I have stayed at The Chedi in Muscat a few times and the fact I know their former General Manager, York Brandes, got me an invite to lunch.
Ms Thao Nguyen (a Manager in Sales & Events) was my sweet and enthusiastic guide for the day.
The Long Pool is one of the key features at The Chedi in Muscat and The Nam Hai takes influences from the grandeur of the Tu Duc Royal tombs at Hue, 2,500 years of history in the area and feng shui played a big part in the design of the Vietnamese resort.
Vietnamese lacquer, lotus ponds, diaphanous silk and butlers make this quite a place.
The hotel is a 15 minute drive from Hoi An. Despite overcast, and windy, weather you could tell The Nam Hai is a very special place as soon as you drove through its gates.
The Spa at The Nam Hai
We started the tour at the spa where I was first blown away by the size of the lotus pond and then by the luxurious standard of the 'treatment pavilions'. The facilities at this spa must be some of the best in the world.
One Bedroom Villa
I was next shown a one bedroom villa with views of Ha My Beach, the East Sea and Cham Islands.
The beds are on a raised platform and the set up reminded me of Song Saa Private Island & Four Seasons Chiang Mai.
It was interesting to find the bath in the bedroom. I was told honeymoon couples are the main customers for these villas.
The Three Bedroom Villas
I was stunned as soon as we opened the gates to the three bedroom villa's courtyard and saw the lotus pound and large main building.
The vast main reception room is clearly designed for very large family groups, which was also confirmed by the fact the sofa in the master bedroom can convert to a further bed.
Ms Thao explained that in these villas you get use of a dedicated butler, one of 40 employed by the resort.
The heated outdoor pool, looking out to the South China Sea, has to be seen to be believed.
Hotel's Organic Kitchen Gardens
After a tour of the gym, where we saw the pushbikes guests can use and met the yoga instructor, we looked around the impressive organic kitchen gardens. This is obviously a genuine commercial enterprise, rather than something for show.
The (all female) gardeners got me to smell the lemongrass and try various fresh herbs. I was then shown the patch where peanuts are grown. It was news to me that they do not come from trees. Maybe I need to do one of the workshops they run for children to teach them where our foods come from.
Lunch in The Beach Restaurant
We ate lunch outside by the pools. On the way there I got to meet Florian, the German Resident Manager. He told me Q-Bar (94 Nguyen Thai Hoc) make the best cocktails in Hoi An, which I confirmed that evening, while also meeting their Manager Minh.
For lunch I got a refreshing Mai Tai, as there were no signature cocktails with local names on the menu.
We started with Italian style flatbread with a fresh pumpkin dip. Just as at Four Seasons Chiang Mai, the flavours of organic vegetables grown by the hotel were far superior to anything you taste elsewhere.
I got the banana flower and smoked duck salad to start. The herbs, & crunchy vegetables, in this dish gave it an incredible (and delicious) texture and taste.
Next I got the crispy pork with lemongrass, sesame, chilli & tomato with steamed rice. When I have had crispy pork in other parts of Vietnam it has been overcooked. This pork was crunchy, with a soft centre, and perfection. However, there was too much food, after the large salad.
Other lunch Ms Thao explained the covered bridge in Hoi An is Japanese (not Chinese, as a friend in London told me); the UK is the biggest market for guests of the hotel; and about the hotel's cooking classes, where you are taken to the markets in Hoi An in the morning by one of the chefs.
We ended lunch with a double espresso for me and a Vietnamese coffee, with condenses milk, for Mr Thao. She was off to Hanoi for the first time shortly and excited about this.
The General Manager
I had hoped to meet Anthony (Geordie) Gill, the General Manager. He has worked at One & Only, Six Senses and the InterCon in Doha, so we would have had lots to talk about. However, he was rushing around seeing guest before Easter and so I saw him but we did not get to chat.
The Reverie, Saigon
After my visit Geordie (and Debbie Chee, Director of Sales & Marketing in Saigon) were a huge help with my booking at The Reverie in Saigon tomorrow night. Only a very special hotel would go this 'extra mile'.
I should mentioned that James Young, GM of the InterContinental Saigon (and his PA Oanh) were also a huge help with this Reverie booking too, another very special hotel.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻(6 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - The Nam Hai resort is clearly an icon/legend, rather than simply a hotel. Ms Thao, Debbie, Geordie & Florian; the incredible organic kitchen gardens and the flavours they produce; the stunning private pool at the Three Bedroom Villa; and the high quality feel to the whole resort get The Nam Hai the extra 'teddy'. Tips:- if you can, get a villa with a pool/sea view and butler, them fixing you a cocktail, while you look over the South China Sea, must be pure heaven. If you are interested in cooking, the cooking classes, with a morning visit to the Hoi An market, sounds like lots of fun.