5 Luxurious Boats You Can Take for a Spin this Summer

boat rentals

Photos Credit: SAILO

Picture this: you’re spending a summer afternoon in the sun, a salty breeze blowing through your hair as you sip on another glass of Dom Perignon. Is there anything better? We didn’t think so. The only problem with boats is that they require a lot of maintenance—swabbing the poop deck is about as unglamorous as it sounds. Lucky for wannabe sea-farers around the world, SAILO has solved some of the problems associated with boat ownership. The self-proclaimed “Airbnb of boats,” the brand opens the arena for boat owners to rent their vessels to those looking for a short-term voyage. Boats range from everything to your standard catamaran to some of the world’s most luxurious mega-yachts, so what are you waiting for? Here are a few ultra-luxe options you can take for a spin on the high seas this summer: 

New York City, New York

The city that never sleeps knows how to do things big, bright and bold. This 95-foot yacht has been previously rented out by royalty, presidents and celebrities. Built in 1987, the boat has been completely re-outfitted to include an elegant salon and full-service bar. In addition to the amenities on board, a full crew of three or four is available to cater meals and provide dinner and cocktail services. You and your eleven closest friends can sail the high seas around Brooklyn, the Hamptons, and the Hudson River for a cool $16,200 for a full day. 

sailo

Miami, Florida

Some like it hot, especially when they’re in Miami. The interiors of this luxurious vessel are inspired by the French fashion house Hermés. Each of the ship’s cabins resembles a high-end hotel room, with glossy veneers and state-of-the-art amenities. For those interested in water sports, the ship comes equipped with a water ski, wakeboard tower, kayaks and snorkeling equipment. While on your voyage, enjoy a glass of champagne on the flybridge before lounging on one of the many lush sofas strewn across the decks. This watercraft can be yours for the summer for $18,500 per day. 

sailo

Treasure Cay, Bahamas

If you want to be a Bahama mama, taking a trip down south is imperative. For $5,975 a week, you can live out all of your snorkeling and diving dreams on a weeklong trip in one of the most picturesque locations in the world. If an extended fishing trip is more your speed, the vessel comes equipped with a set of fishing rods perfect for any skill level. The ship is run by a husband-and-wife team that cater to guests every need, be it picking out the perfect wine for an evening by the fireplace, or accommodating dining restrictions.

sailo

Cancun, Mexico

Cancun has been known as a spring break hotspot for years, but it’s now gaining traction among the well-heeled. Travel along the Yucatàn Peninsula in this 50-foot sea-faring vehicle enjoying drinks from the open bar before jumping in the sea for a swim. Cancun is known as one of the best places to snorkel in the world, so be sure to grab a pair of the boat’s gear before exploring the depths. The vessel can accommodate up to 40 people on board at one time, making the $4,000 per day price tag a steal.  

sailo

Sag Harbor, NY

Turning heads in the Hamptons is no easy feat. This 86-foot Azimut vessel, complete with dashing red panels, will attract attention wherever you go. In addition to four staterooms that can sleep up to eight guests, there are both front and back sundecks for ultimate outdoor relaxation. Drop anchor in the marina along the Hamptons main drag, where you can enjoy the best high-end shops and restaurants that Long Island has to offer. This ship is available for rent for $9,500 per day, no biggie. 

How to get VIP hotel benefits without loyalty elite status?

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel contests, tips, series, or news.

Today (August 11, 2017): Travel Tip: How to get VIP hotel benefits without loyalty elite status?

Starwood’s SPG, World of Hyatt, Marriott Rewards, Jumeirah Sirius, InterContinental’s IHG Rewards Club and Hilton Honors represent some of the few loyalty programs in the world that are managed by hotel chains with true luxury properties in their portfolio. Their members earn points towards free hotel nights and those with elite status are awarded for their loyalty with free VIP hotel perks, such as an upgrade, breakfast, and flexible check-in and check-out time. However, elite status often requires very high, sometimes insane thresholds of tens of hotels nights per year, which is difficult to reach when you are not a business traveler. To my own surprise, during a vacation in Hawaii, I learned that it is also possible to get those same VIP perks (and even some valuable extras such as spa and food credits) at some of the world’s best hotels without having elite status with a loyalty program and while still earning hotel points towards elite status and free nights.

A few weeks ago, I stayed at some of Starwood’s and Hyatt’s top properties in Hawaii, such as the Royal Hawaiian, the Andaz Maui, the Grand Hyatt Kauai, and the St Regis Kauai (I will publish my reviews in autumn). These properties were my first choice because they rank among the very best in Hawaii, although I did not expect to be treated particularly well, since I don’t hold any elite status anymore with Hyatt or Starwood’s loyalty schemes. For your information, I used to be a top-tier Starwood Platinum member and a Hyatt Diamond member for years, but I felt that loyalty was dictating my travel plans instead of the other way around and that I was missing out so much, so I decided to explore the world beyond these otherwise excellent hotel brands, and accepted the loss of my elite status last year, albeit not without any regret since I did enjoy the elite benefits. However, I was utmost surprised that I received at Starwood’s and Hyatt’s Hawaiian properties amenities and service that far exceeded the ones I received as a loyalty elite member two years ago when I visited the archipelago for the very first time. To give you an idea:

  • At the Royal Hawaiian, part of Starwood’s The Luxury Collection brand, I had booked the lowest room category, but I got the highest suite category upon check-in, in addition to full buffet and à la carte breakfast, early check-in (10 am), late check-out (3 pm) and $100 USD food beverage to be used in the hotel’s restaurant. In comparison: my friend who accompanied me on this trip and who holds SPG Platinum status only received an upgrade to a room on a higher floor (with nicer view) and a complimentary continental breakfast.
  • At the Andaz Maui, part of the Hyatt hotel group, I had – again – booked the lowest room category, but was given an extremely nice corner suite for the duration of my stay (although no suite availability was shown on the Andaz website the day before I checked in), in addition to full buffet breakfast, early check-in (1 pm), late check-out (8 pm) and $100 spa credit. In comparison: I stayed at this resort two years ago as a Hyatt Diamond member but I did not get a suite upgrade (although suites were available online at that time, to my disappointment) and I dit not get any spa credit.

After completing my stays at these properties, I was also awarded with the regular Starwood and World of Hyatt points for these bookings. So how did I get VIP amenities without having elite status and while still earning hotel points and credits toward free nights and loyalty status?

GET VIP BENEFITS AT THE ST REGIS KAUAI WITHOUT ELITE LOYALTY STATUS

The answer is simple: I booked through Virtuoso. I have recently published an article why Virtuoso is the best way to book luxury hotels, but I now share with you some additional information regarding Virtuoso bookings of luxury hotels that are part of the big hotel chains with loyalty schemes. Booking those properties via Virtuoso will not only earn you hotel points and credits towards free nights and elite status (as would be the case when you book them via the official hotel website), but also gets you free VIP hotel benefits that you would not receive as a non-elite member when booking via the hotel website and that often exceed those you would get as a top-tier elite member. For that reason, you’re leaving money on the table if you book a paid stay at the best available rate (BAR) via the official hotel website and not via Virtuoso.

What is Virtuoso?

Virtuoso is not your classic hotel booking engine website. It’s the industry’s leading network of luxury travel advisors, spanning over 26 countries and 9,000 travel advisors. They are the best travel agents in the world.

How to make a booking via Virtuoso?

When you book your holiday with Virtuoso, most of the time, you will be in touch with a Virtuoso travel agent and not make the booking online yourself. There are some Virtuoso travel agencies though that offer an online booking tool, such as Classic Travel, which has an excellent website and is my overall preferred Virtuoso travel agency.

How do I know if a hotel is a member of Virtuoso?

You can easily check if a hotel is a member of Virtuoso on the Virtuoso website. When it comes to luxury hotels that are part of a hotel chain with a loyalty schedule, Virtuoso includes most St Regis, Park Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, and Jumeirah hotels in addition to a few The Luxury Collection, Grand Hyatt, JW Marriott, and W hotels.

Do bookings made via Virtuoso earn hotel points and elite status?

The answer is an absolute YES: all reservations made via Virtuoso will earn you hotel points towards free nights and credits towards elite status with your preferred loyalty programs. If you have elite status, you will also enjoy elite benefits in addition to Virtuoso benefits, although in almost cases the Virtuoso benefits far exceed those of the loyalty scheme.

Why make a booking via Virtuoso and not via the official hotel website?

The answer is very simple: because booking via Virtuoso will get you VIP benefits that mostly exceed those that you would get when booking via the hotel website, even in case you hold elite status with a hotel’s loyalty scheme. These benefits include:

  • Upgrade (including suites, as I experienced myself)
  • Daily full breakfast for 2 people (instead of the continental breakfast you get as a loyalty elite member)
  • Early check-in and late check-out
  • Resort, spa, shopping, or food credit, mostly around $100 USD per stay (something you will never get when booking directly via the hotel website).

For that reason, once again, you’re leaving money on the table if you book a paid stay at a hotel that is a Virtuoso member via the hotel website and not via Virtuoso, because you can’t receive Virtuoso benefits by booking directly with the hotel.

Do all rates qualify for Virtuoso benefits?

In most cases, the Virtuoso rate is identical to the Best Available Rate (BAR) found on the hotel website, which is a flexible rate that can be cancelled without penalty. Early booking discount rates, special promotional packages, corporate rates, group rates, and other discounted rates do not qualify for Virtuoso benefits.

Do I Need to have elite status to enjoy Virtuoso benefits?

No: anyone who books with via Virtuoso can enjoy complimentary VIP benefits, such as upgrades, breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and a resort, food, dining or spa credit.

Don’t elite members already receive all the Virtuoso benefits?

No: while top-tier elites typically receive upgrades and complimentary breakfast, they do not receive the hotel or resort credit that comes with Virtuoso bookings, or some of the other property-specific benefits (such as full breakfast buffet instead of continental buffet).

Does It cost anything to book via Virtuoso?

No: it will cost you the same as booking the best available rate (BAR) directly on the hotel website. All hotel bookings need to be secured with a credit card though and sometimes a deposit is required.


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Review: Six Senses Ninh Van Bay (Vietnam)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel and/or flight review.

Last April & May, 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:


Today (August 9, 2017): Review of Six Senses Ninh Van Bay (Vietnam).

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay enjoys a spectacular setting in a dramatic bay that gives the feeling of being on an exclusive private island resort in the East Vietnam Sea. Impressive rock formations, a coral reef, a golden sand beach, a playful stream and the towering mountains behind, all add to the sense of being luxuriously at one with nature. The spa resort presents the reality of the destination, with an architectural style incorporating traditions of Vietnam. The 59 superb accommodations – done in Six Senses signature eco-chic design – are all personal villas with private plunge pools. The restaurants at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay serve international and local favourites plus East meets West specialties complemented by the best local seafood.

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay features in my top 10 lists of the most spectacular hotel bathrooms in the world, the most astonishing beach retreats in Asia, and the best luxury hotels in Vietnam.

In this review (more info below my Youtube clip & 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
  • Photos

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Six Senses Ninh Van Bay enjoys one of the most magnificent hotel settings on earth. The resort is located in a dramatic bay, at the end of a lush, mountainous peninsula, across the water from the busy holiday-resort town of Nha Trang in southern Vietnam. The crescent-shaped cove features a long stretch of gold sand beach and is backed by towering mountains clad in jungle vegetation, giving the feel of being on a private island and adding to the sense of being intimately at one with nature. Impressive rock formations on both sides of the beach overlook the East Vietnam Sea.
  • The resort provides the ultimate seclusion as it is accessible only by water. Getting there is not difficult, although it does require a bit of a journey. From the nearest international airport (Cam Ranh), it takes 60-minutes by resort car – which has onboard WiFi – to the Six Senses jetty. Nha Trang – the closest town to Ninh Van Bay – is only 15 minutes away from the jetty. From the boat dock, it is a 20-minute scenic boat ride to resort itself with snacks being served onboard. The shared speed boat ride departs according to a fixed schedule, but you will never have to wait very long and the resort has a small lounge near the jetty where you can wait in all comfort for the boat departure.
  • Despite being massive in scale, the resort has a simple and convenient layout. The central area on the beach near the jetty features a bar (which also functions as the welcome pavilion upon arrival), the activity center, an open-air lobby, several boutique shops, one of the 3 restaurants (‘Dining By The Pool’), and the main pool. The southern slopes of Six Senses Ninh Van Bay are home to the resort’s main dining venue (‘Dining By The Bay’), which is an enormous, fairytale-like, ocean-front, wooden complex that also houses a sunset bar, kid’s club and play room. Hidden in the northern hills and only reachable by 100+ precipitous steps, you’ll find the resort’s signature restaurant, Dining By The Rocks. The villa accommodations are tucked away in various locations along the rocky peninsula.
  • The resort is a mind-blowing masterpiece of eco-friendly design, reflecting Six Senses’ signature chic style. The rustic, understated and elegant interiors blend perfectly with the subtropical outdoors and exude an ambience of tranquility and a Robinson Crusoë-esque lifestyle. All hotel buildings, including the villa accommodations, are built using local materials (e.g. wood, bamboo and stone), topped with a palm-leaf roof, decked out in stylish bright cushions, and decorated with simple but chic and sometimes funky furniture. This is barefoot luxury at its best, albeit in a low-key and environmentally conscious way.
  • There are 59 beautiful thatched and spacious villa accommodations that will take your breath away. They all come with gorgeous wooden interiors and private outdoor plunge pools. There are several villa categories according to the location: some are set on the hill with views across the bay, several are dotted along the beach, while others are built into the rocks with steps straight down into the sea. During my holiday, I stayed in a two-level beachfront pool villa, which provided generous personal space with its own garden, plunge pool and direct access to the sandy shore. The ground floor featured a master bedroom with an absolutely stunning en-suite bathroom (more on that below). The upper floor featured a shaded, open-sided living area with brightly cushioned sofas. The  villa embodied the perfect Robinson Crusoe hideaway, albeit a modern version with all kind of technologies present to meet the comforts of nowadays travelers, such as flat-screen TV, DVD player, coffeemaker, minibar, wine cellar, A/C (bedroom only), complimentary WiFi, and safe.
  • The stunning bathrooms at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay deserve a separate mention as they rank among my favorite hotel bathrooms in the world. Most bathrooms are semi-open-air spaces, with both indoor- and outdoor showers, and feature a rustic, somewhat antique decor with bamboo railings, whitewashed walls, thickly cushioned teak day beds, and two separate copper sinks on wooden vanities. The bathrooms’ eyecatchers are the freestanding, beautiful handcrafted wooden bathtubs. In line with Six Senses’ ecofriendly policy, plant-based natural toiletries in ceramic jars are provided to all guests.
  • Set amidst the luscious greenery and granite stone synonymous with the Ninh Van peninsula, the three-bedroom ‘hilltop reserve’ is most exclusive villa in the resort, providing families and groups with an unparalleled 180-degree westward view of the bay, Nha Trang city and the adjacent mountains. Arrival at the villa – which comes with a large living area and dining room – is along a winding path through granite boulders and jungle. The villa’s oversized, climate-controlled infinity pool is the resort’s largest offered in a villa, at 818 square feet (76 square meters) stretched beside the sun deck designed to welcome up to 10 sunbathers.
  • The expansive resort grounds behind the beach are well maintained yet retain a wild feel reminiscent of an untouched virgin jungle. Winding paths, roped walkways, and small bridges over picturesque creeks invite you for some exploration of the thick forest, with the sound of the emerald ocean and birdsong as a constant backdrop. Because the resort grounds are so spread out, guests get bikes for the duration of their stay, or can make use of complimentary buggy service.
  • As already mentioned above, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay features three excellent restaurants, which offer memorable dining experiences. Located alongside the main swimming pool, the barefoot Dining By The Pool restaurant features an open kitchen and serves international and Vietnamese dishes during the day, while it occasionally opens at night for themed buffets. The hilltop Dining By The Rocks, which specializes in contemporary fusion dining, is the resort’s special-occasion eatery; it features an outdoor space with a wooden deck offering breathtaking sea views, in addition to an intimate indoor space that can also doubles as a wedding chapel. The main restaurant, Dining By The Bay, features a varied menu and spans over two levels with open views across the bay. The ambience downstairs is cozy with a bamboo ceiling, whereas the upstairs with its high thatched roof offers an al fresco dining experience. Adjacent to Dining by the Bay is a cozy bar, furnished with an assortment of relaxing daybeds and bar stools, that offers stunning views of the sunset and remains open until the last guest leaves.
  • The delicious buffet breakfast is served at Dining By The Bay and offers a wide and impressive spread of fresh tropical fruit, cereals, juices, sparkling wine, breads, pastries, and local specialities in addition to a temperature controlled room with cheeses and cold meats, plus live food stations where hot dishes (e.g. eggs, pancakes, waffles) are freshly prepared.
  • The fantastic spa – a sanctuary for all the senses – is tucked away in the jungle up the hills and features an all-wood interior design. It is accessed via some step stones over a lovely pond. Traditional Vietnamese therapies and Six Senses signature treatments and customized detox programs are available to suit every individual guest’s needs. In addition to the eco-rustic treatment rooms where you will feel at one with nature, the spa is equipped with yoga pavilions, a gymnasium and spa retail gallery. This is thé place to have a massage since the Six Senses brand is word-famous for its spa treatments (the company manages 28 luxury spas around the globe).
  • The resort’s crescent-shaped, one-mile long (1,6 km) beach is composed of fine, gold-coloured sand. It’s perfectly safe to swim here in the delightfully warm sea. The narrow strip of sand is lined by thick tropical vegetation, so most of the beach villas are out of sight. In addition to the sunbeds that dot the beach and which belong to the beachfront pool villas, there’s a small beach club near the private wooden jetty, with a couple of loungers under natural thatch parasols; towels and sunscreen are provided. Behind the beach club is a large swimming pool that’s surrounded by padded sunbeds and wraps around the Dining By The Pool restaurant, although you will never find many guests here since each villa is equipped with its own private plunge pool.
  • The resort is managed by Six Senses, a hotel and spa management company that currently comprises 11 resorts and 28 spas under the brand names Six Senses, Evason and Six Senses Spas. Six Senses was recently awarded the title of world’s best hotel brand by the prestigious Travel & Leisure magazine. The company  operates resorts in far-flung locations of incredible natural beauty that are known for their distinctive design and wellness programs. The brand was founded by Sonu Shivdasani, the CEO of Soneva (my favorite hotel brand in the world), and although Soneva and Six Senses now flourish independently, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay’s design and setting resembles the Soneva resorts in the Maldives (Soneva Fushi) and Thailand (Soneva Kiri).
  • Besides Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Six Senses also manages two other resorts in Vietnam: Six Senses Con Dao, which is located in a gorgeous archipelago a 40 min flight south of Ho Chi Min City, and Evason Ana Mandara, which is the only beachfront property in downtown Nha Trang. All three properties are highly recommended (although Evason Ana Mandara is not as luxurious as the other two), but if you are short on time, then put Six Senses Ninh Van Bay on top of your bucket list since it is the best resort among the 3 Vietnamese Six Senses properties.
  • As with every Six Senses resort, each villa has its own Guest Experience Maker (GEM) or butler, who is on call 24 hours a day. This guarantees an exceptional level of service during your stay.
  • Sustainability is on top of the resort’s agenda with numerous practices to minimize negative and embrace positive impacts. The eco-friendly policy focuses on energy efficiency, water and waste management, social commitment, protecting natural surroundings, air quality and noise control. For example, the resort has its own organic garden that grows herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers, for use in the incense-fragranced spa as well as the restaurants.
  • There’s a deli corner next to the Dining By The Pool’s open kitchen, which features an ice-cream parlor with unlimited and complimentary scoops for all guests (during daylight hours only).
  • Outdoor movie screenings can be enjoyed on the private beach. The cinema operates twice a week (weather permitting).
  • Six Senses Ninh Van Bay not only offers the perfect location for relaxation, but its proximity to Nha Trang and its prime position in a calm and sheltered bay, means that you can enjoy many activities and excursions on water and on land. The Experience Center near the arrival jetty offers activities which range from scuba, paddle boarding, hobiecat sailing, kayaking, waterskiing, wake boarding, fun tube, fishing trips and boat charters. There also a nice reef in front of the resort which is great for snorkeling.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is without any doubt one of the most exclusive and magnificent resorts in Vietnam and Asia. The low-key but high-style resort features an incredible setting, fabulous villa accommodations, wonderful spa, amazing restaurants, and top-notch service. It would be very hard to dislike to the exceptional resort, but there are a few things you need to know when booking a stay here:

  • The transfer by road and speedboat to the resort from Nha Trang’s international Cam Ranh Airport takes around 90 minutes, and although it’s convenient (with even WiFi onboard the car), the transfer is not included in room rate. At the moment, Cam Ranh Airport transfer fee to/from the resort by shared minivan or car and speed boat is charged at $45 USD per person per way.
  • Due to the architecture and the set-up of the resort, with many stairs to negotiate in certain areas, stays for very young children and physically challenged people are not recommended in hill top pool villas, water pool villas, rock pool villas, and the rock retreat. If you have difficulties walking, I advise you to book a single level, beachfront villa.
  • The resort grounds are very spread out and the ultra-secluded hill top villas are a fair way out, but bicycles and golf buggies are always available.
  • The food and spa treatments are expensive for Vietnam, but not expensive when compared to other 5 star hotels in the region.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 10/10
  • Design: 10/10
  • Pool: 8/10
  • Rooms: 10/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Breakfast: 9/10
  • Spa: 9/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional: 9,5/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting best deal at a luxury hotel like Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. Book a room at the cheapest price and/or receive many free perks!
  • Save money: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
  • If you have difficulties walking, I advise you to book a single level, beachfront villa, since most other villa types can only be accessed via stairs.
  • The resort’s most expensive villa types, water pool villas, have with wooden steps leading directly to the sea and are an excellent launch pad for snorkelling enthusiasts.
  • Booking one of the 35 Beachfront Pool Villas is a good choice since these accommodations were refurbished in 2016, with refreshed interiors sporting lighter toned furnishings for a more modern and lighter feel.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Like most of Southeast Asia, Vietnam varies from warm to very hot throughout the whole year. There are four annual seasons: cool and dry between November and February; (very) hot and dry between March and May; hot and wet between June and August; and cool and wet between September and early November. The best time to visit is the cool and dry season, when the weather usually benefits from a pleasant dry heat and the surrounding countryside is still green from the rains. In general, autumn travel in Nha Trang is not recommended as heavy rain, tropical storms and typhoon may occur.


HOW TO GET THERE

Upon arriving at Cam Ranh Airport (CXR), which serves Nha Trang (the closest town to Ninh Van Bay), guests with reservations will be met and transfer arranged. It takes 60-minute by car to the Six Senses Lounge in Nha Trang City. It is then a 20-minute boat ride to Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. Cam Ranh Airport transfer fee to/from resort by shared minivan or car and speed boat is charged at $45 USD per person per way. Click here for a list of airlines that have direct flights to Cam Ranh Airport.


CAR TRANSFER TO JETTY

CAR TRANSFER TO JETTY

CAR TRANSFER TO JETTY

JETTY AND LOUNGE NEAR NHA TRANG

JETTY AND LOUNGE NEAR NHA TRANG

JETTY AND LOUNGE NEAR NHA TRANG

JETTY AND LOUNGE NEAR NHA TRANG

JETTY AND LOUNGE NEAR NHA TRANG

JETTY AND LOUNGE NEAR NHA TRANG

JETTY AND LOUNGE NEAR NHA TRANG

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFER TO SIX SENSES NINH VAN BAY

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFER TO SIX SENSES NINH VAN BAY

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFER TO SIX SENSES NINH VAN BAY

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFER TO SIX SENSES NINH VAN BAY

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFER TO SIX SENSES NINH VAN BAY

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFER TO SIX SENSES NINH VAN BAY

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFER TO SIX SENSES NINH VAN BAY

SPEEDBOAT TRANSFER TO SIX SENSES NINH VAN BAY

FIRST GLIMPSES OF THE RESORT

FIRST GLIMPSES OF THE RESORT

FIRST GLIMPSES OF THE RESORT

FIRST GLIMPSES OF THE RESORT

WELCOME DRINK & COLD TOWEL

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

ARRIVAL JETTY & WELCOME PAVILION/BAR

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: EXTERIOR

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: EXTERIOR

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM (WELCOME SNACKS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM (WELCOME SNACKS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM (BOTTLE OF WINE)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM (RESORT SCHEDULE)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM (RESORT SCHEDULE)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEDROOM (RESORT SCHEDULE)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BATHROOM

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: LIVING AREA (UPSTAIRS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: LIVING AREA (UPSTAIRS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: LIVING AREA (UPSTAIRS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: LIVING AREA (UPSTAIRS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: LIVING AREA (UPSTAIRS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: LIVING AREA (UPSTAIRS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: LIVING AREA (UPSTAIRS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: LIVING AREA (UPSTAIRS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: LIVING AREA (UPSTAIRS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: LIVING AREA (UPSTAIRS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: LIVING AREA (UPSTAIRS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: LIVING AREA (UPSTAIRS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: LIVING AREA (UPSTAIRS)

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: GARDEN & POOL

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: GARDEN & POOL

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: GARDEN & POOL

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: GARDEN & POOL

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: GARDEN & POOL

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: GARDEN & POOL

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: GARDEN & POOL

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: GARDEN & POOL

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: GARDEN & POOL

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: GARDEN & POOL

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: GARDEN & POOL

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: GARDEN & POOL

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: GARDEN & POOL

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEACH ACCESS

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEACH ACCESS

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEACH ACCESS

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEACH ACCESS

BEACHFRONT POOL VILLA: BEACH ACCESS

HILL TOP POOL VILLA

HILL TOP POOL VILLA

ROCK POOL VILLAS

WATER POOL VILLAS

WATER POOL VILLAS

WATER POOL VILLAS

WATER POOL VILLAS

WATER POOL VILLAS

WATER POOL VILLAS

WATER POOL VILLAS

BUGGY SERVICE

RESORT GROUNDS

RESORT GROUNDS

EXPERIENCE CENTER

EXPERIENCE CENTER

EXPERIENCE CENTER

EXPERIENCE CENTER

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

BOUTIQUE SHOPS NEAR LOBBY

BOUTIQUE SHOPS NEAR LOBBY

BOUTIQUE SHOPS NEAR LOBBY

BOUTIQUE SHOPS NEAR LOBBY

BOUTIQUE SHOPS NEAR LOBBY

BOUTIQUE SHOPS NEAR LOBBY

BOUTIQUE SHOPS NEAR LOBBY

BOUTIQUE SHOPS NEAR LOBBY

BOUTIQUE SHOPS NEAR LOBBY

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT: DELI CORNER

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT: DELI CORNER

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT: DELI CORNER

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT: DELI CORNER

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT: DELI CORNER

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT: DELI CORNER

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

DINING BY THE POOL RESTAURANT

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL

MAIN SWIMMING POOL: RESTROOMS

MAIN SWIMMING POOL: RESTROOMS

POOLSIDE SNACK

POOLSIDE SNACK

POOLSIDE SNACK

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH AT SUNSET

BEACH AT SUNSET

BEACH AT SUNSET

BEACH AT SUNSET

BEACH AT SUNSET

BEACH AT SUNSET

BEACH AT SUNSET

BEACH AT SUNSET

BEACH AT SUNSET

BEACH AT SUNSET

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

VEGETABLE & HERB GARDENS

VEGETABLE & HERB GARDENS

VEGETABLE & HERB GARDENS

VEGETABLE & HERB GARDENS

VEGETABLE & HERB GARDENS

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: EXTERIOR

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: EXTERIOR

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: EXTERIOR

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: EXTERIOR

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: EXTERIOR

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: EXTERIOR

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: EXTERIOR

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: EXTERIOR

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: GAME ROOM

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: GAME ROOM

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: GAME ROOM

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: GAME ROOM

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: VIEW

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: VIEW

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: VIEW

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: VIEW

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BAR AREA

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BAR AREA

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BAR AREA

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BAR AREA

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BAR AREA

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BAR AREA

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BAR AREA

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BAR AREA

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BAR AREA

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BAR AREA

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BAR AREA

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: SEATING AREA

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: SEATING AREA

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

OVERWATER DECK IN FRONT OF DINING BY THE BAY

OVERWATER DECK IN FRONT OF DINING BY THE BAY

OVERWATER DECK IN FRONT OF DINING BY THE BAY

OVERWATER DECK IN FRONT OF DINING BY THE BAY

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: DINNER

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: DINNER

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: DINNER

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: DINNER

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: DINNER

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: DINNER

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: DINNER

DINING BY THE BAY RESTAURANT: DINNER

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

DINING BY THE POOL : SEAFOOD BUFFET NIGHT

OUTDOOR CINEMA ON THE BEACH

OUTDOOR CINEMA ON THE BEACH

OUTDOOR CINEMA ON THE BEACH


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Top 10: best luxury hotels & resorts in Hawaii

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (August 7, 2017): Top 10 best luxury hotels in Hawaii.

With lava-spewing volcanoes, lush valleys, glorious waterfalls, towering coastal cliffs, and palm-fringed white, red and black beaches, the islands of Hawaii boast some of the most spectacular scenery on earth. No wonder Hawaii, especially the island Kauai, is Hollywood’s favorite location for movies looking to capitalize on those magnificent landscapes and surroundings. Despite their isolation, 2000 miles (or 3000 km) out in the Pacific Ocean, the islands belong to the United States of America: Hawaii – a kingdom until 1893 – was the 50th and most recent state to have joined the USA. The archipelago offers accommodations for all budgets, including ultraluxe (albeit often massive) resorts with swanky suites, fine dining, spectacular spas, and stellar beach locations. I hereby present you a top 10 list of my prefered luxury hotels across Hawaii’s six main islands. And although it will be hard to drag yourself away from these sanctuaries of ultimate relaxation, make sure to take in some of Hawaii’s natural splendor by taking a helicopter flight, exploring the scenic roads, and do (a lot of) hiking.

In autumn, I will publish a series of trip reports of Hawaii and its famous luxury resorts (after I finish my series on Vietnam).

There is more info (with reviews) below the slide show.  Think I missed one? Leave a comment or take my poll below!

Click to view slideshow.

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10. THE ROYAL HAWAIIAN RESORT, HONOLULU, OAHU

When The Royal Hawaiian opened in 1927, the hotel – also known as the “Pink Palace of the Pacific” – ushered in a new era of luxury travel to Hawaii. With its rich history, magnificent Spanish-Moorish architecture, and connection to Hawaiian culture, this iconic Honolulu hotel is spectacularly located on the famed Waikiki Beach and the ideal starting point to any adventure in Honolulu. The 528 rooms and suites at The Royal Hawaiian feature modern comfort, indigenous accents and refined luxury. In the Royal Beach Tower, each room provides an intimate lanai for a private vantage point of the sparkling Pacific Ocean. In the Historic Building, fresh and elegant guest rooms are furnished with custom dark wood, crisp white bedding, boudoir pillows, a warm paint palette accented by a bold fuchsia pink and platinum silver headboard. The resort’s signature restaurant, Azure Restaurant, is perched along the Waikiki beachfront and serves some of the best seafood in Honolulu.

  • Hotel website: The Royal Hawaiian Resort
  • Tip: get free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).
  • Review: coming soon (autumn 2017).

THE ROYAL HAWAIIAN RESORT, HONOLULU, OAHU


9. GRAND HYATT KAUAI RESORT & SPA, KAUAI

Set along the soothing white sands of sunny Poipu on the southern coast of Kauai,  this beautiful beachfront resort is balanced between magnificent lush mountains and the azure sea. The 602 newly renovated guestrooms, including 37 suites and exclusive Grand Club accommodations, embody the resort’s natural elegance and commitment to environmental conservation creating a true sense of place. Most guest rooms feature private lanais offering offering stunning ocean, garden, or pool views, and are decorated in Hawaiian classic style with rich mahogany furniture and elegant tropical décor. Recreational facilities include an expansive saltwater swimming lagoon offering kayak and flotation rentals, two freshwater outdoor pools with connecting ‘river pools’ and sundeck, three tennis courts, pro shop and tennis professionals, mountain bike rentals for back-road adventures, a 45,000 square-foot indoor/outdoor ANARA complete health and fitness spa, and the 18-hole Poipu Bay Golf Course next to the resort.

  • Hotel website: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
  • Tip: get free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, evening appetizer on the Seaview Terrace once during stay, and complimentary daily spa access for 2).
  • Review: coming soon (autumn 2017).

GRAND HYATT KAUAI RESORT & SPA, KAUAI


8. THE RITZ-CARLTON, KAPALUA, MAUI

While it has been centuries since Maui welcomed its first inhabitants, the message behind Kapalua, meaning “arms embracing the sea,” remains today. Boasting 54 stunning acres on the northwestern tip of the island of Maui, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua proudly maintains the Honokahua Preservation Site, a recognized “wahi pana” (sacred site) that lies adjacent to the resort and serves as a destination where Native Hawaiians can gather to conduct ceremonies and protocol. The resort has recently completed a $180 million transformation, featuring a refined organic architecture deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture. The resort offers 463 fully-renovated guestrooms, including 107 Residential Suites, featuring dark wood floors, new marble bathrooms, flat-screen LCD televisions and Hawaiian inspired artwork. The Ritz Carlton Kapalua also features six restaurants, a fitness center with spectacular ocean views, a spa, renovated meeting space, children’s pool and the Ambassadors of the Environment program for children and teens 5-18 years old.

  • Hotel website: The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
  • Tip: get free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).

THE RITZ-CARLTON, KAPALUA, MAUI


7. FOUR SEASONS RESORT OAHU AT KO OLINA

On Oahu’s sunny western coast – wild, rugged and conveniently close to Honolulu and Waikiki Beach – the five-star Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina balances a classic Hawaiian style with one-of-a-kind luxury. Chic and light-filled with vast ocean views, the 371 accommodations provide a personal sanctuary in this all-encompassing Hawaiian luxury beach resort. At an average of 640 square feet (59 square metres), the rooms feature a decor inspired by nature, featuring traditional local woods and banana leaf headboards. Highlights include a bespoke Four Seasons signature bed, HD flat-screen television, marble bathrooms, and spacious private lanais with modern furnishings to seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor tropical living. The resort’s restaurants and bars are infused with the magnetic energy of Ko Olina. Guests can splash into lively pools and lagoons, enjoy numerous water sports right off the resort’s own beach, play tennis and golf, and relax in the spa – wrapped in the effortless elegance of Four Seasons.

FOUR SEASONS RESORT OAHU AT KO OLINA


6. FOUR SEASONS RESORT MAUI AT WAILEA, MAUI

The Four Seasons Maui at Wailea is located on 15 ocean front acres, overlooking a beautiful crescent-shaped gold sand beach in Wailea, an exclusive resort area on Maui’s sunnier side of the island offering 3 championship golf courses, upscale shopping, and a spectacular 2 mile (3 km) beach walk that runs along the ocean. The hotel, which epitomises a classical Hawaiian palace resort, has 376 spacious rooms and suites located in an 8 story mid-rise, U-shaped building fronting the ocean. Room features include a private lanai or terrace, luxurious marble bathroom, and refrigerated mini- bar customized to guests preference. A stroll through fragrant plumeria trees and art-laden public areas reveals a study in relaxed elegance. What sets the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea apart from other hotels on the islands is the wide array of complimentary services, activities and facilities that are included for all guests which most other Hawaii hotels charge for. Service and attention to detail are the key focus of the hotel staff to ensure a relaxing and memorable stay.

  • Hotel website: Four Seasons Resort at Wailea
  • Tip: get free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and hotel credit).
  • Review: coming soon (autumn 2017).

FOUR SEASONS RESORT MAUI AT WAILEA, MAUI


5. ST REGIS PRINCEVILLE, KAUAI

Located in the 9,000 acre resort community of Princeville at Hanalei, the St. Regis Princeville lays claim to Hawaii’s most stunning location – a cliff overlooking dramatic Hanalei Bay on the northern shore of Kauai, the “Garden Island”. The spectacular views rank among the most beautiful in the world and are framed by lush tropical hills, cerulean blue skies, puffs of clouds, and mist. The resort has 252 rooms and suites which are located in three separate buildings that terrace down from the top plateau of Princeville to the semi-private beach at Hanalei Bay. Calming and seductive, these contemporary Hawaiian designed accommodations reflects the color palette of the sky, sea and earth. The renowned Makai Golf Club at The St. Regis Princeville Resort is a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design, which opened in 1971 and was redesigned and reopened in 2010.  The Makai Course winds its way around serene lakes, native woodlands and the spectacular coastline with views of Bali Hai and Hanalei Bay.

ST REGIS PRINCEVILLE, KAUAI


4. FOUR SEASONS RESORT HUALALAI, BIG ISLAND

Set on the Big Island’s exclusive Kona-Kohala Coast, this showpiece oceanfront luxury resort in Hualalai captures the essence of Hawaiian design, culture and tradition, and is consistently one of the most sought out resorts by honeymooners. A peerless collection of native Hawaiian art complements the expansive, open-air living spaces and island-inspired décor. Housed in intimate two-storey bungalows, the resort’s 243 guest rooms and suites exude authentic Hawaiian luxury. Guests can choose from three restaurants and two lounges, with creative menus that change to reflect the seasons and to offer tempting variety throughout the week – from the bounty of Hawaii’s land and oceans to Tuscan cucina rustica or beachfront barbecues, from Asian-Pacific cuisine to Polynesian pupus (appetisers) and mai tais. Four Seasons Hualalai offers seclusion without isolation, complemented by an award-winning sports club and spa and a private Jack Nicklaus signature golf course.

  • Hotel website: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
  • Tip: get free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and resort credit).
  • Review: coming soon (autumn 2017).

FOUR SEASONS RESORT HUALALAI, BIG ISLAND


3. TRAVAASA HANA, MAUI

Considered one of the most remarkable resorts in Hawaii, Travaasa Hana, Maui (formerly known as Hotel Hana Maui) is located in the tiny town of Hana on the eastern tip of Maui and will immerse you in the real Hawaii. Timeless local customs such as throw-net fishing and lei making are still a fundamental part of this community’s fabric. Travaasa Hana is the first resort on the island to greet the rising sun and is set amid rolling grass fields and palm trees above Hana Bay. The resort’s spacious cottages and private suites set a peaceful mood, and some of them offer views of the waves rolling across the Pacific Ocean from their private lanai. In an environment free of radios, clocks, and televisions, nothing will distract you from the natural beauty and relaxation of heavenly Hana. Travaasa Hana is located at the end of a three-hour, hair rising coastal drive along Maui’s rugged eastern coastline, considered to be one of the most scenic routes on the planet.

TRAVAASA HANA, MAUI


2. FOUR SEASONS RESORT LANAI, LANAI

On the southeastern shores of Hawaii’s last unspoiled island, Four Seasons Resort Lanai is your gateway to an exotic, private paradise where opportunities for adventure and relaxation abound. The ultraluxe resort – which reopened in 2016 after undergoing a multi-million dollar transformation – offers dazzling views over the gold crescent of Hulopo’e Beach to the blue-green waters of a protected marine preserve. Inspired by Hawaii’s diverse and storied influences, the interiors showcase walls of teak and zebra wood edging artisan-produced Nepalese lokta paper and floors of mahogany laid with wool hand-woven area rugs. Verdant botanical gardens, two lagoon-style pools and cascading waterfalls serve as a beautiful backdrop for outdoor art and sculpture. Four Seasons Lana’i at Manele Bay offers 217 over-sized guest rooms & suites, each with a private lanai, two restaurants (including a NOBU), a full-service spa, and two legendary golf courses. It’s sister resort, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai The Lodge at Koele will reopen later this year.

  • Hotel website: Four Seasons Resort Lanai
  • Tip: get free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and resort credit).
  • Review: coming soon (autumn 2017).

FOUR SEASONS RESORT LANAI, LANAI


1. ANDAZ MAUI AT WAILEA RESORT, MAUI

Perched along crescent-shaped shores, Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort radiates luxury. From the moment you step into the airy lobby, you’ll feel like you’re a world away. Each one of hotel’s 290 guest rooms and suites, and seven residential villas, blends the non-traditional Andaz style with the feel of a luxury resort community. Accommodations are enhanced at every turn, with modern touches like private lanais for admiring magnificent Hawaii sunsets, baths with ocean and garden view showers, and luxurious body products that invigorate both body and mind. The resort has two award-winning restaurant: you can share authentic island cuisine served family style at Ka’ana Kitchen, or embark on a distinct culinary adventure blending Western and Japanese traditions at Morimoto Maui, led by the acclaimed celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto. Dip your toes in the sand, explore Hawaii’s vast wonders, or lounge poolside with your favorite drink at my favorite hotel in Hawaii.

  • Hotel website: Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
  • Tip: get free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).
  • Review: coming soon (autumn 2017).

ANDAZ MAUI AT WAILEA RESORT, MAUI


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Filed under: Top 10 lists Tagged: Andaz, best hotels in Hawaii, Big Island, Four Seasons, grand hyatt, hawaii, Kauai, Luxury hotels, Luxury travel, Maui, Oahu, Ritz-Carlton, Top 10, top 10 2017

Review: Evason Ana Mandara, Nha Trang (Vietnam)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel and/or flight review.

Last April & May, 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:


Today (August 2, 2017): Review of Evason Ana Mandara, Nha Trang (Vietnam).

Evason Ana Mandara is Nha Trang’s only in-town beachfront resort, nestled between a magnificent bay and a bustling coastal street. The resort’s 74 guestrooms are set in semi-detached garden villas offering classic Vietnamese touches amidst a tropical oasis. Dining options include Vietnamese and international cuisine, with many ingredients sourced from local markets. A superb spa presents an array of specialty treatments, traditional therapies, beachfront aerial yoga and sensory journeys, providing truly relaxing and revitalizing wellness encounters. The family-friendly resort, which is managed by the famous Six Senses brand, offers a diverse range of excursions, beach volleyball, water-activity, PADI dive center, and the Kid’s Club.

In this review (more info below my Youtube clip & 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
  • Photos

Click to view slideshow.

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Nha Trang is Vietnam’s most famous resort town thanks to its magnificent stretch of gold sand. However, if you dream of going from your plush bed straight into the East China Sea for a swim, you can only do that at Evason Ana Mandara, since that’s the only hotel in downtown Nha Trang located directly on the sand. All other hotels – including the more recently built InterContinental Nha Thrang resort – are separated from the beach by the busy Tran Phu Boulevard.
  • The informal beach resort stretches along 0,5 km (0,3 mi) of palm-fringed beach, and is tucked away in lush gardens, shielded from the traffic noise and lively streetscape of Tran Phu Boulevard. Although the bustling city is in the hotel’s backyard, a peaceful and secluded sanctuary will await you the moment you enter the resort grounds. The property offers a level of tranquility that’s not matched by any other hotel in Nha Trang city.
  • The resort features a low-rise concept, reminiscent of a traditional Vietnamese village, which is a welcome alternative for the high-rise buildings that now dot the shore in Nha Trang. Natural materials have been used to build the resort and decorate the interiors, with rattan chairs, wood loungers, whitewashed bar tables, stone foundations, and terracotta tile roofs fusing traditional Vietnamese accents with contemporary design.
  • At the hotel’s heart is a breezy reception pavilion, which is an open-sided space with dark wood cushioned chairs and tables under a high ceiling. The lobby overlooks a lily ponds packed with exotic koi fish and a small wooden bridge in the lush gardens. The lobby space also houses several on-site boutique shops, the activity & excursions center, a bar, an art gallery displaying works of local painters, and a charming library, which features a large choice of newspapers, magazines, and books. The lobby is also connected to one of the resort’s two dining venues, Pavilion restaurant (more on that below).
  • Evason Ana Mandara offers 74 semi-detached suites and guestrooms within 17 traditional Vietnamese-style villas, which are set in the lush, tropical gardens on each side of the lobby. The resort accommodation is evocative of a traditional, serene Vietnamese village blended with modern refinement. During my holiday, I stayed in a so-called ‘deluxe sea view room’, which had French windows that opened onto a cozy, shaded terrace with partial views of the sea. The room, which came with two single beds in mosquito netting, featured a cottage-style decor, with high thatched ceilings and rustic Vietnamese hardwood furniture above the tile floor. The ensuite bathroom featured two sinks, a toilet, a full-sized bathtub, and a rain shower.
  • Resort guests are spoilt for choice with two generously sized, beach-front pools. The pool near the lobby, which comes with a jacuzzi, is perfect for families with younger children. The far end of the property features an even larger pool, which has an inviting drop off blending with the horizon of the East China Sea. Daybeds and cushioned lounge chairs with umbrellas are set around both pools and encourage poolside relaxation.
  • The property – a wholly Vietnamese owned enterprise – is managed by Six Senses, one of my favorite luxury hotel brands in the world. Six Senses is a hotel and spa management company that currently comprises 10 resorts and 28 spas under the brand names Six Senses, Evason and Six Senses Spas. Each of the Six Senses properties is supported by a leadership commitment to community, sustainability and wellness. Six Senses operates two other properties in Vietnam as well: ultraluxe Six Senses con Dao and – my favorite – Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. It’s important to know that Evason Ana Mandara is the least exclusive of the 3 Vietnamese Six Senses properties, reflecting the more budget-friendly character of the Evason brand.
  • The seaside Six Senses Spa Nha Trang offers specialty treatments together with an extensive menu of traditional therapies, providing a truly relaxing and revitalizing experience to rejuvenate the senses. Skilled therapists create sensory journeys for guests, with a range of holistic wellness and pampering treatments using only natural products. The spa also offers Aerial Yoga which brings together stretching, breathing and meditation with gymnastics and aerial arts.
  • The resort has two excellent beach-front restaurants. The Pavilion restaurant is located near the lobby and serves gourmet dining focusing on local cuisine. Once a week, it is transformed into a street market, highlighting authentic regional Vietnamese food from around the country. Each morning, the Pavilion restaurant is also the scene of a terrific breakfast buffet, which comprises several food stations. The other dining venue – Ana Beach House restaurant – is located along the infinity pool and specializes in seafood and Mediterranean fare.
  • The hotel is located right on Nha Trang’s famous golden sand beach. The beach itself is fully public though it is far enough away from the main drag that few venture here. Several sun loungers under thatched umbrellas are available to hotel guests only. Remarkably, before sunrise and after sunset, it are mainly Vietnamese people who make use of the beach and swim in the sea, while European and Russian tourists largely outnumber the Vietnamese nationals during the day.
  • There is a host of activities for the whole family at Evason Ana Mandara. The resort offers tennis, biking, gym fitness, beach volleyball, exciting moonlight cruises and much, much more. On Evason Ana Mandara’s tranquil beach, you will also find a onsite five-star PADI accredited diving center where the experts know many great diving and snorkeling sites. The islands surrounding Nha Trang offer exciting, adventurous trips and fishing excursions. Close by is some of Vietnam’s astounding countryside, with steep mountains and plush green paddy fields seemingly electrified by the sun.
  • Eco-friendly and sustainable policies are at the core of the resort’s business, serving up organic, locally sourced food where possible, recycling and offering free bicycles for touring, employing local staff, and running charity schemes to improve locals’ quality of life.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

The 5-star Evason Ana Mandara enjoys an excellent reputation as the only beachfront property in Nha Trang town. It’s the perfect choice for a family holiday. There are some things you need to know though when considering a stay here to make sure that your expectations are met:

  • The 74 rooms and suites are housed in 17 villas, which are located quite lose to each other. However, the tropically lush vegetation offers a high degree of privacy, so there’s not really something to be worried about.
  • Although the hotel is right in the middle of a town, you will not notice that as the hotel is tucked away in a lush oasis of tropical vegetation. However, although the resort is a tranquil spot, hotel areas and rooms closer to the busy Tran Phu Boulevard behind the property may pick up a bit of street noise.
  • Nha Trang’s beach is very busy and crowded, although the stretch of public beach in front of the hotel feels more quiet and more exclusive.
  • The property is less luxurious and also considerably cheaper when compared to its more famous Six Senses sister properties. Although managed by Six Senses, the Evason brand is more budget friendly and caters to a different public, although there’s no denying that the property is still 5 star and does not compromise on comfort. However, if you expect the same level of luxury as at other Six Senses hotels, you may end up disappointed.
  • Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang is an older property. It opened 20 years ago, in 1997, and although facilities are very well maintained, the rooms and communal areas could use a little refurbishment in certain areas.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 7/10
  • Design: 7/10
  • Pool: 8/10
  • Rooms: 7/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Breakfast: 8/10
  • Spa: 9/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: very good: 8/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting best deal at a luxury hotel like Evason Ana Mandara. Book a room at the cheapest price and/or receive many free perks!
  • Request a room away from the busy coastal street behind the hotel.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Like most of Southeast Asia, Vietnam varies from warm to very hot throughout the whole year. There are four annual seasons: cool and dry between November and February; (very) hot and dry between March and May; hot and wet between June and August; and cool and wet between September and early November. The best time to visit is the cool and dry season, when the weather usually benefits from a pleasant dry heat and the surrounding countryside is still green from the rains. In general, autumn travel in Nha Trang is not recommended as heavy rain, tropical storms and typhoon may occur.


HOW TO GET THERE

Nha Trang is situated 840 miles (1,350) kilometers from Hanoi (HAN) and 280 miles (450 kilometers) from Ho Chi Minh City (SGN). Vietnam airlines operates flights from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Danang (DAD) on most days, according to schedule. Upon arriving at Cam Ranh Airport (CXR), it takes approximately 30-minutes by car to Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang. Guest with reservations will be met at the airport by a resort host. Cam Ranh airport transfer fee to and from resort by shared van are $25 USD per room per way. Guests also have the option of private transfer at $61 USD for two to three persons per way, per vehicle.


LOBBY – ARRIVAL AREA

LOBBY – ARRIVAL AREA

LOBBY – ARRIVAL AREA

LOBBY – ARRIVAL AREA

LOBBY – RECEPTION AREA

LOBBY – RECEPTION AREA

LOBBY – RECEPTION AREA

LOBBY – RECEPTION AREA

LOBBY – RECEPTION AREA

LOBBY – RECEPTION AREA

LOBBY – RECEPTION AREA

LOBBY – RECEPTION AREA

LOBBY – RECEPTION AREA

LOBBY – RECEPTION AREA

LOBBY – BOUTIQUE SHOPS

LOBBY – BOUTIQUE SHOPS

LOBBY – BOUTIQUE SHOPS

LOBBY – BOUTIQUE SHOPS

LOBBY – LIBRARY

LOBBY – LIBRARY

LOBBY – LIBRARY

LOBBY – LIBRARY

LOBBY – LIBRARY

LOBBY – LIBRARY

LOBBY – LIBRARY

LOBBY – ART GALLERY

LOBBY – ART GALLERY

LOBBY – ART GALLERY

LOBBY – ART GALLERY

LOBBY – ART GALLERY

LOBBY – BAR

LOBBY – BAR

LOBBY – BAR

LOBBY – FISH POND

LOBBY – FISH POND

LOBBY – FISH POND

LOBBY – FISH POND

LOBBY – FISH POND

WELCOME DRINK, FROZEN FRUIT, & COLD TOWEL

FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL

GARDENS

GARDENS

GARDENS

GARDENS

GARDENS

GARDENS

GARDENS

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM – WELCOME SNACKS

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM – WELCOME SNACKS

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM – WELCOME SNACKS

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM – WELCOME SNACKS

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM – WELCOME SNACKS

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM – WELCOME SNACKS

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM – WELCOME LETTER

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

DELUXE SEA VIEW ROOM

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

BEACH IN FRONT OF HOTEL

NHA TRANG BEACH

NHA TRANG BEACH

NHA TRANG BEACH

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA

SIX SENSES SPA