There is an endearing quality about Danang and the central coast region that attracts visitors, and makes them want to stay. Crowned ‘Asia’s leading festival and event destination’ by World Travel Awards, the coastal city with a 60km shoreline is a hive of activity year round with events ranging from fireworks and music festivals to beauty pageants and fashion shows filling up the calendar.
First-time visitors are often surprised by its new buildings, trendy cafes and white-sand beaches. Driving along coastal road lined with palms and passing the numerous luxury resorts and beach clubs, it is easy to see why Danang tops the list as Vietnam’s most liveable city. The country’s best golf courses and a growing number of beachfront stays are located around the city, and with a population of just over a million, it’s emerging as a major tourist destination.
Danang’s popularity is enhanced by its position as gateway to Hoi An, My Son and Hue, all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Hoi An was a 16th-century trading port and now well-preserved ancient town famous for its romantic riverside cafes, traditional lanterns and silk. My Son is a cluster of abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples built by the ancient Champa kings, while Hue, formerly a Chinese-style imperial city where emperors held court, is now known for its royal palaces, tombs and mausoleums.
BANYAN TREE LANG CO
Located in a quiet village midway between Danang and Hue, Banyan Tree Lang Cô has been delighting guests since it opened in 2013. About an hour’s drive north of Danang, the resort is part of a larger integrated wellness destination called Laguna Lang Cô that incorporates sister resort Angsana Lang Co and a Faldo-designed championship golf course. Guests are checked into pool villas that face a 3km stretch of private beach with lush hills forming the backdrop.
At Banyan Tree Spa Lang Cô, guests enjoy treatments in spacious villas facing lush greenery. They have a series of signature treatments including Sense of Place, where a local Cajuput healer uses essential oils from fragrant cajuput plants that grow in abundance in this area. Chinese, Thai, Indian and Indonesian massages, beauty treatments (facials, manicures and pedicures), body scrubs, skin treatments and bath rituals are also on the menu. The spa uses its own in-house brand of products, and therapists are mostly trained in-house.
HYATT REGENCY DANANG RESORT & SPA
The 20-hectare Hyatt Regency Danang opened in late 2011 along the city’s central coastline as a mixed development with 200 hotel rooms, 174 condominium units and 27 villas. With its bold contemporary design, the property brings a refreshing change to the architectural landscape. Rooms have modern interiors with pine-coloured wood panels, sliding mirror doors and natural stone tubs.
Vie Spa, located near the main entrance has a fountain, an inviting lobby and 10 spacious treatment rooms with outdoor tubs. On the spa menu are rituals between 90 minutes to four hours, and you can combine massages with facials or body scrubs. Many of the massages are the usual spa standards done extremely well, from deep tissue, aromatherapy and hot stone to Thai and Ayurvedic head massages. Facials, body scrubs and wraps, bath rituals, manicures and pedicures are also available. Therapist Ms. Thuong comes recommended.
When it opened in 2015, Naman Retreat was a talking point among the architectural community for its distinctive design using sustainable materials like bamboo and natural stone. Positioned as a wellness sanctuary with dedicated outdoor space for yoga and wellness activities, the resort, owned by a Vietnamese hospitality group and designed by Vo Trong Nghia Architects, lies along the Danang coastline with two international golf courses just across the road.
Guests can enjoy one spa treatment a day at the Pure Spa, located in a stand-alone building with a mini museum. The VIP treatment room for couples, enclosed by glass panels and surrounded by lush greenery outside, comes with its own tub and changing room. On the menu are Japanese, Swedish, Thai, aromatherapy and shiatsu massages, pre-natal massage and express spa treatments, body scrubs, bath rituals, manicures and pedicures. Facials using pure oxygen are a crowd-pleaser, and the spa is the likely first to offer colon hydrotherapy in Danang. Guests can sign up for yoga, meditation, tai chi or reiki classes with resident guru Giri. The spa uses the Thann range of products from Thailand.
INTERCONTINENTAL DANANG SUN PENINSULA RESORT
Sequestered in the Son Tra Peninsula about 40 minutes north-east of the city, the award-winning Intercontinental Danang is probably the most luxurious—and Instagrammable— resort in Vietnam. The Son Tra forest, also called Monkey Mountain, is home to over 300 species including the adorable and rare red-shanked douc.
The property is huge, with 201 rooms spread across 39 hectares on different levels named Heaven, Sky, Earth and Sea. You will need to call for a buggy to get around unless you are prepared to tackle steep slopes. A cable car is employed to speed guests down the hill to the beach area. Guests are wowed from the moment they step into the breezy reception area, which offers stunning views of the coastline. The resort is one of designer Bill Bensley’s most ambitious projects, and he fills spaces with inspirations from Vietnam’s central coast, from silks to cushions to tiles.
The Harnn Heritage Spa reception area, located near the swimming pools, serves as the wellness sanctuary’s portal. After making your selection, you are whisked by buggy on a five-minute ride to one of the treatment rooms housed within ‘floating’ villas facing a lagoon on the eastern end of the property. On the spa menu are an extensive range of 30 to 90-minute treatments, and spa journeys lasting up to three hours. Besides the usual Vietnamese, Thai and Ayurvedic head massages, they also offer a Hammam, as well as packages for pre-natal mums and children. Those looking for intensive wellness packages can opt for their three- to seven-day programmes. The spa uses its own in-house products from Thailand.
SHERATON GRAND DANANG RESORT
Launched at the beginning of 2018, the stylish Sheraton Grand Danang Resort is the latest addition to the line-up of hotels along Danang beach. The resort’s 258 rooms are housed in two blocks and one of them has a helipad and private lift to whisk VIPs to the Presidential Suite. All rooms come with balconies overlooking the sea or the 250m infinity pool, said to be the longest in Vietnam. As part of its initiative to promote fitness, the resort offers guests incentives ranging from a free baguette and coffee to spa discounts for completing challenges like laps in the infinity pool, chalking up mileage at the gym or kayaking in the sea.
The new Shine Spa, located one floor above the main lobby, has an elegant interior decked with acrylic chandeliers and soft curtains. There are 10 treatment rooms with electronic smart beds, one which offers a good view of the infinity pool. On the menu are 30- to 90-minute therapies including Vietnamese, Balinese, Swedish, and Indian, hot stone, deep tissue, a range of body scrubs, facials and eye treatments. The spa uses Pevonia products.
FUSION MAIA DA NANG
When Fusion Maia Da Nang opened as a wellness resort nine years ago, it pioneered the concept of spa-inclusive stays and all-day breakfast, which means that there is no extra cost for daily spa treatments and you can have breakfast any time of the day. Today, the award-winning property—with support from its endearing team of ‘fusionistas’ who often go out of their way to surprise and delight—has firmly established itself as one of Danang’s best wellness resorts. A range of one- to three-bedroom villas are spread across the lush property facing the sea.
Spa treatments are performed by a team of 90 well-trained therapists at Maia Spa, located in a separate wing with its own pool and cosy garden. The extensive spa menu features a range of full-body massages, body scrubs, facials, nail care and reiki therapies. Yoga is offered daily and guests can opt for three- to seven-night retreats with detox programmes. The spa uses the Aromasia range of organic and natural essential oils developed by Hanoi-based Laurent Séverac and Rendez Vous, another homegrown range of skincare products.
AZERAI LA RESIDENCE, HUE
Azerai La Residence’s main mansion dates back to 1930 when it was the home of the French Resident Superior. Since then, it had several owners until 2005 when it reopened as a luxury hotel and new wings were added to the original building. In 2018, it changed hands again when the hotelier Adrian Zecha bought it and added it to his Azerai portfolio of hotels.
The 122-room hotel’s allure lies in its elegant art deco design and quiet location along the banks of the Perfume River. The Hue Railway Station, built by the French in 1902, is just 500 metres away and adds shades of history. The best time to laze around the pool is at sundown when the setting sun casts a romantic glow over the white-walled buildings. Dinner at Le Parfum restaurant, featuring a fusion of French and Asian cuisines, is another event not to be missed.
The newly renovated Le Spa now has six treatment rooms with wellness packages for guests in need of rejuvenation after a day touring the attractions around town. Treatments range from 60- to 150-minute massages with body scrubs. Also on the menu are hot stone, aroma and Indian head therapies. A separate space is reserved for facials and manicures.