The Familiar and the New at Amanoi
Situated in southern Vietnam, the country’s first Aman offers seclusion with the lure of first-time experiences
There’s no place in Vietnam like Ninh Thuận Province. It’s the driest part of the country, and walking across the hard, stony ground with not a palm tree in sight, you’d be forgiven for imagining yourself somewhere on the Mediterranean with an olive grove just around the corner.
It was here, in Núi Chúa National Park, that Aman Resorts opened its Vietnam property in 2013. Designed by Jean-Michel Gathy and his team at Denniston, the complex has aged well, the volumes, materials and detailing lending an element of the modern without trying to compete with the landscape. The latter combines beach and mountain, overlooking the deep blue Vĩnh Hy Bay from its hilltop perch, and forms a major part of the resort’s experiential offerings: kayak or boat trips to a secluded picnic site, snorkelling among the diverse fish and coral, lounging at the contempo-chic Beach Club, hiking or biking through the national park, visiting an ancient Cham tower complex — the list goes on.
But Amanoi is also keeping up with the Joneses in its culinary offerings, which focus on experience over the expected Vietnamese cuisine (though the latter is not neglected). Denniston has added to its design with the new Rock Studio, an intimate, tucked-away venue almost literally carved from the local granite, its terrace overlooking the bay from between huge slabs. The venue plays host to chef’s tables and private dining, which might range from Japanese — our visit featured the best chutoro I’ve tasted outside Tsukiji — to European and anything in between. Famed Danish chef Bo Bech is taking over the venue in July 2019 with a cooking masterclass and a wine pairing dinner showcasing his Scandinavian influences and the local produce.
Those in search of something more authentically Vietnamese are also catered for. An early-morning trek with a local Raglai guide (an ethnic minority who speak a Malayo-Polynesian language related to Indonesian and Tagalog) to her sister’s farm in the nearby hills provides a shady spot for a feast of fresh crab and indigenous fruits and vegetables — and, if you like, some fresh cashew fruit from the trees along the way. Village elder Ong Bay also generously hosts candlelit al fresco dinners in his courtyard home, replete with outdoor kitchen where you can watch local specialties being prepared while enjoying a selection from the Amanoi’s cellar.
But of course, if excursions seem like too much effort you can always enjoy your own intimate prandial experience on the terrace of your spacious villa.
Text / Philip Annetta
Images / Courtesy of Aman Resorts