Last spring, I enjoyed a great holiday in Vietnam, where some resorts far exceeded my sky-high expectations (and rank among the best hotels I have ever stayed at). You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Singapore Airlines A350 Business Class Düsseldorf to Singapore
- Review: Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City
- Review: The Reverie Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City
- Review: Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa
- Review: Vietnam Airlines ATR-72 from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Dao
- Review: Six Senses Con Dao
- Review: Evason Ana Mandara, Nha Trang
- Review: Six Senses Ninh Van Bay
- Review: Amanoi, most exclusive hotel in Vietnam
- Review: Avani Quy Nhon Resort & Spa
- Review: Anantara Hoi An Resort
- Review: Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An (today)
- Review: Banyan Tree Lang Co
- Review: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
- Review: Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Hong Kong to Düsseldorf
Today (September 20, 2017): Review of Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai (Hoi An, Vietnam).
- Location: Google Maps
- Address: Block Ha My Dong B, Điện Bàn, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
- Hotel website: Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai
- Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso
Embellishing heritage with Four Seasons flair, Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai is a harmonious ode to coast, culture and community in Vietnam’s UNESCO-strewn centre. Along a seemingly infinite stretch of sand – hailed by Forbes as one of the best beaches in the world – a strand of sophisticated, visually striking villas lines the dramatic beachfront. Inspired by 2,500 years of history, The Nam Hai’s architecture and interior design present a dramatic play on wind and water inspired by ancient feng shui philosophy and the grandeur of the Tu Duc royal tombs of Hue. All of the 100 private retreats are elegantly finished with Vietnamese lacquer and diaphanous silk, reflecting the soul of Vietnam’s cultural heartland and illuminating the spirit of all who visit. The resort’s central area wraps around three tiers of infinity swimming pools – one of the most stunning hotel pool areas in the world.
Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in the world, the best luxury hotels in Vietnam, and my favorite Four Seasons hotels & resorts in the world.
In this review (more info below my slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
*** Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to Vietnam with my online Vietnam travel guide ***
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai is Central Vietnam’s premier resort, combining spectacular beachfront living with the true spirit of Indochina. The sophisticated resort enjoys a convenient location 30 km (18 mi) south of the international airport of Da Nang (which is Vietnam’s third city) and 11 km (6 mi) north of the charming old town of Hoi An, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. One of Vietnam’s most famous attractions, the ancient imperial city of Hue and its citadel – a must visit – is a 2 hour drive away. The resort’s extensive, 35-hectare grounds are a zen-world away from the urban area that surrounds them, as they are discreetly tucked away behind a quiet section of Vietnam’s most (in)famous sand – China Beach – where US troops landed during the 70s ferocious war.
- Upon arrival, mind-boggling first impressions of the world-famous resort are quickly established as you ascend the few steps towards the open-sided reception pavilion, which offers a great view of the resort and its myriad of majestic staircases and enormous pools that stretch for more than 0,5 km (0,3 mi) towards the beach at the horizon. From here, you’ll also be struck by the resort’s massive size, although its layout is quite simple once you know your way. A U-shaped complex of pavilions that embraces the central reception area and a water pond houses a stylish indoor lobby (with work stations and a library), a meeting room (which boasts a cosy setting for social events), and the resort’s main dining venue – Café Nam Hai – with its rooftop bar. Below these pavilions, you find the magnificent, beachfront pool complex with a second dining venue – La Sen – on the side, while the resort’s 100 accommodations are set in five beachfront, horseshoe-shaped sandy inlets – three on one side of the main reception and two on the other side. The gym and the stunning spa are located in separate facilities close to the lobby.
- The astonishing sleek decor – which will leave you speechless the moment you enter the resort – is the epitome of designer chic and the result of a collaboration between three industry-leading figures: the hotel’s founder Adrian Zecha (who is better known as the hotelier behind Aman, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand), French architect Reda Amalou, and Indonesian interior designer Jaya Ibrahim. The clean and minimalist lines of dark granite, grey stone stairs, white walls and wooden floors contrast sharply with the garden’s lush greenery and the cobalt-blue of the East Sea, turning the resort’s look into a fest for the eyes. When Four Seasons took over the resort in 2017, the Four Seasons style was deftly applied by adding a subtle touch of vibrancy with the brand’s signature blue colour.
- Although the resort features a contemporary decor as described above, the design also celebrates traditional Vietnamese temple architecture, discernible by split-level rooms and raised platforms in the gardens which serve different functions throughout the day. Pagoda-style roofs, palm-trees decorated with handmade lanterns, and enormous reflective water ponds pay homage to thousands years of Vietnamese history and culture. The resort’s contemporary interpretation of Vietnam’s authentic traditions also recreates an impressive ambience that is somewhat reminiscent of the royal grandeur of the country’s elegant palaces to be found at the nearby imperial city of Hue.
- The resort’s three massive swimming pools cascade down three levels from the open-air reception to the beach, and form the most spectacular pool area I have ever seen at any resort in the world. Flanked by loungers, palm trees, water features and manicured gardens, each pool has an infinity edge that beautifully merges with the East Sea beyond. The uppermost family pool is comfortably heated year-round, making it ideal for little ones. One level below, somewhat out of sight, is a long narrow lap pool, which is open to guests over 16 years of age. Also geared towards adults, the lowermost olympic-sized pool is surrounded by a sleek line of lush palm trees, representing a vast haven for rest and relaxation, just a few steps up from the beach.
- The resort’s 100 sumptuously appointed, stand-alone villas – 60 of them with private pools – are all thoughtfully positioned to optimize ocean views and phong thuy (feng shui) principles. The villas are located in clusters of coconut groves on each side of the lobby and range from one-bedroom villas to five-bedroom luxury compounds. During my holiday, I stayed in a one-bedroom villa, which is the lowest room category. The spacious room featured a unique layout with a raised central platform wrapped in gossamer netting complete with a padded divan, king-sized bed, sunk desk area and a bedside bath with a lacquered eggshell cover. The sleek decor was enriched by traditional Vietnamese elements, such as vaulted ceilings with sections of bamboo and lattice paneling. At the back, there was an expansive open-plan bathroom with two sinks, an indoor rain shower, and a romantic enclosed garden with another rain shower. Towards the front, the villa opened to a small private garden with direct access to the beach cove.
- Selected items in the room’s minibar (e.g soft drinks and beers) are offered on a daily complimentary basis: 2 Coco Cola’s, 1 Diet Coke, 1 Sprite, 1 tonic water, 1 soda water, 4 still waters, 2 Hanoi Premium beers, and 2 Saigon Special beers. Minibars are daily replenished.
- The resort features two outstanding restaurants: Café Nam Hai and La Sen. Cafe Nam Hai is located near the lobby and pairs refined Asian design with contemporary fine dining with a focus on Indian food and innovative Asian fusion cuisine. Interspersed with carved wooden screens, tables are spaced inside around the buzzing open kitchen and outside on a shaded wooden deck. The other dining venue, lantern-lit La Sen, is next to the olympic pool and offers snacks during the day – such as stone-baked pizzas, local fishermen’s catch and Vietnamese comfort foods, including banana flower salad with smoked duck – while it offers authentic Vietnamese cuisine at night with traditional musicians enhancing the serene setting. I highly recommend the ‘cao lau Hoi An’, a delicious steaming rice noodle soup with chillies and succulent pork.
- The breakfast buffet is displayed around Café Nam Hai’s open kitchen and bursts with Western and Asian items, complemented by a full à la carte selection. The buffet is truly spectacular with tons of fresh fruit, fragrant Vietnamese broths, cheese, cold meats, yoghurts, freshly-baked breads, and an assortment of Danish pastries. During high occupancy, an additional breakfast buffet is set up at La Sen restaurant’s open kitchen, so the restaurants never feel very crowded.
- The resort has direct access to China Beach, a marvelous stretch of gold sand, described by Forbes as one of the ‘best beaches in the world’. The beautiful sweep of fine sand runs all the way up north to the city of Da Nang, located 30 km (18 mi) further away. Its name was introduced by the Americans during the war, when soldiers would be sent here for some relaxation from bases all over the country. The Vietnamese call sections of the beach by different names though, and the beach in front of the hotel is called Ha My Beach. Although the beach is public, it feels very private and exclusive. Several loungers are placed under umbrellas close to the shore and a beach bar – where one can lounge in a hanging chair or doze on a daybed beneath soaring palms – brings a chilled-chic vibe to the sands of Ha My Beach.
- In a beautiful setting perched over a lotus pond, The Heart of the Earth Spa is a haven of calm, connection and compassion. Inspired by renowned Vietnamese Zen master, scholar and peacemaker Thich Nhat Hanh, the Spa centres on the awareness that we are not separate from the Earth but at one with her, and that by aligning with nature’s rhythms, we can improve harmony within ourselves and between humanity and the planet. The spa treatments are offered in the privacy of eight lake-side villas, each one of them coming with an overwater relaxation pavilion. The therapists make use of crystal singing bowls tuned to 432 Hz – the harmonic intonation of nature – and focus on simple breathing techniques to attune body and mind to the Earth’s heartbeat.
- The service is top-notch and extremely efficient, as you would expect from one of the world’s most exclusive hotel brands. As with all Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts worldwide, the staff knows your name from day one. They will go out of their way to please you and nothing is too much trouble.
- To keep kids entertained, the resort offer a selection of games and books in the complimentary kids club, located on site.
- The resort features a sunlit health club, which includes all the latest cardio and strength-training machines plus free weights. A steam room, sauna and ladies’ and gentlemen’s changing rooms are also available.
- Once a fishing village – with a historic temple preserved on site – the resort presents an authentic connection to the region through inspiring on-site activities, from a cooking academy and tennis lessons to exhilarating water sports and cultural excursions. The range of motorized watersports on offer is especially impressive, with the X-jet blades being a highlight for many guests. With these revolutionary under-foot jetboards, you transform into a superhero by ‘flying’ above the water and progressing to all sorts of aerial acrobatics.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The Four Seasons The Nam Hai is without any doubt one of the most exclusive beach resorts in Vietnam. The ultra-stylish design, phenomenal pool area, residential villas, exquisite fine dining options, and wide range of land and water activities will make every stay here a truly memorable event. It would be hard to find any faults with this resort, but you may want to know the following nonetheless when considering a stay here:
- The resort’s magnificent lush gardens contrast sharply with its rather unappealing urban surroundings, although you probably will never notice that since the chances are very high you will never leave the resort boundaries. There is really nothing of interest (e.g. shopping, restaurants) around the resort within walking distance. That said, the good news is that the resort offers four daily complimentary shuttles to Hoi An, where history buffs, art lovers or shopaholics will find nirvana on every lantern-lit street corner.
- This is a massive resort, not only by the scale of the resort grounds, but also by the number of accommodations. While it never feels very crowded (since the domain is so expansive with many guests choosing to lounge at their private pool), the resort somewhat lacks an intimate ambience which is so typical of smaller Four Seasons hotels or Aman resorts, such as Amanoi, which is located in southern Vietnam near Nha Trang.
- Food at the resort as well as spa treatments and activities are expensive and priced according to the ultra-chic standard and legendary fame of the resort, which may come as shock for Vietnam (but you should know that going in). Cheaper eateries and massages are available in nearby Hoi An, which offers a great selection of restaurants and spa salons to suit all budgets and tastes.
- There are few steps in the dimly-lit villas, which may represent a hidden danger that I experienced myself (I fell, albeit without any grave consequences). It makes the villas not ideal for people who have difficulties with stairs, although the resorts grounds themselves are very accessible with plenty of buggies and bicycles to get around.
- Location: 8/10
- Design: 10/10
- Pool: 10/10 (I would rate the pools an 11 if I could)
- Rooms: 10/10
- Food: 10/10
- Breakfast: 9/10
- Spa: 10/10
- Service: 10/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9,5/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like The Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, whether it’s booking a room at the cheapest price or receiving complimentary VIP perks (e.g. upgrade, breakfast, resort credit, etc …).
- Save money: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (upgrade on arrival, daily continental breakfast, $100 USD resort credit, early check-in and late check-out).
- Save money: Four Seasons guarantees that every reservation booked through its websites will have the lowest room price (including all taxes and fees) publicly available on the internet. If you find a lower rate within 24 hours of making a booking, Four Seasons will be happy to match the rate. All you need to do is submit a claim form.
- Room tip: all villas are excellent it’s worth splurging on a villa that features its own pool and direct access to Ha My Beach, since the lower room categories don’t come with a pool and only offer access to an artificial sandy cove.
- Vietnam travel guide: get the most out of your (luxury) trip to Vietnam with my online travel guide.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Typical for the tropical climate of Vietnam, Hoi An enjoys warm weather year round with a distinct rainy and dry season. The rainy season in Hoi An lasts quite long from September to January, and the constantly heavy showers may put a damper on your wonderful trip. In addition, there’s always a risk for typhoons and floods. On the other hand, the dry season lasts from February to August. The best time to visit the area is the first months of the dry season when the weather is mild and beautiful with moderate temperature, low humidity, and blue skies. If you enjoy sunbathing in tropical temperatures on the resort’s famous beach, I recommend to delay your trip to April or May. From June, temperatures start to soar, making it too hot for most tourists.
HOW TO GET THERE
Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai is located a 30 minute drive south from Da Nang, the largest city in central Vietnam and the most important gateway to access Central Vietnam. There are frequent direct flights to Da Nang Airport from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, as well as international arrivals from Beijing (Northern China), Kunming (Yunnan, South-west China, Shanghai (central China) Singapore, Pakse (Laos), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), and Seoul (Korea). Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Da Nang. It’s also possible to get to Da Nang by train from both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.