Sun, sand, delicious food, and smiling service. What more can one want when on a holiday? Add to that mysterious caves, cultural excursions, relaxing spa therapies, and not one but five swimming pools. And you’ve got yourself a vacation to remember. A quick two-and-a-half hour flight from Singapore, Danang is the understated destination that you must explore if you haven’t yet. And when you do, book yourself into Danang Marriott Resort & Spa to have all your needs taken care of, Marriott style.
A luxurious hotel car picked me up from Danang International Airport, offering complimentary Wi-Fi in the moving vehicle if I wanted to update my Instagram stories or catch up on some work. Twenty minutes later, we pulled into the lobby of the 200-room hotel, to be greeted by welcoming staff and framed views of the aqua blue sea.
As I stepped into my 1173 sq ft Executive Ocean Suite, I couldn’t help but wish I had brought my family along, there was plenty of space for everyone! A comfortable living room with a sea view terrace, a full-size fridge in the pantry, a dining room, and a bedroom with an equally generous bathroom - this suite was larger than a lot of three-bedroom apartments back in Singapore. My favourite part of the room though, was the vistas.
Every part of the suite opened up to stunning ocean views, showcasing what Forbes called one of the best beaches in the world. The hotel also has an entire section dedicated to their three and four-bedroom pool villas. Perfect for multigenerational families or a group of friends travelling together (popular with golf buddies), the villas are self-contained and located beachside.
Non-Nuoc Beach is all about soft sand under your feet with a gentle slope allowing mild waves and family fun. The beach got too hot during the afternoons when guests would prefer to lounge around the five swimming pools, shaded by the numerous coconut trees along the edges. But my mornings started early with a sunrise walk along the beach, watching Danang wake up slowly, as locals jogged along or buried themselves in the sand (which they tend to do a lot of).
For me, the perfect holiday must have two elements - lip-smacking food and rejuvenating massages. Here too, Danang Marriott Resort & Spa delighted with authentic Vietnamese cuisine and the Quon Spa. With the all-day dining restaurant, Goji Kitchen, under renovation, meals were usually enjoyed at the Vietnamese specialty restaurant, Madame Son. I wasn’t one to complain, given the delicious fare they doled out day after day. The three-course Vietnamese set meal was authentic and tasty, but it really was the Coconut Menu that set the standard here.
A menu derived entirely from coconuts, it is an ode to the 1114 coconut trees planted all around the resort. Each course spoke of great skill in the kitchen, with my favourite being the intensely flavoured Tomato and Coconut Milk Soup with Lobster Wontons. The soup coated the spoon with gentle creaminess, highlighting, not masking the ocean flavours of the lobster wonton. A delicious mouthful.
But I was on a beach holiday, and it’s never complete until you’ve had a beer and grill platter by the sand. Enters the scene - Non-Nuoc Bar, a beach bar named after the beach it straddles. A sunny afternoon, a chilled glass of beer, and a monstrous grill platter for two featuring lobster, oysters, calamari rings, pork ribs, grilled corn, mushrooms, baked potatoes and smoky pineapple slices sitting atop grilled vegetables. One could spend hours devouring this platter, chilling with a mug of beer, and just watching the waves roll in. A blissful afternoon.
After all that gluttony, I needed a relaxing cleanse, so I headed to Quon Spa. The tranquil atmosphere surrounded me as I stepped into the VIP room for a one-hour massage by a very skilled therapist. The attention to detail did not go unnoticed, with traditional hand-painted Vietnamese murals adding character to the spa room. After the spa treatment, I also spent some time in the salt cave, a unique Halotherapy treatment room.
Here, the air was infused with micro-salt particles that impart a therapeutic benefit when inhaled. Halotherapy is known to be a natural and effective way to improve respiratory health as well reduce skin inflammation and improve cellular rejuvenation. The perfect place to get a foot massage, the healing atmosphere accompanied by soothing music seemed to be a natural way to enhance overall physical and mental health.
With a Kids’ Club to drop off the tots for a painting session or two, parents can indulge in a Vietnamese Cooking Class to recreate these beautiful dishes back home. I learnt how to make rice paper rolls during mine while being regaled with tales about the ingredients and cooking traditions in Vietnam.
There isn’t a moment to get bored, while at Danang Marriott Resort & Spa, but I tore myself away for half a day of excursions wherein I first visited Marble Mountains, a stone’s throw away. These ancient caves whisper tales of a princess who retreated here and thereby was the reason a pagoda was built for her. The five hills represent the five elements - water, metal, wood, fire, and earth and are the source of marble used by the villagers in the vicinity to create artistic and beautiful marble statues. They ship overseas too.
The next stop was Hoi An, only half an hour away, and one of my most loved Vietnamese towns. The quaint charm of Hoi An encompasses you as you walk through its picturesque lanes with lanterns hanging over them. Plenty of cafes offer you the chance to sit awhile, and watch people as they wander and discover this magical town. It’s also a great place for shopping, with a silk factory that breeds silkworms and spins the threads into magnificent garments, as well as shoemakers who craft shoes moulded to your unique footprint.
Before I knew it, my three days in Danang were up and I was back in my luxury transfer, heading to the airport for my return flight. What I did take with me though, besides the spectacular silk dress that I bought in Hoi An, was a rejuvenated mind, and an insatiable hunger to come back and visit again. Because that’s what Vietnam does to you. Makes you want to go back, time and again.
About The Writer
Harnoor Channi-Tiwary is a well-published Travel Editor & Food Writer based in Singapore. With more than 13 years of editorial experience, she writes for some of the world’s top publications such as JW Marriott Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Wine & Dine, The CEO Magazine, Korean Air, and Turkish Airlines and sits on the tasting panel of various food awards. Harnoor is also the Global Editor of Asia's premier luxury villa company, Elite Havens, and is currently working on a book based on her food trails across Southeast Asia, having already published an Expat Guide for India.
Recently graduated from the highly specialised 'Advanced Studies in Gastronomy' course at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, Harnoor brings with her a deeper understanding of cuisines, authentic flavours, and their evolution. The world of food and travel are the very axis of her life and her in-depth knowledge. writing expertise, and quick wit and humour make her one of the region's top food and travel writers.
If you would like Harnoor or any of the Expat Choice reporting team to visit your establishment as a guest to report on your unique experience and have this report published on our network, you can contact Expat Choice HQ by email with details about your offering at [email protected]
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