Globetrotting Guy: Vietnam

The Nam Hai Hotel

I’ve been writing “The Glam Globetrotter” for over six months now, and have yet to include a male perspective. That changes today. “Glam Globetrotters” are both men and women who are seeking stylish, authentic travel experiences around the globe.

One of my (male) friends, mentioned he was going to Vietnam, a country where tourism has skyrocketed the past couple of years. Not only was he visiting, he was staying in The Nam Hai, a stunning, all villa resort on Vietnam’s China Beach. Of course, I’m dying to visit.

So, I asked my friend, who we’ll call “Globetrotting Guy,” since he’s an editor at a major magazine and can’t reveal his name, to share his experience. Below is his story. Enjoy!

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In the animal kingdom, there are species that scientists call indicator species—canaries in the coalmine, etc. Every industry has them. In modern luxury travel, they’re rich Russians. These days, they’re still buying new Louis Vuitton trunks, stuffing them with all manner of new bling, new clothes and new newness, and heading to the best, hottest places. I loathe these people.

Until I’m with them. On my first afternoon at The Nam Hai, a collection of bungalows on Vietnam’s famed China Beach, I spotted an adorable tow-headed kid in this season’s Lacoste, happily yapping Russian. Soon his dad–with his fakily blonde, fakily bronzed wife trailing behind–came lumbering after him, his wallet as fat as his belly. I thanked Mother Russia and Mary in heaven: These people were a sign that the Nam Hai was special.

The Nam Hai, the first ultraluxury resort in Vietnam, is the kind of place where the staff sweeps the beach. I saw it with my own eyes: a woman wearing Vietnam’s traditional conical hat, carrying a wide straw broom. I looked at her, and she glared, as if to say, “I know what I’m doing. You’d best be damn thankful that you’re not. Now look away.”

So I did, and headed for the breakfast buffet. The buffet is not generally considered one of modern humanity’s finer innovations; once, I took a Carnival cruise, which is basically 3,000 Americans lined up, mouths wide open, at a never-empty bacon, pancake, and pie-filled trough. Every buffet is sort of a trough, but the Nam Hai’s has such soft lighting that, even after you’ve stuffed your face, others in the room will not see your new fatty fat. And you should stuff your face, with tropical fruits, homemade yogurt, flaky croissants (yay for colonialism!), velvety smoothies, eggs so rich that they must’ve been scrambled with cream. If you want to eat local, they even have three kinds of Vietnamese noodles.

After breakfast, roll yourself out to a chaise around one of the three infinity pools. Be driven by golf cart back to your villa to vegetate on your private sea-view patio. Muster the strength for a game of tennis or badminton. Go to the spa and have them beat the bad feelings out of you. Or take the free shuttle into Hoi An, the old port nearby that’s now a Unesco world heritage site.

The Nam Hai isn’t the kind of place you go to meet crowds of new people—those Russians don’t want new friends, and the honeymooners obviously aren’t so interested in you either. But on our visit, we did make one new acquaintance. In the evenings, we would repair to the hotel’s bar to listen to Rain. That capital R is no mistake. The lounge singer’s name is Rain, and she is all kinds of awesome, a Filipino jukebox who does not only the lounge-singing standards (Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Ella Fitzgerald) but also … LADY GAGA!!!! Hearing Rain playing the piano and crooning a stripped-down version of “Paparazzi” is a little weird and a lot magical—sort of like a visit to The Nam Hai.

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