These days it's not uncommon to see resorts and hotel chains get on the eco bandwagon; some are genuine and take on the task with gusto and I commend their efforts immensely. Others do a few small token gestures in the hope that it will appease the masses and they will be seen to be doing the right thing.
One resort I am delighted to acknowledge as one that is leading the way as a true eco leader is An Lam Retreat in Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam.
Not only does this hidden slice of lovability do its utmost to be at one with its stunning natural surrounds it also has an amazing story about its inception that deserves to be told and heard.
You see www.anlam.com began as a vision, a reverie almost. Tran Duc Lam, founder, and CEO of An Lam, is not only an established and much-sought-after craftsmen, he is one smart cookie on many levels.
His seed of an idea to design not only a five-star luxury oasis for adults to rewind and recharge but to also do it with as little disturbance to the surrounding environment was not often heard of and certainly rarely achieved in Vietnam. Until now.
Today what stands proudly or, should I say, melds affectionately into this enchanted sliver of the south side of the Hon Heo peninsula is a testament to the man himself and his magnificent achievement.
Not only does the architecture impress immensely, but its staff also delight in making sure you and yours are delivered a memorable experience. From the moment you step aboard the An Lam speed boat, you are carried away from your world of deadlines and demands to a sanctuary of nature and peace.
You will arrive to find yourself in the heart of a serene, environment of nature, design, and luxury, interwoven for your pleasure. An Lam desires to attend to your every need, ensuring no question goes unanswered or desire unfulfilled. Trust me on that one, or just ask and you will receive.
You have many tantalising choices of villas at An Lam, all built with the surrounding landscape in mind, amalgamating natural products, timbers, glass, bamboos and fabrics to assist in that wanting of reconnecting with earth and nature.
In fact, most villas are actually built into the land to the point that when your boat approaches the property its difficult to spot any dwellings apart from the resort's main edifice, one that I likened to The Death Star (Star Wars) or The Thunderdome (Mad Max 3) which as you will see for yourself are a lot more inspiring and inviting than my two comparisons.
Vietnamese architecture resounds in every one of the retreats lodgings. Every handcrafted piece of wooden furniture is designed with contemporary local culture by an artisan with a shrewd eye for detail.
From suspended tree houses to the ocean and bayside pool villas, each abode is unique and divine and will set you up for the ultimate opportunity to reset and recharge your mind, body, and soul. Sounds a little airy I know, but I speak from my heart on this matter.
Being wrapped by nature, the opportunity to be as close to self-sufficient as possible is engaged with zest within the retreats produce. The vast majority of vegetables are grown on-site. Mango and cashew trees are abundant. Coconuts, pineapples, seafood is literally at the doorstep and you will be mightily impressed with what the chefs create from these sources and others procured locally.
I delight in scoffing Vietnamese cuisine: the combinations of sauces, spices, and herbs with fresh meats and vegetables. Limited use of oils and dairy makes it even more delightful and flavoursome. At An Lam, you will be spoilt for choice throughout your stay and a bonus is that Vietnamese food is considered to be one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. So, eat yourself silly my friends.
Oh, and when you visit, you have to try the local lobster. As my dad always says, "little fish are sweet" and the lobster here is exactly that.
It is tempting to just chill right out here at An Lam, Ninh Van Bay and I did spend a fair amount of time doing just that. However, if you are just not one of those 'chill' people and the idea of doing nothing but swimming, eating, grabbing a massage from the day spa or enjoying cocktails by the pool while you peruse your latest chosen novel aren't for you, well, there are plenty of options for you.
You could trek through the tropical national park to the hidden natural stream, take a day trip on a city tour, or visit the neighbouring islands. Try a bit of snorkelling in the nearby bays and coves. What about mud baths or a boat charter....look I could go on, but there is a whole page here www.anlam.com with a multitude of offerings when it comes to getting active at An Lam.
However, I do suggest that there is more than enough peace, love, and cashews to keep you in a delightful state of Zen at the retreat leaving you happy with your lot in life should you take the 'chill' choices!
There is not anywhere in the world like An Lam Ninh Van Bay that I have experienced. It is one of a kind. If you are planning a Vietnamese adventure then I advise you to extend the journey for at least a few days and give yourself a little taste of this paradise found!
Getting there:www.cathaypacific.com are the leaders in delivering travellers to anywhere in the greater Asia region and with the opportunity for a few days at their home base exploring Hong Kong inbound or outbound for me is always too difficult to ignore. Cathay Pacific fly to Vietnam every day of the week and frequently have special offers available. I have flown with many and for me, Cathay is at the top of the list. Next time you fly, give them a try and try and tell me I am wrong.
- Scott McRae is The Travelling Guy. Scott was a guest of An Lam Retreat. Visit www.thetravellingguy.com for more stories and travel videos.