BY NATHALIE SOKOLOVSKAYA
(No.7, Vol.6, Sep-Oct 2016 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)
The inspiring idea that the quote â€˜long is the journey to an exotic tropical island retreatâ€™ does fail sometimes comes to mind immediately as I draw a balcony curtain aside at my elegant Deluxe Ocean View Room at Vinpearl Halong Bay Resort, 7 storeys above the emerald waters of Halong Bay. The dreamy and splendid panorama of limestone mountains coated in the mist floating above the water forming the fanciful incised underline to the horizon at oneâ€™s full view is hypnotizing. Minutes ago, I was transferred at a blink of an eye from the mainland snowy white check-in building with exterior of a small castle and noble-looking interiors of concert hall in classic style with columns and elegant furniture to the private Reu Island, lying 200 metres from the land.
Bright new five-star Vinpearl Halong Bay Resort exclusively located on its own private island with the total area of 40,000 m² and opened to guests seven months ago looks truly impressive with its noble neo-classical architectural style and grandiose crescent shape silhouette, embracing the sunlit island terrain.
The half-minute long electric car ride from the pier made and a beautiful fountain of water running down the stairs at the entrance passed, one steps in the huge hall of the reception area with interiors, furnishing, lighting and carpets made in the best traditions of sumptuous art deco style, featuring chic sitting areas crowned with dramatic ceiling fittings, foyer lounge bar with piano, flowing smoothly in to the Bay view restaurant with floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows and running further both sides along the carpeted ways to the elevators leading to two wings of luxurious accommodation.
Resort premises observed from above strike with aesthetic outlay featuring expansive open-air rose garden, gradually descending to two outdoor swimming pools, one of which comprises 1.025m² of blue water placed over the huge and blossoming exotic flowers sophisticatedly â€˜plantedâ€™ on their bottom from deep blue ceramic mosaic pieces. The pool is placed steps away from the front sandy beach overlooking the bay. The island seems to have a sea star shape featuring three natural sandy beaches with calm waters and gradual descent from shallow to deep, inviting one to enjoy at least two daysâ€™ long swim with one of the best sea views Northern Vietnam can offer as the back drop.
The luxurious accommodation of Vinpearl Halong Bay Resort features 384 rooms, ranging from Deluxe Ocean View and Deluxe Pool and Terrace through Panoramic and Executive suites up to two chic Presidential suites with fabulous 350m² area and 360 degree views over stunning Halong bay.
All the rooms boast noble-looking interiors in fine art deco style with exquisite furniture in decorative curlings, king beds, sophisticated lamps and lightning fittings, cosy long chairs and spacious terrace-like balconies with a view one is never tired of. Due to the unique location, the striking views of the bay can be enjoyed from all of the resort rooms. The corridors and passages in beige, champagne and gold colours with beautiful carpets and chic lamps, are turned into landscape painting galleries showcasing the peaceful images of European rural idyll of the 19th century.
Among indoor exquisite facilities are all-seasons swimming pool (the third on the premises)with ornamental round windows overlooking the sea, state-of-the-art fitness centre and chic Vincharm spa with extensive menu of exotic treatments, including unlimited relaxation package with two spa treatments for a person per day, Vincharm signature coconut silky wrap, green tea scrub and Thai massage. The resort also has a huge indoor kids club and outdoor playing ground to impress its small guests, two tennis courts and water sport activities centre to cater to sporty holiday makers.
The gastronomic side of a stay in Vinpearl Halong Bay Resort deserves sincere hats off compliment for its quality, variety and creative way of serving in three impressive in-house restaurants. The â€˜on spot gastronomic cruiseâ€™- all day dining buffets served in Bay view Restaurant is included in the stay at the resort and features nearly a hundred dishes each, embracing Vietnamese authentic cuisine, fresh seafood galore, Japanese rolls and sashimi and an Italian food corner. The colourful full board that very few guests would manage to resist or treat with moderation represents the signature treat of the Vinpearl Resort chain and is truly unique both to the eye and to the palate. It boasts a bright palette of Vietnamese specialties like exotic rice-cake delights from Hue, the ancient capital, famous for its high cuisine and traditional New Year rice pie banh chung, which causes a strong addiction in those who catch the zest of its taste. Not to mention the baked and grilled fish, various seafood, excellent pho soups, many sorts of cheese and tropical fruits on display.
An expansive a la carte menu is also waiting to be explored at the elegant interiors of Akoya Restaurant and stunning Pavilion dining venue built on water with panoramic bay view sand tailored for a memorable, romantic and atmospheric dining out.
The elegant Pearl Lounge with live music from a Filipino band in the evening apart from cocktails galore and powerful Vietnamese coffee selection hypnotized me during my two day-long stay with one of the most tasty-looking club sandwiches and salmon burgers Iâ€˜ve ever seen on display, but remained a dream to me as their degustation was impossible to undertake due to the busy schedule of full board indulgence.
With a large number of rooms within the Vinpearl Halong Bay Resort premises and its full occupancy, the space there somehow surprisingly gives a feeling of privacy and tranquillity and together with the highly professional performance of its personnel gives an impression of staying in a boutique hotel with personal approach to its guests but not of a stay in a large-scale hotel institution housing hundreds of people.
With its unique location, impressive yet harmonious architecture, excellent gastronomy, an array of activities and facilities meant for total relaxation and indulgence, as well as a wide range of exclusive tours to remember on offer including day and sunset private cruises, cave dining, cable car trips over the bay to recreational parc and sea plane trips , Vinpearl Halong Bay Resort seems to turn their ambitious logo â€˜being the holiday paradiseâ€™ in to action with success and earns one of the leading titles in the list of the best and newest resorts of Northern Vietnam.