Amanoi Vietnam is the Ultimate Healthy Hideaway Destination

Would you believe that one of Southeast Asia’s most beautiful beach resort destinations could be unknown to even the most intrepid of jetsetters? Guests to Amanoi in Vietnam will discover not just the brand’s unforgettable crafted luxury, but also the splendours of nature and the joys of a wellness-focused vacation.

(Hero image: Amanoi’s Central Pavilion and Cliff Pool are perched atop a large estate nestled within Vietnam’s southeastern coastline overlooking a picturesque bay)

When you think Asian tropical beach destination, several things come to mind: swaying coconut trees, lounger-studded beaches, tourist hordes and bustling local businesses. That is what I’m expecting of Vietnam’s southeastern Ninh Thuan province, after hopping onto a Mercedes Benz SUV at Cam Ranh Airport, where I arrive via a short transit flight from Ho Chi Minh City. The next 75 minutes turns out a completely unexpected, jaw-droppingly stunning drive to Amanoi.

Along a gently winding road cut into hilly terrain, we cruise past an idyllic landscape that alternates between rice paddies, flooded river systems, and small, sleepy seafront villages with modern fishing operations and neatly docked boats. Soon enough, the full glory of Vinh Hy Bay reveals itself – mesmerising turquoise waters lapping onto pristine beaches in numerous deserted bays and coves, with nary a soul or hospitality operation in sight. Instead of tall palms on flat groves, the shore is dotted with jagged cliffs and rocky outcrops swathed in low shrubbery, standing sentinel over distant villages.

This is the Mediterranea of Asia, I think to myself. I could be in Sicily or Corsica. It’s not just the scenery, but the sheer sense of isolation. There are barely vehicles on the scenic route (which happens to be so well-paved it trumps some stretches of Bukit Timah Road), and not a soul appears to be out and about. Time seems to stand still, and this level of tranquillity and authenticity is not something I’ve seen in a long time. Spotless, noiseless and picture-perfect, this secluded stretch of Vietnam feels surreal.


Surely, only the best places in the world deserve an Aman, and I’m embarrassed to discover Amanoi nearly a decade after it’s opened. Aside from several homestays, it is the only luxury property on this remote promontory – for the very fact it lies within the newly designated Unesco Biosphere Reserve of Nui Chua, which at almost 107,000ha, is over 1,200 times larger than Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Commanding a prime position along the coastline at an elevation of 200m and overlooking a protected marine area of 7,352ha, Amanoi is not so much a hotel as it is a destination.

Pavilion bath

The estate, at 42ha, is enormous. Upon passing the resort’s discreet signage, my ride crawls along an undulating path cut into rocks for about five minutes before the Central Pavilion finally comes into view. The Jean-Michel Gathy-designed resort has a shrine-like quality – there is a hushed silence as you cross the light-filled reception lobby and ascend into the heaven of Amanjunkies via a wide stone-clad, wood-slatted stairway. Up at the highest point of Amanoi, where the main restaurant and bar are located, guests get a breathtaking view of the property’s immensity. Swanky private villas, all with grey traditional curving roofs, seem to sprout up randomly within the wilderness below. There is a faraway, pensive air to them.

After a swift check-in, I hop into a buggy that sends me down-slope to a Lake Pavilion, my home for the next three nights. This accommodation category is just one of many at Amanoi; there are nine pavilions, 22 villas with private pools, two wellness pool villas with integrated spa facilities, and 11 one- to five-bedroom residences with their own infinity pools and private butler service.

My 1,022sqft pad flaunts a front-row view of the Lotus Lake that sits at the heart of the estate. From my timber sundeck, I take in the serenity of the dusky surrounds, enjoy ravishing birdsong from feathered residents flitting from tree to shrub, and watch the on-goings at the Aman Spa’s outdoor pavilion right across the waters. Within the open, rectangular layout of my wood-decked pavilion, the décor is contemporary, elegant and restful. Nothing distracts, maybe except for the huge fruit bowl bursting with super-fresh local mangoes, tangerines and grapes; the irresistibly long, stone-lined bathtub; and his-and-her straw hats provided in the respective wardrobes.


One of my biggest first impressions of the region is that of the unusual endemic vegetation and rocky landscape. Wandering around Amanoi, I come up-close with mainly low-slung trees, hardy bushes and lots of prickly pear cactus. My host informs me that Vietnam’s southeastern coast is also its driest and has a tropical-arid climate – and I’m not the only guest who commented on its southern Mediterranean quality.

That’s not all. My visit falls within the most pleasant season that extends from November to April, when the sun’s blazing rays are tempered by cool, dry breezes, and night temperatures can fall as low as 20 deg C. The sky’s stark azure-blue is bested by the mesmerising sea, which deepens from emerald in the shallows to cobalt in the deep.

I get to indulge in these wonderful conditions on a picnic lunch on a private beach. The launchpad is Amanoi’s Beach Club on the northern end of the estate, which sits astride its own sheltered cove with a free-form pool overlooking a magnificent golden-sand beach. Going out into Vinh Hy Bay on a speedboat allows one to fully appreciate the views – against the backdrop of Nui Chua National Park’s 1,000m-high mountain range are Amanoi’s. various structures nestled in greenery, and a craggy shoreline formed by towering bluffs, granite boulder islets and empty beaches. Along the way, the boat captain draws us towards a narrow cave where wild bird’s nest harvesting is sometimes done by locals. Ten minutes later, we pull up in a tiny hidden cove with a luxuriously set-up tent on the sand. The crew bustles about laying out a healthy lunch of Saigon baguette with pork filling, salads, fresh spring rolls, brownies and muffins.

This is also the first time I take a dip in the sea. The water temperature is not unlike the Mediterranean’s in summer, and chillier than, say, Phuket or Danang’s. Not long after having the whole place to myself, two fishermen approach in a traditional round basket boat typical of Vietnam’s southern and central coast. Such a marvellous sight, watching them manoeuvre the tiny vessel in a straight line and bending over its edge for their catch.

The seawaters here are as clear and calm as at the Beach Club, where I continue swimming later. Sun worshippers must absolutely hit the Cliff Pool for its unobscured vista and instagrammable beauty among the rocks.

The next morning offers an adventure from a different vantage point – the Goga Peak at sunrise. Thanks to Amanoi’s location within the national park, the 5am transfer to the starting point is accomplished in a five-minute buggy ride from my pavilion. At the resort’s elevation, the climb to the top is an easy 20-minute one, albeit in the dark. As I wait on a bench for the sun to break the horizon, the professional guide tells me more about the native way of life, the various ecosystems and indigenous wildlife. And you have the whole place to yourself, as the peak is only accessible to guests. My tip: Wear your phone on a strap around your neck so you won’t miss snapping some memorable sights on your way down.

The Rock Studio outdoor seating


If Amanoi’s architecture and location endow a real sense of place, then its people ground the experience deeply. The staff there are mostly locals, who let on interesting tidbits of information during my interaction with them. One of them is my culinary class instructor, who explains the difference between northern and southern pho broth, as he guides me through the making of some Viet classics in the Rock Studio, which is built into a spectacular mound of boulders.

It is great that I’m given a cookbook of 12 recipes, as I’m more interested in talking about food than preparing it. Vietnamese cuisine has always intrigued me, as I don’t know much more beyond the greatest hits one can find in any city, and the mouth-watering Chinese-influenced fare from the ancient city of Hoi An along the country’s central coast. Whenever I tell the restaurant staff about the dishes I’ve previously tried, they’ll patiently describe the unique local versions and urge me to sample them.

One morning, I’m reminded to try the resort’s banh cuon, which are delicate rice rolls similar to chee cheong fun. At the complimentary Vietnamese Afternoon Tea, a staff member grills the province’s speciality of traditional mini rice pancakes called banh can on an open terracotta stove, and offers me a go at it – which I decline as I’ve made serious work of deciding whether I like the beef or crab version better. As simple and light as Viet desserts are, the coconut milk-stewed banana and variety of soups featuring succulent sweet potato, yam and lotus seeds satisfy my sweet tooth sufficiently. If you’re wondering about slow-dripped Viet coffee, the ones here are smooth, and neither terribly strong nor sweetened. As I savour an iced concoction, a wait staff tells me that the straw I’m using is a piece of water reed – how clever and sustainable is that?

At dinner, a claypot of braised pork belly and fish, and a soupy yellow curry made with a native species of mountain lamb, have flavour profiles unfamiliar to me and yet are so delicious. What I appreciate about Viet cuisine is that nothing overpowers the palate. The resort can also arrange for an early, fresh-catch dinner with a local fisherman in his family home in a nearby village, tasting tours to the provincial capital of Phan Rang, private dining experiences within the estate, or a Sacred Cham dinner in the jungle that involves a ceremonial blessing. The European menu selections are compact but varied enough for a short stay, while the wine and alcoholic beverage list serves the connoisseur.

The Bar, which is furnished with plush sofas, rocking chairs and art pieces, seems to have an ideal facing that receives cool evening breezes. It is a terrific spot to chill out at for an aperitif or digestif, or to finish that bottle of wine you ordered at dinner. And the bartender fetches you a shawl even without you asking. Pricing for F&B at Amanoi is very reasonable, and would match what you pay dining out in Singapore.


Surrounded by an endless expanse of land and sea, Amanoi has a smorgasbord of tailored experiences for the active and curious. There are treks of different difficulty levels and sights, including one that traces the path of wild civets; visits to attractions ranging from the ancient Cham kingdom site to a salt or grape farm; cycling trips through villages; marine excursions and all manner of watersports.

Multi-generational families and large groups are well-sorted with an impressive range of children’s activities and an outdoor jungle games facility that even boasts wooden mahjong. There are dedicated spaces for a large archery range and two flood-lit tennis courts, while golfers need not travel beyond 25 minutes to reach a spanking-new 18-hole course.

Should you need to rest and relax, this place is a haven. Your stay can be entirely a holistic, wellness-focused one. There is a weekly roster of complimentary wellness activities, held at Aman Spa’s outdoor pavilion, that includes hatha yoga, stretching breathing exercises, mat pilates and a cardio-strength training boot camp. Additional naturopathic, healing, sleep meditation and acupuncture therapies by an in-house expert are also available. A retreat can also be customised to your needs.

Needless to say, your next stop should be the spa itself for facials to massages to even sound therapy. There are half- and full-day programmes within the spa, or at two wellness pool villas where hydrotherapy, Moroccan hamman and Banya (Russian steam bath) facilities enhance the treatments. If emotional healing is important to you, opt for a Nourishing, Purifying or Grounding ritual aligned with the kinds of spiritual energy, landscape and climate that appeal to you. Each features special ingredients, a smoking ceremony, and a curated selection of techniques that range from Tibetan Ku Nye massage to manual lymphatic drainage.

Products used are from the Aman Skincare collection, which can be purchased on-site, but the brand’s own line of fragrances is also available at the boutique, which sells fine jewellery, straw hats and resortwear in addition to bronzeware, copperware, pottery and lifestyle products made by local cooperatives. Every night, in my pavilion, I receive a surprise – a ceramic dish, lotus tea and a zippered cotton pouch made from traditionally woven textile – that honours local artisanship. Thoughtful, characterful and hand-made, the gifts speak of crafted luxury just as my short sojourn through Amanoi does.

For more information, visit Amanoi Website.

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