Nick Walton gets away from it all, far from civilisation, at this romantic Vietnamese hideaway.
Hotel insider: The Banyan Tree Lang Co, Vietnam
Guests travelling to the new Banyan Tree Lang Co fly into the new-look Danang International Airport, which serves both its namesake city and the neighbouring city of Hue. At baggage pickup, cheerful staff from the Laguna Lang Co, home to the Banyan Tree and sister property Angsana, greet guests before bustling them off to hotel cars for the one-hour drive to the resort. Once arrived, guests are ferried by golf buggy to one of 49 spacious pool villas for an in-room check-in.
Named for the sleepy, picturesque fishing village located nearby and for the lovely stretch of honey-hued beach on which the resort is located, the Banyan Tree and neighbouring Angsana are the first resorts to be opened in the new 280-hectare Laguna Lang Co, a multi-resort development complete with a Nick Faldo-designed golf course and luxury residences, which are still under construction.
Anyone who has stayed at a Banyan Tree will immediately recognise the signature touches, from the glass-encased Jacuzzi and private plunge pool of each villa, to the spacious bathroom, with its deep soak tub, walk-in rainshower, Banyan Tree amenities and double vanities. Each beach or lagoon-view villa is a welcome respite from city living, with manicured gardens, shaded salads for afternoon in-villa massages, poolside sun loungers and intimate al fresco private dining. The master bedroom is decked out in rich timber and gold, green and chocolate tones. Our beach villa is fronted by gardens and a few trees but the presence of the pounding surf, only steps away, is never lost.
Banyan Tree resorts are unashamedly for lovers more than families. Villas are spacious and for the most part private, ideal for couples looking to hide away for a weekend or a week. Families would be better suited in the Angsana next door, although both resorts share each other's restaurants and facilities, with access via shuttle buggy or a novel "river boat", which navigates the man-made canal that runs through the development.
Being so far from civilisation, the Banyan Tree needs strong foodie credentials. The Water Court, the resort's all-day dining spot, serves great breakfasts and themed dinners. Azure is ideal for a lunchtime Med-inspired snack beside the beach, though the menu could be more comprehensive. The real gem is Saffron, located atop a hill overlooking Lang Co. Serving Royal Thai cuisine amid decadent timber and gold interiors, and with a spacious terrace from which to watch the sun set, dishes such as Goong Sarong Buer Thod, crispy noodle-wrapped prawns with fried pepper leaf and sweet mango (Dh52) and Gai Yang Khrueng Gaeng, Thai barbecue curried chicken with zesty papaya salad (Dh52), thrill the palate.
The villa is a comfortable home away from home, with plenty of space in which to while away the days. A round at the Laguna Lang Co Golf Course was also a highlight, with challenging holes in a beautiful setting, while the signature Banyan Tree Spa has to be the best in central Vietnam. I also had the beautiful beach completely to myself - a rarity in Asia.
Our villa, located beside the Angsana, could have done with a bit more privacy and fewer gardeners ceaselessly tending the trees only metres away. The river boat captain was never to be found throughout our three-day visit, either.
At the moment, the Banyan Tree Lang Co is a resort destination rather than a destination resort, and has a bit of growing up to do. But that will work in its favour for those looking to enjoy this beautiful setting, and the brand's signature touches, without the crowds.
The bottom line
Beach Pool Villas from US$693 (Dh2,545) per night, twin share. Banyan Tree Lang Co, Lang Co Beach, Vietnam (www.banyantree.com; 0084 54 3695 888).
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