Indulgence levels are off the scale at beachfront boutique hotel Fusion Maia Da Nang in Central Vietnam, where all-inclusive spa treatments mean pampering is a must. Balance spa chilling with golf and shopping sessions in nearby heritage town Hoi An, then slink back to your stylish pool villa or live it up in the ocean-view lounge.
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Stay three nights or more and get a fresh spring roll tasting boat for two
Noon; check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible subject to availability. For check-outs up until 6pm, 50 per cent of the nightly rate is charged; after 6pm, it's a full night's fee.
Double rooms from £248.27 ($322), including tax at 15.5 per cent.
Rates include breakfast and all spa treatments; for stays of seven nights or more, return airport transfers are also included.
Set within tropical gardens, Fusion Maia's day spa is the largest in Central Vietnam. Irresistibly, all spa services are included in the room rate, from manicures and massages to all-out pampering sessions, including a seven-day holistic program. Bliss. Free daily fitness activities include: a daily workout at 10.30am, two yoga classes, meditation, a wellness consultation at 3pm and a 5,000-step beach walk. For a small charge, go on a daily excursion: Tai Chi on Marble Mountain and a cycling tour of Hoi An, for example.
There's currently construction going on next door, which may cause noise and dust, day and night.
At the hotel
Gym, library, day spa with Jacuzzi, steam and sauna rooms, yoga pavilion, boutique, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: private courtyard garden with pool, flatscreen TVs, preloaded iPod, espresso machine, Esens bath products.
Our favourite rooms
All of the bright and breezy villas feature a stylish mix of white walls, dark wood furniture and restrained bamboo details. Private courtyards and huge pools also come as standard. We love the idea of a couples' holiday in one of the spacious two- or three-bedroom Beach Villas, positioned just a few steps from the ocean.
Surrounded by sunloungers and palm-dotted lawns, the infinity pool seems to flow straight into the South China Sea.
Fusion Maia Da Nang has 22 spa treatment rooms with a range of pampering and pummelling options.
Floaty spa threads and swimwear, teamed with the hotel's bamboo flip-flops, which add a zen touch to your beach wardrobe. You can leave the iPod at home: each room comes with a preloaded one, and you can request playlists in advance. Laptops and iPads will sate any tech cravings.
Villas can sleep an extra adult for US$105 a night, or two children (see child-friendly section for pricing). The hotel runs a free shuttle service to the centre of Hoi An three times a day. Smoking is allowed outside and in designated areas.
Welcome. Baby cots are free (on request) and ages five and under can stay in their parents' room for free. For kids aged six to 15, extra beds cost US$81 a night; 16s and over, it's $140 a night.
It's hard to beat the chilled atmosphere of the terrace at Five, but for romantic meals, ask to have a table set on the beach or beside the pool.
Light-weight linen and pretty beach frocks.
Open for buffet breakfast and dinner, Five Restaurant serves local Vietnamese dishes and contemporary fine-dining in the sleek dining room (watch the chefs at work in their open kitchen) or on the sea-view terrace. Modern fusion dishes include wok-fried calamari, grilled snapper and hand-made noodles. For laid-back lunching, head for beach café Fresh Poolside and order salads, grilled seafood, sandwiches and pizzas.
Listen to chilled tunes in the sunken lounge of Tonic Bar while you sip a tea-infused cocktail, or try one of the tasting flights – it's the perfect way to wrap up a tough day at the spa. Order a customised mod-Vietnamese tapas platter to nibble on while you're there.
When the Five kitchen closes at 10.30pm, move the party to Tonic Bar, which is open until 1am.
A global menu is available around the clock, ranging from Vietnamese or English breakfasts to an Asian tasting platter or succulent Australian steak. You can also arrange romantic private beach dinners or other destination dining options.
Vo Nguyen Giap Street, Khue My Ward, Ngu Hanh Son District
Da Nang City
Fusion Maia is a 10-minute drive from Da Nang Airport and 30 minutes from the Unesco World Heritage town of Hoi An.
The gateway to Central Vietnam, fly to Da Nang Airport via Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi (it's around a 75-minute domestic flight). From Da Nang you can jump in a taxi (it'll cost US$5-7).
If you're looking to make a memorable entrance, then take the overnight train from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang. Both trips take around 15 hours, so don't settle for anything less than the four-bunk soft sleeper cabins, for around US$65 a person.
You're here to relax, not tear your hair out, so leave the driving to the locals.
Worth getting out of bed for
It's hard to tear yourself away from the hotel's pampering spa, given that all treatments are included in rates. Set in a lush tropical garden with a soothing waterfall, it offers 22 treatment rooms, beauty salons, steam rooms, saunas, private Jacuzzis and a serene reading room. Its 'Seven Practices of Natural Living' programme incorporates spirit-boosting activities, nourishing cuisine and practical wellbeing inspiration, from yoga, t'ai chi, breathing basics and foot reflexology to eco walks, a lantern ceremony, spring roll workshops and an orphanage visit.
Need a retail fix? Hoi An's Portuguese-influenced Old Town is lined with shops selling everything from silk lanterns to carved wood knicknacks, but most people flock to the cobbled alleyways for hand-made clothing. Yaly (47 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street) has an extensive fabric selection, and A Dong Silk (62 Tran Hung Dao Street) is known for its quality craftmanship (Smith stocked up on suits and shift dresses last time we were in town). It helps to know exactly what you want before you go – better yet, take your favourite piece of clothing and have it copied.
Golfers can tee off atDanang Golf Club or Montgomerie Links, just two of many championship courses nearby. Divers can explore the South China Sea withCham Island Diving. Further afield, visit the historic site of My Son, an ancient Hindu temple located 70 kilometres from Da Nang.
Located on Nguyen Phuc Chu Street in the heart of Hoi An, Fusion Café Hoi An is the resort's relaxed offsite restaurant and bar. Order comfort foods from east and west, or enjoy sundowner mojitos with a snack platter on the balcony overlooking the old town sights; the cafe hosts regular DJ nights too. You can also borrow bikes from here, make use of the free lockers and enjoy a free shuttle service between the resort and the restaurant. Nearby, Mango Mango (45 Nguyen Phuc Chu Street; +84 510 391 1863) serves modern Vietnamese food with a twist. Try the tuna rolls drizzled with a mint yoghurt sauce. It's a tad more expensive than some other restaurants in town, but the ambience and views over the river and Japanese Bridge are worth it. For authentic street food in a relaxed setting, head to Morning Glory (106 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street; +84 510 224 1555), where third-generation chef Ms Trinh Diem Vy also runs popular cooking classes.
Watch the passing parade in Hoi An's Old Town from the porch of Cargo Club (107-109 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street; +84 510 391 1227) as you indulge in the decadent French-style cakes and pastries, including wicked crepes and a chocolate mousse cake.
Fusion Maia Da Nang seems like a duck in water; everything looks very smooth and peaceful on the surface, but you suspect there’s a lot of busy paddling underneath to ensure our stay is relaxed and ripple-free.
The genuinely friendly greeting on arrival is overwhelming, and from that moment on the doorman remembers us, disarming Ms Smith, our normally shy four-year-old daughter. It’s an impression that stays with us, right up to our goodbye photo with our Fusionista – personal concierge come ‘experience mixologist’ – two days later.
Our large, L-shaped Pool Villa boasts huge sliding doors, which open onto a private courtyard garden and pool. Ms Smith declares she won’t need to leave the room, as it’s so perfect – until Mrs Smith reminds her that she hasn’t seen the resort pool or the beach yet! I immediately notice the swivelling TV, which means I can view it from both the bed and the luxuriously deep bath; the bath and shower also offer pool-scoping opportunities.
All of egalitarian Fusion Maia’s rooms are pool villas, so there’s never a crowd in the public areas as guests tend to lounge in their villas, or head for the spa. However, there’s a sociable buzz at breakfast in the main restaurant Five, even though you can choose to eat breakfast anywhere at anytime. The idea of a table on the beach for our morning coffee and croissants is decadently appealing.
Mr and Mrs Smith are quick to explore the huge resort infinity pool overlooking the beach. While indulging in the first of the twice-daily all-inclusive spa treatments that both of us will be spoiled with during our sojourn, Mrs Smith reminds me that this is a health resort. A somewhat foreign concept, as my idea of healthy living is having fruit in my cocktails. I’m tempted by the morning yoga classes held in a beachside pavilion, but am happy to watch while diving into chocolate croissants washed down with Melbourne-worthy coffee. There are t’ai chi sessions on Marble Mountain, and other activities on the resort’s ‘Seven Practices of Natural Living’ programme, but the pool, spa and cocktails are just too good to leave.
Lounging at the main infinity pool takes up most of our days, which is bliss – especially when staff members deliver tubs of ice-cream and fruit sticks. Double cabanas on the surrounding grass are the perfect place to laze around and read books, while listening to jazz tunes wafting from nearby beach café Fresh. We intersperse pool time with strolls to the beach for ocean swims and to watch fishermen trawl past searching for seafood delights.
A total escape, the serene Spa is decorated in soft grey tones with soothing, low-level lighting. Prior to appointments, we sip on refreshing herbal tea; afterwards, it’s hard to resist the spacious adults-only pool complete with waterfall. Beautifully quiet and tropical, it’s a fantastic, child-free place to relax between treatments, too – the small kids’ club ensures Ms Smith is happily distracted by biscuit-making and hair-braiding.
Boy do we indulge! I experience more treatments in the few days at Fusion Maia than I’ve previously had in my whole life. In fact, I undertake a complete review of the spa’s menu. Kicking off with the Fusion Feeling signature massage, I move on through traditional Swedish techniques to Thai therapies, where the practitioner manipulates my body through complex poses creating moves I haven’t attempted since that big night at an Ibiza club in the Eighties. The relaxing massages, facials and manicures are catnip for Mrs Smith, who actually falls asleep during one gloriously pampering mud wrap.
The Fusionistas come into their own as we plan a shopping trip to local town Hoi An. The super-helpful Emeline meets us at breakfast on our first day to chat about what we hope to do during our stay, taking care of treatment bookings, and advising us on – and making reservations for – restaurants in Hoi An. She’s helpful, without being intrusive, and there whenever we need her. All staff members take English lessons, which means we can get a better understanding from them of Vietnamese life. By the time we leave, we know the names and ages of many of their children, a sign of the pride in family here.
Cultural melting pot Hoi An is a Unesco World Heritage site, and the Old Town is well worth visiting. Boasting almost 2,000 years of history, Hoi An was a major international port in the 16th and 17th centuries, and has been influenced by the Arabs, Chinese and Vietnamese. We’re fortunate to catch the monthly Full Moon Festival, when the Old Town turns off all electric lights, and everything is lit by lanterns. Tourists and locals light candles in lotus-shaped hoa dang (ceremonial paper lanterns) and float them down the Thu Bon River. We watch the festivities from a riverside restaurant for a memorably magical night out.
Venturing back into Hoi An on the thrice-daily shuttle bus the following morning, we make the most of the Fusion Lounge, an outpost of the resort which provides a great base for trips into town. Early birds can even breakfast there before hitting the shops. It’s also handy for dropping off shopping bags! We borrow Lounge bicycles, and with Ms Smith perched in her own seat on the back, we head off to explore. Cycling is a perfect way to get around the Old Town, where roads are blocked off to traffic making it a safe and convenient way to take in the cultural sights and engage in some retail therapy. Mrs Smith gets her favourite top, purchased from Barneys in New York years ago, replicated by a seamstress – one of Hoi An’s many tailors – who does an amazing job for only a few dollars. The ceremony of the fittings and decisions over buttons and details is fun, only beaten by lunch at Morning Glory restaurant. We like it so much we visit sister café Cargo the next time we’re in town.
A Vietnamese barbecue by the pool beckons on our final Saturday night. We eat far too much fantastic food and listen to Vietnamese music played on a dan tranh – a 25-stringed zither – and a bamboo xylophone. It may sound kitsch, but the setting is fantastic. We chat with other guests, when normally by the pool it would just be a wave and a smile. It seems Fusion Maia has managed to fuse us all into one big, merry, massaged family…
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Fusion Maia Da Nang’s Guestbook below.
The minimalist design, the spa, and the attention to detail throughout. The pool and beach area are beautiful and beautifully designed. Breakfast is genuinely astonishing, by far the best I've ever eaten. The perfect place to relax by the beach.
Much energy once the sun goes down, our fellow guests were early to bed. Get the shuttle into Hoi An or a taxi to Danang if you want drinks, dinner and some action.
Stayed on 1 Sep 2018
Twice a day spa treatments, which were included in the room rate!