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April 25 - May 1, 2011

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V i et n a m ’ s l e a d i n g l i fe s t y l e m a g a z i n e

Vietnam’s Gold Coast World class resorts like Vinpearl are transforming Vietnamese beaches

Plus: Carnival

turns the spotlight on Halong Bay

Photo: Over-the-water spa at Vinpearl Luxury Nha Trang


Contents 8-9 Tapping vast potential

Vietnam’s Gold Coast As National Tourism Year 2011 is concentrating on promoting coastal areas and islands in Vietnam, for this special issue of Timeout we decided to focus on the potential of the high-end tourism industry now burgeoning– and in some cases blossoming – along the country’s coastline. From Halong Bay in the northeast to Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Thailand, Vietnam is unquestionably blessed with naturally stunning coastal areas and countless “paradise islands”. Many resort and spa developments have already opened while numerous more are underway as the tourism industry looks to tap this veritable “gold mine” – soon Vietnam may be able to compete with regional tourism heavyweights such as Bali, Langkawi and Phuket. But issues remain. Vietnam’s infrastructure needs to be rapidly improved. Environmental awareness needs to be raised. More services and diverse forms of entertainment are needed. To discuss these matters and highlight what has already been achieved, we talk to a number of industry insiders and experts while showcasing some of the country’s most exciting destinations and soon-to-be-completed developments. We also take a look at what is in store for visitors heading to Halong Carnival 2011. The Editorial Board CAST & CREW Editor-in-Chief Dr. NGUYEN ANH TUAN Deputy Editors-in-Chief LE TRONG MINH BUI DUC HAI DO XUAN KHANH Deputy managing editors NGUYEN HONG HANH NGUYEN CHI MAI TRAN NGOC SON Editorial Consultant CONNLA STOKES

Designer LAI HOANG YEN

OFFICES HANOI 47 Quan Thanh Str. Hanoi, Vietnam Tel: (84-4) 38450537 Fax: (84-4) 38235281 E-mail: timeout@vir.com.vn Website: www.vir.com.vn HO CHI MINH CITY 178 Nguyen Dinh Chieu Str., D3

Vietnam is fortunate to be sitting on a vast treasure – the country’s stunning coastline offers countless opportunities to develop a world‐renowned tourism industry. But much planning and strategic investment is still needed for the country to reach its potential.

12-13 Vietnam needs to find its Midas touch With the right planning and quality infra‐ structure, Vietnam can create several world class beach destinations.

16-18 Taking it to the next level The maturation of Central Coast as one of the world’s most luxurious beach destina‐ tions is moving steps forward with the for‐ mation of new high‐end resorts, golf cours‐ es and better tourism logistics.

38-39 Carnival time in Halong Ha Quang Long, director of the Quang Ninh province’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Department talks about the upcoming Carnival Halong 2011 to be held in the bay from April 28 to May 2

48-58 Timeout’s guide 59 Voyeur

Tel: (84-8) 39305311 - 39305316 Fax: (84-8) 39305318 E-mail: dautu@virhcm.com.vn vpdd@virhcm.com.vn DANANG 5th floor, MPI's office building Le Sat Str., Hai Chau Dist. Tel: (0511) 3623492 – 623493 Fax: 0511.33623491 E-mail: huanvir@dng.vnn.vn HAIPHONG 1 Dinh Tien Hoang Str. Tel: (031) 3842478

Fax: (031) 3842419 E-mail: thanhtanvir@yahoo.com CAN THO 105 Tran Hung Dao, Ninh Kieu Dist. Tel/Fax: (071) 3731766 Email: dautuct@vnn.vn Advertising in Hanoi Tel: (84-4) 38434119 Fax: (84-4) 38235288 Advertising in Ho Chi Minh City Tel: (84-8) 39305311 - 39305316 Fax: (84-8) 39305317 PRICE: US$1 if sold separately

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WHAT’S ON

COLOURS OF SPRING

DUO D’ACCORD IN VIETNAM Lucia Huang and Sebastian Euler together form the fascinating piano duo known as Duo d’Accord. Shortly after the founding of the Duo d’Accord 1999, the enormous potential of the two musicians became evident – they at once won the two most important piano competitions worldwide, including the first prize of the Murray Dranoff Competition in Miami CAMA GETS DOWN AND FUNKY

CAMA Vietnam presents Get funked Hanoi with Supabad from Bangkok performing a James Brown revue live at Nha San Bach Giai. Formed in Bangkok in 2008, Supabad is a group made up of expat music teachers and local Thai musi-

When & where: May 8-9 at Hanoi Opera House, 1 Trang Tien and May 10 at Ho Chi Minh City Opera House, 7 Lam Son Square, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Free tickets are available from May 4 at Goethe-Institut Hanoi, 56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc. 2 and Goethe-Institut Ho Chi Minh City, 18, Duong so 1, cu xa Do Thanh, District 3 cians. In recent times Supabad have built up a large following in Bangkok and Southeast Asia. Now its Hanoi turn to get funked. The 10 piece big band which plays nothing but pure 70s James Brown Funk perform a rollicking good set that is sure to help the Hanoi crowd get down and funky.

The Korean Cultural Centre presents Colours of Spring by Do Hien and Le Thi Hoan, who have created 35 artworks all inspired by spring. Just as in Hanoi, spring is considered to be the most beautiful time of year in Korea. When & where: Until April 27 at Korean Cultural Centre, 49 Nguyen Du, Hanoi

When & where: Supabad will perform with support act The Props from 9pm on May 7. Tickets costs VND150,000 and are available at the door of Nha San Bach Giai, 2 Trach Cau, Long Bien district, Hanoi. Check out camavietnam.org for more details and a map on how to get there.

A SPRING ROMANTIC NIGHT

The Vietnam National Opera & Ballet proudly presents A Spring Romantic Night – an opera and ballet show which includes Piano Concerto by F. Chopin and extracts from other famous operas and ballet acts. When & where: April 28, 8pm at Hanoi Opera House, No.1 Trang Tien Tickets VND150,000 to VND500, 000. All tickets available at Hanoi Opera House, or with the free delivery service below: www.ticketvn.com PLAYBACK THEATRE

Playback theatre uses technique of responsiveness, storytelling, exchange between audiences and performers. In playback theatre, one member of the audience will tell one story from his or her life and choose actors for each character in the story – all audiences will see this story playing back immediately in the stage. Our lives are filled with moments and stories, sadness, excitement, and pain. Join the Black Box Theatre event, to listen and share stories from other people just like you. In this space, all your stories, however extraordinary or ordinary, will be listened to and enacted on stage. Come, share, or just sit back and experience! When & where: April 29, 7.30 – 10.30 pm at The Black Box, 56 Nguyen Khuyen, Hanoi. Tickets are not for sales but each participant must pay a fee of VND75, 000 to attend.

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FAST TRACK

Fusion Maia is hot! Fusion Maia was voted one of the best new hotels and resorts in Asia on the 2011 Hot List, by the prestigious Conde Naste Traveller magazine. Fusion Maia Danang’s trendsetting concept is attempting to shake up the

luxury resort scene with its all-inclusive spa concept, the first of its kind in Asia. This hip new five star beach resort on Vietnam’s central coast and offers 80 chic pool suites, four spa and three direct beach front villas, all with mod-

Kumho Asiana Plaza’s new culinary concept Korean developer Kumho has announced a new F&B concept for the retail area of their Asiana Plaza development after its failure to attract customers to the area since its opening in September 2009. Covering 6,800 square metres on the ground floor, 1st floor and roof garden areas, the new area will be known as “The Link” and will provide a varied and diverse F&B retail area. The Link will offer food from Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand. The roof garden will provide a bar area with a timber deck dining area. The F&B concept will range from fast food outlets, coffee shops, food court area offering a variety of dishes from across the world and fine dining areas to suit all and is expected to open in September 2011. The developer has also announced its first anchor tenant: Bobby Chinn, the celebrity chef, who will operate his signature restaurant on a total area of 392sqm with a variety of food from all over the world. The restaurant is also due for opening in early September with his all preparation work for the restaurant’s opening to be filmed and broadcasted on a number of world’s traveling and discovering TV channels.

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ern open-plan living and courtyard with private swimming pool. The first resort in Asia to offer all spa treatments included in the regular room rate, Maia Spa is the largest in Central Vietnam and the highlight of the resort. This surprising feature allows you to enjoy the spa experience as part of your stay, be it a manicure, or a full spa package, at no extra cost. What’s more, breakfast is served at any time and any place. Resting on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, the Fusion Maia takes extra steps to bring holidays that are truly special. It’s not only a holiday. It’s a lifestyle! Currently there’s a special offer for $195++ per villa for on night. You can call 0511 3967 999 or email reservation-dn@fusion-resorts.com to find out more.

Bi, Dung So scoops top honours Bi, dung so (Bi, don’t be afraid) directed by Phan Dang Di took the gong for Best Feature Film at the Vietnam International Film Festival that concluded in California last week. At the University of California last week, it beat three other acclaimed films, Floating Lives, Saigon Yo, and Antoine to take the Bronze Drum for best feature film. Horror film Behind the Death directed by Ta Nguyen Hiep won the Bronze Drum for best short. Do Hai Yen and Dustin Nguyen won the best actress and actor awards for their roles as the protagonists Suong and Vo in Floating Lives. In the audiences’ awards category, Things you don’t joke directed by Viet Nguyen and The fading light by Thien Do won the best short film and Touch by Minh Duc Nguyen won for feature film. The biennial festival, which started in 2003, is held by two US non-profit organizations, the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association and the Vietnamese Language & Culture.


VIETNAM’S GOLD COAST

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Tapping Vietnam’s vast potential Vietnam is fortunate to be sitting on a vast treasure – the country’s stunning coastline offers countless opportunities to develop a world-renowned tourism industry. But much planning and strategic investment is still needed for the country to reach its potential. Duc Hanh reports he long coastline which runs along Vietnam’s Sshaped land is home to some of the world’s most renowned beach destinations and some of the world’s best kept secrets. From the stunning karst topography of Halong Bay in the northeast down to the teardrop shaped island of Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Thailand, Vietnam’s coastal areas are some of the fastest growing tourism centres in Asia. The first luxury resorts in Vietnam appeared back in the 20th century – Coco Beach Resort in Mui Ne first opened in 1995, Danang’s Furama Resort in 1997. After that the industry slipped back into a long slumber but in the last couple of years this sleeping beauty has started to reawaken. With a string of high-class resorts and prestigious hoteliers now opening up along the coast, destinations such as Nha Trang and Danang are undoubtedly flashing on the radar of global travellers. Mui Ne has also shot to fame as a resort town. Island destinations such as Phu Quoc and Con Dao are fast emerging as exciting new holiday locations for high-end travellers. And many more will surely follow. Vietnam’s appeal is exotic beauty coupled with the country’s rich and fascinating history and culture. People come for the incredible architectural heritage and mouthwatering cuisine as much as the sun, sea and sand, not to mention the stylish boutique and five-star resorts now mushrooming up along the coastline. Vietnam is not yet the complete package, but it is getting there. The country is clearly growing and diversifying, not just to entertain existing tourism levels but to entice more and more travellers to choose Vietnam for their next overseas beach hol-

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iday. The emergence of world-class golf courses such as Danang Golf Club, Montgomerie Links in Danang and Ocean Dunes in Phan Thiet designed by Greg Norman, Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo, respectively, is a sign of the times. In terms of tourism in Asia, Vietnam aspires to be a competitor and the competition is tough with destinations such as Bali and Phuket shoring up high-tourism numbers thanks to their set-in-stone reputations and well-developed services. UNEARTHING THE GOLD MINES

This year Vietnam’s tourism industry is focusing on developing and highlighting the country’s island and coastal attractions. It’s hoped that beach and island tourism will contribute 10 per cent to GDP in 2020 (currently the figure is around 4 per cent). This is potentially a multi-billion-dollar industry. So can Vietnam turn this “golden opportunity” into reality? According to Pham Trung Luong, vice director of the Institute for Tourism Development Research, Vietnam’s coast is mainly used for fishing, shipping and exploiting oil but he believes beaches in Halong, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Mui Ne and Vung Tau, are more beautiful than beaches in Thailand’s Pattaya, Phuket, Samui or Indonesia’s Bali or Malaysia’s Langkawi but they’re just not as well-known. “It is a waste of national resources,” says Luong. So is it a case of promotion? Not entirely, says Nguyen Phu Duc, chairman of Vietnam Tourism Association. “To build up a brand name for Vietnam beach and island tourism, it’s necessary to have high quality products sold at a high cost,” says Duc. This is not something that happens overnight. A long-


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term plan is needed. The fear is that Vietnam’s coast has been subject to something of a “gold rush” mentality when more meticulous and patient planning is needed. Ngo Minh Chinh, director of Binh Thuan province’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, points out that there is “a lack of long-term planning” and that “hot development” tarnished destinations as investors occupied large plots of land in prime oceanfront locations but failed to launch or even break ground on their projects. There are other burning issues: Public infrastructure has failed to keep pace with this hot development and the landscape and environment have been adversely affected by unchecked development. According to Le Van Minh, an official from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, coal mines in Quang Ninh are damaging Halong Bay; mines in Phan Thiet are tarnishing the reputation of Mui Ne as a “pristine” beach, and so on. SPREADING THE JOY

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have become highly popular destinations for travellers thanks in partly to accessibility. Vietnam is now trying to boost tourism to coastal destinations by upgrading provincial airports. Danang is now an “international hub”. In future, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc will also welcome direct flights from overseas. Coastal cities and resort towns don’t necessarily have to rely on air links. Authorities just need to gaze out over the horizon and remember luxury cruises could be a massive boon for tourism – why couldn’t Vung Tau be the Monte Carlo of Southeast Asia or Nha Trang the Marbella of Vietnam? Well-known luxury cruise operators from Europe, the US, and Asia, such as Costa Crocieres, Star Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises and P&O Princess Cruises, are already choosing Vietnam as an attractive stopover for tours originating in Hong Kong and Singapore. The Turkish architecture Nejiat Atay recently commented that Vietnam was losing hundreds of million of dollars each year through a lack of water-sport services. These coastal towns should have regattas where yachts can dock or jetties where tourists can find catamarans and sailing boats for hire. There are services catering for surfers, kite-boarders and scuba-divers but these could also be further developed. To take advantage of its glorious coastal areas, Vietnam needs to be the complete package: Improved access, top class services, diversified activities, improved infrastructure… there is much work to be done to tap this “Gold Coast”.


VIETNAM’S GOLD COAST

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In the eyes of experts

JOAN CASADEVALL General manager of Chen Sea Resort & Spa, Phu Quoc Island

Duc Hanh asks some industry insiders what they think is the right way to develop Vietnam’s coastal and island tourism and how their own companies will promote this national treasure STEPHEN BANKS General manager of Sea Links

I think beach tourism, and most especially island tourism, by definition, means truly getting away from crowds, from city life, from the norm… Phan Thiet and Mui Ne offer very effective getaways from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. However, I should add that Mui Ne in particular has really grown and matured in this way. Years ago there was very little here. Ten years ago there were very low-cost, some would call them LE TAN TRI CEO of Lac Viet Travel

With a long central coastline, I am attracted most to Danang and Nha Trang where there are many advantages: modern infrastructure, high-end services, good security, hospitable people and acceptable prices. With charm-

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‘backpacker’ type lodging and entertainment options. Today there are quite luxurious options when it comes to lodging, dining and nightlife. It takes time, but Mui Ne and Phan Thiet and slowly but surely developed excellent service and entertainment options. This sort of partnership is something we think tourism entities should explore. Golf tourism is uniquely suited to this sort of partnership. Golf tourists are a bit different from non-golfing tourists. When golfers travel for three to five days, they may play on two to four golf courses, especially if each golf course offers a distinct challenge, varied terrain and environment. Sea Links and Ocean Dunes are close to each other but they are very different indeed. This offers the golfer variety over the course of an extended golf tour. That’s the idea behind “Golf the Beach” partnership. ing beach destinations – Halong Bay, Danang, Nha Trang and Mui Ne – many foreign tourists now choose Vietnam’s hotspots over Bali in Indonesia or Chieangmai in Thailand. Moreover, in the past there was a wave of rich local tourists travelling abroad to enjoy the luxurious services. But now with many more international upscale hotel and resort brands setting up business in Vietnam’s coastline, many of them have holidays, vacations and weekends at home due to the reasonable costs and improved services on offer, as well as to save time.

After nearly two years in Phu Quoc I would say that this is the best alternative [destination] for tourists overseas, especially in winter time, and local or expats clients looking for a very special and peaceful break. Phu Quoc is becoming well-known for its untouched natural environment, the easy going and relaxed atmosphere, friendly locals, snorkeling and scuba diving and, most especially, stunning beaches. Even though it is easy to notice a permanent development, the majority of the island is still dedicated to the National Park and still keeping a particular soul; nowadays it is not easy to convince and satisfy increasingly experienced customers looking for more authentic experiences and environments, so, this is the right place for them. Regarding improvements, the first priority of authorities should be to instigate a proper cleaning of these beaches. As is happening with the hotel industry, safety and comfort are considered as priorities for travel decision makers, so any future tourist development should be based on it. I would suggest to public promoters to develop the tourism industry by selling Vietnam beach and island tourism as the best alternative in Southeast Asia for unique and genuine environments which are not being overexploited and highlight authentic experiences.


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CYRIL CHAN Hotel manager of the Silver Shores International Resort

As 2011 has been chosen as the National Tourism Year titled “Exotic Beaches and Islands”, tourism businesses could focus on five sub-brands on an area’s attractions: Sea-landscape for Halong Bay, relaxation and cultural heritage for Hue, Hoi An and My Son, long stay and relaxation by the sea in Danang, sea sports in Nha Trang and Mui Ne, and sea-island exploration in Phu Quoc and Con Dao, and so on, so as to create unique products and services that are exciting enough to attract local and foreign tourists, who will return again and again. The National Tourism Year 2011 is also a good opportunity to develop the region’s sea tourism industry and create a basis for the whole country’s sea tourism development to raise the bar in SCOTT HODGETTS General manager of Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa.

Nha Trang is home to one of the world’s most beautiful bays (www.worldbays.com) and was voted one of the world’s top 10 beach destinations by Expedia.com.au – a leading online travel company – in December 2010. In and

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VIETNAM’S GOLD COAST

terms of services and entertainment. So as to make this National Tourism Year a success all concerned provinces should carry out effective preparations regarding infrastructure, transportation, and festival management, and create some new products and services as well as promotional trips catering for foreign markets to popularise this national event, which is a golden chance to popularise and promote coastal and island tourism and attract more tourists. Like any other tourism businesses, we actively joined in national and international travel marts so as to bring the image of Danang destination everywhere. By arranging booths at fairs in China, Japan, Hong Kong and Guangzhou we have helped promote Danang tourism to all of these target markets as Danang is rather a new destination to tourists from those regions. At those fairs, the resort helped publicise Danang tourism through video and photo disks and brochures about introduction of Danang beach as “One of the 50 Places Man Must Reach in his Life”.

Vietnam offers a completely different culture to most other countries in Asia-Pacific, certainly Europe and North America. At the same time, Vietnamese beach resorts also offer a relaxing getaway for residents of the major cities in Vietnam. This is the combination of international and domestic appeal that all successful resort areas must offer. Phan Thiet and Mui Ne have many beach resorts and entertainment options, all providing friendly and efficient service. This might be true of some coastal areas in Vietnam, but not Phan Thiet and Mui Ne. For our part, Ocean Dunes has the internationally recognised Novotel hotel attached to the golf club, offering world class service from the Accor group of hotels.

around Nha Trang, the beaches and islands are picturesque, making them a real tourism asset. There are a number of international hotel and resort projects which are in the works here. When finished, they will help to attract more travellers to Nha Trang. There are many international hotel brands developing projects along the coastline. That movement alone speaks for the potential of “sun, sand, sea” tourism here. As that movement progresses, I think we’ll see the local service level rise to an international standard – as is the case already at Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa, where training in that arena has been a top pri-

ority for us since day one. Beaches are one asset. Vietnam’s cuisine – something the country is also famous for – is another marketing opportunity. To market the destination, I think it will be wise to look to neighbouring countries –what’s worked for them and what hasn’t – to develop a successful strategy. It’s also important for hotels and tourism authorities to work together to establish lines of communication with journalists everywhere and bring international media representatives over, so we can spread the good word about Vietnam tourism to the global community.

GLENN CASSELLS General manager of Ocean Dunes Golf Course

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VIETNAM’S GOLD COAST

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Vietnam needs to find its Midas touch With the right planning and quality infrastructure, Vietnam can create several world class beach destinations, writes Paul Stoll, CEO of Celadon International rior to Vietnam’s first national promotion campaign, Vietnam – a Destination for the New Millennium, launched in 2000, only limited beach tourism existed, notably in Nha Trang. Danang started to develop its beach tourism when The Furama Resort opened up in 1997. Demand developed over the years and made the beaches in central Vietnam into a well known beach destination. Trends starting after the year 2000 were to develop resident houses, villas or apartments for sale. These are a viable option as 90 million people living in Vietnam are hungry to improve their living conditions. Hence, there is an opportunity for low, middle and high class housing for primary and secondary home investors. However, it is not enough just to build houses; we have to build communities to provide a comfortable and safe living environment. Latest trend studies show that young people prefer to invest in apartments; years ago, owning land was the favoured option. The rising demand creates garden villages along the beach, perhaps, another effort to urbanise the beautiful beach environment. The fact is that development follows demand and trends are permanently changing. Demand is created by the political, social and economic situation within and outside Vietnam and set by the media. However, there is also a foreign market seeking house ownership in Vietnam as well as having a second res-

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“ Vietnam, as a tourism destination has a great future.”

idence in a more tropical environment. Shared-ownership models like traditional timeshare (without red book) and fractional (with red book) to wholly owned condominiums in hotels with voluntary rental programs will become a hit and investors can’t wait for the required laws and regulations to be drafted by the government to make this investment type safe for the buyer. First Condotels start development and the Furama Resort Ho Coc with 600 units is among the largest of them. Timeshare appeals to the growing middle-class travellers who appreciate quality accommodation at affordable prices in great destinations. Without doubt Vietnam is one of these great destinations, therefore ideal for timeshare investment, although it’s rather early to get into that. Timeshare tourism generates repeated travel to the country the timeshare investment was made adding a valuable market segment to the destination. Participating in an exchange program makes timeshare even more attractive. There are quite a few developments up for sale just because the

owners over estimated their ability to develop and operate property. These distressed developments have no real value as they are just not built according to international building standards and lack concept. Some of these will definitely be boycotted by international tour operators for reasons such as the presence of cancer-causing high voltage power lines that cross properties, the location is near a polluted river causing coli-bacterial contamination, the resort location is too remote or near industrial zoning, some of them even sink. It’s mindboggling how creative some investors can be to overcome those short comings, and at any cost. There will be a second development phase, which will bring quality development to Vietnam’s beaches, which short term development strategies doesn’t allow. Tsunami-like many of these resorts will be washed away to make space for international standard resort developments. That’s not something I am assuming – it’s a phenomena which happens in the development of destinations. I developed hotels in Myanmar and was invited by a local investor to familiarise with the developers’ hotel. Asking for the room price the developer told me proudly the room rate was $180 for a guest house room, which is the starting room price I charged for the world class The Strand Hotel, Yangon. Vietnam claims a coastline of 3,260 kilometres and there is no way that this coastline can be developed as


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a beach destination in its entirety. There will never be enough demand although everyone dreams of owning a vacation or a second home on the beach. Islands, in general, fare less well as people prefer to settle on the mainland, which is considered to be safer and lifestyle supporting. There are no questions that successful beach destinations develop around an airport which preferably should be an international port. That becomes obvious in Danang, Nha Trang/Cam Ranh, and in Phu Quoc, once the new airport is in operation. Destinations developing around these airports are considered primary destinations. Destinations with domestic airports are considered secondary and the ones without airports are tertiary in terms of importance. Destinations as Halong Bay, Vung Tau, Phan Thiet/Mui Ne have developed because of their proximity to metropolises such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, which are the main gateways into Vietnam and have a rather

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large expatriate community searching for weekend getaway destinations. There is the need to develop “Road Tourism” and leeway has been made building roads and tunnels. I developed the World Heritage Road in 2001 anticipating the road’s development and the need to escalate tourism to the next higher dimension. Promoting the World Heritage Road contributed to the successful development of Central Vietnam as a destination. I will continue to develop the World Heritage Road and plan a global convention on “Theme Roads” which will give Vietnam and its beaches access to worldwide promotion. The World Heritage Road stretches on National Highway 1A along the coast and will make its contribution in the beach destination development allowing more effective circulation of travellers along the coast of Vietnam. To really explore beaches the tourism product has to be completed. Leisure ships should connect the populated beaches and islands.

VIETNAM’S GOLD COAST

Existing sea and river passenger ships have to be upgraded. Beach entertainment is in its infant stages and there is a need for purpose-built resorts complimented by supporting facilities and services as diving, and professional water sports outfits. The safety of beach destinations in central Vietnam has improved dramatically with the introduction of lifeguarding in cooperation with the Royal Lifesaving Society of Australia in 1996. There is a concerted trend to create a Vietnam beach tourism product, which is expected around the world. This effort has failed so far and there is a need for the officials and the travel trade to work harder. A practical master plan developers have to follow has to be reinforced by the government. Within the parameters of this master plan provincial and developer competition is allowed, outside not. It’s mandatory for developers to contract professional operator services from day one. By day two it is already too late. The hotel concept will be briefed by the operator to the architect who will prepare the master plan and detailed plans for architecture. Thereafter the development team will be completed which is going to drive timely development. Does this sound familiar? I guess not because it’s not the fact but it should be. The environment is our life and so we have to protect it. Everyone can do it regardless of greediness and the authorities should reinforce this with laws, regulations and serious violation fines. Vietnam, as a tourism destination has a great future, but only with well developed beach tourism, which is expected in a tropical country.

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VIETNAM’S GOLD COAST

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Where to start? Vietnam’s long, beautiful, white sandy coast line represents more than 3,200km of opportunity for sustainable development. Sitting on the proverbial pot of gold, in terms of tourism, here in Central Vietnam, we are spoilt with a long list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and accessible accommodation. However, in terms of direct flights, we are lacking in terms of accessibility for international travellers. A well established location such as Phuket has the added advantage of accessibility and high traffic. It’s the second busiest airport in Thailand. Easing incoming travel for the prospective holidaymakers, who choose Central Vietnam as their holiday location, is a high priority. The advantage of additional routes and varied international carriers through Danang airport would increase traffic and create confidence in a destination that will stand the test of time. The addition of international routes Nguyen Duc Quynh, executive assistant manager at from Hong Kong and Singapore to Furama Resort Danang highlights Central Vietnam’s Danang airport in late 2010 have already proven a positive move. The addition of natural advantages and proposes what factors need more international routes and a terminal to be addressed as the local tourism industry grows upgrade to better facilitate the visitors, would be an intelligent plan. Vietnams’ coastal tourism is really ripe for the taking – ietnam has long been a gem of Southeast Asia with with a slow and steady rise in tourist focused visitors up from a rich culture and abundant natural beauty, howlast year (by about 14 per cent), the opportunity to be creative ever, in terms of international recognition as a in terms of adding new services, should be our strong point. beach holiday destination, we are still lagging My resort is an example of this. The Furama Resort behind somewhat. Danang, settled comfortably in the cradle of the ancient The numerous coastal regions of Vietnam are, for the most Cham civilisation, has successfully established a world wide part, completely unspoilt, with an abundance of natural beaureputation as a beach holiday destination in Vietnam, and we ty and cultural attractions that are on a par with competing will continue to diversify our cultural tour options and add world-renowned holiday destinations. services seasonally. But rival locations such as Phuket and Bali are established I believe that offering a larger variation of services to sea-based tourism heavy weights, offering comparatively simipotential tourists, over a wide spectrum of markets, is the lar products. However Central Vietnam holds an ace card, in strongest solution when considering the increasing number of my opinion, with its many undiscovered beach locations and visitors yearly (there has been 35 per cent growth from 2009). the significant cultural appeal of Vietnamese people. In a bid We should re-write the focus of our tourism industry with to enhance the appeal and international draw for the country’s an emphasis on what overseas and local tourist wants and eassea based tourism sector, comprehensive strategies of signifiing travel movements within the county (i.e. visa regulations). cant focus need to be ignited!

A natural beauty still needs careful attention

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“Sitting on the proverbial pot of gold, in terms of tourism, here in Central Vietnam, we are spoilt with a long list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and accessible accommodation”

Above all else, using the imagery of the striking ancient heritage gems of Vietnam and the breathtakingly beautiful beaches, we can provide tailored marketing to specific target countries. This is Vietnam’s ace card! The Furama is pleased with the prospect of potential future competition for the beach front in Danang, with the international brands such as Pullman, Novotel, Intercontinental, Crowne, and the Hyatt entering the fray. We are excited for the opportunities holiday makers can enjoy. The emergence of helicopter tour companies here in Danang and around Vietnam will help facilitate demand for luxury resort holiday traffic and will also be well received by holiday makers looking for a new variation on sightseeing tours. Helipads on hotel property grounds suggest the full extent of this market potential. Furthermore, the opening of two 18-hole golf courses in Central Vietnam can only help increase the image of the region’s coastal status. It does however also threaten the potential diversity of holiday accommodation options for the three to four-star tourist market groups. A solution to this might be to encourage the development of four-star hotels across the road from the beach and boost local tourist transport options such as a scheduled mini-buses travelling to My Son, Marble Mountains, Ba Na and Hoi An daily. Budget accommodation on our two beautiful white sandy beach islands Phu Quoc and Con Dao has been such a positive draw for many tourists and now these former prison colonies are well on their way to becoming key tourist haunts for Vietnam thanks to both islands’ beautiful secluded beaches and natural tropical wonderland. Well known to the mid-range sector, with the full development of the five star luxury resorts on the rise on these islands, where will the marketing focus be? Some argue that islands are home to the most beautiful beaches in all of Vietnam, and with this sort of praise¸ significant attention needs to be paid.

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VIETNAM’S GOLD COAST

Bali, similarly, offers idyllic locations, fascinating architectural heritage, centuries-old culture and a reasonable exchange on the dollar, but Vietnam can offer the new, the graceful, and the exciting. In some sense, we are the new kids on the block for beach tourism but this is an exciting quality that destinations such as Bali cannot boast. Vietnam’s steady and significant jump in foreign tourism in the mid to late 1990’s has significantly slowed down, but in recent years it has neither increased nor decreased. It would be safe to say that the limitations of our tour operators are due to poor co-operation between relevant agencies, companies, improving quality of tourist services and poor international tourism campaigns. Improving public awareness of the environment should be a focus of tourism development in Central Vietnam along with enhancing the tour community’s involvement in the development of sustainable service aimed programs that will benefit the country’s tourism industry. From this, I can only see great positives, and years of potential growth.

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Taking it to the next level The maturation of Central Coast as one of the world’s most luxurious beach destinations is moving steps forward with the formation of new high-end resorts, golf courses and better tourism logistics, writes Son Tran or years, NATO has been the word used to describe resort development along the Central Coast. What, pray tell, had the Western military block got to do with tourism in this part of the world you ask? Well, the word actually stood for something else: “no action, talk only” – the local version of “all talk, no action.” That was down to tens of planned luxury resorts which got stuck on the drawing board. But, despite fears the region was trapped in a state of inertia, eventually, the 30-kilometre stretch of coastline from Danang to the old town of Hoi An saw dramatic changes. Financially strong developers with cash in hand have put plans into action – call it a NATO backlash – and turned the hoardings, which for many years depicted images of the luxury villas and hotels, into reality. Hotel development finally exploded.

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ACCOMMODATION BOOM Before, resorts such as the Nam Hai, Furama and Golden Sand divided the spoils of luxury tourism in the area. But now there is more competition around. Fusion Maia is one of the new kids on the block and already has a reputation as one of the hippest resorts in Southeast Asia. The developers have created an allpool villa resort that stands out as something quite unique in Asia. The product is also a first: this is an “all in” spa and resort. All guests can avail of compli-

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mentary spa treatments. As Michelle Ford, general manager of Fusion Maia, puts it: “Spa here is like breakfast. It is complemented in room service.” Speaking of breakfast, guests are also under zero pressure to get to a buffet before it finishes. Breakfast is served anywhere, anytime. The central coast is also now home to the country’s biggest resort, Silver Shores International, with almost 600 rooms. While the gambling centre in the resort is one of its main attractions (especially for Chinese tourists), the resort also has the largest meeting facilities along this coastline with a ballroom serving up to 1,000 people and nine other smaller meeting rooms. “Comparing with other beach cities, Danang could be also an ideal place for both MICE and leisure with resorts having more modern MICE facilities,” said Cyril Chan, hotel manager of Silver Shores International. Tourism in Central Vietnam will be further enhanced when two more luxury hotels, namely, Hyatt Regency and Vinpearl Luxury, open mis this year, each offering around 200 five-star plus hotel rooms. And there’s no doubt, these resorts – along with two golf courses in the region – will combine to offer visitors a complete luxury experience. THE GOLF COAST Although two Korean-backed golf course projects have been delayed indef-

initely, two world class courses have come online to great fanfare. The Montgomerie Links and the Dunes Course at Danang Golf Club will help put Central Vietnam on the map for international golfers. The courses are designed respectively by two of the world’s most legendary golfers, Colin Montgomerie and Greg Norman. The facilities are high-class, the setting superb, so together the courses will help brand the so-called Gold Coast of Vietnam as “the Golf Coast of Vietnam”. When asked whether just two courses would draw tourists, Howie Roberts, general manager of Danang Golf Club, said: “Absolutely! When any destination can pair two golf courses of the calibre of Danang Golf Club and Montgomerie Links, the whole tourism sector in the area will benefit.” He pointed out that any of the established destinations in the region such as Bali and Phuket all have great golf courses, which in turn support hotel rooms, restaurants, shopping and all the other services and businesses related to tourism. The average spending of a visiting golfer in Thailand is over $2,300


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per visit – more than any other holiday group who come for diving, water sports, sight-seeing, or simply flopping around on the beach. “If you look at any established destination like Bali and Phuket, you need four key ingredients: beach, hotels, golf and culture. Danang has all of these in abundance and of a quality equal to anywhere else in the region; a beach rated in the Top 10 in the world by Forbes magazine, internationally recognised hotels, Hoi An – a UNESCO World Heritage site and a cultural centre of Vietnam – then two magnificent golf courses with two more coming in the next two years,” said Roberts. SECOND-HOME MECCA Accommodation options along the central coast are increasingly varied due to the boom in second-home development. Tourists do not need to be confined to small hotel rooms, but can easily opt for spacious condominiums or villas, which have been bought by Vietnamese and will be sub-leased for profit gains. This is a common practice that almost all developments along the central coast are adopting – for example,

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HOWIE ROBERTS, general manager of Danang Golf Club “When any destination can pair two golf courses of the calibre of Danang Golf Club and Montgomerie Links, the whole tourism sector in the area will benefit.”

Ocean Villas within Danang Beach Resort has become the first compound of this kind handed over to the owners who have authorised a management company to sublease the two or threebedroom villas to tourists for prices of around $300 per night. More properties of this kind will soon follow. There will be 27 villas and 182 condominiums at Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa, 39 villas at Vinpearl and 31 villas at Furama Resort, which will cater for family-oriented travellers. You may well ask what’s the market for luxury villas and condominiums when a villa at the Furama Villas has a price tag of over $500,000 and units at Hyatt Residences and Vinpearl cost

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from $1.2 million to $2.5 million. Two years ago, a condominium at Hyatt Residences was sold for $180,000, but for the new block, which will be launched soon, prices will start at $370,000. These developments are reported to be selling well despite the staggering prices, with some boasting that almost all units have sold before completion. You might think only overseas millionaires would be able to afford such properties. But Lorien Hamilton, associate director of residential sales at Savills Vietnam, said foreigners represented a very low percentage of buyers and the main sources of customers were wealthy Vietnamese with four-fifths of them coming from Hanoi and the remaining coming from Ho Chi Minh City or other localities within the country. Overseas Vietnamese (Viet Kieu) also accounted for a portion of sales. Hamilton said up to 89 per cent of buyers opted for this coastline to purchase tourism properties because of its beautiful beaches while 61 per cent claimed they were attracted by the region’s convenient accessibility and only 58 per cent said the central coast Life’s a Beach: From Danang to Hoi An a string of high-end resorts have emerged in recent years and more are under construction

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had ideal weather for holidays. Hamilton said the tourism property market in Vietnam in general and Danang in particular was still in its infancy and there was great potential for development. So, developers would continue to build to meet demand, with more than 230 second-home villas launched this year while big names in the hotel industry, including Hyatt, Accor, Starwood and Hilton, were all taking a stake along this coast. CONCERNS REMAIN With many more rooms coming online, hoteliers are asking for more flights to serve guests not only from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but also from overseas. The central coast has three airports in Hue, Danang and Quang Nam, but only Danang acts as a distribution hub.

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According to Danang Tourism Promotion Centre, eight international airlines are currently flying to Danang, but only Silk Air is flying from Singapore frequently with four flights a week. The others are chartered flights from Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu, Shanghai, Hongkong and Macau, with most passengers coming to Silver Shores International Resort for gambling holidays. “The key element to the successful operation of resorts here is air access,” said Peter Ryder, chief executive officer of Indochina Land, the developer of the Nam Hai and Hyatt Regency resorts. Aviation authorities have heard the calls for more flights and are building a new terminal at Danang International Airport, which will open this June to accommodate more international flights.

Gold Coast Hotel – deluxe in Danang

Overlooking Danang Beach – one of the six most luxurious beaches in the world according to Forbes magazine – the Gold Coast Hotel is ideally located on Ho Xuan Huong road which skirts alongside Danang’s coast. The three-star deluxe hotel is wonderfully designed with an elegant French style villa and distinctive Indian- Champa themed décor. The hotel consists of 50 spacious aircon rooms ranging with Superior, Deluxe, Suites and Apartments all available. All

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rooms benefit from cable television, ADSL internet and WiFi, a mini bar, bathroom with tub or shower, and in some cases a balcony. Its four well-equipped apartments are convenient for families staying and working for longer periods in this increasingly dynamic central city. Non-smoking rooms are also available to place a cot for your babies. Domestic pets are also allowed. Besides the elegant and modern accommodation, guests can pamper themselves at the spa or by enjoying the diverse cuisine at

However, new hoteliers remain concerned over a lack of skillful human resources. Michelle Ford from Fusion Maia said resorts in the regions had been competing with each other to keep staff. “Finding enough skilled staff is a big issue for us,” she said. The problem is even more severe with Silver Shores International Resort, which currently has around 1,200 employees. Cyril Chan said, while finding enough staff was difficult, communication with staff was another challenge. “Communication is a barrier. Those staff who can speak Chinese cannot speak English and vice versa. While our main clientele is still Chinese, we also serve English-speaking tourists, so it is a challenge to find staff speaking both English and Chinese,” said Chan. its restaurant and bar. Guests can also cool themselves off at the pool and enjoy many other multiform entertainment services. More than a boutique hotel, Gold Coast hotel offers a “home sweet home” ambience with a team of friendly, hospitable and professional staffs. Just about 3km far from Danang International Airport, business travellers value the proximity of the hotel to the trade fair. The hotel offers a spacy carpark for private cars and rental service at great rates. From the hotel, you can embark on tours to Buda Beach, Rock Beach, Bana Hill Station and Marble Mountain. Moreover, you can easily access three world heritage sites: Hoi An Old Town, My Son Holyland and Hue. Gold Coast Hotel 27 Ho Xuan Huong, Danang City Tel: 0511 3955 955 0905 494 678 (Duong Thanh Huu)


VIETNAM’S GOLD COAST

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Indochina Land’s golden touch Indochina Land creates extraordinary lifestyle choices for holidaymakers and holiday home owners along the coast in Central Vietnam ndochina Land continues to build and invest in Vietnam’s Central Coast, an outstanding leisure destination with hundreds of kilometres of pristine beachfront and extensive cultural, natural, and recreational amenities. Danang has emerged as a top-tier leisure destination with rapidly improving infrastructure and compelling attractions, including two award winning and fully operational golf courses, an international casino and three nearby UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the old trading town of Hoi An, the Imperial City of Hue, and My Son sanctuary. While Danang is renowned for stunning beaches and cultural attractions, the area has also developed into a leading commercial centre, with an expanding private sector fuelled by non-state and foreign enterprises. From an economic standpoint, Danang consistently ranks as Vietnam’s most competitive

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province, due to its efficient governmental procedures, expanding business community and rising consumer spending. The competitive and dynamic business climate is complemented by critical infrastructural advancements, including the nearly completed international terminal at Danang International Airport, a network of new bridges and an increase in the number of international quality resorts. These compelling factors have combined to make Danang’s real estate market an increasingly attractive investment opportunity and tourism destination. Beginning with the Furama Resort in 1999, the managing directors of Indochina Land were the first foreign developers to recognize the incredible potential of the Central Coast as Asia’s next premier leisure destination, on par with Bali and Phuket. Leading the market and setting new benchmarks for excellence, Indochina Land capitalized on the region’s potential by build-

ing Vietnam’s finest 5 star resort – The Nam Hai. Since opening in December 2006, The Nam Hai continues to garner international acclaim as one of the world’s best luxury resorts, repeatedly winning awards for its outstanding design, architecture and service. The resort consistently achieves the highest ADR and occupancy rates in the country and, in the first quarter of 2011, The Nam Hai enjoyed its most successful quarter yet on record. With the early success of The Nam Hai, Indochina Land has led the way in transforming the region into a worldclass leisure destination. With the imminent completion of Hyatt Regency Danang, Vietnam’s first branded residential community, and The Estates at Montgomerie Links, Vietnam’s first master planned golf community, Indochina Land continues to build innovative properties and extraordinary lifestyles along Vietnam’s Central Coast.

Hyatt Regency Danang The Hyatt Regency Danang team continues to make significant strides in construction across the site, while the acquisition of the remaining packages and the balance of the subcontract works advance with speed. The property’s construction team is on target to achieve substantial completion of all works by mid-summer 2011. Through March, the superstructures for all 66 buildings have been fully constructed

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Montgomerie Links Vietnam & The Estates at Montgomerie Links ontgomerie Links Vietnam is a true links style golf course, designed by Colin Montgomerie, one of his generation’s most recognisable and endearing sports stars and a true statesman of golf. At Montgomerie Links Vietnam, this 2010 European Ryder Cup Captain and Eight-time European Tour Order of Merit winner – better known as “Monty” to his worldwide fan base – has massaged greens and rippled fairways into the stunning backdrop for The Estates, setting up an experience he believes will rank among the world’s finest.

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The Estates at Montgomerie Links feature 66 private luxury pool villas nestled within a private enclave on the award winning Montgomerie Links Golf Course, voted “Best Golf Course in Vietnam” by the Asia Pacific Property Awards in its official inaugural year in 2010 and by Asian Golf Monthly during its soft opening in 2009. Set to become one of Asia’s most desirable golf and country club retreats, the modern villas of The Estates are set on generous footprints of land elevated above the plane of the surrounding course and adjacent to what Forbes Magazine describes as “one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world.”

With panoramic golf course views and views of the Marble Mountains and East Sea just beyond, The Estates offer three unique villa types ranging from 240sqm to 475sqm, with three to four bedrooms, spacious outdoor living areas and private infinity pools. Amenities available to owners include a private Beach Club designed by AW2, the award winning architect of The Nam Hai and Six Senses Con Dao; two fully equipped pro shops; The Montgomerie Links Clubhouse and Restaurant; and a full operation driving range. Family Golf Memberships are complimentary for all owners at The Estates.

Residences, Resort & Spa all set for summertime launch and the team is now focused on the completion of the hotel and condominium exterior facades and the new Condominium Tower D. With these milestones scheduled for completion by late summer, the resort is on target to open to the public this fall. The exclusive Condominium Tower D is the last phase of residential sales at the Hyatt Regency Danang, offering investors one final opportunity to

become owners of Vietnam’s first branded residential community. Tower D’s exceptionally well appointed three-bedroom condominiums have direct access to a 195sqm private pool elevated on a four-metre high podium and a covered parking area comprised of 27 car park spaces. The tower also features two exclusive duplex penthouses, the first of their kind along Vietnam’s Central Coast. Each offers four bedrooms over

two levels, with expansive rooftop terraces and stunning panoramic views to the East Sea and Marble Mountains. Indochina Land is now launching sales of the Tower D residences, following surging demand and a successful sales record of the nearly sold out Villas and Condominium Towers A, B and C. The exclusive investment opportunity at Hyatt Regency Danang is now available by appointment only.

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Grand Vision Vinpearl Joint Stock Company is one of the few local developers making bold steps to building luxury resorts along the coast. Its chairman Nguyen Trong Hien talks to Timeout about this strategy In addition to the Vinpearl tourism complex in Nha Trang, your company is also building two resorts under the same brand in Danang and Hoi An. Why did Vinpearl decide to build luxury resorts in these destinations?

We carefully considered the strategy of building luxury hotels and resorts in the country’s most famous tourist destinations and Nha Trang was the first port of call for the Vinpearl resort chain. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City were previously the main focal points of Vietnam’s tourism development where a lot of luxury hotels have been built. But, Vietnam has a coastline with many beautiful beaches comparable to those in Bali (Indonesia) and Phuket (Thailand), which are ideal for tourism development. For instance, Nha Trang Bay is among one of the world’s most beautiful bays, and it has warm, sunny weather all year round, that’s perfect for rest and recreation. The coastal stretch from Danang to Hoi An has been selected as one of the world’s most luxurious beaches, and has rich tourism potential as it is surrounded by three World Heritage Sites – the Imperial City of Hue, Hoi An Old Town and the My Son ruins. The area has adequate condi-

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tions to develop into one of Southeast Asia’s leading beach destinations. If exploited effectively, these beaches will be the goose that lays the golden eggs. Have you faced any challenges building luxury resorts in coastal areas compared to cities?

Of course, building and operating luxury resorts along the coast is more difficult than in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as the development of coastal infrastructure is inferior to that in big cities. To build the Vinpearl brand up to the international recognition it boasts today, we have had a difficult start – for the first project in Nha Trang we built a resort on an island without electricity, fresh water or transport links to the mainland. We had to invest in under-the-sea power cable system, a filtering facility to make fresh water from seawater, a cable car system and a number of speed boats, while hotel developers in big cities did not have to make these investments. Once put into operation, luxury beach resorts face access challenges. In particular, air access is of special importance to the successful operation of resorts because if there are no con-

venient flights, visitors will not come. In the past, airports along the coast were small and lacked incoming flights. Fortunately, infrastructure in Danang, Hoi An and Nha Trang has improved significantly in recent years with main roads from airports to tourism complexes being upgraded and widened. Nha Trang airport has got a new terminal while the new terminal in Danang will be put into operation very soon – that will attract more airlines to fly to these regions. How will Vinpearl set itself apart from other resorts which are mushrooming up at present?

It is true that there’s a boom in resort development along the coast from Danang to Phan Thiet and Vung Tau, which reflects the attractiveness of Vietnam’s beach tourism industry. Competition among beach resorts will become stiffer once new resorts come online but we are confident in the outstanding competitive edges of Vinpearl resorts. In Nha Trang, there is no other resort which has a big integrated entertainment facility like Vinpearl Land, a complex we can only see in developed countries. In addition, as part of our strategy to develop Vinpearl into a leading brand in Vietnam and in the world, we have applied five-star plus standards to our resorts which will belong to Vinpearl Luxury product line. The resorts in Nha Trang and Danang are the first applying these standards. Vinpearl is proud to be the first tourism brand in Vietnam having offered this special luxury tourism product, which will enhance the prestige and brand recognition of Vinpearl and lift Vietnam’s tourism as a whole to new heights.


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Heaven on earth at VINPEARL DANANG inpearl Luxury Danang Resort is slated to open this July and will raise the bar for tourism in the burgeoning city of Danang. For starters, the setting is ideal. The resort is located on one the “world’s most luxurious beaches” as voted by the Forbes magazine. You can also expect the highest possible standards of service and excellence. As part of the Vinpearl Luxury family, this resort – an investment of $100 million – was designed by the world’s leading consultants from WATG and HBA. The resort and adjacent residences will offer guests the ultimate in luxury living. The hotel area comprises 209 rooms designed with Cham architectur-

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al motifs, classic French colonial style and contemporary chic. Stepping outside to the outdoor swimming-pool overlooking the ocean, residents and tourists will feel as though they have discovered heaven on earth. Guests can wine and dine at a number of cosy bars, cafés and restaurants with wonderful sea views and menus featuring delicious international cuisine crafted by the resort’s team of chefs. You can also find all the amenities you need to complete your stay; for those who need to be pampered, there’s a world-class spa, and for those who need to work up a sweat, there’s a fitness centre. Vinpearl Luxury Danang is also an ideal place for meetings and confer-

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ences with 400sqm conference hall and function space equipped with the latest hi-tech facilities. Besides the five-star plus resort, Vinpearl Luxury Danang features 39 opulent villas, which are available in two, three or four bedrooms configurations, located on a large area of 1,000sqm on average each. All the villas are designed to welcome in the ample natural light, ocean breeze and sound of the waves outside. Each one features a private pool, garden area, outdoor terrace and lounge area. Thus, Vinpearl Luxury Danang offers a rare opportunity for investors to acquire a private and exclusive villa in a prime beachfront location. The villas are sold on a freehold for Vietnamese people and 50-year long rental schemes for foreigners. All clients who buy a villa will be ensured to enjoy a minimum income of 10 per cent of the total value a year (during the first three years of operation) if renting out the villa. Besides Vinpearl Luxury Danang also offers the profit division ratio on villas for rent at 15/85, which means the villa owner will gain 85 per cent of the total annual profit from the business. With competitive prices, enticing profit margins and numerous after-sale services offered by Vinpearl, this is a wonderful opportunity to own a slice of heaven on earth.

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Welcome to

PARADISE ISLAND Today, Vinpearl Land is the pinnacle of luxury tourism in Vietnam, says Ngoc Son early a decade ago, Hon Tre island was considered a remote area off the coast of Nha Trang where fishing communities lived in houses with thatched roofs. Only the most intrepid of tourists ventured to the island which lacked the means to accommodate or entertain visitors. How times change. Now, this island is home to one of Asia’s most incredible holiday destinations, replete with a resort and spa, an entertainment park, a shopping street and a whole lot more besides. The story of Vinpearl Land began when its investors and French architect Claude Cuvelier visited the unknown island. Immediately, they recognised the potential of transforming this isolat-

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ed destination into a paradise for highend travellers and family’s seeking “fun in the sun”. The process went step by step. First, a five-star resort and spa complex, Vinpearl Resort & Spa, was inaugurated offering 485 luxurious rooms. With a beautiful design, incredible décor and premium services, the resort brings guests the best possible comfort and convenience in a most breathtaking location. Upon opening it immediately put the island destination on the map. Next came Vinpearl Land – a whole world of shopping and entertainment, where tourists can find an amusement park, a water park, a music amphitheatre, and Vinpearl Underwater World. The introduction of a cable car system not only linked the island to the main-

land but also offered tourists the most charming views of the beach city and the surrounding landscape from 60m above the sea. Currently, Vinpearl is investing in a 4ha-expansion with more rides and games imported from Germany, Italy, the US and Japan. By the end of 2011, the extended Vinpearl Land will be completed, raising capacity up to five million guests per year. Vinpearl Land Nha Trang has also played an important role in the great development of Khanh Hoa province and Vietnam in general. In 2010, Vinpearl Land welcomed nearly one million guests. One of every two tourists visiting Nha Trang comes to Vinpearl Land. Vinpearl Land also hosted Miss Vietnam World and Miss Earth last year further adding to the prestige of the Vinpearl brand. Vinpearl Joint Stock Company also plans to launch a five-star plus resort, Vinpearl Luxury Nha Trang on the island later this year. Every room at the upscale resort will feature a private high-grade Jacuzzi and sauna and all the modern facilities you can imagine. There’s also a yacht available for guests to explore the coastline in this wonderful bay. Further proof, that Vinpearl Land is not just a place to relax but a destination where dreams seem to come true at your behest.


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Find your dream home inaLiving (the residential lifestyle brand of VinaCapital) will showcase a collection of properties it is building across the country that caters to the new generation of Vietnamese homeowners. The VinaLiving Property Exhibition will be held at Danang Golf Club from April 30 to May 5 to coincide with the international fireworks competition in the coastal city of Danang on April 2930, 2011. The exhibition aims to introduce potential customers a collection of properties being built under the VinaLiving brand. VinaLiving aims to deliver tailored living environments that harmoniously combine advanced technologies and international-standard build quality with Vietnamese tradition. Two of the biggest developments

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that will be featured at the exhibition include Danang Beach Resort and Dai Phuoc Lotus Township. The 260-hectare Danang Beach Resort is one of VinaLiving’s prominent developments which is under construction along Son Tra-Dien Ngoc coastal stretch. Having just been awarded the Bloomberg Asia Pacific Award for Best Golf Development in Vietnam for 2011, it currently includes 18-hole “Dunes Course” designed by legendary golfer Greg Norman.

The trendsetter Why has VinaCapital been focusing its investment in tourism property projects in Central Vietnam?

VinaCapital chief executive officer Don Lam talks to Timeout about the group’s investment strategy in tourism properties along the central coast 28

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Central Vietnam offers a great combination of beautiful seaside locations, welcoming people, and an interesting historical and cultural setting. The pro-business and pro-investment provincial administrations in the region have also helped tremendously in spurring economic development. The region is the coastal section of the Mekong subregion’s ‘East-West Corridor’ – an east-west trade and transport route that stretches inland to Laos, Cambodia and northern

The project includes four residential communities either delivered or currently under construction; these include Ocean Villas, The Dune Residences, The Cham Condominium, and the latest residential masterpiece, Norman Estates. There is a range of other facilities within the project including a beach club and recreation centre, Rock Salt (the project’s beach restaurant and bar venue) and recently completed five-star club house. A second 18-hole golf course is currently being designed together with many other facilities and residential areas. Danang Beach Resort is nestled in a breathtaking landscape of peaceful beaches, mountains and golf courses. Another important property to be on display is Dai Phuoc Lotus Township, a 200 hectares small island on a branch of the Saigon River. The development is located near the prospective Long Thanh International Airport and is connected with Ho Chi Minh City via Nhon Trach Bridge and Thailand. Rail and road links are improving steadily. With an international airport serving Danang, we believe the central Vietnam region has years of growth ahead of it. More visitors are arriving all the time, increasingly from other part of Asia. VinaCapital has for years been one of the leading foreign investors in the Danang and central Vietnam region, due to our very positive outlook on central Vietnam’s prospects. We have focused on the hospitality market, with investments also in residential and commercial real estate. We have also invested in society itself, with healthcare and hospital programmes to improve the living standard and welfare of the people of the region.


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roads including the east-west corridor and Ring Road 3, both of which are currently under construction. Phase 1 of Dai Phuoc Lotus comprises a residential community of 332 villas of 2 to 5 bedrooms in configuration. VinaLiving will develop a number of services and amenities to ensure a quality lifestyle is established and maintained well into the future. Matthew Koziora, sales and marketing director of VinaCapital Real Estate, said VinaLiving will develop and market many residential projects across Vietnam, including townships, resorts, stand-alone housing projects, and the residential components of mixed-use landmark projects that combine living spaces with shopping, hotels and offices. “We believe Vietnamese homebuyers want to live in a community where they can relate to their neighbours and have great peace-of-mind in terms of comfort and safety. VinaLiving will Have the business results of VinaCapital projects reflected its expectation when investing in this segment?

The Ocean Villas, part of the 260ha Danang Beach Resort, almost single-handedly pioneered the secondhome or resort-home market in Vietnam. When we first envisaged the project many years ago, we imagined the majority of buyers would be foreigners. In fact, 100 per cent of buyers were Vietnamese. So this is a better result than we anticipated, and it spurred us to create Vietnam’s first residential sales brand, VinaLiving, targeting the new generation of Vietnamese homeowners. The Ocean Villas were our first big success, and we are now making significant progress

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offer products and services to our customers that will create this peace of mind,” said Koziora. Widely known throughout the country as a first class name in real estate, VinaLiving is developed by VinaCapital, one of the country’s leading foreign real estate developers. The continued development of large-

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scale projects and the organisation of the first VinaLiving Property Exhibition reaffirm VinaCapital’s long-term investment commitment in Vietnam, actively contributing to the economic development of Vietnam in general and Central Coast in particular, where Danang is selected as a key destination for developing tourism properties.

The Ocean Villas are a hot property in Central Vietnam

with the World Trade Center Danang, and the other residential offerings at the Danang Beach Resort. We believe all these projects will meet our expectations and the expectations of the homebuyers. Do you think the investment boom in tourism property development at the moment is good or bad signal? Why?

The boom in hospitality projects in Central Vietnam is good for the economy. It provides jobs now in construction, and for the future in services. A lot of development is need to put a new destination ‘on the map.’ Danang and the central Vietnam region can become like Phuket in Thailand, or Bali in Indonesia. But there is a huge amount

of development and infrastructure needed in order to achieve this status. The risk of over-building is just a shortterm phenomenon. Long-term demand is very high for tourism development in central Vietnam, so any overbuilding reflects a cycle that normally only takes a year or two to correct itself. We are not worried about this very much, as VinaCapital is a long-term investor that is very well-positioned with the projects we have – in terms of their locations and development progress. Our CSR programmes are another indication of our dedication to long-term development. I see our investments in central Vietnam expanding in the future, with Danang growing to become a wellknown city in the Asian region.

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An artist’s impression of MGM Grand Ho Tram, the integrated complex with Las Vegas style entertainment

Viva Vung Tau A string of large-scale developments are set to transform tourism in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, which aspires to be much more than a weekend getaway destination, writes Ly Linh GM Resorts International, one of the world’s leading companies with highly desirable brands in gaming, hospitality and entertainment, is joining hands with Asian Coast Development to build the $4.2 billion Ho Tram Strip in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, a state-of-theart Las Vegas-style integrated resort. “The MGM Grand Ho Tram is Vietnam’s first large scale integrated resort with a wide array of facilities and services,” said Lloyd Nathan, chief executive officer at Asian Coast Development. This “integrated resort” will feature a world-class entertainment facility, restaurants, high-tech meeting space, an exclusive VIP area, a championship golf course, as well as a variety of beachfront recreation activities and according to Nathan the MGM Brand “will distinguish us from anything else in Southeast Asia.”

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It’s also a massive boon for tourism in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, which is a famous weekend destination in southern Vietnam thanks to its close proximity to Ho Chi Minh City, about 120 kilometres away. Like Asian Coast Development, other developers are flocking to this coastal province to build luxurious resorts. Good Choice, Winvest Investment and Skybridge Dragon Sea are also preparing to build multi-billion dollar resorts in this province. Local developers are also building a handful of resorts such as Blue Saphire, Sanctuary and Saint Simon, to provide second homes and villas for buyers from Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere, who want to relax on local beaches. A Pullman hotel with 340 rooms is expected to open next year. Anoa Dussol Perran, the developer of the luxurious villa-project, An Hoa Residence, said the province had huge potential.

“It has attractive virgin coastal areas around such as Long Hai, Long Dien, Phuoc Hai, Dat Do, Xuyen Moc, Ho Tram, Binh Chau – all of which have potential for high quality tourism developments,” said Anoa. It only takes about two hours to get to Vung Tau from Ho Chi Minh City by hydrofoil or by road – half the time it takes to get to Phan Thiet. “This proximity to Ho Chi Minh City enables people to take day trips to escape or have a breath of fresh ocean air,” added Anoa. BOOSTING INFRASTRUCTURE The current poor level of transport infrastructure has not prevented a boom in tourism projects in Vung Tau as developers are upbeat about the construction plans tabled by the government. Ba Ria – Vung Tau is now linked with Ho Chi Minh City primarily by a two lane road but the government is expanding this highway to a four lane-motorway. Regarding air transportation, new Long Thanh Airport is located 80 kilometres from town, but this will be a key gateway for customers in the future. But Nga Segson, general director at Rang Dong Orange Court in Vung Tau city, said Ba Ria-Vung Tau just attracted Vietnamese tourists who were already aware of the potential in the province. “The majority of foreigners working in Ho Chi Minh City and southern Vietnam do not consider Ba Ria-Vung Tau as a tourist destination. They prefer Mui Ne and Nha Trang or Dalat,” he said. According to Lilo Cappell, public relations manager of Imperial Hotel


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Vung Tau, that’s because the province does not have entertainment services, at least ones which attract foreigners. In the next year, developers expect the appearance of a brand like MGM to be a key factor in luring foreign tourist traffic to the province, turning Ba RiaVung Tau into a new and competitive alternative destination for tourists coming to Southeast Asia. A NEW ERA FOR VUNG TAU “We are offering a completely different proposition to that being offered in Macau, Singapore or Malaysia,” said Nathan. “We are a resort destination for every demographic and not focused on one particular sector of the market or a particular geography. There are very few

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NGA SEGSON, general director of Rang Dong Orange Court

“The majority of foreigners working in Ho Chi Minh City and southern Vietnam do not consider Ba-Ria Vung Tau as a tourist destination" sites in the world that rival the Ho Tram Strip in terms of its natural beauty with a 2.2km beachfront location and we are confident that this location coupled with the luxury and amenities of the MGM Grand Ho Tram will culminate in a destination unrivalled in the Asia Pacific.” But to exploit the tourism potential

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in this province, it is not enough to simply rely on the arrival of resorts like Ho Tram Strip, Winvest Investments Saigon Atlantic or Good Choice’s World Wonderful Theme Park. What the provincial authorities need is a master plan and a promotional campaign to introduce the potential of Vung Tau to the world, added Cappell from Imperial Hotel. Currently Vung Tau is on the radar for South Koreans, Taiwan, Malaysians and Singaporeans, but their stay is often part of a package and is very short. “Ba-Ria Vung Tau tourism should target foreigners by country and they should start with the Japanese. If the Japanese guide books do not recommend Ba-Ria Vung Tau, the Japanese will not come here,” said Segson.

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Rising to the challenge The newly opened An Hoa Residence offers luxury accommodation and outstanding services on a breathtaking stretch white sandy beach in Vung Tau. Timeout chats to the developer, Anoa Dussol-Perran, who also established the nearby Anoasis Beach Resort, about doing business in Vietnam What enticed you to Vung Tau when you invested and developed Anoasis Resort?

of your shares in the project to another party a few years after the resort opened?

When I invested in Anoasis Resort, I focused on the mid to long term, as you know in every hotel industry development, it takes a long time to see returns. I wanted to develop an authentic tourism destination for Vietnam in the truest sense. The resort was the fruit of my persistence and deep soul. For that reason, I didn’t mind the hard work when developing a remote and isolate area covered in thick bushes and wild environment nature. There was no electricity. Nobody there … Residents were few but mosquitoes and insects were plenty. It was so hard that some of my associates decided to give up, but I was determined to stay. During the day, I worked on the construction site. At night, wrapped up in blankets, I worked under the oil lamps (it was 1997!). Despite all those challenges, I still hoped for successes. And the Gods did not turn me down. After four years in operation, Anoasis Resort was regarded as one of leading resorts in the South.

When investing into Anoasis Resort, I cooperated with Vung Tau Tourism Company. After 10 years in business together, we had a lot of success and recognition from tourists. However, due to various reasons (conflicts between shareholders and partners) the cooperation did not work as expected. Although I was really sad, I chose to transfer my share to a new partner. However, I still hold some stakes in the project to retain the name “Anoasis” and continue to promote tourism in Ba Ria Vung Tau province, and still keep on good terms with VungTau Tourism Co. for developing travel Tour and Tourism Services like: Fishing, Sailing, Helicopter Tour, and others diversities of sports activities

Having poured so much work and love into the project, why did you transfer part

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Did this lead to the development of An Hoa Residence?

Actually during the development of Anoasis Resort I also had a plan to develop a residence villa project. This was not only following an international trend but also an opportunity for me to imagine and create a luxury concept. An Hoa Residence Villa includes

six two-story villas painted with five different colours. The décor and design of each villa are also different from the others in order to bring different emotions to guests. With this project, I want our guests to enjoy a vacation with their family in a setting that really makes them feel at home. Each villa features bedroom, living room, reading room, a gym, swimming pool, sauna, kitchen with many amenities such as crockery, cooking ware, fridge, oven, washing machine, piano, karaoke, bar, games, free bicycles, roof terrace, verandahs, private garden, outdoor BBQ et cetera. We can also provide a doctor on-call and cooks, or beauty treatment and massage services on request. Furthermore, we provide free cooking help for meals at home, daily maid service and, for business travellers, we offer secretarial services, free internet access and wireless internet, international direct dial and individual fax machine in each villa, and much more. Many guests coming to the resort were impressed with the generous space and an array of elegant and classical furniture and fitting. How did you assemble such décor items?

With a concept to offer guests a feeling that they were exploring an exotic land, I collected special décor items from all parts of the country. I have bought and kept these items for 20 years. I wish that guests coming to our resort do not only have the opportunity to relax and rest but also a chance to look at the unique cultural items from each region of Vietnam.


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An Hoa Residence has been running smoothly but I heard you are concerned about something else, is that correct?

It is correct as next to An Hoa Residence is a project under construction. It affects the mutual environment and landscape. However, the more difficulties I face, the stronger I become. Previously, if someone took advantage of their power and influence to intimidate me, I only knew how to tolerate…. but now I know what to do to protect myself and my achievements, which are the result of my efforts, money and even sacrifice. I admire your courage – where do you gather your strength from?

People say: “Behind a man’s success is a woman”, but for me it is reverse. My husband Ricardo Perran has helped me become stronger after every failure. He used to be the general manager of Sofitel Metropole hotel, the first five star hotel in Hanoi, and has 45 years of working experience in high-end hotels. He is a spiritual supporter for me and has co-managed the business with me as well as given me valuable opinions. For example, he advised me to insure the property since it is by the sea and natural disaster could happen and

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indeed, this saved us and this resort when the storm Durian hit Long Hai at the end of 2006. In the middle of the night, the entire resort was swept away, we were both petrified. After the storm, I burst into tears when I saw the resort was a wreck. I thought I wouldn’t have enough energy and money to start over. Fortunately, thanks to the compensation from the insurance company, and with the additional contract to borrow a loan at our bank, at least we had the opportunity to rebuild and set up our business again. From our experience with that storm, when constructing An Hoa Residence, I make sure that the buildings can resist storm level 12. So after many unfortunate events, are you content now?

I remember when I decided to fly a helicopter to Vietnam on my own, my parents strongly objected to the idea because they didn’t think I could adapt to life in Vietnam. Therefore, when I faced failures or challenges in doing business, I could not confide in them. I realised that the more difficult the work is, the sweeter the result. I was genuinely happy when I saw the guests, including government officials and heads of states, came to stay and were fond of the resort.

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Recently, An Hoa Residence has been given the official rating certification of "Luxury Residence-Villas" by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and is the first of its type of Residential-Villas Tourism Property in Ba Ria Vung Tau province. I also hope for the investment of another An Hoa project in Phu Quoc Island since the investment regulations have been clearer and local authorities have been more open and created favourable conditions for investors. On the occasion of the coming Vietnam Month Festival organised in Morbihan, France from May 5 to 27, you will support transportation, accommodation and meals for a delegation from Vietnam to promote tourism in Vietnam. What made you volunteer to do this?

Vietnam has many stunning spots which mesmerise tourists when they step on our land, as well as diverse traditions and costumes, colourful festivals, exotic food and so much more. However, when I went back to France and met my friends, I realised there was very little information about Vietnam. So I want to help to build a bridge for people and organisations from Vietnam to go France to promote and present about tourism in Vietnam for French people. This is an opportunity for the Vietnamese delegation to learn more about tourism in France and French culture. I hope that after the festival there will be many friendly initiatives between Ba Ria Vung Tau province and Morbihan to strengthen ties between Vietnam and France, and why not twin Lorient City and Vung-Tau City like Lyon City and Ho Chi Minh City, and as Brest City (Province of Brittany) and Haiphong will do in 2012.

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Sun always shines The fabulous Sun Spa Resort has singlehandedly turned the impoverished Quang Binh province into a tourism hotspot, writes Son Tran he first time I stayed at Sun Spa Resort was four years ago. We didn’t think we’d have to make a reservation. As far as tourism goes, in my eyes, Quang Binh province was completely off the radar at the time. About 400 kilometres from Hanoi and 150 kilometres from Hue, the province was better known for its history – it is the homeland of General Vo Nguyen Giap, and sections of the legendary “Ho Chi Minh trail.” To our surprise, the tour operator informed us most of the 236 rooms in the resort had been booked. We were travelling with a large group and only just managed to squeeze in. Sun Spa had clearly found a comfortable niche in the market – who knew? We travelled down on the overnight train from Hanoi and met some other guests on arrival. What brings you to Quang Binh province, I asked. Stunning beaches, said one. Phong Nha Cave, said another. Sun Spa sits on a small peninsula surrounded by

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the Eastern Sea and Nhat Le River. When construction started on the resort, there was no bridge between the mainland and the peninsula. The developer had to transport materials and trees by ferry. The owner, Vo Minh Hoai, had no experience in hospitality. He had done well out of road construction and had an ambition to create an international standard resort on this stretch of white sand beach – previously defined by impoverished fishing villages – that was comparable to the Furama Resort in Danang. His friends advised against the project. They said it would be money down the drain as so few visitors came to Quang Binh. But Hoai had a vision. The architect Ho Thieu Tri, who was responsible for the restoration of Hanoi Opera House, was invited to design the resort, and Paul Stoll, general manager of Furama Resort at that time, was signed up to oversee human resource training. After two years of construction and preparations, Sun Spa Resort opened in 2004 but industry observers were still skeptical it would be a success. Hoai was aware of the challenges he faced. Training locals more familiar with fishing how to work in the hospitality industry to a high-end professional standard was a major challenge. When he selected trainees and sent them to other tourism centres in Vietnam for training, he reminded them that “our homeland is very poor, but you cannot tell visitors that ‘please sympathise we cannot take care


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on Quang Binh of you because we are poor’. If our land is poor, we have to serve our guests in a more professional way in order for them to come.” It undoubtedly paid off – the resort’s staff is one of the factors contributing to the resort’s success. Other factors have also worked in Hoai’s resort. The growing popularity of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park – recognised as a World Heritage that helped promote Quang Binh internationally – is helping to generate unprecedented levels of tourism in the central province. Home to thousands of fauna and flora not to mention the longest cave in the world, Thien Duong Cave found along the Ho Chi Minh trail, this natural attraction is the perfect complement to the province’s wonderful coast. Tourists after all appreciate a balance of relaxation and cultural exploration. When Thien Duong Cave opened up to tourists late last year, Hoai built a cluster of 34 luxury villas and bungalows next to the Sun Spa Resort. This compound has raised the bar for luxury tourism in Quang Binh. A pool villa will set you back from $460 to $1,437 a night – a rate on a par with the likes of The Nam Hai between Danang and Hoi An. Hoai is confident that Quang Binh will attract plenty of well-heeled visitors as it is now easier to get to this lesser-known paradise than ever before thanks to the direct flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

VO MINH HOAI Chairman of Truong Thinh Group “Seven years ago, Truong Thinh Group was delighted to launch the upscale Sun Spa Resort in Bao Ninh peninsula in Dong Hoi City in the central coast province of Quang Binh. I remember 20 months before the ceremony, the area was a wild and deserted sandy beach with severe weather – burning hot sun, ceaseless wind and very salty dew. This harsh weather and the impoverished soil even made the local pine trees very stunted. But the potential of the burning sand in conjunction with my own warm-blooded heart and my deep love for my native town urged me to find the real gold amidst this wild and hash nature. I dared to bet on my dreams and faced lots of denigrators. But with great determination, the close-knit spirit and strong aspirations of my whole creatively-minded team, Truong Thinh Group has overcome all obstacles and difficulties. Together we have awoken this sleepy peninsula and opened up its hidden charm to build a romantic castle on the ground of sand and sun – the imposing Sun Spa Resort. Surrounded harmoniously by water on three sides, the peninsular resort offers unique traditional architecture and décor as well as a modern and luxurious ambience that you would expect of a top-quality international resort. The result of our labour is that Sun Spa Resort has welcomed more than 200,000 local and foreign guests over the past six years with an annual growth of 20 per cent. Sun Spa Resort has always received great appreciation from clients and state authorities. Since opening, Sun Spa Resort has always been declared one of the Top Ten luxurious hotels and restaurants in Vietnam, and is ranked in the list of 500 most luxurious hotels and resorts in the world by the World Hotels Collection. Sun Spa has also been awarded a lot of prestigious local and international prizes.”

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It’s carnival time in

Thanh Tan talks with Ha Quang Long, director of the Quang Ninh province’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Department about the upcoming Carnival Halong 2011 to be held in the bay from April 28 to May 2 Can you tell us more about Carnival Halong 2011?

We wish to create an impressive message for tourists coming to Halong Bay to enjoy the bay’s wonderful, natural beauty and relax by availing of our attractive services. We also wish to highlight the imposing and magical Halong Bay and encourage people to vote for Halong Bay as one of Seven New Natural Wonders of the World. Within the framework of the Halong Tourism Week, there are 14 main cultural, arts and sport events continuously held along the coast from Halong City, Bai Chay Beach to Tuan Chau Tourist Area. The programme includes: an opening ceremony and Light Art Performance by the seashore; a conference on the voting campaign for Halong Bay to become one of the world’s natural wonders; a contest to find the best MC in Halong; a music and poetry night; and the Quang Ninh Open (a tennis tournament). There will also be beach sports; a Halong Cuisine Festival and a classical music concert in Dau Go Cave, and much, much more. Other tourism areas such as Uong Bi, Dong Trieu, Van Don and Mong

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Cai townss will also have cultural, sporting and tourism activities to respond to the Halong Tourism Week. We will also welcome representatives and art troupes from Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Yunnan (China); Gangwon (South Korea); Luangphabang (Laos); Udonthani (Thailand) and members of EATOP to perform at the festival. What will make this year’s festival be different from previous years?

This year, Carnival Halong will introduce hot spots and special tourism products from the whole province with attractive iconic images. These images will promote local tourism sites such as Thien Cung Cave and Yen Tu Holy’s Bronze Pagoda as well as spiritual and cultural tourism, eco-friendly and seabased tourism, coastline trade tourism and so on. Just as carnivals in Rio De Janero (Brazil), Notting Hill (UK) or Chimey (Singapore) have their own and unique opening ceremonies, Carnival Halong 2011 also has a new and unique scenario arranged. The opening ceremony will start

with the main message about the importance of preserving our environment and calling for closer contact between honoured guests, tourists and the locals. We will announce that from now on, the ceremony will become an annual activity. An open-air dance with “Halong Samba” music will start the ceremony. Everyone will be able to dance together in an open space with no limits on time! A light art performances will celebrate “Unification Day” on April 30 and Labour Day on May 1. What benefits will tourists enjoy during Halong Tourism Week?

People will fall in love with the beautiful nature and vibrant atmosphere of Halong Bay. People come here to enjoy the peace and happy ambience. There will be many quiet and romantic moments from sunrise till sunset from the green mountains and islets to the blue, clear and calm sea. The calm water will serve as a mirror to reflect the imposing and marvellous nature all around us. Tourists can also visit our magical caves and grottos, or the floating fishing villages, not tom mention the pure, fresh air and the mysterious beauty of the sea by night. Besides Carnival


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Halong, I can guarantee tourists will experience friendliness, hospitality and professional services in Halong Bay – a clean, green and beautiful tourism centre in Vietnam. What will Halong Tourism Week bring to Quang Ninh province’s tourism industry in 2011?

In 2011, this is the fifth time Halong has organized its carnival, a special brand for the world heritage site. Since 2007 till now, the event has helped introduce the renovation, integration and development of Quang Ninh province, its land and people. We will also introduce the imposing beauty and value of the World Natural Heritage Site: Halong Bay. Carnival Halong is like a new gust of wind which helps promote awareness on the importance of preserving and promoting this valuable heritage. Everyone wishes to contribute his utmost to the success and development of Halong tourism. This is a great opportunity for the Quang Ninh tourism industry to grow while calling for more investments in terms of the province’s socio-economic and cultural development.

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SEE THE SIGHTS IN HALONG BAI THO MOUNTAIN Situated on the coast in the heart of Halong City, Bai Tho (Poem) Mountain was once home to small garrison and lookout, which watched the northeast border in feudal times. The troops stationed there also lit fires on the summit to guide friendly ships and boats at night. Climb to the summit – 191m above sea level – where you can find a wonderful panorama including Halong Bay, Halong city and, in the distance, even some coalmines. TITOV ISLAND & BEACH This island is named after Ghermann Titov, a hero of the former Soviet Union, who once accompanied Ho Chi Minh to the island. The island has a crescent shaped beach and white sands. Climb the 427 stone steps to the top of mountain where there is a pagoda and incredible 360 degree views. BA TRAI DAO ISLET The three small mountains on this islet are said to resemble three peaches – hence the name Ba Trai Dao! The story goes that once a young fairy fell in love with a poor fisherman and stole three peaches from Heaven for him, which if he ate, would give him eternal life, allowing them to live together forever. But the King of the Heavens rumbled her plan and turned the peaches into three stone islets. TUAN CHAU ISLAND Tuan Chau Island is where Ho Chi Minh chose to relax when he visited the bay in 1959. Now the island is connected to the mainland by a causeway and home to a massive tourism centre with a variety of entertainment on offer (including an aqua-theatre, a dolphin and seal club, a circus, a crocodile club) and a five-star hotel and resort. QUAN LAN ISLAND Quan Lan island is situated on an important navigation route that connects China, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines to Vietnam. The island was the biggest and the most important international commercial port of Vietnam in the 11th century! Now it’s a sleepy but beautiful destination with unspoiled beaches and wonderful scenery. THIEN CUNG CAVE Situated on the southwest of the bay, 4km from Halong City’s wharf, the route to Thien Cung is flanked by thick forest. After entering a narrow gate, the grot-

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to’s 130-metre-long girth opens up. It’s an astonishing moment when you see the splendid beauty of the stalactites all around. DAU GO CAVE The grotto is on Driftwood Island. Seen from afar, the entrance to the grotto appears to be blue, and has a shape similar to that of a jellyfish. The ceiling of the grotto is about 25m up the side of the islet. The hundreds of stalactites falling down from the roof of the grotto look like a waterfall. The original name Giau Go (Hidden Wood) came from a legend that General Tran Hung Dao (1226-1300) hid his ironwood stakes in preparation for the Bach Dang battle against the Yuan-Mongolian invaders. SURPRISE CAVE Situated in the centre of the UNESCO-declared World Heritage area, the Sung Sot or Surprise Grotto is on Bo Hon Island, and is one of the finest and widest grottoes of Halong Bay. Ascending to the grotto, the way is covered by trees and foliage, and consists of great paved stone blocks. Inside, it is partitioned into two chambers; the first one being similar to a wide theatre hall. Many stalactites hang from the high ceiling. The chamber is so immense it could contain thousands of people at one time. TRINH NU CAVE Trinh Nu Grotto or Virgin Grotto is situated on the island range of Bo Hon in the system comprising the Sung Sot Grotto, Dong Tien Lake and Luon Grotto. It is 15 km south of tourist wharf. For fishermen, the Virgin Grotto is the symbol of true love and is a romantic place to take an oath of love. KIM QUY GROTTO Kim Quy Grotto or Golden Tortoise Grotto is situated on Dam Nam Islet with a peak 187m above sea level. The grotto is 100m long and 5-10m wide. The stalactites here are a stunning snow-white. The grotto is linked to the ancient legend of the Golden Tortoise: after having helped Emperor Le Loi defeat his enemies, the Golden Tortoise took back the magic sword he had given him, and swam towards the sea. Arriving in Ha Long Bay, it met with so many evil spirits and demons hindering its journey that it remained to do battle. After having defeated them all, the Golden Tortoise was so exhausted that it searched for a grotto to rest in, and once inside, the creature turned to stone. Today in the grotto, it can be found dozing, still with ancient wounds covering its body.

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PARADISE FOUND... f visitors have the opportunity to contemplate the panoramic scene from an airplane, they will see Ngoc Vung island is like a silk scarf unfurled across the sea and flanked with seductive white sandy beaches. North of the world-renowned Halong Bay, Ngoc Vung boasts textbook pristine beauty. Lying between the two small islands of Hon Net and Phuong Hoang island in Van Don district, Quang Ninh province, the island is home to the ancient port of Cong Yen which traces its roots back to the 11th century. There are still ruins and vestiges leftover from the Mac and Nguyen dynasties. The island is also home to Ngoc Vung Seaside Resort located on the southend of the island. The resort owns more than 2km beachfront and is backed by a casuarina forest. The environment is very clean, the setting is picturesque. Any visitor can see the potential here for Ngoc Vung as a whole to develop a tourist industry with a focus on “resort tourism”. Construction is already underway in the Song Da- Ngoc Vung Ecological Tourism Zone, an exciting new project

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which will incorporate villas nestled amongst the hills, forests and beaches. This business model will not just feature resorts for tourists but also villas for purchase. The project will pay close attention to the natural environment. The development will be a sustainable project that is in harmony with the local habitat and residencies. Phan Ngoc Diep, Sudico chairman affirmed: “Song Da - Ngoc Vung Ecological Tourism Zone will create an appropriate tourism population, bringing visitors closer to nature, most especially the pure space of the sea.” According to the design, Ngoc Vung Resort 1 will feature a restaurant combined with multi-funtional service (one unit), three kinds of bungalows (VIP Bungalow, Bungalow 1, Bungalow 2) running along the beach with great space and stunning views. The structures will be designed with traditional interiors and exterior furnitures and built using local materials – stone, bricks, tiles, wood and bamboo – to ensure the project is in harmony with nature . The Song Da - Ngoc Vung Ecological Tourism Zone will have two

marine tourism service operation centres. The first centre is located in the “gateway” of the zone. This centre will be closely linked with other functional areas to meet the demands of entertainment, dining and shopping for tourists. The second area will be located between Bungalow 1 and 2 and will serves the guests from these two exclusive bungalows and other visitors. There will also be three clusters of hotel rooms. The central hotel complex is the largest cluster. This second resort will include two guesthouses by a lake, low-rise hotel, a swimming pool, an entertainment area, spa services, conference rooms and other amenities. Once completed, this luxury resort will be able to accommodate 2,000 to 2,300 people. Currently, Ha Long Sudico is gradually finishing the work of the first phase (the infrastructure, landscaping, restaurants, clubs, and four bungalows with home interiors) and expects to put them into operation this year. Ngoc Vung island is located just over 30km from Halong city. This beautiful, peaceful and friendly paradise island is an irresistible holiday destination and Song Da - Ngoc Vung will help open turn this hidden gem into a hotspot for tourism.


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A fairytale setting ocated in Zone No.3 on Do Son beach, south of Haiphong City in Vietnam’s northeast, Hon Dau International Tourism Zone is set amidst the sea, mountains and the forest. An investment by Hon Dau International Tourism Joint Stock Company, the tourism zone is an exciting new development for tourists seeking a fun family-holiday in a bewitching destination. The crowning glory of the tourism zone will be Hon Dau Resort. Built on an area of 120 hectares and divided across two zones (Zone A is Hon Dau island and Zone B is Do Son peninsula). So far, the project has completed the first phase of Zone B, which will feature an entertainment park, a water park, resort buildings, a multi-purpose outdoor performance area, and much more. A Water World is located adjacent to the artificial beach area. This is a space for leisure and outdoor sports and for tourists and local people visiting on weekends.

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There will be water slides, a waterfall-slide area, a lazy river, water performance area, floating restaurants, festival parks, mini-golf courses, tourist boats, parachute clubs and much, much more. On April 30, the wave-making swimming pool with sea water filters called Hon Dau Swimming Pool, the largest of this kind in the Asia will be inaugurated. This will be the focal point for the Haiphong- Do Son Tourism Festival 2011 and a major tourist attraction luring tourists to Do Son. With a total area of 7ha, the Hon Dau swimming pool can serve 8,000 tourists at the same time. The lake is divided into two zones. The main lake for adults is 2.5 m at the deepest point and features two islands in the middle on the lake and special equipment installed to help visitors have fun on the wave- making water surface. Located around the pool is the lazy river and artificial sand transported from Co To islands. The smaller lake with a maximum depth of 1m is

designed for children. The pure water in the lakes is taken from Do Son beach before being treated through the filtration system. There is also a large stage system designed for performing arts. Visitors will also find fast food outlets, soft drinks and snacks around the lake. According to To Hai Nam, deputy general director of Hon Dau International Tourism JSC, in the summer of 2011, there will be no cover charge to enter the resort. Tourists only have to pay for services that they choose to use inside. From the Dau No mountain ecological conservation area, visitors can observe the beautiful panorama of the seashore and beyond. On the mountain, tourists will find a poetic setting amongst the evergreen trees. There are many exotic plants and birds. Visitors can also go hiking or camping or relax at a tea ceremony or at the natural spa. Currently, the project is completing the resort buildings near the seawater filter swimming pool and by Dau No mountain ecological conservation area.


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Ascott brings international brand of serviced residence to the Coast hether you are on a business trip or holiday with your family, you will feel right at home at the new Somerset Central TD Hai Phong City, opening in the first quarter of 2012. Somerset Central TD Hai Phong City will be the first international brand of serviced residence in Haiphong. Managed by the Ascott Limited (Ascott), one of the pioneers in the serviced residence industry in Vietnam and the world’s leading international serviced residence owner-operator, the serviced residence will offer spacious living with 132 fully furnished apartment units ranging from studios to three-bredrom apartments in the heart of Haiphong. Travellers will also be able to enjoy amenities like a gymnasium, swimming pool, business centre, residents’ lounge and a children’s playroom. The new Somerset Central TD Hai Phong City will be located together with the landmark integrated development, TD Plaza. Guests at the serviced residence will have five levels of great retail options awaiting them, including the noted Parksons Department store. The eight-theatre Cineplex housed inside TD Plaza means that you’ll never miss the next blockbuster hit even if you’re on holiday. Also located on site, is a hypermarket. With a fully-equipped kitchen in every apartment at Somerset Central TD Hai Phong City, preparing a home cooked meal in the apartment is a breeze.

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Strategically located, business travellers will be glad to know that Somerset Central TD Hai Phong City sits on a prime urban area in the city’s new Central Business district with easy access to the airport and local port.The new serviced residence is also near to the city’s old quarters, an attraction that

leisure travellers shouldn’t miss. Take an idyllic stroll through charming streets in the quarter and soak in Haiphong’s old world charm and 19th century French colonial architecture. With the many mobile stalls hawking chilled local beer, the humid weather is almost welcoming. “Ascott has successfully built an excellent brand reputation in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City through our strong customer focus. Travellers staying at our new Somerset Central TD Hai Phong City can expect the same

international standard of service excellence from us,” said Mr Richard Tan, Ascott’s Country Manager for Vietnam. “We provide that special local touch to help residents settle quickly into the city, cater to residents’ individuality, making them feel at home and exceed their expectations with unexpected details. This has won us many prestigious accolades in Vietnam including the Golden Dragon Award for Best Service by the Ministry of Planning & Investment and Vietnam Economic Times. In addition to Haiphong, we will also open our first property in Danang, Somerset Danang Bay, in 2012,” he added. Currently, guests seeking to experience the Ascott’s unique brand of hospitality can choose from two properties in HCM City – Somerset Chancellor Court and Somerset Ho Chi Minh City and three properties in Hanoi – Somerset Grand Hanoi, Somerset Hoa Binh and Somerset West Lake. From now till December 31 2011, Ascott is offering special promotional daily rates starting from US$79++ for all its serviced residences in Vietnam. For details and reservations, please visit www.somerset.com, call (84-8) 3934 2342 or email: enquiry.hanoi@the-ascott.com for Hanoi; or call (84-8) 3822 8899 or email: enquiry.hochiminh@theascott.com for Ho Chi Minh City.

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VIETNAM’S GOLD COAST

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A great natural beauty Phu Yen province boasts a stunning stretch of coastline no less than 189km long with a number of stunning gulfs, lagoons, cliff faces, beaches and islands, writes Duc Hanh. So what are you waiting for? y early flight from Hanoi arrives at Tuy Hoa airport at 10 in the morning. I am in the provincial capital of Phu Yen province on the central coast of Southern Vietnam to discover what fellow travellers have been whispering for years: Phu Yen is home to an untapped paradise. My first impressions are of a peaceful city with clean and green streets and a fresh sea breeze. Nestled between Chap Chai mountain and the East Sea, the city of Tuy Hoa offers easy access to the hills or the deep blue sea. Brimming with enthusiasm after checking into my hotel, I set off for the former with my travelling companion – we are reliably informed of an enjoyable hiking trail over Nui Nhan (Swallow Mountain). From there we enjoy a sweeping view of the city below and the sea beyond. Its also offers us a chance to have a closer look at the citys famous Cham tower ruins – not unlike the more widely known Ponargar Tower in Nha Trang though smaller in size. Built in the 14th century, the 20m high tower is lit up at night, making it a landmark for the signature of the town. After our short trek we decide to head for the beach in the afternoon. Tuy Hoa beach is a rather romantic spot though if youre a keen swimmer the water is rather shallow – waist deep at high tide. It is certainly a fine place to paddle! Its also a picturesque spot to simply flop around and enjoy the sea breeze and views. We feast on seafood and sip on a cold beer while chatting to some of the hospitable and humorous characters who work at the restaurants. The next morning we decide to take a tour starting at Bai Mon beach and Mui Dien Cape in Dong Hoa district, around 40km from the city centre. On the way we pass Da Bia Mountain, Vung Ro Bay and the preserved forest of North Deo Ca Pass – this whole area has great potential for developing tourism with options for seaside resorts, water sports, mountain climbing, sightseeing, and much more, but currently there is no visible development.

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When we arrive at Bai Mon we are blown way by the deep blue sea and white sandy beach which sparkle and glimmer under the golden sunshine. We spot the fishing village in the quiet bay of Vung Ro where boats carrying munitions secretly docked to reinforce the Vietnamese army in the war against the US army. Its still early in the morning when we arrive and the 400mlong beach is largely deserted but perhaps that makes it all the more enchanting pure. The waters are always inviting as the beach is protected by Mui Nay cape to the north and Mui Dien cape to the South. There are also some fresh water springs near by where you can take a dip. According to one local, at the end of the 19th century, a French solider by the name of Captain Varella discovered this cape and figured it had a great strategic potential. In the days of Tonkin, French people called it Cape Varella. In 1890, the French built a light-house here to direct boats and ships coming in and out of Vung Ro bay. The lighthouse was battered over the years but in 1995 it was restored and is once again operating. This is one of the eight light-houses in Vietnam that is more than 100 years old. From the beach its a 30-minute walk to the top of the light-house. Once you get


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there, you are at the most easterly point of mainland Vietnam. Its a wonderful spot. I wish we could stay overnight at the lighthouse and enjoy a seafood dinner overlooking the bay! But we head back to Tuy Hoa for a quick lunch before driving to Mang Lang Cathedral and Da Dia Cliff, about 40km to the north of the city. We stop amidst the greenery and serenity of a small quiet commune called An Thach where Mang Lang Cathedral is located. The building has weathered over a hundred years in the harsh central region. The burning heat in the dry season, and seasonal downpours, not to mention storms, floods and typhoons, have not ruined the grand old dame. Like the Cathedral Phat Diem, there is a combination of Eastern and Western architecture styles apparent at Mang Lang – though there is more of the latter than the former. You can peruse the documents about the life of Saint Andrew Phu Yen, a 17th century martyr whose statue stands solemnly on a small hillock in the church yard. Saint Andrew Phu Yen was baptised at the age of 15 by Alexandre de Rhodes, the great Jesuit missionary who wrote the first catechism in Vietnamese and is the author of a Portuguese-Latin-Vietnamese dictionary, which helped pace the way for the introduction of Romanised alphabet still in use today. Mang Lang is a famous destination for Catholic pilgrims but relatively unknown for general tourism. But its easy enough to visit for anyone on their way to the nearby national site, Da Dia Cliffs. To get there we clamber down the “stepping stone” beach which from afar looks like a giant honey comb on account of the vertical and hexagonally-shaped stones. By Da Dia Cliffs the waves crash against the rocks. Fishermen emerge from the water with baskets of oysters – with one eye on our dinner, we take note. Scientists believe the rocks here are basaltic and created during volcanic eruptions about 200 million years ago. When volcanoes erupted, the lava flowed into the sea where it “froze,” and the whole mass of lava cracked. Most of the rocks cracked vertically and this created upright or oblique columns. We sit around a pool amongst the rocks and enjoy a light snack we packed for the trip as we had been told there no restaurants, guesthouses or hotels around. Once again, that only adds the charm of the beach. We look around at the empty beach and the sound of the wind is music to our ears.


CHECK IN

A touch of class at

Golden Sands ust 10 minutes by bus from the old town of Hoi An and 40 minutes away from Danang International Airport, the SwissBelhotel Golden Sand Resort & Spa by the shores of Cua Dai beach is said to be as “seductive as a romantic song.” The five-star resort is ideal for either a family holidays or a romantic getaway. Open since March 2005, the beach-front resort is situated on four hectares, and designed with traditional Vietnamese styles mixed with modern accents. It is comprised of eight Chalet-like buildings housing 212 superior and deluxe rooms and suites, all with spacious bathrooms and private balconies, and all positioned throughout the lush tropical gardens for maximum seclusion. The system of VIP rooms features a bedroom and living room equipped with large bathrooms and makeup tables, sinks and separate showers. The resort’s stretch of coast is like a blue silk strip stretching across the fine white sands, clear water and brilliant sunshine. Coconuts, palm trees and smooth green lawns create a

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warm, serene and relaxing atmosphere. The resort has been nominated by the 16th and 17th World Travel Awards as “Vietnam’s Leading Resort” thanks to the enthusiastic and professional staff members who ensure guests have a pleasant and comfortable stay. Relax on the fantastic beach resort and you can enjoy the spacious white sandy beach under a parasol or choose to lie beside the 150m swimming pool that boasts two pool bars. Well-known as the longest swimming pool in Vietnam, there is a Jacuzzi pool, a swimming pool for kids and great water and land sporting facilities. For gastronomes the resort offers local and international

cuisines with a wide range of restaurants, bars and pubs. Sands Kitchen serves some very creative Western dishes, while Japanese delicacies can be had at Sands Teppan. For mouth-watering Vietnamese dishes head to the Sands White Orchid, where you can find Hoi An-style tapas and incredible seafood. Cooking classes are also available here. The lobby is open throughout the day to late at night, while the Sands Fub Pub opens only from 4pm and serves an array of tasty cocktails and spirits from around the world. And starting at 8pm every night, acoustic guitars from the resident band churns out immortal love songs of the past. For the summer of 2011, the Golden Sand Resort & Spa has attractive programmes for both domestic and foreign guests, under, which guests get free shuttles, promotional prices for guests.


GOLF NEWS

Swing to Swim

Norfolk drives on

The Montgomerie Links will host a charity golf event on Saturday May 14 in a bid to raise $20,000 for the Swim Vietnam Hoi An and Swim Swim Safe Danang programmes for drowning prevention in Vietnam. The tournament will be held after the World Drowning Prevention Conference, which is being held from May 10-13 at Furama Resort and Convention Centre, Danang in Central Vietnam. In Vietnam today, more children are killed by water than road accidents. It is estimated that 11,000 children drowning each year so programmes creating awareness and education are essential to save lives. The charity golf day will hopefully raise awareness and funds for swimming initiatives that will lead to a reduction of the number of drownings in Vietnam. Funds from the charity golf day will be distributed evenly between two water safety skills programmes being conducted in Hoi An and Danang with plans to expand throughout Vietnam. The keys players in this initiative are The Royal Life Saving Society-Australia, Montgomerie Links and the Vietnam Swans Australian Rules Football Club. At the conference some of the world’s leading experts in the areas of drowning research, prevention, rescue, lifesaving, disasters, regional and sport development will convene to discuss the global effort to fight drowning and brainstorm solutions in the context of a developing country.

The 13th Norfolk Invitational Golf Tournament hosted by the Norfolk Group took place at Vietnam Golf & Country Club’s West Course in D9, Ho Chi Minh City on April 9 attracting 144 foreigners and local amateur golfers. The event raised a total of VND600 million through a charity auction and via contributions from Norfolk Group, which will go towarrds aiding victims of the Tsunami and earthquake in Japan. The annual tournament was a good chance for Norfolk Group’s friends and acquaintances to meet and enjoy a great day’s golf while savouring the food and beverage delights served by Norfolk Catering Services. Following the golf game, the awards ceremony was held at the Shang Palace Chinese Restaurant on the first Floor of Norfolk Mansion. The night was filled with fun and unforgettable moments with live music, amazingly humorous MCs of Norfolk Group and finest Cantonese cuisine served by famous Chiefs. Highlights of the evening included the charity auction with various Greg Norman signed items up for grabs, including a cap, hat, and six exclusive bottles of wine from Greg Norman’s vineyard.

DGC club championship Danang Golf Club’s inaugural Club Championship concluded last weekend with 11 of the 70 competitors taking home hardware for their performance over 36 holes on the challenging, Greg Norman-designed Dunes Course. The two-day event also produced five qualifiers for the MercedesTrophy National Final, scheduled for this summer at a venue to be announced. “To say the tournament was a rousing success would be a gross understatement,” said Howie Roberts, general

manager of Danang Golf Club. “Everyone who participated is already looking forward to next year. I can’t thank our sponsors enough.” In addition to Mercedes-Benz, the following organizations supported the event: Sports Tuff Solutions, AB Promotion, TaylorMade-adidas,

VinaCapital, VinaLiving, Titleist, Linksshape, Vietnam Airlines, Techcombank, Heineken, Golden Key JSC and Silk Air. The five MercedesTrophy National Final qualifiers were Le Ngoc Tu, Tran Van Hai, Nguyen Ba Canh, Nguyen Huu Duc and Han Jong Hyun.

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Timeout Vietnam's Special Issue: Vietnam's Gold Coast