Bordered by Laos and Cambodia to the west, the Gulf of Tonkin and South China Sea to the east and the Chinese border to the north, the narrow country of Vietnam stretches approximately one thousand miles along the coast of the Indochina peninsula. Vietnam’s rich landscape is the canvas for a collage of cultural and political architecture that has withstood centuries of military conflict.
Vietnam has seen a steady rise in tourism since emerging from the upheavals of war and opening its doors to international travelers. In 1990, Vietnam welcomed approximately 250,000 foreign visitors. In 2010, the country recorded more than five million international arrivals – a 20-fold increase in two decades.
Even with its meteoric rise in foreign visitors, Vietnam still suffers from an image crisis among western travelers. The country has earned a reputation as a destination suited more to adventure travel than luxury vacations. The reality isn’t so: with their mostly temperate climates and gorgeous landscapes, popular destinations in Vietnam are attracting a surge of foreign hotel investment aimed at tapping into a growing clientele of high-end leisure and business travelers.
The Business Travel News 2010 U.S. Hotel Survey ranked the Paris-based Sofitel chain of luxury hotels third in the world in its “upper upscale” category. The palatial home of the five-star Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropole has been a fixture in the Vietnamese capital city of Hanoi for more than 110 years. Its French-inspired dining and spa services cater to both business and leisure travelers. The January 2011 issue of Travel & Leisure Magazine lists the hotel among the top 500 worldwide.
Situated on the shores of the South China Sea and with its own international airport, Da Nang is the business hub of central Vietnam and a base for touring the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Hue and Hoi An.
Travelers seeking a beachside experience in Vietnam may want to explore the Furama Resort Da Nang, which, in February 2011, ranked second among 50 hotels in the city on TripAdvisor. Guests can choose between lounging on the beach or swimming in the freshwater lagoon that meanders through the five-star property.
Recent reviews have suggested that the ageing Furama will face stiff competition from Business Travel News 2010 U.S. Hotel Survey winner, Le Meridien, which began construction few years ago of its luxury Le Meridien Da Nang Resort and Spa on Son Tra-Dien Ngoc beach. The resort is a mixed leisure, business and residential retreat and was completed in 2013.
Ho Chi Minh City
In November 2010, LeMeridien also broke ground on a 24 story hotel and business center in Ho Chi Minh City. According to Viet Nam Business News, it was the first five star property in the country to be built by Vietnamese contractors. The new facility was completed in 2012 and is managed by the Starwood Group.
The Park Hyatt Saigon is a nine-story, five star property located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. The complex boasts a full service spa, swimming pool, world class restaurants and a business center. The hotel is ranked highest overall among hotels in the city on TripAdvisor and, along with the Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropole, is listed among the top 500 hotels worldwide in the January 2011 issue of Travel & Leisure Magazine.
These are only a few of the remarkable destinations in Vietnam that are attracting global luxury hotel investment. Vietnam has long abandoned its image as a region catering only to backpackers and war historians. Hundreds of millions of investment dollars are pouring into the country to tap into the growing MICE (meeting and incentive travel) and high-end leisure vacation markets.