The five-star Meliá Ho Tram Beach is a luxury beachfront resort on Vietnam’s southern coast, about 1.5 hours from Ho Chi Minh City.
It has been described as Vietnam’s answer to The Hamptons – a 17 hectare beach resort surrounded by lagoons, water features and more than 4,000 different types of trees.
And while it mightn’t have the celebrity sightings or the tall hedge rows of its Atlantic Ocean rival, Meliá Ho Tram Beach Resort is every bit as exclusive and seclusive.
Opened in April last year on Vietnam’s southern coastline, Meliá Ho Tram Beach has 152 guest rooms in a 17-floor tower overlooking the resort and beach (pictured below).
Rooms in the main tower, which all have ocean-facing balconies, include a 43-inch LCD TV, free Wi-Fi, mini bar, bathrobes and slippers. The bathrooms are modern and luxurious and include a rain shower and daily ammenities.
There are also 61 upscale villas – known as The Level Villas – with their own private pools in a lush tropical garden village setting. Guests who stay in the villas also have access to a VIP area known as the Level Lounge, just near the main reception.
There’s also a whole new development under construction alongside the resort (pictured above), with dozens of new oceanfront villas expected to open next year.
Meliá Ho Tram has three main dining areas, a pool with a swim-up bar, a children’s pool, a kid’s club, tennis courts, putt-putt golf and free bike hire. Each night, movies are screened in the palm-fringed garden as guests lounge about on bean bags.
This really is the sort of place you go just to unwind; in fact, there’s very little else along this coastal strip to persuade you otherwise.
If you are getting cabin fever and do need to get out, the Grand Ho Tram Resort & Casino is a five-minute taxi ride away. While most facilities are exclusively for hotel guests, it does have a number of top class restaurants worth visiting.
A great lunch spot is the adjoining golf club and restaurant – The Bluffs (designed by Greg Norman) – where you’ll find the Infinity restaurant overlooking the 1st tee (above). There’s a courtesy bus that runs from the foyer at The Grand to the Bluffs each day.
A day trip to the resort town of Vung Tau, about an hour south, is also worth considering. Meliá’s guests services staff can arrange a taxi for four or five hours, quoting an agreed price with the driver.
I paid 2.1 million VND (about $140 Aussie dollars) for a five hour return taxi trip to Vũng Tàu. The driver dropped us at all the main sights and even waited while we had lunch. It couldn’t have been easier.
For adventurers and explorers, the Phuoc Buu Nature Reserve and Binh Chau Hot Springs are just 10 minutes drive from Meliá’ Ho Tram.
The check-in was fast and efficient, and included a refreshing welcome drink. We arrived early evening when it was fairly quiet so there were no queues and no delays. Within five minutes we were being whisked away in a golf buggy to our room at the main tower, about 600 metres from the reception area.
Each of the 152 air-conditioned rooms in the main tower has its own private balcony with sweeping views of the coastline and out to the South China Sea. Rooms range in size from 47 sq metres to 88 sq metres. Our room on the 17th floor was modern, spacious and comfortable with fresh seaside inspired touches. It included a fully-stocked mini bar, 43″ LCD TV, free wi-fi, an in-room safe, bathrobe and flip flops. The bathroom was modern and sleek with an outside-facing window. Amenities like shower gel, shampoo and conditioner – and the free bottled water – were restocked daily. Meliá also offers 61 standalone two-, three- and four-bedroom villas with their own private pools, BBQ areas, outdoor showers and gardens.
There are four different dining spaces across the resort. SaSa, an Asian street food-themed restaurant on the ground floor of the main tower, serves a buffet breakfast and a la carte lunch and dinner daily. The Spanish-style Breeza Beach Club, located poolside, serves lunch and dinner and is the place to meet for drinks. Each night there’s a live DJ and the casual menu ranges from seafood and modern Vietnamese to pizza and burgers. Head upstair to the Vietnamese restaurant Muối for more upscale fare. Muối specialises in traditional dishes with a modern twist and the restaurant is fitted out with dark and earthy timber furnishings and mosaic floor tiles. Elyxr Cafe, near the main reception, is where you’ll get fresh juices made to order as well as coffee and tea and incredible cakes and sweet treats.
There are two outdoor pools – one for adults and one for kids – stretching to the beach edge. The 1,491 sq metre main pool includes a swim-up bar while the kids’ pool actually looks like a small water park with slides and water showers. There are dozens of reclining lounge chairs on either side of the pool (each with fresh towels). There are also a handful of curtained cabanas – although the heat was intense and the cabanas offered little shade.
The YHI Spa – located between the main reception and the main tower – has 10 treatment rooms, two of them double rooms with jacuzzis. There’s also a sauna and steam bath and open-air relaxation areas. There are a range of full body treatments, facials and scrubs available. When making a reservation you’ll be guided through a menu of options, including various types of scented oils for your massage, from lavender and rose petal to more masculine woody scents. It’s an hour well spent when there’s nothing else to do.
The resort has a surprising number of activities, for the young and the young at heart. There’s a 24-hour fitness centre – accessed only with your room card – that includes treadmills, spin bikes and weights. Yoga class, fitness dance and Zumba, stretching, pool gymnastics, water volleyball and water basketball are also available. As well as a kids club, there’s a putt putt golf course, tennis courts, free bike hire and an open-air cinema in front of the main tower, where movies screen each night. (Kids movies are at 6.30pm and adventure movies at 8.30pm). If you’re staying in one of the private villas, you also have VIP access to The Level Lounge – a private lounge near the main reception. There’s free wi-fi in public areas across the resort, including poolside, and a gift shop in the main foyer.
Cleanliness: it’s probably the most important word when it comes to hospitality these days. And Meliá Ho Tram scores top marks on this front. The room was always well maintained with housekeepers changing the towels daily and restocking toiletries and other amenities. The pool and bar area was regularly cleaned and the YHI was spotless. Since the coronavirus pandemic, Meliá has ramped up its hygiene playbook. A range of new measures have been introduced, including more intensive cleaning of public spaces and new processes to guarantee adequate social distancing. Worried guests can even buy a COVID-19 amenities kit that includes a mask, gloves and hydro-alcoholic gel.
Melia has a shuttle bus that runs from the Kana Cafe in Ho Chi Minh City (74 Nguyen Co Thach St in District 2) to the resort at Ho Tram Beach. It leaves twice a day (2pm and 8pm) and takes just over an hour. (The cafe has nothing do with the shuttle – it’s just the designated drop off and collection point.) The shuttle service was complimentary with our booking, although I’ve seen some reviews where people said they had to pay. If you’re a guest at the resort you shouldn’t have to pay for the shuttle. While at the resort, taxis will your best friend – it’s the only way to get anywhere. Ask guest services to arrange a taxi for you if you want to explore the Ho Tram strip, or places further afield like Vũng Tàu. Forget about hiring a private car – they’ll end up booking you a taxi anyway.
We had an early morning flight so settled our bill the night before. It turns out the coffee pods in our room were not complimentary after all, but they kindly waived the charge anyway. (They really should put a notice on those things.) When we left at 5am, the golf buggy was waiting to take us to our taxi at the front reception. And as a nice touch, we were given a breakfast box that included pastries, tiny sandwiches and bottled water.
We booked a seven-night deal for two through Luxury Escapes and was incredibly impressed both in terms of the value for money and the levels of service across the resort. The package deal also included a complimentary spa treatment and cocktail each night. As a side note, if you want to avoid bill shock when checking out, be aware that drinks at the Breeza Bar tend to cost a little bit more than you’d pay in other parts of Vietnam.
Pros: If you like being pampered, you’ll love Meliá Ho Tram Beach Resort. It’s modern, sophisticated and luxurious.
Cons: It’s fairly isolated, so don’t plan on making too many day-trips outside the resort. The Muối Vietnamese restaurant was superb, but only opened on Fridays and Saturdays when I stayed in March. Book in advance or you might miss out. And if you dine at the Breeza Beach Club, here’s a tip: skip the Fritto Misto. I’m no food snob but this was unpleasant: processed/frozen seafood that turned to rubber bullets when cooked. I lost count of how many tables sent the dish back.
NOTE: To her credit, the restaurant manager offered us a complimentary drink as an apology for the over cooked seafood, but we politely declined and said it was fine. Two nights later she sent us a complimentary glass of wine anyway.
Would we stay again? Absolutely.
Our Star Rating Out of Five
© 2020 Bernard O’Riordan (Travel Instinct). All Rights Reserved.
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