Southern charm at The Anam, Vietnam

Boasting 300 days of sunshine each year, Cam Ranh is set to become Vietnam's next beachside favourite. Luxury resort The Anam just sweetens the deal.

A young woman wearing a figure-skimming, ecru áo dài (traditional Vietnamese dress) waits inside the doors of the arrivals hall at Nha Trang Cam Ranh International Airport. The small placard she holds bears the paper fan-inspired logo that identifies The Anam. Though I have yet to step off the tarmac, as we make eye contact her face relaxes into a smile and she bows.

Once I step inside the terminal, the next few minutes are a haze of refreshing peppermint scented hand towels and bottled water before I’m ushered into a chauffeured car. Though we did both, I barely recall collecting luggage or passing through airport security – such was the swift and elegant navigation by my host.

Within 20 minutes, we turn into the driveway of one of the most discerning new addresses on Vietnam’s Cam Ranh peninsula. Opened in September 2016, The Anam is an opulent nod to a bygone era. Mosaic tile and stone pathways lead to decorative pools, lined with big-bellied water vases. The imperial style roofs of the villas – of which there are 117, plus 96 rooms and suites – peek out behind palm trees like coy ladies trying to shade their faces with paper fans. But it’s the coastal location that is perhaps most captivating. Song Lo, a dramatic headland, rises to the north and west. Set on 30 idyllic acres, the resort and its vast green lawn act as a sprawling welcome mat to Bai Dai (Long Beach). Beyond the 300-metre long stretch of sand, the warm South China Sea glimmers invitingly. The property’s 3,000 palm trees sway with the ocean breeze, which catches the scent of frangipani, infusing the air with a salty floral perfume. Cam Ranh receives around 300 sunny days per year and average temperatures of 26°C. However, in a cruel twist of fate, today is one of those 65 days of inclement weather.

As I abandon the idea of taking a dip, I realise that between the international flights and changing time zones I’ve skipped lunch. Keen to freshen up, I retreat to my airy 50-square metre villa to order room service. With Vietnamese hand rolls, and a green mango and tiger prawn salad on the way, I open the doors to the bathroom and say a silent thank you for rainy afternoons. Floor-to-ceiling windows surround a deep soaking tub, which looks onto a small private garden of tropical plants. Post-soak, I succumb to the king-size bed, wrapped in 300 thread count Irish cotton sheets.

The next morning, sunrise casts a golden glow over the resort and resident yogi Umesh, who leads a small group through a complimentary yoga session on the lawn. Keen to make the most of the clear skies, I catch the free 9am shuttle bus into the town of Nha Trang – a 30-minute trip – to join a Vespa tour organised by the front desk. Lam, the affable guide from Nha Trang Vespa Tour, introduces me to Vietnamese coffee; an 87 year old artist who crafts animals and cutlery out of coconuts; and the mysteries of seventh century Cham temple Po Nagar.

After five and a half hours spent riding pillion in Nha Trang’s free-flowing traffic, there’s only one place for me: Sri Mara Spa. Prior to Vietnam’s expansion southward from the Red River Delta in the 15th century, Cam Ranh was part of the Kingdom of Champa. In honour of the area’s history, The Anam’s spa is named after the first Cham king. Treatments, however, are Balinese, with a focus on traditional Asian healing techniques. Later that night, beneath a dozen white paper lanterns, I listen as a pianist tinkles away on a baby grand at Indochine Grill, the resort’s fine dining restaurant. In between mouthfuls of expertly grilled lamb and bold Australian shiraz, I marvel at how quickly I’ve slipped into relaxation mode. And yet, my time at The Anam seems too brief. I haven’t watched a film at the resort’s 3D cinema, or been snorkelling or kayaking off the beach.

There’s a new Greg Norman-designed golf course down the road, too. And then there’s that sunrise over the South China Sea, you could watch that for days.

 

 

Stay

Rates for the Garden View Villa start from US$190++ (about A$247) per night, including breakfast. theanam.com

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Weather to go

Though a relatively small country, Vietnam experiences variances in weather and climate across its land.  This results in no one time of year that is best to visit. Northern Vietnam is generally cooler, even than other countries on the same longitude.  However, it can still get up to nearly 40 degrees Celsius in June and July.  Southern Vietnam is just north of the equator and is extremely tropical.

 
 
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