The Anam is truly big. Within its sprawling 12-hectare ground is a five-floor 96-room hotel wing, 117 villas, three swimming pools, a beach club, a 3D mini theatre, a spa, a French restaurant alongside three other F&B outlets, and not to mention a 300-metre private beach that enjoys all-year-round sunshine which makes this the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Located on the Cam Ranh peninsula, the gateway to Nha Trang – a seaside town with miles of sandy beaches and natural hot springs – The Anam may be designed for large groups and family with kids, but there is also something for couples looking for peace and privacy. Book yourself the Spa Villa (like we did!) and enjoy your own private quarters and entrance, complete with a plunge pool, an in-villa spa treatment room, a steam room and a jacuzzi. Its location, next to the 10-room Balinese-inspired spa, allows the therapist to discreetly enter through a connecting door, ready to deliver some serious pampering the moment you call.
Beyond the size, The Anam is also an architectural fascination. Designed in Vietnamese age-old aesthetics with a subtle nod to its colonial heritage, the slick interiors come together in a collection of natural wood, bespoke mosaic tiles and stone pathways. You could spend your entire day in-room getting blissfully pampered and pummelled if you do not need to eat.
For food, we made our usual halal request ahead of time. We were met on the day of arrival by Executive Chef Peter Ye at Lang Viet, the centrepiece of The Anam’s culinary landscape that fronted the pristine white beach of Cam Ranh Bay. Chef Peter got down to business and assured us his team will observe all that is required to meet our dietary needs. Apart from ensuring only halal ingredients are used to prepare our food, they are prepared to use fresh utensils, avoid questionable ingredients and to communicate with us every step of the way. We were told that the beef and lamb are halal-certified from Australia but unfortunately, local buffalo is preferred for the local pho to make a hearty stock.
Though this meant we had to give this iconic dish a miss, it allowed us to experience a repertoire of other dishes that highlighted Vietnam’s amazing culinary vastness, including Ca Kho To (fish simmered in caramel sauce), Bo Nuong La Lot (grilled beef in betel leaf), and Bun Bo Namb Bo (brothless noodles with crunchy peanuts and fresh herbs). Pair this with a tall glass of Da Me Dau Phong (tamarind drink with peanuts) and you’ve got your vacation come full circle.
The Anam’s resort-feel calls for lounge casuals and cool cottons, The Colonial,
which focuses on classical French cuisine, could be the ideal place to get a
bit dressier. The lightly grilled scallops were perfectly executed, so was the
beetroot cooked sous vide paired with goat cheese as a salad in a light
dressing. The menu is kept simple with refined techniques and gorgeous plating
that lets diners see the work that goes behind it. The Saigon Bar next door makes
for a perfect ending to your night. With its stylish interiors hung with
black-and-white photographs from local Vietnamese artist, Mai Loc, the space is
classy with a low-key vibe that makes downing a fruit smoothie or coffee seem
hip. The Indochine is more relaxed, where buffet breakfast is spread out with
live kitchens and an a la carte dinner menu that includes pizzas and pastas.
There is plenty to do to while the time away, too. If you can tear yourself from the spa, the resort offers complimentary non-motorised watersports activities. There is also a tennis court located behind the hotel wing for those wanting to work a sweat. Amid the grassy expanse of lawn, kids can fly kites and play ball or Frisbee. Most guests with young ones in tow are just happy to have them run around freely to enjoy the breeze and sunshine.
The H Factor
*Chef Peter is really strict not just about halal, but about cross-contamination in general (he has to be, for example, strict about peanuts due to allergies, etc). He says, “There is one cold room for meat, but the halal meats are kept in separate containers so there’s no cross-contamination.” Separate pots and pans are used in preparation of the halal meat though Chef Peter cannot guarantee a separate area.
*The private pool and couples spa room in the Spa Villa mean ladies can have total privacy here.
*There are a number of connecting accommodations designed to make family travel all the more convenient, including a 3-bedroom villa with a private pool and kitchenette.
*If you do sign up for the Vespa Tour, you will be brought to the riverside Chopsticks restaurant for a sumptuous seafood lunch. The owner, Andy Nguyen, has hosted Muslim guests for 25 years and even has separate utensils set aside for halal and vegetarians. Bless him!
*Enjoy the free daily shuttle service to Nha Trang, about half an hour’s ride away.
*The Anam has partnered with Nha Trang Vespa Tour where you can sign up and ride around for a quick overview of the town on a classic vehicle!
*Art afficionados will appreciate the seven-hour Nha Trang Art Tour. It takes you into the galleries and homes of acclaimed local artists and ends with dinner)
*Though Muslim guests may not be able to enjoy the food, we love how the moms of the resort’s staff come together every week for the Mama’s Cooking special, giving you an insight into the rich heritage of Vietnamese cooking and traditions while connecting you with the locals!
For more on our stay, read here: http://muhibah.com.bn/pair-up-in-paradise/