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). Today, I am publishing my last but one trip report about that vacation. You can read all 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
- Review: Banyan Tree Lang Co (today)
- Review: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
- Review: Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Hong Kong to Düsseldorf
Today (September 26, 2017): Review of Banyan Tree Lang Co (Vietnam).
- Location: Google Maps
- Address: Cù Dù, Lộc Vĩnh, Phú Lộc, Thừa Thiên–Huế, Vietnam
- Hotel website: Banyan Tree Lang Co
Located in Central Vietnam, Banyan Tree Lang Co is a ultraluxe, beach-front resort that comes with dramatic vistas spread across a rugged landscape. Here, you can feel the warm waves of the East Sea tickle your toes, and raise your gaze to behold the magnificent stretch of the Truong Son Mountain Range. Guest can choose from palatial laguna, beachfront, or hillside one to three bedroom villas, all coming with their own enormous swimming pool. Surrounded by eco-diverse mountains, spectacular national parks and awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Sites, guests can explore the cultural riches of Indochina, relax on the golden beach or indulge in a time-honoured Asian spa treatment.
Banyan Tree Lang Co features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in Vietnam, and my favorite Banyan Tree hotels & resorts in the world.
In this review (more info below my slideshow & Youtube clip):
- 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
- The ultraluxe Banyan Tree Lang Co resort enjoys a magnificent, remote setting on a 3 km (1,8 mi) long and very wide, red colored beach along the emerald blue East Sea, with the lush greenery of the Truong Son Mountain Range as a backdrop. Formally known as a tranquil hinterland, the rugged landscape surrounding the resort feels majestic and surreal, and is visually striking because of the sharp contrast in color palettes of the natural elements. The secluded location definitely ranks among the most beautiful hotel settings in Vietnam, and it’s not hard to see why this holiday spot was historically favoured by Vietnam’s former royal family (who lived in nearby Hue).
- The resort is located a 75 minute drive north from Da Nang International Airport, either by a complimentary shuttle bus which runs on a fixed time schedule or by private car (which is currently charged at $75 USD one way). As you approach the resort, the unappealing urban agglomeration of Da Nang will give way to everything you imagine rural Vietnam to be, with rice paddies, grazing water buffaloes and trickling streams against the backdrop of a staggering mountain range. If you booked a private transfer during daylight, make sure you ask your driver to take the Hai Van (sea cloud) Pass between Lang Co and Da Nang, which climbs to an elevation of 500 m (1600 ft) affording stupendous coastal panoramas.
The Lang Co development echoes the ethos of Laguna Phuket, Banyan Tree’s flagship integrated resort community in southern Thailand (which I reviewed here). The unique crescent-shaped Lang Co bay – which offers privacy and exclusivity – includes not only the Banyan Tree hotel, but also an Angsana branded hotel, a 18-hole championship golf course designed by Sir Nick Faldo, private villas and residences available for sale, convention facilities, and a plethora of recreational activities. Some might find the construction of a massive resort in this pristine spot of untouched nature rather disturbing from an ecologist’s point of view, but fortunately, Banyan Tree Lang Co’s development is as sensitive to ecology and culture as it is to the needs of its guests.
- Although they share the same beach, the Banyan Tree and Angsana hotel are two separate entities, each one with its own facilities (e.g. spa, pool, restaurants). Banyan Tree is the most exclusive property aimed at the discerning traveler, while Angsana provides a range of recreational activities and suited for families and friends. While Banyan Tree guests can freely roam and explore Angsana, the opposite does not apply providing extra exclusivity to the premium property. The only exception is the access to the hotels’ restaurants which are open to guests of both properties, doubling your dining options (more on that below).
- The resort grounds are extensive, but getting around is effortless as complimentary bikes are provided for the duration of your stay in addition to a very efficient buggy service operated by the hotel staff. The Banyan Tree resort and its sister property, Angsana Lang Co, are also connected by an artificial waterway that meanders along the lagoon, with colourful hand-made lanterns and an authentic Vietnamese bridge along the way, a reference to the rich culture to be found in the nearby old town of Hoi An, a UNESCO world heritage site. A small boat ferries guests between the two resorts on a complimentary basis, and it’s quite fun to observe the resort from a different perspective.
- The resort and its fabulous welcome pavilion make an overwhelming first impression upon arrival: after a drive of several km/mi on a purpose-built road that cuts through the base of the surrounding hills, you reach the resort’s lantern-lit gate that gives way to a majestic courtyard, where a magnificent banyan tree – the symbol of the ultraluxe Banyan Tree brand – takes center stage. From here, a covered bridge lined by pottery leads to another stylish courtyard built around a reflective water pond, where one finds the high-ceilinged reception area, the hotel bar, a boutique shop and several terraces looking out over the surroundings. A majestic staircase descends towards an enormous palace-style door that gives direct access to the resort’s rectangularly shaped pool, two restaurants, and the beach.
- The stunning architecture and design pays homage to the artistic heritage of past Vietnamese dynasties and the cultural richness of the region. Open courtyards, clay tiled pitched roofs, and wood rafter ceilings in both the communal areas and villa accommodations are inspired by traditional garden houses of the nearby imperial city of Hue. Throughout the property, latticework wall panels, massive wood doors, stone walls and enormous chandeliers are modelled after design elements and patterns that decorate Hue’s citadel walls. The earth-toned interiors of the resort continue the authentic Vietnamese aesthetic themes with Lotus motifs, Asian calligraphy, silk embroideries, accents of regal purple adorn fabrics, bamboo furnishings, colorful murals, and artisanal ceramics.
- The resort features 49 enormous pool villas, consisting of 32 one-bedroom lagoon pool villas that are set in lush private gardens and 17 one-bedroom beach pool villas that dot the shores of Canh Duong beach. During my holiday, I stayed in a one-bedroom beach pool villa, which was set in its own private and partly walled garden that offered some snippets of sea views through the foliage. The bedroom featured a king-sized bed draped in 1000-thread-count cotton sheets, a ‘hidden’ dark-wood desk behind the bed, and an enormous wall painting of lotus flowers. The bathroom was set in the back of the villa, with his and her sinks featuring Banyan Tree’s signature seaweed motif, a rain shower, and a standalone bathtub. Amenity kits with essentials for personal hygiene were provided. The villa’s highlight was the swimming pool in the garden with ample space for swimming, paddling or simply floating around; there was a jacuzzi in one end of the pool while the other end featured an elegant sala pavilion with daybed.
- On the rocky outcrop that overlooks the northern end of the beach, the resort offers several hillside residences – some of them not finished yet – which present an array of ownership opportunities. Taking inspiration from Vietnamese traditions and culture, these stylish one-, two- or three-bedroom villas feature private plunge pools, beautiful furnishings, and spacious sundecks. Because they are nestled on a hill at an altitude of 25 to 86 m (82 to 282 ft) above sea level, these villas enjoy phenomenal views of the beach, the mountains, the East Sea, and the beautiful sunrise.
- The wide range of dining options includes 4 restaurants within the Banyan Tree and a further 3 in the next door Angsana Resort, which can be charged back to your villa. Banyan Tree’s signature restaurant Saffron is not to be missed because of its crafted menu of traditional, mouth-watering Thai dishes cooked with a modern touch. Saffron takes the most of its hilltop position with its wraparound veranda that offers panoramic views of the bay. The resort’s second restaurant, Water Court, is located below the reception area and overlooks the pool area; it is a contemporary open-concept dining venue that serves Vietnamese and international cuisine. Then, there’s Azure, a beachfront, poolside restaurant that serves old-fashioned Italian recipes at lunch time. Finally, Thu Quan is the Banyan Tree’s authentic Vietnamese bar that not only offers an exciting atmosphere but also an exquisitely crafted all-day snack menu alongside an impressive tea selection.
- The extravagant breakfast buffet is served at the poolside Water Court restaurant, where several cooking stations around the open kitchen display an abundant spread of belt-loosening world-class fare (cheeses, sushi, pastries, cold meats, chilled fizz). There are also a large selection of yoghurts, Bircher muesli, fresh fruits, coffees, and teas.
The Laguna Lang Co Golf Club, an 18-hole, par-71 championship course designed by Sir Nick Faldo, delivers a golfing experience that can be enjoyed by skilled and novice players alike. The club is vastly unique in the region and the distinction of the course lies in its variation. Starting in a rice-paddy environment, the course has been cleverly routed alongside woodlands at the base of a stunning mountain range, through sand and waste areas, to the oceanside and back to the clubhouse, with magnificent views of the whole exotic, bucolic landscape.
- As you would expect from a Banyan Tree resort, there is an award-winning world-class spa on site, with private treatment pavilions located alongside a tranquil lagoon. With remedies containing fresh, aromatic ingredients picked from the tropics such as prune, pandanus and butterfly peas, your senses will be reawakened under the gentle guiding touches of Banyan Tree Spa therapists, who have all been trained at the Banyan Tree Spa Academies in Phuket (Thailand) and Bintan (Indonesia).
- Although the paradisiacal resort grounds will make it very difficult to drag you out of the domain, there is plenty to do and explore in the surroundings should wanderlust hit. Within easy reach of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the imperial city of Hue, the charming old town of Hoi An and My Son’s historical ruins – culture aficionados will be satiated. The world’s largest known cave passage, Hang Son Dong, is also nearby. Those with a bent for the physical will also find joy in a wide range activities, such as exploring Lang Co by mountain bike, ATV or guided trek.
- The hotel is managed by the Banyan Tree hotel group, one of the best global luxury hotel brands. The Banyan Tree hospitality company, which was established in 1994, has its roots in Singapore and provide naturally luxurious, ecologically sensitive, and culture-aware experiences for the discerning traveler. I have previously reviewed the equally superb Banyan Tree properties in the Seychelles (my favorite!), Koh Samui, Phuket, and the Riviera Maya.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
Banyan Tree Lang Co is one of Asia’s most exclusive and grandest resorts, and the design, natural setting and beach will make a tremendous impression on even the most discerning traveler. Although it’s a great place to pamper and luxuriate all, it’s not perfect and here’s why:
- The resort is tucked away in what seems like the middle of nowhere, but, in a way, that is what makes it so unique – secluded, private, quiet and serene with its own amazing beach, great dining options, and exclusive facilities. Although the isolated location is part of the appeal for most guests, it’s important to emphasize that the resort is removed from almost everything, so you won’t find any restaurants, shops or night life within a half hour drive of the hotel.
- While the staff at the hotel is always friendly and will try all they can to make your stay as enjoyable as possible, service is not always very efficient and sometimes inconsistent. This is especially true at the pool area, where service was virtually non-existing during my stay although waiters were around. There are also some language barriers with some members of the staff. While I love the Banyan Tree brand, I have often found their service to be one of their few weak points or even Achilles’ heel if you want to call it that way: the service tries hard but just misses the mark and is definitely not in line with the exceptional service found at some of Banyan Tree’s direct competitors (such as Four Seasons and Six Senses).
- While the breakfast at Water Court was exceptionally good and Saffron offered some of the best Thai food I ever had, I felt the other dining options lacked a little ambience and served good but not mindblowingly excellent cuisine (something you would expect for the price tag). What I missed the most was the absence of an authentic Vietnamese eatery on site where one could sample the host country’s mouthwatering dishes in an intimate setting. That said, the Banyan Tree offers two dining options outside of the resort grounds that cater to guests in search of an autentic culinary experience: set on top of floating docks, Viet Long Restaurant keeps its seafood fresh in the waters below within nets, while Bé Thân Restaurant is located in Lang Co Town and serves an extensive range of fresh seafood specialties.
- Construction of some of the hillside villas and residences – that are for sale – are not finished yet. The outside is complete but the inside is just a shell. While you won’t notice any of that while on the beach or when staying in a lagoon or beach villa, the unfinished villas may be a sight for soar eayes when staying in one of the hill pool villas nearby.
- Location: 8/10
- Design: 9/10
- Pool: 8/10
- Rooms: 9/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 9/10
- Spa: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 8/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Banyan Tree Lang Co, whether it’s booking a room at the cheapest price or receiving complimentary VIP perks (e.g. upgrade, breakfast, resort credit, etc …).
- Save money: Banyan Tree guarantees that every reservation booked through its website 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, Banyan Tree will be happy to match the rate and give you an additional 10% discount on your stay. All you need to do is submit a claim form.
- Room tip: there’s not much difference in room layout, although the different room categories come with different views. For a room with a fabulous view, you need to book a hill pool villa which overlooks the ocean, beach and mountains. The lagoon rooms are located along a tranquil lagoon although not all of them offer complete privacy as you look across the lagoon into the villas of other guests. Beach pool villas are completely private and enjoy some vistas of the ocean in the distance through the dense foliage.
- If you booked a private airport transfer during daylight, make sure you ask your driver to take the Hai Van (sea cloud) Pass between Lang Co and Da Nang, which climbs to an elevation of 500 m (1600 ft) affording stupendous coastal panoramas.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Typical for the tropical climate of Vietnam, Lang Co enjoys warm weather year round with a distinct rainy and dry season. The rainy season 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, 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
Banyan Tree is located a 75 minute drive north 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.
A complimentary shuttle from/to the airport is available for all hotel guests. Alternatively, guests may opt for a private car transfer from $75 USD. WiFi is available onboard both transport options. Reservations must be made through the hotel 24 hours in advance.