blue skies and white sands
Clarity. It’s the first word that springs to mind at The Anam. There is crispness in the views, and a bracing brine as the wind rushes up from the sea to disperse around the resort’s pathways and pavilions. It wakes you up. This is what a resort should be. In the long, thin country that is Vietnam, visitors generally head to its poles – the kinetic city lights of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City – but dotted in-between the two is a vast coastline with brilliant gems for those who seek. The Anam, a resort that opened not two months ago in April, is one.
The vision begins from the air. The approach to Cam Ranh airport is spectacular. As the plane descends on the runway at the end of the peninsula, a vast stretch of white sand separated from the mainland by a lagoon comes into view. With sunlight shimmering off the innumerable grains – the pristine beaches of the Arabian Gulf spring to mind – you find yourself thinking: that looks inviting. Then as the car sweeps into the noble courtyard of The Anam, you realise: this is what I saw, calling out to me on the plane.
Named after one of Vietnam’s historical titles, The Anam rests on a slight rise, tumbling towards the ocean. The Deluxe Collection building (with its 96 rooms) and 12 double-storey villas command the back half of the property, a perch that affords panoramic views fringed with palm trees. For a resort so new, it is surprisingly verdant; foresight led the landscaping team to use plants from the area, which adapted faster and better to transplanting. The result: instant lushness.
Two lawns bisect the lower half of the resort towards the beach, with villas flanking the sides. This provides an uninterrupted view of the sea from the main pool (or a hammock) – a perfect horizontal delineation of green (grass), white (sand) and the graduated blues of the sea beyond. The villas themselves are arranged in clusters, either around the lawns or the amorphous Lagoon pool. Clever landscaping – weighty bunches of bougainvillea or shady banana tree fronds – yield privacy. With roofs of red tiles, dark wood beams and white structures, the villas have a colonial vibe. Imagine it as an enclave of 19th century French noble officers, sequestering themselves away from the tropical heat.
Frolic in the sand. Swim in azure waters. Jump on a jet ski for an aquatic adrenaline rush. Hit a few serves of tennis. Greet the sunrise – the resort faces due East – in meditation. There is enough to keep the body occupied at the resort, even if an idling of the mind by the pool seems an attractive alternative.
Beyond The Anam’s muted sands, there is also much to do. The lively town of Nha Trang is a quick whisk away. The Anam has a tour of local artists in gestation, while you can arrange to jump in an authentic circular Vietnamese coracle boat to go fishing. There is also diving. Sailing Club Divers, part of tropical cocktail paradise Sailing Club, heads to the nearby Hon Mun island daily. The underwater attractions here are not big. They’re small. Clarity of visibility varies, but that allows divers to zoom in on the smallest details – a green frogfish masquerading as an anchored rock, the brilliant neon tendrils of unusually large nudibranchs and air bubbles trapped on the roof of a cave left by divers that came before.
Activity demands sustenance. At The Anam, that leads to Indochine. A careful selection of Vietnamese and international dishes – try the lobster chowder – leads the menu. This is also the setting for a vast breakfast buffet and once a week, it also hosts an immense seafood barbecue dinner, where there is much to choose from but you’ll find yourself gravitating to the pile of fresh prawns and lobsters. Assuage that gluttonous guilt with a session at the Sri Mara Spa, where treatments like Balinese massages and Nepalese tea exfoliations are bookended by the crystalline clarity of bell chimes.
Over evening cocktails, a guest confided that he and his family was here for two weeks. He couldn’t imagine a more perfect place to escape to from the anxiety of business and the pressure of exams. And so a resort that set out to be a haven of serenity and service is exactly that, with clear and crisp precision. Would he return again? “In a heartbeat,” he says. In our business, that’s known as a ringing endorsement.