Out of town escape
A tangle of tropical climbers all but envelope the entrance to the aptly named Betel Garden Homestay, where six single-storey, ancient-house styled villas and the Vuon Trau family home go almost unnoticed in a 3,000 square metre tropical garden.
Step through the gate, however, and you are met amid the collection of rare areca and betel nut trees by a very thoughtfully laid out resort that feels miles off the beaten track, but is in fact only a few kilometers from both the UNESCO old town of Hoi An and popular Cua Dai Road and beach. Accommodation consists of a few ensuite standard rooms in the main family house above the sweet smelling kitchen, and six villas, each providing heaps of private outside space.
Breakfasts, which are included in the room rate, are served under a canopy of bougainvillea, while tucked away over a little ornate bridge sits the child-friendly Betel Garden pool. If you are the type that needs to be connected to the big outside world at all times, each room and villa has its own little router so WiFi connection is strong throughout the resort. If you can bear to leave, the Homestay provides free rickety old bicycles for each guest — and there’s a great route from here that hugs the riverbanks all the way in to the old town.
Each week the family throw a dinner for guests serving up an array of old family recipes, encouraging guests to get involved with the preparation. If cooking is not your thing, Ms Ly is more than happy to give lessons in ‘chewing the nut’, a natural little betel nut ‘fixer’ that is popular among the old Bas in Vietnam.
Rooms in the family house are charming but small, villas are huge and each one is decked out with olde world furniture with a tasteful scattering of old Hoi An silks and ceramics. The bathrooms are so large you could host a dinner party in the dead space between the facilities. The prices we were quoted started at US$35 for a standard double in the family home through to $65 for a garden villa. Restaurant prices are competitive enough to make dining in a very attractive option.
For a similar standard beach stay, we’d recommend An Bang Seaside Village’s little fishermen houses or Cam Nam island’s Windbell Homestay, where the villas match in price and wow factor, but there isn’t quite the warmth of staff and service standards of Betel Garden.
If you are looking for a tranquil break after a bustling city stop you’d be hard pushed to find something more ideal the Vuon Trau family embrace. Every visitor is welcomed as part of the family and this is a very sociable place to relax and unwind. Kids are spoilt rotten and given free range to explore the grounds, including helping to feed the tropical birds. Betel Garden Homestay may be a little way from the action, but the garden setting and rural outlook of the property make it more than worth th rather uncomfortable cycle ride to beach or town.
By Caroline Mills
Last updated on 10th March, 2014.