by Hoai Nam
|Hillside retreat: The InterContinental Da Nang Sun Peninsula Resort offers panoramic views of the East Sea. — VNS Photos Cong Thanh
(VNS) Want to live like billionaire financier George Soros? Perhaps his lifestyle is out of your reach, but at least you can experience what he did during his vacation in Da Nang last year by staying at the InterContinental Da Nang Sun Peninsula Resort.
Located at the top of Son Tra Mountain, the 39ha resort opened last summer and offers panoramic views as well as a private beach. It also has the unique distinction of being the only resort in Viet Nam selected by the luxury travel and lifestyle magazine DestinAsian for last year's Luxe List. Additionally, Conde Nast Traveller placed it among 154 best new hotels in the world.
|Room with a view: Buffalo Bar offers drinks on an elegant veranda.
A two-night stay with extras costs about VND20 million (US$950) – a decent price to travel like a billionaire.
The mountainous area features evergreen forests that are home to rare langurs. When designing the resort, American architect Bill Bensley sought to preserve the landscape as it has existed for centuries.
"That's why traffic zigzags around the mountain," explained Hoang Thuy Trang, a tour guide at the resort. "The architect did not allow any timber or plants in the area to be destroyed."
The design is equally ambitious. The hotel has four levels – Heaven, Sky, Earth and Sea. A boat-shaped tramcar links Heaven to Earth, while small pools are set all around the area.
|Ascension: A tramcar carries visitors from Earth to Heaven at the InterContinental Da Nang Sun Peninsula Resort.
Like the real thing, Earth offers bars and a restaurant. But many visitors prefer the barefoot cafe on the beach.
"After swimming on the beach, you can sit down and order food barefoot," said Le Anh Thu, a visitor. "It's a great idea because everyone feels uncomfortable putting sandals on after swimming."
It also doesn't hurt that the restaurant offers the cheapest prices in the resort. A meal costs from VND200,000 ($10) to 400,000 ($20).
Those who truly want to walk in Soros's footsteps may prefer to enjoy an aperitif at Buffalo Bar, followed by a dinner at Citron – nestled on the upper level with views of the stunning seascape. The restaurant serves a range of locally inspired fare as well as Western favourites.
The beach is crowded on summer days, with kayaking, bamboo basket paddling, snorkelling and wind surfing.
In the morning, visitors can take part in tai chi or yoga before splashing in two outdoor pools or braving the sea.
In order to keep the environment green and clean, the resort managing board offers visitors environmentally-friendly vehicles for travelling around the resort, including battery-powered bicycles and cars and regular bicycles.
Just 20 minutes away by bicycle is Son Tra forest, where you can climb the Vong Canh Hills or seek the endangered langurs.
You can also ride downhill to the Linh Ung Pagoda, which features a 65m Buddha statue, or Dinh Dong museum at the foot of Son Tra mountain. A shuttle bus brings guests to the ancient town of Hoi An and the Han market in downtown Da Nang.
Did Soros visit these destinations? Bicycling through the mountains, one can only wonder. — VNS