I went up there for the celebration. My room had its scented oil burner lit, the temperature set to a perfect 24.5˚C. Chocolates and a complimentary bottle of wine sat on the writing desk. A bowl full of tropical fruits — with a handy tasting guide folded nearby — was replenished every day, sometimes multiple times. Pigs were roasted, fish skewered and bottles popped to mark the arrival of the press corps. We were woken the next morning for an 8am tour bus to Hoi An, one of the nearby ‘cultural attractions’. We took an evening swim back-and-forth through their 300m resort-winding pool. At night I slept the sleep of the dead, on fluffy white sheets.
The restaurants are uniformly good. One, Rice Bowl, is good enough and clean enough in concept that it feels like it wouldn’t be out of place on Dong Khoi — or for that matter, on the fine-dining drag of any world city. The activities menu offers many ways of interacting with the perfect view, although we were officially dissuaded from bushwhacking through the pretty-as-a-postcard surroundings. I did so anyway, climbing down footsteps carved into the fence-bordered high point of the property, down 100m to the cliff-face where the waves end.
At every turn, we were presented with a touch of Vietnam. Not too much, just in fishing basket traps mounted on the walls, clear-brothed pho next to the omelet station at breakfast and the inevitable language difficulties. This isn’t a knock — this is what happens when you try to invest a sense of place into something as inherently placeless as a luxury resort. If you want culture, head to Loc Vinh fishing village, just over the manmade mountain pass. Which I did.
Outside the Sanctuary
Borrowing a gearless pushbike, I rode over the daunting hill that separates the Laguna enclave from the surrounding region. I took a left on the new highway, which paves the way to the fishing village. Once there, my experience took on a new dimension.
Here, it was hard to keep out the culture. Children raced from neighbouring houses to watch me sip my nuoc mia, then ran in giggling terror from my “con ten la gi?” I peeped in at a wedding tent, and was invited in by the oldest man present for a Huda beer. I took my chances with the ice.
After 35km of rice paddies, lazy water buffalo and hello-ing children, I headed back to Laguna for a sundowner. And, watching the sun crest over the Hue-style, clay-tiled roof of the Angsana hotel wing, reacquainting myself with diving skills lost in this land of the 1.8m deep end, I finally felt the peace and tranquil power of the Banyan Tree experience I’d been hearing about. And it was profound, even if its clear blue waters could flow from any spring in the world. — Ed Weinberg
Laguna Lang Co is located at the bottom of the Hai Van Pass, in between Danang and Hue. It is close to the former French Hill Station, Bach Ma, that has been transformed into one of the most spectacular national parks in Vietnam. For more information go to lagunalangco.com