Amanoi is viewed as the best resort in Vietnam by the locals. But is this 6 year old resort really that good or perhaps it's just better than other hotels in Vietnam? Having just came from two other Amans in Southeast Asia, I can assure you Amanoi is as good as other Amans around.
In order to get to this Aman, you have to fly to Cam Ranh airport. Once you are there, the ride is about hour and a half through mostly trafficless road. The roads around the airport are newly paved and you can tell Vietnamese government is eager to promote Cam Ranh Bay as the next resort destination.
The arrival ritual at Amans is always perfect; someone from the management along with my butler come to greet me with warm/ cold towels and drinks. Then they proceed to take me upstairs to the grand lobby where one takes in lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. I thought the architect did a great job at breaking up the stairs into two section so you don't feel like you are climbing forever before reaching the top. Once you get there, the reveal is a magnificent view of the Vinh Hy Bay. If you don't feel like to walk up the stairs, you can easily take a golf cart up to the lobby level as well.
The room I booked into was Amanoi Ocean Pool Villa which is the highest category suite. The description online said Grand private wooden deck with infinity pool and breathtaking ocean views. The view, as description promised, was truly breathtaking. Basically this room has the ocean and mountain view all rolled into one with a very private pool; the kind that you can wear your birthday suit with no chance of anyone seeing you while you swim in the pool. The bathroom shower is set up in such a way that you can access it from the swimming pool deck which is perfect. This suite is set back from the golf cart path that there is no way you will hear people talking or sound of a golf cart passing by. It really is a suite that one can spend all day and never leave.
If shopping is in your blood, then Amanoi has the shop for you. While the shop isn't the biggest Aman gift shop I have ever seen, it does have a lot of interesting and good quality things that I would not mind having. Obviously all can be charged to your account and yes, you don't need to tell them which room you are at. You literally can just grab and go.
As I alluded earlier, on top of the hill is where the grand dinning room is at. The dinning room is actually set up into several different sections; bar, enclosed dining area, open air dinning area, and outdoor dining area. My understanding is sometimes it can get quite windy at Amanoi thus sitting outside or in the open air area while eating may not always be pleasant. I did not encounter strong wind during my stay. I had food at the dining room as well as at the beach club. Both places served good high quality food that is tasty. Everything was cooked perfectly; nothing was overdone or dried out.
Amanoi spa is absolutely beautiful! The spa is in a separate area from the villas thus in order to get there, you just have to call up a golf cart. With that said, there is one spa villa that's available for rent. This spa villa is exactly the same as other villas with exception that in it's lower floor facing the lake, there is a dedicated plunge pool, steam room, treatment room, etc. My understanding is guests can also rent out the lower part of the villa for half a day if it's not occupied. The treatment room is quite nice and comes with a large bathroom with soaking tubs. I had an enjoyable massage while I was there.
For the suite I was in, I was afforded a personal butler who basically take cares of my stay. I'm unsure if that's true for lower category suites. I thought my butler was great. She took care of everything and all my requests were met. I have no cause for complaint!
In order to access the beach, you can have a golf cart come to pick you up as most of the villas are right up in the hills. The wait is never long for these carts. While all beaches are public, there really is no way to access Amanoi's beach unless you are staying there. The water right off the beach has some decent snorkeling. I was a bit surprised at how much fish there are! While it's no Hanauma Bay in Oahu or the Maldives, there is decent amount of fish to see....much more than off the beach at Belmont La Samanna in St Martin in the Caribbean.
Overall this new(ish) Aman does not disappoint; the rooms are gorgeous; the food is delicious; the service is Aman good; and the beach is beautiful. This place reminds me a bit of Amankila in Bali although the facility here is definitely newer/ better. With that said, Amankila has better gift shop and better waves for bodyboard surfing. In either case, you can't go wrong with either Aman. This is definitely one of the Aman I will return to again.
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