The Nam Hai is a destination in its own right. It just so happens, that this luxury design hotel is located on an unspoilt stretch of the pristine Ha My Beach; 11km from the charming UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An, in central Vietnam.
The Nam Hai is not only a design hotel – it is an experience hotel. It is as if the creators of this temple of relaxation took that same 14-hour journey that we took to get to The Nam Hai, to understand how they can go out of their way to make you feel most comfortable. As soon as we had passed through customs at Da Nang airport, a charming representative from The Nam Hai took care of our luggage and in minutes we were already in the hotel car, cold towel and water in hand and all our devices connected to wifi. As we had arrived after 10pm we were taken straight to our villa and our check in was done in the comfort of our room; whilst we ate on perhaps the most satisfying club sandwiches that were ready, waiting for us. I am a sucker for small details and The Nam Hai takes it to a whole other level. Yes, they have thought about the fact that you might forget to wear your glasses to breakfast, and thus have an extensive range of reading glasses sorted by prescription.
The Nam Hai’s unique architecture and interior design is inspired by 2,500 years of Vietnamese history and feng shui philosophy. Parisian architect Reda Amalou has created a contemporary interpretation of Vietnamese design. The 60 villas and 40 pool villas are all reflective of the breadth and depth of the traditional Vietnamese Garden House. A platform bed takes centre stage, which traditionally would have been a multipurpose communal space – by day where the family would gather and work, and by night where the family would sleep. Reda has thus placed a king-sized bed, a sunken writing desk, padded divan and a stunning lacquered eggshell bath on a raised platform in the centre of the villa. Our high ceilinged villa was as much a living space as it was a bedroom, with a tropical outdoor rain shower and our own private garden overlooking an unobstructed view of the East sea.
The Nam Hai has the perfect ingredients for a relatively healthy stay. We started our mornings at 7am with a guided meditation class, followed by Yoga with Giri, the in house Nepalese teacher. Giri has an incredible warmth and enthusiasm that makes you want to leave your comfortable bed; and he has inspired us to continue to meditate in our day-to-day life. Only now we do not have a beautiful breakfast spread to look forward to. There is plenty of choice for breakfast, from freshly cut exotic fruits, 10 different fresh juices, full English breakfast, Vietnamese Pho soup and a full Japanese breakfast. For those who want a treat – finger-licking waffles, crepes and anything that is sweet and has wheat in is available.
Whilst the hotel was at more than 80% occupancy I felt like we had the resort to ourselves. We spent the majority of our time on the beach, dipping in and out of the main swimming pool and enjoying the fruits and fresh juices the staff would periodically bring around to all the guests. At any one point in time there were probably only 2 or 3 people actually in the pool or on the beach. As a swimmer I was in paradise having a lap pool and Olympic size pool to myself; both of which boasted stunning views of the beach and sea. We typically saw couples and families during breakfast and then many would stay in their own pool villas. Unless you are on your honeymoon or in need of privacy, I would recommend opting for a normal villa.
The Nam Hai offers a delicious selection of Vietnamese and continental vegetarian dishes at its restaurants. The chefs are incredibly flexible and nothing is too much trouble; so if you fancy something that is not on the menu the kitchen staff will be sure to meet your culinary desires. Given food in central Vietnam is exceptionally cheap I would highly recommend taking advantage of the hotel’s shuttle service to Hoi An, where there are plenty of dining options nestled between the tailors and the 19th century merchant houses, that provide a nice mix to your foodie experience. Miss Ly Cafeteria, Morning Glory and the Secret Garden restaurant all have an extensive vegetarian menu and will leave you feeling more that satisfied at less than $15 a head.
The Nam Hai offers a wonderful cooking course that enables you to immerse yourself into the culinary delights of central Vietnam. Chef Sen taught us how to make mouth watering Vietnamese Spring Rolls, a fresh and crunchy Banana Blossom Salad with fried Tofu and a heart warming Yellow Rice Noodles with Mushroom and Tofu. This was a truly enjoyable experience as we wondered the quaint streets of Hoi An’s vegetable market – picking and choosing the vegetables, tofu and noodles we were to cook. Sen took us on a tour of The Nam Hai’s very own extensive organic garden, where we picked our sweet basil, mint and bean sprouts – all essential ingredients to any Vietnamese dish.
No Nam Hai stay can be complete without experiencing one of the eight breath taking spa treatment pavilions, which appear to float on a serene lotus pond. Reda has created the perfect private retreat to rejuvenate the mind, body and soul. Each treatment room has an open-air relaxation deck with a bathtub and cushioned day bed to relax on, after one of the most relaxing massages you may ever experience. Everything is set up to allow you to wonder off into another world, from the silk sheets on the massage bed to the view of the lotus flowers on the waters that surround you. This is hands down the best spa I have ever been to.
The only problem with staying at one of the GHM group’s exclusive hotels is that anything else cannot and probably will not live up to it.