Arrival/Check In: Turning off the narrow dusty streets of Hoi An and entering the tropical garden setting of the Life Heritage Resort, I felt like Dorothy encountering the suddenly Technicolor scene in The Wizard of Oz. Through masses of glossy green plants, shaggy-headed palms and pink and purple bougainvillea we headed to the breezy reception pavilion where a chilled towel and a welcome drink awaited. Fishing boats putt-putted along the Thu Bon River, just yards away, as the check-in formalities were quickly dispatched and we were on our way through the gardens to our room. (19/20)
Guest Quarters: All 94 accommodations are housed in 2- and 3-story townhouses whose archways and balconies reflect the colonial influences of the early traders who called at the bustling port of Hoi An. The two grand suites and 44 junior suites overlook the river. Many of the 48 superior rooms face the interior gardens and have “front porches” with upholstered daybeds hidden behind overflowing flowerboxes. Because there are no elevators, I opted for a ground floor room. In keeping with Life Resorts’ mission statement of harmony with nature, cool floors and gleaming teak shutters accented the soothingly pale walls. The entry sitting area included a desk, a sofa and chairs piled with pillows, and a coffee table. The bedroom was comfortably minimal (firm king-sized bed, night-tables with good reading lamps, teak ceiling fan, and a wall of louvered closets). And behind the teak-framed frosted doors was a bathroom with huge step-down tub and shower, double sinks, and two large windows that swung open onto an interior rear garden. (14/15)
Services/Amenities: In a nod to its European owners, Life Heritage Resort Hoi An is home to the Vienna Cafe (yummy pastries, strong coffee and Mozart on the sound system) and the Amsterdam Bar (a frosty Jenever or Heineken while you shoot some snooker). At Senses Restaurant the international breakfast buffet showcases everything from Chinese congee to cinnamon buns; while at dinner, it turns a la carte and formal, featuring “Life Cuisine,” an East-West fusion focusing on fresh seafood.
At Life Wellness, the poolside spa, stress-reducers range from massages to personalized advice from a Chinese healer. The pool’s bar features light snacks, great drinks, and up-close views of the river. (43/45)
The Experience: In the midst of all this serenity, if you’re still feeling compelled to work, the only computer is in the Amsterdam Bar: It’s free, but dial-up is pokey. Much better to just relax, say “om,” and watch the river flow by. (18/20)
Total Score: 94/100
LIFE HERITAGE RESORT HOI AN
01 Pham Hong Thai St.
Hoi An Town, Quang Province, Vietnam
tel 84 510 914 555
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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