May 01 2013
At first glance the topsy turvy two-storey villas of Son Tra Resort outside Da Nang evoke suggestions of a rather odd gated development. The giant villas just look uncomfortable in their surroundings — it’s almost as if the architect was misinformed of the setting and given a massive budget along with the instructions to ‘go crazy with this one, so long as they are BIG’. What saves this resort is its location, nestled between a secluded, palm-fringed cove with gently shelving turquoise water lazily lapping at the white sandy beach, with a wrap-around backdrop of the jungle-clad Monkey Mountains.
Villas are either beach or mountain facing, with numbers 103 to 105 of the 24 villas claiming the best beachside spots. The layout is another architectural quirk as they seem to be upside down, with the kitchen and living room upstairs, leaving pool and beach access through the bedrooms (it’s a long way to the fridge from your lounger).
Beds are really comfy and there are two bathrooms and another odd open-air corner bathtub, which has traded its ocean/mountain views for sky with high walls and no ceiling. Each villa is furnished in a slightly different style (one even has a piano) and there is heaps of space. Rack and walk-in rates come in at around the $200 mark (eek!) but they are always available for around $80 a night when booking through Agoda. Reception will not price match if asked, so you will have to book in advance. AT $80 a night, they are incredible value, especially for families.
The resort has just one restaurant overlooking the sea where they serve “modern cuisine with negative effects of pure Vietnamese”, which translates as mostly local seafood. It’s good, but just outside the resort gate is a tiny family-run clifftop seafood joint that serves better at much cheaper rates — it’s worth trying out. Another thing you might like to bear in mind is that each villa has its own fully functional kitchen, so you can always stock up in Da Nang and self cater.
Spa staff don’t speak much English which should be a relief to anyone wanting a quiet, relaxing massage. The therapies on offer are all based around local herbal products and traditional techniques are reasonably priced for a resort. There is a large child-friendly pool by the restaurant but as all the villas have private pools — and there is that beautiful beach five steps away — it does not get much use. Staff are happy to arrange taxis and rather expensive motorbike hire, which you will need if your plan is to explore, but the best way to do the Son Tra Resort would be to do that on your transfer and treat your stay as a short break from all the touring and noise of Vietnam. Downtime really is what the resort is all about.
The only other accommodation nearby is a tiny Vietnamese place about five minutes’ nearer Da Nang, with a rubbish beach and shabby accommodation at around $30-50 per night, Or there’s the Intercontinental, which does a free-flow Tattinger brunch every Sunday for $50 a head, open to outside guests, five minutes’ up the mountain pass by car.
Son Tra Resort is a nature lover’s heaven, surrounded by beautiful coral and protected forest filled with flora, fauna and animal life (including monkeys) that you won’t find anywhere else in Vietnam. It’s all clean air, tropical planting and a calm bay where you can swim at any time of the year. With all the resort’s strange building quirks, once you are inside your villa, it’s a little piece of paradise and well worth a night or two to get away from it all at these prices.
Son Tra Resort and Spa
Bai Nam-Bai Con Hoang Sa St, Son Tra Peninsula/Monkey Mountain
T: 05113 924 924
F: 05113 924 934
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