Barbara Adam samples some sumptuous relaxation on Vietnam’s central coast atBanyan Tree Lang Co.
It begins with the booking confirmation email, which includes details of the shuttle from Danang International Airport to the resort, a 35 kilometre trip that takes 75 minutes.
It continues with follow-up emails asking for your pillow and scent preferences, and whether you’d like a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label in your room when you arrive. There’s also a “plan my stay” setting, where you can book watersports, bicycle tours, a cooking class or spa treatments ahead of time.
A few days before you’re due to arrive, another comprehensive email arrives asking if there’s anything you require during your stay. You’re told a “villa host” will be waiting to escort you to your villa when you arrive.
And so our personal villa host, Ms Mi, in a pristine yellow ao dai, did. She bundled us into a golf cart and whooshed us off to our pool villa, which had pampering written all over it.
After a quick introduction to the villa, the lights, the pillows, the minibar and the coffee machine, the daily activity schedule and the various dining options, we were left alone to luxuriate in our private pool and garden.
First we had to choose where to lounge — on the deck, by the pool or in the pavilion overlooking the palm-fringed beach? We could even loll inside, on the couch at the bottom of the bed or in the giant bath.
We could have dialed the pampering up enormously, with one of four different bath treatments. But these required booking three hours in advance and we honestly couldn’t plan that far ahead. So we just speculated about the VND2.12 million + bath, which included relaxing music and oils and a bottle of champagne.
Banyan Tree Lang Co has four dining outlets on site. Its sister property next door, the more family-orientated Angsana, has three restaurants, and there’s also a small convenience store near the activity centre. So there were a lot of eating and drinking options, and free bicycles to explore it all.
We kept things low-key, with a sunset cocktail at Thu Quan (the Library), a book-lined bar with ocean views. It was a Friday night, which meant the drinks were on General Manager Brett Burton, who was at the bar and happy to chat about Banyan Tree and life in Lang Co. Brett, a friendly Aussie, steered us over to a bench near a lotus-filled pond, where two ladies from the Banyan Tree Spa were giving Thai head and shoulder massages.
At 7pm, we hitched a ride in a golf cart halfway up a mountain to Saffron, the resort’s signature restaurant which specialises in Thai fusion fine dining. It was a long leisurely meal, full of flavour, with attentive service, and plenty of time to admire the unusual decor and night time views of the fishing boats on the East Sea.
We fell into bed that night to discover it was the most comfortable bed we’d ever experienced.
That was the end of the pampering section of our getaway. Or so we thought. We headed to breakfast early, keen to get stuck into the activities at the Laguna Water Sports Centre despite the intermittent drizzle.
But breakfast intervened. The Water Court offers an enormous daily breakfast buffet with Eastern and Western options, dim sum, fruit, pastries, cheeses and a free champagne station. Ms Mi, our villa host found us as we floundered around with empty plates, unsure where to start. With her help, we planned our day, starting with archery at the sports centre and then a bit of exploring on a pair of fat bikes, with the option to book some kayaks later that afternoon, before or after afternoon tea in our villa.
The archery was a lot of fun. The rain meant we kept having to dash under cover, where we chatted with a friendly South Korean family who were trying to set out on a fat bike adventure. They eventually gave up, and summoned a golf cart to take them to the pool, where they could just get totally wet.
Angsana, we discovered later, has a lazy river snaking through the complex, which is perfect for kids, who can pile onto an inflatable raft and drift along the entire loop.
A lantern-lined canal also passes through both properties, and the resorts offer regular boat trips to explore the waterway. Because the sea was so rough, we had our standup paddleboard session on the canal. We were first time SUPers, and we discovered, independently of each other, that it’s much more comfortable to sit on them and paddle!
Neither of us are golfers, so we couldn’t really appreciate the 18-hole Nick Faldo-designed championship course at the Languna Lang Co Golf Club. We did stop and take photos of the luscious greens, though, when we rolled past on our fat bikes.
We explored the complex’s onsite organic farm, marvelling at how the small herd of goats weren’t eating the herbs and vegetables. The chickens and ducks were penned, and they had quite a bit to say about the fact we didn’t have any food for them.
We ended our fat bike tour back at our villa, where we snuck in a swim and a nap before afternoon tea, which was delivered by a young man in an ao dai.
We debated taking up some of the more luxurious Banyan Tree services, like in-villa dining or a DIY barbecue in our garden, or even booking a jet ski safari the following morning. But once again, decision fatigue set in and we just ambled over to Angsanga for dinner at Moomba, where we bumped into Brett the personable general manager again.
Our final day at Banyan Tree Lang Co dawned bright and clear, with blue skies full of fluffy white clouds. We got to see the resort at its best, and we went for a final bike ride to soak in the views.
Banyan Tree Lang Co gave us a weekend away with the perfect blend of luxury, relaxation and activities. It’s well worth the trek from Ho Chi Minh City to Danang, and the drive through the Hai Van Tunnel, to get to this magical oasis in central Vietnam.