Must-See Sights in Hoi An, Vietnam

Endless tropical pools at the Nam Hai resort.

Endless tropical pools at the Nam Hai resort.

Looking for your next Southeast Asian beach resort — with a deeply local history? Hoi An, a small trading port in Vietnam’s Quang Nam Province, could be your pick. We asked friends of Max to tell us what they liked about their luxury vacation in the South China Sea beach town.

– Stay

All signs point to the opulent Nam Hai Hoi An, one of the GHM Hotels and a Leading Hotel of the World. This all-villa beach resort boasts tranquil private pools and stunning views. Feel free to bring children, who will enjoy the resort’s kids’ club. The food is one of the high points, our informants say. If you fall in love with the place, the villas (up to 5 bedrooms) are for sale, with personal butler service included.

– See

The resort is situated close to three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the old town of Hoi An, My Son and Hue.

Hoi An, UNESCO says,  is “an exceptionally well-preserved example of a small-scale trading port active from the 15th to 19th centuries” revealing the influence of  Japan, China, and Europe. The town has an abundance of temples and features a noted Japanese-style covered bridge with a pagoda.  Lanterns illuminate the town at night, and a special night market is devoted to lights.

Hoi An is an old trading port and life there still revolves around the water.

Hoi An is an old trading port and life there still revolves around the water.

My Son, a day trip from Hoi An, is the ancient capital of the Champa Kingdom, which flourished from the 4th to the 13th centuries. The site includes 71 stone towers dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It’s comparable in quiet magnificence and worldwide significance to Indonesia’s Borobudur temple and the Cambodian holy complex at Angkor Wat. Hue is another former capital, the seat of the Ngyuen dynasty, which ruled Vietnam from the early 1800s until 1945.

– Do

If lounging by your own pool is too passive for you, rent bikes and ride into the surrounding rice paddies or the local markets. You can also try a cyclo, a three-wheeled bike, which is ideal for touring the Old Town.

Locals traditionally fish using giant baskets. The hotel or a tour agency can arrange an outing where you can try this technique yourself.

For foodie travelers, the Nam Hai offers cooking classes that include excursions to market stalls with the hotel chef. Other culinary seminars off the resort are easy to find and can introduce you to local styles of cooking.

The area is famous for its tailors and some 400 of them are in business here. Stop in with a picture of your favorite dress, or any clothing item you love, and have a tailor replicate it for you.

 

Postcard from Bodrum: Must-See Sights in Turkey’s Top Beach Resort

The Mandarin Oriental Bodrum from the air.

The Mandarin Oriental Bodrum from the air.

Bodrum, the chic Turkish seaside resort, is known for its sparkling beaches and relaxed vibe. We asked friends of Max Luxe who have summered in the area for years to tell us what to visit on this picturesque Aegean Sea peninsula.

– Yachting

Yacht owners aren’t the only ones excited about Bodrum’s new Palmarina, a mega-yacht basin ringed by hotels, restaurants, and luxury shops. The complex includes an outpost of Italian billionaire Flavio Briatore’s night club, somewhat eponymously named Billionaire, as well as Nobu and Cipriani restaurants. Owned by an international shipping conglomerate, the marina has all the services yacht owners need — and a brokerage in case you’d like to pick up a new boat while there.

– Hotels

The chicest hotel in the Bodrum area is the new Mandarin Oriental, which opened in July 2014. The 109-room beachfront property is built into a hillside forested with olive trees. Visitors get the usual plethora of luxury services, including impossibly stunning pools, a spa, and ten restaurants and bars, which often feature international DJs. Jetting in with a large crowd? See if you can book the 4-bedroom, 7-person duplex suite with private pool (from 2000 euros per night).

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– Beaches

If sand is your favorite part of a luxurious vacation, you have two choices: beach clubs, which offer full-service amenities, and quieter stretches of coast that you can reach by boat.

The area’s beach clubs typically welcome day visitors, who can get access to restaurants, beach chairs and umbrellas, pillows, drinks, shower and changing facilities, and even cooling mists. Some of these clubs are on the beach in front of hotels. They tend to get crowded, so arrive early.

Those in the know single out the beach clubs at Xuma, Dodo, Kuum, Maki, Maçakızı, Bej, and Moon Beach.

To visit several of the area’s beaches and the nearby islands, consider chartering a captained boat for a few days’ cruise. Beaches you may want to visit include Kisebükü, which can only be reached by sea. Several luxury charter companies offer crewed itineraries on sailboats, motor yachts and traditional Turkish gullet boats, including stops at some of the prettiest beaches like English Harbor. Among them: Europa Yachting, Blue Cruise Bodrum, and Akasia Yachting.

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– Antiquities

The Bodrum peninsula boasts some spectacular ancient sites, as do many of the towns in coastal Turkey. A huge amphitheater from the fourth century BC graces the town, as well as St. Peter’s Castle, a Crusader-era fortress, which is now the Underwater Archaeology Museum. History scholars will note that the town, once called Halicarnassus, was home to the noted Mausoleum, a king’s tomb, now in ruins, that was one of the ancient world’s Seven Wonders.

Amanzoe: Ultimate Beach Vacation

A serene colonnade at Amanzoe.

A serene colonnade at Amanzoe.

The height of the European sovereign-debt crisis wasn’t the most logical time to open an ultra-luxury resort in hard-hit Greece. But the Greek coastline remains stunningly beautiful, and in 2012 Aman Resorts debuted Amanzoe in Porto Heli. It’s the first Greek property for the global Aman brand.

Guests report that the resort provides what one expects from Aman: exclusivity, tranquility, and uniqueness. Although Amans can be found around the world, Amanzoe goes for the wraparound Greek experience, as pictured in Greece-based fashion brand Folli Follie’s most recent ad campaigns, shot on the property.

When you arrive, multilingual staffers bring you glasses of sparkling water with lime, fresh basil, and local honey collected by hand nearby. You may want to order some loukoumades, Greek puffed pastry with honey, which the hotel says is the recipe most often requested. Or just nibble on local flavors — pasteli, lemon juice, pistachios, chips, chocolate and fruit — from the platters brought up to the rooms each day. The resort will soon be pressing grown-on-the-property olives for oil.

Amanzoe's beach club.

Amanzoe’s beach club.

Amanzoe, with stately colonnades and reflecting pools, has been attracting visitors from all over the world. Most guests are from the U.K., U.S., and Germany, with others from throughout Europe as well as Asia and Latin America. The target visitor: international jetsetters seeking new experiences. Amanzoe’s most popular rooms are the Deluxe Sea View pavilions, each of which has a 12-meter pool, for 1,600 Euros per night. About one-third of guests arrive by helicopter.

The area, on the eastern Peloponnese with views of the Aegean Sea, has long been a weekend and vacation retreat for yachting Europeans, says Katerina Katopis, a director of Dolphin Capital Partners, which built and owns the resort. To capitalize on this, Amanzoe is the first Aman in Europe to include villas, for sale or rent. So far, the resort has sold 10 villas, with 4 already built. 2 bedroom villas start at about €3 million and 4 bedrooms at around €6 million, Katopis says.

Athens-based Dolphin put $135 million into building the resort, designed by serial Aman architect Ed Tuttle. The investment firm is now building another Aman in the Dominican Republic.

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