Rick Mayo-Smith, along with his business partner Peter Ryder, created Indochina Capital – Vietnam’s leading real estate development, fund management, advisory and financial services firm. The Boston-born entrepreneur came to Asia after college to work as a DJ in Hong Kong. After graduating from NYU Stern School of Business, he returned to Asia in 1987 to work in finance. Five years later, Mayo-Smith moved to Vietnam, where his firm, through its subsidiary Indochina Land, developed nearly $1 billion worth of real estate in Vietnam, including three of its most luxurious resorts: The Nam Hai, Six Senses Con Dao and the newly opened Hyatt Regency Danang Resort & Spa. After selling half of his family’s interest in Indochina Capital, Mayo-Smith moved his family to Singapore in 2012.
What has surprised me most about Singapore since moving here is how cosmopolitan it has become. It’s as sophisticated as New York, where we also keep an apartment, or any city in the world. I can think of at least 10 new restaurants I want to try. We’ve been going to Broadway shows and the museums.
The best meal I’ve eaten since moving here was at Mag’s Wine Kitchen (at Boat Quay). It’s a very relaxed place with a chalkboard menu of dishes pairing Asian and French flavours in atypical ways. I’ve not tasted oysters as delicious anywhere else.
When I need to tune out, I head to Six Senses Con Dao, which is as stunning as it is environmentally innovative. In 2013, I went snorkeling with my then 15-year-old daughter in the surrounding marine preserve with its turtles, dolphins and dugong. I’m told that nothing beats Six Senses Spa’s traditional coffee hair wash.
I really believe the next Phuket or Bali is not an island at all but the central coast of Vietnam. Danang sits at the heart of Asia geographically, with three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. When my kids were younger, I often took them to the ancient royal city of Hue and to climb among the Cham ruins at My Son. We still enjoy the living heritage of 15th-century Hoi An. In my free time I’m on the links in Danang or Singapore. We built Montgomerie Links with eight-time European Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie, but I also play at the Greg Norman-designed Danang Golf Club and Banyan Tree’s 18-hole course at Laguna Lang Co. Singapore friends are especially keen to join me there during winter when it’s perfect golf weather all across Vietnam’s central coast.
Something people don’t know about me is how much I love to surf, especially on China Beach. We have been developing real estate around Danang for the past 20 years but for at least the first 10, I was the only one riding these waves. Now we visit our villa at The Nam Hai regularly, for family time of course, but I sneak off with my surfboard whenever I can.
What I really care about, other than my family, is the orphanage Linh Quang run by Buddhist nuns near Ho Chi Minh City. These incredible nuns raise over 60 orphans and help to support another 100 poor minority children. When I asked my wife what jewellery she would like for our 20th wedding anniversary this year, she said, “No jewellery, just give the money to the orphanage,” which I did. But we’re also taking advantage of being in Singapore, with its new direct flights to Bhutan. I’m whisking her off to Amankora, Taj Tashi and Christina Ong’s new Uma Punakha.