With resorts a dime a dozen in Vietnam, this new property in Da Nang stands out for its location and odd design. Words and photos by Jonny Edbrooke.
The first cliff-face resort in Vietnam certainly lives up to its reputation. With each room or suite affording a sea view, private beach and excellent amenities, the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsular Resort is a stunning venue.
Designed by Bangkok-based architect Bill Bensley, the property reflects an eye for precision often missing in five-star resorts in Vietnam. “We pride ourselves on our attention to every detail, from the architecture and gardens down to the napkin rings and signage,” Bensley told me while I visited the resort with my family last month.
Throughout the hotel you can see every aspect of the design has been painstakingly thought through in order to create a real sense of luxury. But after a few hours at the resort you start to notice something different, something a bit odd.
“My philosophy on design has always been ‘lebih gila, lebih biak’, which in Indonesian means ‘the more odd, the better’,” Bensley said.
He has put the philosophy to practice here. While lounging around the resort, I would constantly get a strange sense of something familiar, déjà vu if you will. It took me some time to figure it out, but eventually I realised much of the design reminded me of films, though Bensley said his inspiration came from Vietnamese culture. The Long Bar, with its black and white stripes and the huge suspended table and oversized chairs, had a definite Beetlejuice effect. Hanging from the bar’s ceiling were slowly wafting fans driven by a system that easily could fit in a Terry Gilliam film.
Citron, the main restaurant with upside-down ngon la hats as balconies, large ceiling fans and a giant teacup stuck above the bar reminded my colleague of The Hunger Games set.
And then there are the toilets. Bensley spent a lot of time making these normally forgotten rooms into an experience. At Citron there was a lounge waiting room before the toilets, which have been fitted with Vietnamese water jugs as washbasins and ceramic stove tops as wall decorations. The ladies’ cubicles at the Long Bar washroom are completely mirrored creating an infinite number of “yous” that watch while you do your business, again a device used in a number of movies.
As this is a cliffside resort, a funicular railway has been installed from the aptly-named Heaven (top) to Earth (ground) levels. Avoiding the obvious, Bensley used small wooden boats in place of carriages.
While the natural beauty of the hotel is probably enough to keep most guests happy, the odd design makes the whole thing that much more memorable.