trang, and nightly sleeper berths are available from southern Ho Chi Minh City, central Danang and northern capital Hanoi – with pillows and blankets provided, and a wash basin on board. Arrange a local taxi from the train station in downtown Nha Trang for the three-kilometre ride to the resort.
Nha Trang is a long way by road unless you’re driving from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City for the full Vietnam experience. Those coming overland are wiser to travel by train, but if you have the cojones to man a car with the kids in tow, parking is free at the hotel; there are no car-hire kiosks at the airport, but you’ll find several in the city centre.
Worth getting out of bed for
It's hard to tear yourself away from beach lounging, but there's tennis, snorkelling, diving and buzzy watersports up for grabs, or head to the Six Senses Spa for some serious pampering. Yoga and t'ai chi classes are also a draw at the fitness centre, which offers the usual gym equipment, including cardio, cycling and weights if you want to stay active.
For adventures further afield, sign up for a ‘Bay & Island Discovery’ trip to see what all the fuss is about. There are dozens of offshore islands near the coast of Nha Trang, many ringed by coral reefs and teeming with sea life. Learn about local island life, come face to face with some underwater critters with a slow snorkel and try your hand at piloting a coracle, a boat that looks like an over-sized, upside down Ho Chi Minh hat. If that all sounds too much like hard work, try a private sunset cruise on the bay.
For authentic Vietnamese flavours, including a zesty catfish claypot, Lanterns(+84 (0) 58 352 1674; 72 Nguyen Thien Thuat) is a good cause restaurant supporting a local orphanage.
Alright, so it’s not really a café unless you count brewing beer akin to brewing up a coffee, but Louisiane Brewhouse (+84 (0) 58 352 2259; 29 Tran Phu Boulevard), is mighty convenient, as it is almost next door to Evason Ana Mandara. Drinks, eats and a whole lot of atmosphere.
A Nha Trang institution, Sailing Club(+84 (0) 58 382 6528; 72 Tran Phu Boulevard) is the place to be as midnight approaches, with beautiful people and unkempt backpackers in equal doses.
Scooter-filled streets, brimming with people whizzing about their daily lives, are the striking memories I have of Vietnam from a visit years ago. So it’s not surprising that Mr Smith and I are struck by a sense of déjà vu on the drive from Cam Ranh Airport to Evason Ana Mandara, our hotel in the coastal town of Nha Trang. En route similar sights stream past our car window: families of four perched on single scooters; a tradesman balancing a ladder as he peddles his push bike; a young lady wearing a bright pink áo dài dress and nón lá hat selling ripe, golden jackfruit.
This lively streetscape is replaced by long line of palm trees that lead down to a white-sand bay as our driver turns onto Tran Phu Boulevard, after 40 minutes of weaving through traffic. We step into Evason Ana Mandara’s breezy reception pavilion, a wide open-air space overlooking a koi pond, the hotel’s private beach and a serene stretch of South China Sea. We’re greeted with lemongrass ice tea and passionfruit sorbet and, after a short wait for our room, the news that we’ve been granted an upgrade. Welcomes don’t come much warmer than this.
Our Deluxe Sea View Room doors open to high thatched ceilings, whitewashed walls and rustic wooden furniture. From our veranda there’s a view directly onto the beach, which immediately soothes and relaxes us.
Surveying our new abode, Mr Smith’s eyes skim over a bowl of exotic fruit and straight to the four-poster bed, piled high with crisp white pillows. He’s quick to conclude it’s solid enough, but I’m rather taken by the outdoor Jacuzzi.
Further scoping shows that the hotel is both indulgent and eco-minded: environmentally friendly amenities are wrapped in recycled paper and string, and a 24-hour room service menu offers organic, locally sourced food. Castaway-luxe, if you will.
Drawing the resort’s map out of a Robinson Crusoe-style bottle, we navigate our way to the Six Senses Spa retreat. Mr Smith opts for a rejuvenating facial and hot-stone massage while I choose the signature 80-minute massage. Capped off with an alfresco shower, fruit and herbal tea, we float back to our villa for a late dinner.
Evason Ana Mandara advocates a ‘Slow Life’ ethos, which we’re only too happy to adhere to as we leisurely start our second day in the Ana Pavilion Restaurant, one of two restaurants here. A decadent spread of Vietnamese and continental breakfast offerings fuels our day-trip out on the sea.
We dedicate the morning to a guided snorkelling tour of nearby Mun Island, at the suggestion of the staff. The Evason’s speedboat whisks us there, past floating lobster farms guarded by dogs, and the steep cliffs where prized salangane nests have been harvested for years to make traditional bird's nest tonics and soups. Once reserved for kings, this delicacy is in high demand throughout Asia, and is now protected from poachers.
After lolling about in the warm, calm waters, ogling coral reefs and Technicolor fish, we cruise back to the resort. We could easily spend the rest of the day lying in hammocks, sipping cocktails from the pool bar, but Mr Smith has other plans in mind.
Kitted out with a scooter and driving directions, our mission for the afternoon is to explore the beach-blessed village of Nha Trang. We spy a graceful white Buddha and wander past the harbour of bobbing blue and red fishing boats. The winding alleys of Cho Dam Market turn up stalls laden with fruit and vegetables, fragrant spices, lush herbs, clothing and home staples. It’s a vibrant snapshot of this cool coastal town, and another vivid image to add to our Vietnam memory bank.
Rudyard Kipling once wrote that there are two kinds of people in the world, ‘those who stay at home and those who do not. The second are the most interesting’. We’re sure he’d agree that Evason Ana Mandara was worth leaving home for…