Zannier Hotels Bai San Ho is a beachfront resort in the peaceful province of Phu Yen on the south-central coast of Vietnam. Designed to offer a true escape from reality, the resort is on a 240-acre estate of jungle-clad hills and rice paddies with a blissful private beach that sets the stage for fishing, diving and superlative snorkelling amid the reef’s technicolour corals. The sea isn’t the only thing teeming with life – the resort is home to a gym, a yoga studio, panoramic infinity pool, three restaurants, two tennis courts, a spa and an action-packed kids club.
Get this when you book through us:
Blacksmiths and Silversmiths will receive a bottle of wine; Goldsmiths get a room upgrade (subject to availability) and dinner for two including non-alcoholic drinks
Double rooms from £274.12 ($341), including tax at 15 per cent.
Rates generally include the buffet breakfast served at Nha O restaurant.
For (even more) remote romance, the hotel can organise dinner à deux in the rice paddies, a private picnic lunch in the bay or a sunrise breakfast on the hilltop.
At the hotel
Private beach with watersports center offering snorkelling, paddleboarding, kayaking and fishing, infinity pool, 24/7 fitness center, spa, steam room, sauna, yoga studio, two tennis courts, badminton, volleyball, a kids’ club, walking trails, bikes to borrow and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: air-conditioning, plug adaptors, TV, minibar, tea and coffee.
Our favourite rooms
First, choose your view: ancient rice paddy fields, verdant hilltops or powdery-white beach? There are three distinct architectural styles for each setting: the Paddy Field Villas were inspired by fishermen’s houses and built on stilts from reclaimed wood; the Hill Pool Villas look like traditional mountain longhouses of the hill-dwelling Rade tribe; and the beach pool villas are built in the style of the Cham people who are fishermen by trade and live on the coast. All except for the Paddy Field Villas have a private plunge pool.
The hotel’s main swimming pool is family-friendly and infinity-edged with jaw-dropping views of the bay. 46 of the villas have private pools if you prefer to stay completely cocooned.
With surroundings this splendid, staying active will never feel like a chore. The fitness center is open all hours and there are yoga, Pilates and other movement classes on offer in an airy indoor-outdoor studio with panoramic views. The serene Hoa Sen spa (meaning ‘lotus flower’ in Vietnamese) offers traditionally-inspired healing therapies: the two-hour 'Hoa Sen Ritual' is deeply nurturing and detoxifying, perfect for pressing reset after a long journey.
Activewear, if you plan to make use of the gym, yoga studio or biking and hiking trails. Otherwise, an array of swimwear in muted hues of olive and navy will be in keeping with the rustic setting.
Because of steep slopes and steps around the resort, it’s unfortunately not suitable for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility.
All ages are welcome and every villa can accommodate an extra bed or a cot. There’s an expertly-run kids club with indoor and outdoor play areas, plus plenty of outdoor activities for older children; babysitting is available on request.
As the sun sets, set off for the secluded and seductive Hâm Bar which serves inventive cocktails and powerful punches.
All villas allow for an extra bed or cot. It’s worth noting that the Hill Pool Villas are a 10-15 minute walk from some resort areas and can have steep stairs, so may not be suitable for young children.
The expertly run kids’ club (for ages 4-12) has indoor and outdoor play areas, complete with a slide, a soft play area, TVs, books, puzzles and board games. Activities include coconut painting, treasure hunts, beach games, yoga and getting green-fingered in the hotel’s organic garden.
The hotel’s main infinity pool is family friendly. Many of the villas have their own pools, so you’ll need to keep a keen eye on novice swimmers and really little Smiths.
High chairs are available in all restaurants.
Babysitters are available for USD20 an hour (excluding taxes) – you’ll need to give at least 12 hours’ notice.
Zannier Hotels approached the construction with utmost respect for the soul of the region and the untouched wilderness that surrounds the resort: innovative landscaping totally preserved the vegetation, the wildlife and prevented any erosion of the hills. Two hectares, 600 trees and 500 palm trees were replanted, using a plant nursery to provide the project with other endemic vegetation. Renewable materials and traditional local architectural methods were used to ensure a strong sense of place. In addition, there’s no single-use plastic in bedrooms, all food is local, organic and seasonal and cleaning products and toiletries are non-toxic. The property grows its own rice in the rice paddies and any excess rice is donated locally.
At Lang Chai, the lower tables have direct beach access and the sea breeze. At Ba Hai and Nha O, terrace tables preside over the most romantic views.
Come-as-you-are casual at Nha O and Lang Chai. We’d don island best at Ba Hai (but there’s still no need to stand on ceremony).
With three restaurants on your palm-fringed peninsula (and the nearest town over 45 minutes away), you can go on a culinary voyage without ever wandering out. The aesthetic and culinary highlight is Ba Hai, housed in a 12-metre high building built on stilts with a steep sloping roof – the style is a tribute to a communal house in a Bahnar village. The fixed menus here pay homage to traditional dishes handed down from grandmothers and mothers, with fragrant local flavours, seasonal market produce and daily catch.
Nha O is an all-day casual gathering hub (the name means ‘lively house’) closest to the pool, with panoramic hilltop views serving both South-East Asian and international dishes.
Lang Chai is the spot for barbeque by the beach – meat and fresh fish are grilled in an adjacent hut and served up with zingy accompaniments.
As the sun sets, set off for the secluded and seductive Hâm Bar which serves inventive cocktails and powerful punches.
Nha O and Lang Chai are both open all day from 6.30am to 11pm; Ba Hai is open for dinner only from 6pm to 10.30pm.
There’s a selection of vegetarian dishes, salads, pizza, pasta, sandwiches and local specialties on the room service menu.
This elegant eco-resort sits on a jungle-clad peninsula in Phu Yen province on the south-central coast of Vietnam.
First, you’ll need to fly into Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Da Nang and then take a domestic flight to either Phu Cat (also known as Quy Nhon) or Tuy Hoa airport, each about an hour and a half by car from the hotel – private transfers can be arranged for about USD75 a person.
Driving in this remote region is far more trouble than it’s worth – you’ll need a special permit for a start. If you want to venture out, all manner of cultural excursions can be arranged via the concierge.
Worth getting out of bed for
Beat jet lag, the stress of a long journey and any residual ravages of reality with an all-important visit to the Hoa Sen spa. Once you’ve been revived, simply sprawl on the beach, survey the scenery from the infinity pool or visit the aqua genies in the water sports center – they can make almost any water-based wish come true: snorkelling, fishing trips, surfing, water-skiing, canoeing, we could go on…
Their land-based counterparts can organise a whole host of activities in the jungle surrounding the estate: flora and fauna walking tours, bike rides or hikes around the lagoon, tennis, badminton and volleyball. If you prefer air-conditioned activity, the gym is open 24 hours and there’s a schedule of yoga and other fitness classes held in the yoga studio or on the outdoor yoga platform with magical mountain views.
If you want to get out into the countryside and explore more of Phu Yen province, the resort can arrange visits to local villages, markets, ruins and temples. But you’ll want to hurry home for sunset cocktails at Ham Bar…
The timing of ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’ blasting out of the taxi radio just as Mr & Mrs Smith rounded a jungly headland and clapped eyes on Zannier Bai San Ho smacked of divine providence.
Here, nestled in south-central Vietnam, is a bona fide slice of paradise: a shining hotel-spa on a hill from which a green carpet of lush rainforest rolls down to a glittering private bay. It’s almost a wrench to share its secrets.
The fact that Bai San Ho (the name means ‘Bay of Corals’) is a little off the beaten track only adds to its charms. Sensible types fly to local Phu Cat airport and arrange for a car to meet them there with the hotel’s helpful front desk, but Mr & Mrs Smith were feeling adventurous, months into our extended honeymoon, and we instead took a delightful two-hour train trip on the Reunification Express that clattered through rolling green rice paddy fields from Da Nang to Dieu Tri, before hopping into a taxi.
The effect was slow-release wonderment. Pristine Phu Yen province is well off the tourist trail, and we travelled a pleasant coastline of sleepy fishing villages and golden beaches for 40 minutes with great curiosity before arriving. Seas sparkled. Songbirds sang. Shorelines smiled.
We were welcomed at reception by the lovely Khoa, who pressed a fermented bamboo leaf tea into our grateful hands while we ogled the bay, marinating in its majesty.
And just like that, we were in love all over again – with each other, sure, but largely with the serene sweep of this coastal idyll. It’s luxury tranquillity.
Khoa whizzed us nimbly down in a golf buggy through lush forest holloways to our villa, a ‘beach hut’ (in name only since it’s bigger than our South London flat) only a seashell’s throw from gentle waves.
Thrilled, we ran out to the beach and tumbled into the surf, spooking a fist-sized crab who scuttled huffily back into the water. How could we not fall head over heels? ‘Meeting your needs is our top priority,’ read a little wooden block by our bedside. Boy, were they well met.
For starters, Bai San Ho has perfected the art of breakfast, serving up steaming bowls of pho bo (beef noodle soup) and plates of my personal favourite, bo ne (sizzling beef, fried egg, pork sausage, shredded cabbage and peppercorn sauce accompanied by melt-in-your-mouth bread), or a slap-up Western breakfast if you’re that way inclined, all served on a shaded veranda overlooking the bay.
Dragonflies and butterflies skittered over the adjacent infinity pool. The special coffees – iced pick-me-ups punched up with a creamy hit of condensed milk – are to die for, especially if that means spending an eternity here.
Downstairs, Hoa Sen spa revives the weariest travellers. Tasteful 1930s teak coffee-house furniture bedecks the central courtyard. A bar beckons invitingly.
Frankly, though, we holed up happily in the villa for hours without stirring. It is certainly where I would choose to spend Armageddon. Our home from home had every mod con that even the most immodest honeymooner could desire: state-of-the-art air con, one pool, two showers (one indoor, one out), one bath, two basins, plus a nifty flatscreen TV tastefully tucked into the wall. But its style is simple and soulful: traditional wooden floors and bamboo ceilings, billowing white sheets, water, water everywhere.
There are 73 villas at Bai San Ho, and oodles of privacy to go around, since it has 98 hectares of land to parcel out. In other words: you get your own sports stadium's worth of personal space, and then some.
The design of each villa, Khoa told us, is profoundly influenced by the country’s diverse history, from Cham clay pots to Viet rattan weaves to the very architecture of the buildings. I found this fascinating. Vietnam proudly recognises 54 ethnic groups, and Zannier carefully weaves in intricate legacies of homebuilding stretching back generations, telling a story in style.
The different suites – some by the beach, some in the rice paddies, some in the surrounding hills with jaw-dropping views over the coast – all have something special to offer (yes, we did some snooping), but ultimately achieve the same end: total bliss.
We did leave our nest. The hotel’s stable of handsome turquoise bicycles allowed us to roll off to the lagoon’s pretty fishing village, where locals wove bamboo lobster pots and served delectable and cheap crab rolls.
Mrs Smith hired a snorkel to go scouting for puffer fish. We played a furious game of padel (tennis but smaller) on Bai San Ho’s secluded court, among beautiful long grasses and floodlit by night.
We watched the sky turn pink, then lilac, and cycled (golf buggies were available) to the brightly-lit beach restaurant, watching the local fishing fleet twinkle in the twilight as we devoured the catch of the day beneath swinging lobster pots converted into light fittings.
Special orders – oysters, lobster – need to be placed at least six hours in advance, but I was far too taken with banh xeo, crispy Vietnamese crêpes served with hulking great tiger prawns, to care. They say in heaven love comes first, but Bai San Ho, a place on Earth, ticks all the celestial boxes. We were smitten.