Serenity in Southeast Asia: A review of the Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai in Vietnam
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During the COVID-19 crisis, our team has temporarily ceased taking review trips. Instead, we have been publishing a selection of our most popular reviews from the past year. However, as of this week we have resumed the publication of new, previously unpublished flight, hotel and lounge reviews, from trips taken before the lockdown. We hope this will help you choose once we’re all ready to start booking trips again.
Opened in 2006, the resort was quickly recognized as one of the top hotels in the country. It is located on a stretch of beach which was recently named the best in the world and just 10 minutes from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An, the culinary centre of Vietnam.
In 2016, Four Seasons breathed new life into the hotel when they took over the management contract and launched a big modernization project. Though the hotel still carries its historic name, it’s definitely a Four Seasons — as you’ll see from my review.
Four Seasons doesn’t have a loyalty program, so there’s no efficient way to redeem points for stays at these luxury properties. However, there are still plenty of ways to maximize value at the chain’s properties.
One of the best is booking through the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts portal. This program is available to all The Platinum Card from American Express cardholders. By reserving through Amex, you get a bunch of extra benefits for the same best-available rate you’d pay by booking directly with the hotel. At this property, FHR bookings include: a room upgrade at check-in, subject to availability; noon check-in, when available; 4 p.m. guaranteed late checkout; complimentary Wi-Fi and a $100 spa credit.
The hotel is just outside of the historic town of Hoi An and is 30 minutes by car from Da Nang International Airport (DAD). This city has grown exponentially in the past few years, and as you drive to the Four Seasons on the beachfront road, you’ll see multiple hotels under construction, including an Alila and a Rosewood.
I used Grab to get from the airport to the hotel, but there’s no Grab in Hoi An, so you have to take a taxi or hotel car for your return trip to the airport.
As we entered the tree-lined driveway, I could immediately tell that we were in for a special stay. At the covered entranceway, there were two bellmen waiting to welcome us to The Nam Hai.
They quickly whisked us out of the car and into the open-air lobby pavilion for check-in.
The check-in formalities were painless, though a bit prolonged. We were asked for our passports and credit card, and then got a brief orientation to the property. All in all, it probably took 20 minutes to complete, which was just a touch too long after flying for over 24 hours.
We were also offered some chilled towels, a welcome drink and some snacks while we checked-in. These made us forget how long we’d been waiting.
Before long, we had our (physical) key in hand and were escorted to a golf cart to drive us to Villa 4050.
There are no regular rooms at this property; the entry-level accommodation is a free-standing villa. The base-level villas are all the same size, though they differ in their views and locations within the resort.
Our one-bedroom oceanview villa was near the hotel’s main attractions. We didn’t have to walk too far to get anywhere on property. Others may want a bit more privacy, though every villa is, by definition, private.
Before entering our room, we noticed two bikes in the entryway. The bellman explained that these were for our use during the stay, though they would’ve been more useful had we been staying in a more secluded area.
Once we got inside the 861-square-foot pavilion, I was wowed by the unique design.
The room was multi-tiered — in fact, the desk was basically built into one of the many steps.
The highlight was definitely the supremely comfortable signature Four Seasons bed. This bed is literally what dreams are made of.
Near the bed was the sitting area with a couch. There were plenty of bedside universal power outlets too.
There was another small sofa by the desk, which perfectly complemented the recessed gold-plated bathtub.
Right near the bathtub was the well-stocked (and expensive) minibar and a safe.
The room was tastefully decorated — my favourite touches included a bonsai tree and an aromatherapy device.
As with most other Four Seasons rooms, the bathroom was spectacular. There were two individual vanities, as well as two closets with built-in luggage racks.
There was an indoor shower and water closet just past the sinks. Toiletries were in reusable containers making it impossible to identify the brand.
There was also an outdoor shower that mirrored the design of the room.
We had expansive views of the East Vietnam Sea. There were two daybeds on the porch, but it got quite buggy there, so we mostly enjoyed the view from inside.
Overall, the villa was stunning. If I had to nitpick (I do — it’s my job), I would’ve preferred that the room’s shades were electronic and there was a more advanced light-switch system. The room had tons of lights and it was very unclear which switch controlled what.
Food and beverage
With four nights at the resort, we sampled almost all of the food options. The hotel has two restaurants, both located beside the main pool area. The Western one, Cafe Nam Hai, is open daily for breakfast and dinner.
Breakfast was included with our stay, and was served from 7 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Food was presented as a combination of buffet and a la carte.
The buffet was well-stocked and featured a wide international assortment of dishes.
There was a fruit bar, waffle and pancake station, dumpling bar, create your own pho station, soup station, cereal and honey area, salad bar, prepared Asian food bar, a bread wall and finally some charcuterie, smoked salmon and a cheese bar.
Everything I sampled was incredible. The highlight was definitely the pastries; you could easily taste the French influence in the croissants.
I also tried an omelette and the Indian breakfast from the a la carte menu and both were delicious.
Cafe Nam Hai also serves a Western and Indian dinner menu. You can choose from both menus, and again, everything we tried was great.
We ate here two nights and had vegetarian thali, snapper and sides.
On the other nights, we went to the Vietnamese restaurant, La Sen. This restaurant is also open for lunch, but serves a more international cuisine then.
Our dinners here were wonderful. There’s a combination or indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the beach. We experimented with some local delicacies and loved them all, particularly the eggplant and clay pot sea bass wrapped in a banana leaf.
You may feel limited by the food options, but there are a bunch of themed dinners throughout the week to add more variety. For instance, one night La Sen was converted to a really cool and authentic-looking food market with stalls. Another night, Cafe Nam Hai turned into an outdoor barbecue extravaganza.
There was also a beach bar which — you guessed it — was located on the beach. They serve drinks through the daylight hours, and we enjoyed sundowners there one afternoon.
Lunch will come to you if you’re sitting poolside. There was international fare available from the Le Sen kitchen during the day. The Mediterranean bowl that I tried one afternoon was superb.
If you’re feeling lazy, there’s a 24/7 room-service menu that features a selection of both restaurants’ most popular dishes. Though the food prices were definitely on the high side, everything we tried was amazing.
If you want to relax, there’s plenty for you at the Four Seasons Nam Hai.
The centrepiece of the resort is the three pools, each with a different vibe and temperature. The heated family pool is the farthest from the beach and has plenty of chaise lounges.
The next pool is the 48-yard lap pool. It’s shaped like a thin rectangle with two lanes, ideal for aquatic exercise. This pool proved to be the quietest of the three.
Last, the adults-only pool is the largest and closest to the beach. There were plenty of chaise lounges around the perimeter. I spent one afternoon there, but the pool isn’t heated, so it’s not the place to relax in the water.
Below the adults-only pool is the world-renowned beach. The sand was super soft, and it was incredibly quiet and private. There were just eight sets of chaise lounges set up for guests, as well as a volleyball court. Unfortunately, the water was choppy when we visited, so we didn’t get a chance to catch a wave.
Near the entrance to the hotel are the fitness centre and four hard tennis courts available on a first-come, first-served basis. There’s also a basketball and badminton court.
The gym was well equipped with three Technogym treadmills, two ellipticals, two bikes, a rower, weight machines and free weights. The locker rooms had a few showers, as well as a small-but-powerful steam room and sauna.
There is a fully staffed kids club with a variety of daily activities.
The Nam Hai prides itself on serving local, organic foods, and that ethos comes to life in the hotel’s garden. It was being tilled all day long and was open for visitors. I loved walking through the garden and enjoying the aromas of lemongrass and basil. Restaurant menus indicated which dishes had components from the garden.
The hotel’s spa is located on a massive lotus pond. It’s absolutely stunning and the treatments were great.
The hotel also has lots of outdoor activities, which are listed in a weekly schedule.
To visit Hoi An, you can take a free hotel shuttle that runs regularly to the center of town.
Service is what sets this hotel apart.
Everyone we interacted with was incredibly hospitable and caring. Every employee greeted us with a genuine “Hello, how’s your day going?” By the second day, our breakfast waiter, Cuc, knew our drink preferences and meal orders.
Our room was cleaned twice daily, and the housekeeping staff never once disturbed us. They coordinated with the restaurant and pool staff to ensure that we were out of the room before cleaning.
The pool staff was similarly friendly. They’d set up pool chairs and umbrellas whenever you wanted and kept checking back to adjust the umbrella for maximum shade.
One of the highlights of sitting poolside at a Four Seasons hotel is the signature pool service. For example, in Koh Samui, they’d bring a snack or glasses cleaner or facial mist every 30 minutes. At this property, there was more limited service. Staff came less frequently with goodies and one day there was no service.
Nonetheless, the service overall was incredibly personalized and in line with what I’ve come to expect from Four Seasons.
The Four Seasons Hoi An, Nam Hai is without a doubt one of the best places to stay in all of Vietnam. The villas are tastefully designed and the food is delicious. If you’re looking to relax, you’ll love the three pools and calming spa. Above all, the personalized service was the highlight of our stay.
If you’re planning a trip to the area, make time to stay here.
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