Vietnam: The Anam will temporarily transcend you to 19th-century Indochina

VIETNAM hasn’t yet come close to its regional neighbors of Thailand and Malaysia in terms of its beach offerings, but Nha Trang could well change that. More accessible than ever via Cam Ranh International Airport, the area is still very much undeveloped, allowing for peace and privacy – for the moment at least.

The Anam – an independent colonial-inspired resort along Long Beach – is one of the more exciting properties to be blessed upon Nha Trang. We’d highly recommend visiting sooner rather than later before the strip’s many other developments begin operating. (As many as 36 resorts are slated to open along the beach in the coming years.)

“Nha Trang is like what Da Nang was 10 years ago,” general manager Herbert Laubichler-Pichler said. Driving past vast dry land from the airport to the resort, one is reminded of the southern plains of Texas, making the pull-up into the driveway of The Anam that much more striking.

All of a sudden, you’re reminded of the coastal setting you’ve come to Nha Trang for – the glistening pool beyond the reception area that acts as a resort feature, the shady pathways that lead to private suites and villas, the refreshing mocktail thrust into your hands as you check-in, and the salty breeze that fills the air.

Most impressive is the beach that is at once commanding and gentle. It’s not the kind of beach that invites swimming, but will invoke in you a sense of submission and calm. Beyond the horizon of the sea is the silhouette of a mountain, looking over both sea and land. Because most suites and villas face the beach, being able to cop a view of this is worth the price of admission alone.

One of my favorite things about the resort is its luxury boutique feel – materials are sourced locally and designed to encapsulate a 19th century Vietnamese village. Everything from the mosaic floor tiles to the cottage roofs are locally sourced from experts across various provinces.

Also worth noting is the thoughtfulness of the property design that ensures each guest feels private, an indication that the space was designed with couples in mind. Throughout my stay, I didn’t bump into other couples more than I wanted to, always a good thing in a private beach resort.

I’d recommend the Ocean Front Premium – making up one of the 117 villas within the property – skirted by a private verandah that looks out to the ocean. The verandah – complete with daybeds – is proof of clever design to encourage lingering, and the sultry tropical setting is ever-present in the form of sheer curtains billowing in the wind, swaying coconut palm, and sun-splashed lawns.

More proof that it’s ideal for couples: The “dining under the stars” experience where you can opt for a private dinner beneath a cloth-draped makeshift arch overlooking the ocean. The dinner throws in the works – candles, lobster, wine, and personalized service.

The theme of old-fashioned romance is carried through to the Indochine Grill where multi-course classic French dinners (think wines, seafood, and cheeses) are served nightly accompanied by live piano serenading. During the day, the space is transformed to accommodate the buffet breakfast – a sprawling spread of hot food, cereals, pastry, and fresh juices.

I risk suggesting that there’s little need to step out of the resort. Free yoga lessons take place on the beach at sunrise and sunset; the Sri Mara Spa is a helmed by well-trained staff; and a range of watersports are available during the day. Most curiously kitsch of them all is the 3D cinema where you can while hours away catching up on blockbusters of the season.

But if it were up to me, I’d choose to simply recline in a hammock on the sloping palm-flanked lawns leading to the sand, while the sun deliberately dips lower into the horizon.

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Here are more photos of the resort: