The Anam opened in April this year as the first and only World Luxury property in Vietnam. That kind of title comes with a certain expectation and of course, price tag, but The Anam isn't snobby. It's understated, elegant and relaxed. You can walk around in your flip-flops and swimwear without anyone so much as blinking an eye.
The resort is located in Cam Ranh Bay, nestled into a forest of swaying palm trees, on a peninsula of white sand. At the moment, it's a relatively sparse coastline, but there are plans to open other multimillion-dollar resorts nearby turning the bay into one of Vietnam's most exclusive beach destinations. The design is colonial-era with traditional Vietnamese touches such as handmade lanterns and ornate, blue and white tiled floors. Columns and open walls allow the sea breeze to flow through the resort and from most places, it's possible to see the sparkling strip of turquoise ocean. We check into a sea-view villa, which opens out onto a manicured lawn leading straight down to the beach.
It's cosy and homely with the bedroom at the front with dark wood furniture, white walls and linens, and local artworks hung on the wall. The bathroom, at the back, is spacious and light with glass walls and a light well filled with tropical plants. It's not super-lux, but it's comfortable and relaxing; in our view, it's easily the best room in the house (though the upgrade has its own private pool). The villas are so beautiful that, in comparison, the hotel rooms, in the main building at the back of the resort, feel quite dark and enclosed. Whilst most of them do have sea views, you can't really beat being just a few steps away from the sand.
On first arrival, the scale of the resort is quite overwhelming (there are more than three thousand palm trees on the property and a network of little pathways, which the staff drive up and down in golf buggies), but it means that it's the kind of place you could easily spend a week without getting bored. Aside from the beach, where you can try your hand at pretty much any kind of water sport (albeit at an extra cost) and take part in volleyball tournaments, there are three swimming pools with no closing times, which means you can float on your back under the stars listening to the live music lilting out of the restaurants or you can dive straight in after the sunrise yoga class on the lawn.
There's also a complimentary activity schedule of kayaking, fishing and mini tennis tournaments, and for rainy days or lazy evenings there's even a 3D cinema located in the ground level of the main hotel building. The movie list is limited, but it's a fun novelty and for extra romance, you can book it privately. Or for an afternoon of relaxation, the Sri Mara spa is a haven of tranquillity divided into male and female areas and treatment rooms, each with their own sauna, steam room and sunken Jacuzzi. The treatments are Balinese-style, but even without booking an appointment, it's a calming place to retreat from the sun with a glass of refreshing homemade lemonade or herbal water.
It's the food at the Anam that really stands out. For starters, there's a huge variety, not just because there are three restaurants and two bars, but because the restaurants run themed nights such as Mother's Cooking at Indochine, which invites the mothers of the staff (who are all local) to cook their speciality dishes for guests to try, such as deliciously crispy banh xeo (Vietnamese pancakes) and huge bowls of Ph? (noodle soup). Next door, the Indochine Grill is more intimate and sophisticated with a European fine-dining menu.
We try the taster menu and without exception, every course is divine and it's light enough that we're still able to walk at the end, which is rare for this kind of dining experience. A live pianist plays throughout our meal, creating an almost Parisian mood. The more relaxed Beach Club restaurant is poised on the grassy bank just above the beach so that you can wander up, bare foot for a light lunch or a quiet, candlelit dinner (the Mediterranean vegetable salad comes highly recommended).
In every way, The Anam is the perfect beach resort. It's luxurious without being pretentious and laid-back whilst still providing the highest level of service. As it's still in the first opening months, there are more developments in the pipeline too such as a smart member's lounge with all-day drinks and snacks, and in the further future, a forest at the back of the resort with running tracks and a space for resident artists to create in a serene setting.
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