One of the first properties to realise the potential in Phu Quoc’s wilderness, Mango Bay is a sensational resort that harmoniously balances nature with the finery and comfort luxury travellers expect. With over a decade under their belt, Mango Bay Resort’s reputation as an intimate haven is well deserved. Everything has been thought of and it has all been done remarkably well.
The property occupies a generous swath of Ong Lang Beach, with many of the cottages facing the sea and a short walk to the water. There are 44 rooms in total, the majority of them individual bungalows scattered throughout the forested grounds — wait until you see the enormous banyan tree — offered at an array of prices. The interiors have a romantic beachside plantation style, elegant in its contemporary simplicity. The stark white walls are softened by the natural wood furniture, a few pieces of art, patterned cushions and gauzy mosquito netting draped over the bed canopy. The overall philosophy is an eco-conscious less-is-more – which is why rooms don’t have television, telephone or air-con, only fan. Rooms do have WiFi, a small concession.
Given the earthy beach house feel, the huge outdoor bathroom is no surprise. What’s surprising is the full tropical garden that is within the stone privacy walls. The bathroom also includes a hot water shower with two different showerheads.
The beachfront is divided into two sections: a boulder filled shore that holds the restaurant and a good-sized beach with a casual beach bar and sun loungers. Several long-time island residents told us — nay, urged us to have a meal at the restaurant. The food indeed lives up to the stunning view. A wooden deck juts out over the rocks so diners have sweeping views of the entire bay. The water stretches as far as the eye can see and yes, being on the west coast means you can bask in the memorable sunset Phu Quoc is famous for. If you’ve had too much sun, the breezy indoor dining area is just as relaxing, the natural wood furniture and soft tropical peach and blue hues balanced with clean, contemporary lines.
The menu features both Western and Vietnamese dishes, and there are terrific options highlighting Phu Quoc bounty of seafood. The menu is reasonably priced, with mains starting at US$8 and hovering at $12. There’s also a delectable tapas menu ($4 to $7.50) to accompany the bar’s 16:00 to 19:00 happy hour.
Mango Bay Resort has risen from humble beginnings, and so have the prices. But what we appreciate is that so many activities are free of charge. While other resorts take this opportunity to nickel and dime you, Mango Bay includes free kayak rental, badminton, volleyball, basic Vietnamese lesson, DVD player, regular shuttle to/from town, traditional round boat, board games, bicycle, stand-up paddleboat and snorkelling equipment – the resort has its own small reef. This is a haven you never have to leave, whether you want to lie in the sun, get a massage in the spa or fill your days with sports.
Book ahead — this boutique property is popular. As more and more giant hotels pile onto Phu Quoc, the value of a stylish low-key place like Mango Bay is increasingly apparent. For some it will be too rustic and casual, but we’d call it paradise.
By Cindy Fan
Last updated on 20th January, 2016.