A luxury escape that doesn’t require leaving the country. By Chris Mueller.
Small villages lined the narrow, newly paved road. Kilometres separated one small cluster of houses from the next, with empty fields, a smattering of rice paddies and a few farmers leading small groups of buffalo in between.
It was an odd feeling being driven through this picturesque landscape in a luxury sedan, and even more odd when the driver veered off the road onto a driveway that was flanked by the bright green grass of a new 18-hole golf course. Beyond the golf course emerged the orange tiled roof of the Angsana, one the hotels that makes up the sprawling 280-hectare integrated resort of Banyan Tree’s Laguna Lang Co. This high-end luxury resort is the newest addition to the group’s portfolio of close to 30 resorts and hotels in the Asia-Pacific region.
Situated almost exactly between Da Nang and Hue, Laguna Lang Co makes use of its isolated location. Sitting on a crescent-shaped and spotless 3km beach on one side and framed by craggy, misty mountains on the other, the resort integrates luxury with Vietnam’s abundance of natural beauty.
Though the grounds of the resort were cut out of virtually untouched jungle, the amount of sheer luxury it provides is mind-boggling. All the rooms are fitted with plush beds, rain showers and deep bath tubs. Each room also has a huge flat screen TV and reliable internet access, but I imagine those go largely unused since there is so much else to do.
My room was located in the back of the resort. I was disappointed at first that I wouldn’t be able to look out onto the East Sea as I dozed off in the soft bed. But instead of ocean, my ground floor room looked up at the spectacular, lush and steep slopes of the mountains behind the resort. Despite having beautiful weather during my two-day visit, the mountains were shrouded in a curtain of fast-moving fog, adding an element of mystique.
While I could have spent the morning sitting outside my room reading and watching the clouds envelope the peaks, there was much to do and see. The beach by far is the biggest attraction of Laguna Lang Co. Already hot from a typical Vietnam morning, I decided walking to the beach would only make it worse. So instead, I hopped in the lagoon — a round swimming pool — just outside my room. From here, the entire Angsana hotel is accessible by the serpentine canals that connect the various swimming pools throughout the hotel. I slowly walked through the winding warm waters until I reached the main swimming area overlooking the beach, where the sea was just as warm as the pool.
But it’s not just the soft sand and warm sea that are inviting at the beach. There are also a whole range of activities available, from kayaking, surfing and body boarding to jet skiing, wake boarding and parasailing.
Even though the resort is far from popular tourist attractions — about an hour to Da Nang or Hue — boredom shouldn’t be an issue. The entertainment doesn’t stop when the sun goes down either. There are several restaurants spread throughout the resort, all of which overlook the beach and the sea beyond, and even a small night club. On my first night, bonfires had been set up on the beach outside of the Banyan Tree hotel — the other main hotel on the resort — where whole goats were roasted. Closer to the hotel a feast of grilled seafood and various meats were an offer, while waiters with trays offered booze and appetisers.
After a huge meal, plenty of alcohol and a late-night swim in the pool I got lost on the walk back to my room and somehow ended up back on the beach. With the darkness of the sea behind me and the massive resort in front, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was no longer in Vietnam. Other than the occasional non la, there was nothing about Laguna Lang Co that screamed Vietnam. Far from any major town, this could have been a tropical destination anywhere in the world. For people visiting Vietnam, that may not be ideal, but for those of us living here and looking for a quick escape without ever leaving the country, this just may be part of the appeal.