Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai is set on Vietnam’s central coast, 30 kilometres south of the city of Da Nang. The resort itself is about a ten-minute drive from the pretty Unesco-listed city of Hoi An, an atmospheric ancient trading port dating from the 15th century that was once Southeast Asia’s largest harbour and whose historic district reflects a unique mix of influences.
Both Christians and Buddhists lived here during the 17th century, and today it is a small tourist town with many pagodas, temples and former Japanese merchant houses to see, some on its original streets. The Japanese covered bridge, built in 1590, is renowned and worth a visit, as are the riverside and the quirky boutiques and restaurants on its red-lanterned streets.
The drive from the airport takes about 25 minutes, past plots of land under huge amounts of construction; this is an area that is growing at an alarmingly fast rate. Hotel after hotel and several golf resorts are being built. The next ten years will see a big change and I am certain the coastline will change dramatically. At the moment it is lined with old buildings and some derelict as well as inhabited villages, and the beaches are home to remnants of the traditional, round, bamboo-basket fishing boats, but these will rapidly disappear as the tourist industry takes over.
Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai is set in beautiful landscaped gardens with more than 4,500 towering palm trees swaying gently in the sea breeze. All villas have beach views, allowing you to open your doors on to a vast expanse of beach, on which you can walk for miles. The sea was very rough during my stay in October, and even though I love swimming in the sea and am a strong swimmer, I did not risk it. I didn’t see any other guests in the sea during my stay either. However, I did, like other guests, march up and down the lovely beachfront of the property each day, which was just under a kilometre.
The property was only recently taken over by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and, gradually, the company is adding to the already excellent facilities. For a family it is a perfect place if you do not want to move around too much and like to dip in and out of local things to see and do. For me, as the final stop at the end of a busy tour around Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, it was a very welcome rest.
On the site of a former fishing village, with a temple preserved on site, the resort is designed around ancient feng shui (phong thuy) principles, the Chinese-based philosophy of harmonising surroundings with the elements and the environment. Sleek, open-sided buildings that are carefully considered and elegantly decorated are situated around beautiful tiered pools with water features. Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai is a fabulous resort with multi-roomed villas for families, a superb spa, an adorable Kids’ Club, a fully equipped gym, a wonderful cookery school, two great restaurants for everyone to enjoy and plenty of other activities. You can even get married here since the Nam Hai also offers bespoke wedding services including beach and lawn venues for up to 200 guests. Couples take note, though, I would definitely recommend visiting outside school holidays.
- Daily breakfast for two
- Buffet breakfast, minimum stay two nights
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (upgrades applicable from One Bedroom Villas to One Bedroom Ocean View Villas OR One Bedroom Ocean View Villas to One Bedroom Beachfront Villas only). Minimum stay two nights
- Spa credit
- US$100 or equivalent for treatments at the spa, , minimum stay two nights
Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.
- Detailed Review +
- Facts & Amenities +
We were met outside arrivals at Da Nang airport by a charming member of staff and quickly escorted to a BMW X5. On arrival at the resort, one of the resident managers greeted me and invited me up the main steps to the open-air lobby with its fabulous views of palm-lined, tiered pools leading down to the vast beach and the blue sea and sky beyond. It took a while to catch my breath and take it all in, as it is gorgeous. I was asked for my passport, offered a nice fruit drink and cold towel and then led to my villa. On the way I was told about the bicycles, which are allocated for you so you can cycle around the resort. I loved hopping on my bike to get to the spa, gym or restaurants.
Rooms and suites
Four Seasons The Nam Hai has 100 villas set in five horseshoe bays along the beach (so about 20 in each bay), all with ocean or beach views. The villas are all stand-alone and designed by Reda Amalou. Inspired by feng shui principles, each villa has its own outdoor terrace and two separate daybeds overlooking the beach down to the sea. There are 52 one-bedroom villas, 40 Pool Villas with one to five bedrooms and eight stunning Family Villas, which are perfect for a holiday when you need plenty of living space. All Family Villas have rooms with en-suite bathrooms, beautiful living areas and their own private gardens and outdoor pools. Make sure you ask to be close to the main buildings if you do not want to cycle or walk distances to your rooms. A golf-buggy service is provided to collect you and take you to your rooms at any time.
I accessed my villa down a leafy path and through a big front door. The room was airy, with dark wood flooring throughout including the bathroom. The space was open-plan with the bedroom off the living area. Everywhere was very airy, light and spacious with floor-to-ceiling windows. The bathroom was just off to the right as I walked in, behind shuttered, carved wooden doors. There was a nice note with a bottle of champagne from the General Manager, plus some cookies and a bowl of fruit as a welcome.
Each one-room villa is 80 metres-square, so there was plenty of room to move around. The best way to describe it is to say it was on three tiers, which descended to beach level. The first tier housed a raised sleeping platform with the bed in the centre of the room looking out to the ocean. The space was basically a square divided into a seating area, console table and a desk which formed the back of the bed’s headboard, and you accessed it by stepping up onto the platform then sitting down on a cushion and swinging your legs under the desk off the platform to sit. This was really annoying. The desk had lots of writing paper and plug sockets and was a good size to work from once you had contorted your way into it. The sunken bath was part of the platform to the right of the desk, and was made of the same brown/yellow eggshell lacquer as the sinks in the bathroom. Towels and amenities were on the rim of the bath.
The bed was really comfortable and it was gorgeous to lie in bed in the mornings looking out to the beach. The bed had a nice topper on it, plenty of squashy pillows and lovely linen. However, you have to be extremely careful at night if you get out of bed, as you have to get off the platform and step down to the floor, and I nearly fell down the steps one night on my way back. My tip is to turn on the reading light on the side of the bed. I am not sure these rooms would be suitable for someone with walking or balance issues because of the tiers. The whole sleeping platform, including the bath and desk area, was surrounded by posts, which have what they call ‘gossamer netting’ around them, and were drawn each night. These were white with a bright turquoise bottom and seemed out of sync with the rest of the colours in the room. I felt it was the one thing that really spoiled a lovely room and the first thing I noticed when I walked in. I am being picky. At one corner of the bed there was a flat-screen TV, with all the wires showing at the back. Shame. I would have preferred not to have one at all. It looked as if it was an afterthought.
Down more steps to the third and final tier, there was a lovely Balinese day bed with lime-green upholstered seating adorned with silk, embroidered cushions, two small matching foot stools on each side and a small wooden tray/table in the middle of this bed. A round lacquered table in front of the day bed was where you could sit and have breakfast. Two hurricane lamps on dark-wood stands were in each corner of the room with candles. On a terrace outside, two day beds on either side of the open terrace had fresh towels and plenty of room to relax. Bear in mind that none of the terraces is private or enclosed. On one side of my room I had to keep my shutters closed at all times in order to ensure privacy from my neighbours. On the other side there was a white wall.
There was a full mini bar with complimentary tea (plus a kettle), coffee (with a coffee machine) and soft drinks; other snacks and alcoholic drinks were charged for. There was a large safe that could hold a laptop.
The Wi-Fi was excellent and the lighting controls easy to use. The air-conditioning was silent and blackout blinds ensured the room was in total darkness. The mobile network was good throughout the hotel.
On entering the bathroom I could see through to a small but very pretty, enclosed, leafy garden with a door that led out to an outdoor shower. These windows had shuttered blinds (which needed replacing). There were two walk-in closets on either side of the bathroom with plenty of hangers, spare pillows and drawer space for clothes or shoes and an area for a suitcase. Each side of the bathroom had a sink set in a unit with drawers and with room on one side for a toiletry bag. The sinks were a weird yellow-brown colour, and I found out later that they were made from an eggshell lacquer, no doubt at great expense. However, I was not that keen on it and I think it was the brown that got me; it smacked of 1970s avocado and brown bathrooms. One of the sinks had a vanity mirror. Past the sinks there was a separate loo to the right, with a telephone, and to the left a rainfall shower and an annoying handheld shower which you had to pull out and push back. All in all, the bathroom was nice but the window shutters, floor and rubbish bin had all seen better days and could do with a refurb.
The amenities were all Four Seasons The Nam Hai’s own organic brand and included everything from shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and soaps to cotton wool, ear buds, etc. The hairdryer was good and there was a free-standing wooden towel rail by the window.
There are two restaurants, one bar and a beach bar at the resort. Room service is 24 hours and the staff can make beach picnics too. The food was delicious throughout. I had a dinner one night in the bar of Café Nam Hai simply consisting of a selection of appetisers. The bar is dark and sultry with ambient lighting and beautifully carved screens. The bar staff were very attentive; I was on my own and I think, as a result, they took extra-special care of me. I had breakfast outside on the terrace one morning at La Sen, next to the Olympic pool, and downstairs at Café Nam Hai the next. They move the breakfast venues around, weather depending, and to give variety. The buffet breakfast at Café Nam Hai was superb and the menu featured everything from Vietnamese cuisine to anything your heart desired, including a continental or cooked breakfast, fresh fruit, delicious little pastries and cakes, fresh yoghurts and juices. It was all mouth-wateringly good. The beach bar is out on the sand and has daybeds and hanging chairs with a chilled vibe. It was not open when I was there in October because of the weather but champagne is served at sunset, plus Vietnamese bar snacks and Asian tapas. Food is either contemporary Vietnamese or Asian fusion and very fresh. The herb and vegetable gardens there are managed by ten full-time gardeners.
Spa and wellness
The gym is truly impressive. Housed a short walk from the main lobby, it also has fantastic floodlit tennis courts. The gym area has its own lockers, changing rooms with sauna, steam facilities and the latest cardio and strength-training machines and free weights. There are personal trainers available on request at an additional cost.
The Heart of the Earth Spa is set in the gardens of the hotel and inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned Vietnamese Zen master. It is very beautiful with eight Lotus Pond treatment villas over the water, each with their own crystal singing bowls tuned to 432 Hz. – the harmonic intonation of nature – plus simple focused breathing techniques that feature in the treatments. The entrance of the spa has a little shop with many different brands including Aromatherapy Associates and some gorgeous workout and leisure gear. A beautiful, crystal Buddha faces the entrance in front of the Lotus Pond. I had a pedicure and a massage when I was there; both treatments were excellent. The staff were sweet and gentle and it was a very peaceful experience. They offer many treatments including facials, scrubs and wraps, core connection rituals and bathing ceremonies, plus there are morning yoga classes on a deck in front of the spa. Private yoga, meditation and mindfulness classes can also be arranged. One of the specialities is the Nam Hai Earth Song, a 150-minute ritual for a single person or couple, which is an evening ceremony.
Golf can be organised on request with two par-72 championship courses nearby: an 18-hole Montgomerie Links Course and The Dunes, an 18-hole course designed by Greg Norman. Both are within a ten-minute drive from the resort.
Believe it or not there is also one badminton court and a small basketball court, both floodlit, which are good for keeping the teens and young adults amused.
Pool and beach
There are three large, infinity-edge pools at the resort, one for families, a lap pool and the Olympic pool. These are tiered from the reception down towards the beach. Kids are allocated the top family pool. This means couples without children can sit in peace around the one closest to the beach all day, with service from the bar and restaurant. The beach is lovely and swept each morning, and there is a lifeguard on duty all day. The sea is very inviting but there are times during the year when it can be rough so if you are a keen sea swimmer make sure you ask about this. There are plenty of water sports available in good sea conditions. Kayaks, windsurfers and catamarans are available free. X-jet blades, jet skis, water-skiing, knee and wake boarding and inflatable rides are available with tuition if necessary at an additional cost.
Four Seasons The Nam Hai is a gorgeous resort for children of all ages. There is plenty for kids to do, and young adults will be happy if they can go to Hoi An in the evenings as there are many fun bars and restaurants for them to hang out in. The cookery school is a great option for all ages, and the Chuon Chuon ‘dragonfly’ kids’ club, set in the gardens up above the gym, is a mini resort with both indoor and outdoor areas and its own little pool. There is also a huge family pool in the tiered pool area where children can enjoy themselves without disturbing other guests. The kids’ club is open from 9am-6pm daily and is complimentary for ages four to twelve. In addition, I saw many happy children playing on the beach with their buckets and spades and paddling in the surf with their parents.
The youth club for teens is next to the badminton and basketball courts, with table tennis, pool and football tables.
Staff and service
All the staff were very sweet and helpful. You have to be kind and patient with the language at times, as the team is gentle by nature and don’t do well with impatience or confrontation. The service in the restaurants and main bar was really exceptional, and they would always check to see if I needed anything extra or wanted another drink. The spa staff were kind and gentle. Even the ladies who sweep the beach in the mornings had a cheerful smile. Service was excellent; if you called for anything it was delivered quickly. The laundry service was very good and not overly expensive.
There were mainly American couples and families when I was there, and some Chinese families. A mix of people, lots of couples in workout gear in the breakfast room (not my favourite thing, I can’t see why they can’t have a shower after and then breakfast!). Not particularly elegant but a lot of people come here and rightly use it as a spa and fitness destination outside of school holidays.
Check-out is clever, and in a totally different area from check-in, well away from new arrivals. I was taken to the right of the open-air reception, to an air-conditioned enclosed room with two large check-out desks, where I could sit quietly and go through my bill. When I had paid, I came outside and my bags had been collected from my room and placed in the boot of the BMW. The manager and guest relations manager came to say goodbye.
How to get there
25 minutes by road transfer from Danang Airport