Frances McInnis checks in for some quiet time at Vedana Lagoon Resort and Spa, a luxury resort near Hue.
I’m reclining in a massive round marble bathtub, the surface of the water covered in fragrant rose petals. Outside the window in front of me, the sunset turns the sea a fiery peach and then a deep purple. I take another sip of hot ginger tea, close my eyes and listen. I can’t hear anything but the lapping of water against the pilings supporting the villa. I smile.
Most of us who’ve made our home here love HCM City. We love the cacophony of motorbike horns, the vibrant street life, the shouts of the schoolchildren and even the music of the ice cream sellers. But sometimes, to make sure we keep loving this city, we need a break from the bedlam. In search of a solo weekend getaway, I head to the Vedana Lagoon Resort and Spa, nestled in a secluded lagoon between Hue and Danang. The resort’s focus is on relaxation and wellness, and its website reads, “The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.” Sounds like the perfect antidote to a case of Saigon blues.
The lagoon is one of the largest in Southeast Asia, and is surrounded by lushly forested peaks. It’s a gorgeous spot, and, as promised, stunningly quiet. As I sit on the deck of my villa eating breakfast and enjoying the view, I feel quite wonderfully alone. The sounds of water and wind are broken only by the occasional small boat putt-putting past, its occupants on their way to check fishing nets across the lagoon.
Vedana is owned by a family from Hue, and is currently the only resort open on the lagoon. Not for long, though—a few international hotel chains have already snapped up nearby properties, recognising the place’s isolated appeal. “In Vietnam, it’s difficult to be alone,” says Le Thi Da Lam, daughter of the developer and director of business development. “This is a quiet place—it’s very rare here.”
Lam’s brother was in charge of the design, and he spaced the villas far enough apart to allow guests to feel completely alone. There are only 27 villas in total, with 10 villas built out over the water and the remainder perched on the hillside overlooking the lagoon. The flooring on a few of the ocean villas is made of thick glass, allowing you to look down to the water below your feet. The interiors are sleekly modern but feature Vietnamese touches such as carved pillars made from jackfruit wood and paintings by local artists. “Even though the design is more contemporary, we wanted people to still feel they are in Vietnam,” says Lam.
Around a small promontory from the guest villas is the spa, made up of nine more villas on the water connected by wooden walkways. Forgoing the golf-cart option in favour of a bicycle thoughtfully parked outside my villa, I head over for some yoga. Equipment for tennis, volleyball and badminton is on offer, but those sports don’t work so well with only one. Instead, I brush off the dust on my warrior poses and sun salutations while enjoying the breeze off the water.
After going for a swim and basking in the sun, I’m back at the spa for an aromatherapy massage. The emphasis here is on wellness and spirituality, and the spa has yoga, meditation, tai chi and Ayurvedic healing as well as the usual relaxation and beauty treatments. By July, a vegetarian restaurant and herb garden, a teahouse, and a library of books about healing will also be available on the hill opposite the spa.
All that relaxation really works up an appetite and I stuff myself with beautiful Vietnamese food: fresh seafood in caramelised fish sauce, or garlic and ginger, banh khoi (a deep-fried pancake filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and egg), fresh spring rolls, sautéed vegetables, fluffy steamed rice, and, for dessert, small, sweet bananas cooked in orange juice or ice cream. Later, I take a cooking class in the restaurant to learn how to make some of the dishes on the menu.
If I’m honest, though, I’m happiest eating on the balcony of my villa while the light fades. Hair wet from swimming, I recline on a round wicker chair and watch the mountains around the lagoon turn blue and blend into the sky and into the water. I can smell the traces of smoke from village down the road. And I can hear—nothing. Perfect.
Vedana Lagoon Resort and Spa
Zone 1, Phu Loc Town, Phu Loc District, Hue
25 km from Hue Airport, 60 km from Danang Airport. (Note: If you fly into Danang, be sure to drive over the Hai Van Pass in at least one direction. The alternative is a long tunnel, which is more efficient but a lot less breathtaking.)