Guilty pleasures

Until now, our Vietnam trip had been something of a heady, hectic experience. We’d travelled by train, taxi, boat, kayak, bicycle and on foot through frenetic, motorbike-ruled cities and sleepy, isolated hill-tribe towns alike. And, as much as we’d revelled in each and every encounter with a culture unlike our own, we had to admit we were rather tired.

It was with a sense of giving ourselves up to fate that we were travelling towards Lang Co, an area that we had no knowledge of, as we simply didn’t have the energy left to research, plan and haggle any more.

In any case, heading to a Banyan Tree resort is something of a no brainer. Would it be beautiful and luxurious? We expected nothing less. And still, our expectations were certainly exceeded: our own private villa, which was certainly bigger than my city-apartment home, was perched in an enclave of lush hills, with a sweeping view of a deserted private beach.

We had grand plans of visiting the incredibly historic site of Hue, which came highly recommended by friends, but these plans simply dissipated like smoke when we realised the incredible standard of the resort. We guiltily declined the hotel’s offer of a shuttle to the UNESCO World-Heritage site as we simply had to make the most of every moment in this haven of luxury that had came upon us like a cosy blanket or a warm bowl of soup on a cold day.

Not that they have many cold days here between the high season of April to July. When we arrived it was an ideal-for-swimming 28 degrees, and stayed at that temperature for the entire stay (although admittedly, the sky remained stubbornly grey too).

What followed was a series of guilty pleasures. First, we went from our own terrace’s private pool its Jacuzzi, and back again. Then we ventured further to the 3km beach below (which we had to ourselves once towels had been delivered) and onto the large, heated hotel pool. Suitably water wrinkled and relaxed, I then exerted myself as far as the spa for what was, without doubt, the most calming experience of my life. After a rose-petalled foot bath and firm Balinese massage with lemongrass scents overlooking the spa’s garden, followed by a refreshing herbal tea, I ended up in a sort of contemplative and entirely satisfied daze.

Not wanting to burst our bubble of languor, we ignored the hotel’s sportier facilities (such as jet skiing and a 18-hole Sir Nick Faldo golf course) and took our time dressing for dinner.

The signature restaurant, Saffon, specialises in Thai fine dining. Accompanied by the melodious music of a T’rưng, a traditional xylophone-like instrument used by the Jarai and Bahnar people in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, we started by sipping on exotic cocktails bursting with rum, fresh pineapple, coriander, lime and ginger. We then dined on traditional rice paper rolls, a fiendishly spicy banana flower salad with coconut and flavourful curries with a quartet of different rices.

The meal was one of many highlights of what was to be an all-too-short stay at the serene resort. Although already thoroughly rejuvenated by a hefty dollop of TLC, we savoured every last remaining relaxing moment at the Banyan Tree Lang Co. We’ll be back, and next time we’ll plan to plan nothing.