Now to say I had high expectations of Sun Peninsula Residences, IHG Danang, the newly awarded ‘World’s Leading Luxury Resort’, is an understatement, but our BMW seven series arrives. Cold towels, chilled mineral water and massaging electronic gadgetry makes a great first impression. It’s not long before we are greeted by a chorus of “Welcome to the Intercontinental”. The lobby is more temple than reception.
Like magnets we are drawn to the open balcony. Standing on top of the mountain looking down hundreds of meters below the air rushes out of our lungs with a slow “wow”.
Situated on a bay with better curves than Halle Berry, white suites, villas and rooms tumble down the green hillside which has been bejazzled. It’s majestic. We follow a pathway outside and hop into a boat shaped funicular which breathtakingly takes us from ‘Heaven’ at the top of the mountain to levels Sky, Earth and Sea. This is so, so cool!!
Our butler Hoa greets us, handing over our personal phone as we step into the buggy. This woman could organize a rugby world cup and still find time to seek out the best Bánh mì in Central Vietnam. We whizz across the width of the resort, crossing over a stream as gardeners in their conical hats look up, wave and smile, it’s infectious. Architect Bill Bensley’ playful personality is in the DNA. You can’t help but laugh at his brass monkeys, they’re everywhere; from the brazen monkey creating a ‘what comes naturally’ water feature, to the men’s bathrooms at the Long Bar, each overlooking a cubicle with shocked expressions! It’s fun monkey spotting. Both brass and real.
We pull up at the far edge of the bay. Forest on one side, our villa, then gently lapping sea on the other. Whoa, we have entered the land of the giants…
When is a villa too big? When you can’t see from one end to the other or you require a segway to get around? Hoa explains that the pavilion in the distance is our other bedroom, which has a second wrap around infinity pool. This has to be the ultimate bed hopping experience, less villa more palace. All of a sudden travelling with in-laws could be appealing, or actually anyone you love…but at a distance.
Ensconced in our residence we set about exploring with the freedom to raid the complimentary mini bar. I am considering my strategy to immediately hold the Pringles hostage. Secluded, luxurious, sumptuous but strangely homely, we flip a coin to decide which pool to test out first
We soon discover this is a home that will improve your memory. Forget where you put your sunnies and it could take half a day to retrace your steps from jungle walk way across to the far east swimming pool back along the lower veranda across the lounge area, then up the two flight of stairs along the wrap around balcony on the upstairs level. Past the azure cushioned double day bed into the glass shielded bedroom with its ‘come to bed’ king-size good looks and a business desk wide enough for two noble laureates. Double doors open into a long corridor as other rooms spin off; walk in wardrobe, glamorous main bathroom with peak a boo sections to the main bedroom and a deep footed bath just begging for bubble time. Yes, this villa should come with a sniffer dog to locate any lost items.
Hoa has created an action packed itinerary, on reading it Mr G decides on a lie down! I head to the Taittinger Jazz Sunday brunch at Citron. It’s a riot of citrus, whimsical mirrors with coveted outside seating in circular sunken tables suspended over Monkey Mountain. Surely this is the ultimate airborne lily pad for humans?
The Residences provides us with a magic key unlocking daily privileges such as the ‘club lounge’. Resembling a black and white birdcage perched on the outer edge of the mountain it’s an oasis of grown up calm. Quang noodles, Vietnamese pancakes, beetroot cured salmon, salted caramel tarts; they all taste so much better here thanks to acclaimed chef Anh Tuyet.
Time for the Hahn Heritage Spa, winner of World Luxury Spa Awards 2015. We zoom from a Parisian style waiting room (where hours later we’ll be dropping perfume incense into cleansing tea), over the stream to what looks like giant aqua bee hives bursting from the earth. If Tiffany’s and nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow where ever to create a spa, this is it. Our n’ hers pavilion is a haven of trendy hues. Able hands unknot our well-travelled bodies. Next we experience the Dali Lama of feet. Bastien Gonzalez is the world’s most sought-after pedicurist. We doze in white leather reclining chairs as our feet are exfoliated with mother of pearl and buffed to perfection. By the end of it I can see my reflection in Mr G’s big toe!
A spot of paddle boarding (I win), Petanque (Mr G wins), outdoor darts (it’s a tie) is thirsty work. Soon we are sipping on a Da Nang Old Fashioned whilst swinging in human sized hanging baskets at the imperial styled Long Bar.
Whilst its tempting to dine at La Maison 1888 with its newly appointed Michelin Star Chef, Pierre Gagnaire, we opt for a private dining experience. Cycling back, we find our home illuminated by candles. The Teppan chef is busy grilling our degustation dinner; sugarcane prawns, sea bass in banana leaves, perfectly balanced seafood soup. Wine is poured and five courses later our team of chefs and waiters have gracefully bid us goodnight and slipped into the darkness. We are left marveling at the sparkling sea knowing we are tip toes from bed. Could this be the most romantic evening of our lives?
We both exchange a look, happiness and sadness. That’s the problem with anything ‘best in the world’, there is a joint realization that this experience has surely ruined forever. Whilst the funicular can take you to ‘Heaven’ if there is a hell, boy…it’s going to be leaving.
For more information on the hotel visit Intercontinental Sun Peninsula Danang