‘My friend has stayed in a lot of luxury hotels but he says that’s the BEST place he’s ever stayed’
‘Oh my gosh, you are so lucky! We only went there for dinner one night but thought it looked amazing’.
‘You jammy little lady’
These were some of the things people said to me when I informed them we were off for a long weekend to Hoi An, Vietnam. Now bear in mind the last time I was in this beautiful city on Vietnam’s central coast was as a backpacker some 15 years ago. The idea of returning to this fabulous destination but swapping a rickety old guesthouse for a luxury hotel was unbelievably exciting. But would the Nam Hai live up to all the hype and more importantly, is it actually family friendly?
Where is the Nam Hai?
You’ll find the Nam Hai on a lovely stretch of beach, approx. 30 minutes from Danang Airport and 15 minutes from old town Hoi An. For Hong Kongers, the introduction of a direct flight with Dragonair in 2013 meant this beautiful Vietnamese spot was finally accessible for an easy long weekend. The flight is under two hours and you can be out of the airport and into your hotel (immigration queue pending), in half an hour.
The property is part of the GHM portfolio – if you’ve stayed at the Legian or any of the Chedis, you’ll know that these guys do luxe well.
What kind of rooms does the Nam Hai have?
There are 60 one-bed villas and 40 pool villas (ranging from one to five bedrooms). The cheapest room is a one-bed villa. There are two options available, the regular one (which has an ocean view but set further back from the beach) and a beach view one. Personally I would save the $ and go for the regular one, we still had a lovely view from our terrace.
Now despite being the cheapest room available, it was one of the BEST hotel rooms I have ever experienced. Picture an 80 square meter room with an elevated platform housing the king-sized bed, a sunken bath, desk and sofa.
On a lower level in front of the double bed is a day bed which can be converted into a bed at night and is where our two daughters slept.
In front are large doors that open up to a patio with two sun beds.
The bathroom is enormous with two separate changing rooms, toilet, indoor and outdoor shower. There are glorious luxury touches dotted about the room from the comfiest bathrobes we’ve ever worn, to delicious cookies at turn down and complimentary items in the minibar. The hotel will also offer a baby cot, steriliser and baby bath if you need it.
The most basic one-bed villa will accommodate either 3 adults or families with 2 young children. If you are traveling in a group or prefer to have a private pool, the pool villas looked very nice. They come with their own benefits from private butler service to fancy afternoon tea. The pool villa consists of bedrooms (same style as the one we were in), a pavilion housing the lounge/dining room and a private pool.
What are the facilities like?
The property is spread out and the villas afford you a high degree of privacy. If you don’t fancy the five minute walk to breakfast, simply dial 0 and request a golf buggy pick up (always a hit with the kids).
The hotel has three glorious pools; the beautiful Olympic pool overlooking the sea, a lap pool and the Upper Pool, the latter being the only one that guests aged 16 and under can use.
The hotel is perched on Ha My Beach, a lovely stretch of sand with clean water.
It is quite a walk from the family pool to the ocean so if staying somewhere with easy beach access is important, this might not be the place for you. That said, it was so hot whilst we were there that we tended to spend most of our day by the pool and would only hit the ocean once the sun was starting to go down. There are also some lovely hammocks to enjoy with a cocktail in hand.
There’s a fairly big fitness centre and daily yoga sessions at 8am (of course I never made them, I was too busy stuffing my face with croissants).
Unfortunately I didn’t make time for a spa treatment but I did have a look round it. It is glorious and I regret not booking myself in for a massage.
The Library is a peaceful retreat with a huge range of books to borrow and Macs to tap away on. It is also staffed by a very helpful Concierge who will recommend activities and make restaurant bookings for you.
How’s the food?
I always judge a hotel by its breakfast buffet and this was outstanding. A beautifully presented buffet with delicious hot items to order. Kids cutlery and high chairs are available in all the restaurants.
We ate lunch at The Beach Restaurant which has a kids menu containing healthy and unhealthy options. My daughter’s burger was one of the best I’ve eaten. Their Vietnamese salads are light and delicious (especially after you’ve scoffed half your daughter’s burger).
We didn’t eat dinner at the hotel as we went into Hoi An both nights but a friend enjoyed the candlelit beach dining option and said it was fabulous.
Is there a Kids Club?
There is a Kids’ Activity Villa located at the front of the property (quite far away from the pools). They offer scheduled activities such as water balloons and hat making. Kids aged 4+ can stay unattended but under 4 requires a parent/nanny. The Nam Hai do have babysitters available from USD8+ per hour.
If you need an all singing, all dancing kids club (think the Phuket JW Marriott) then you might find the Nam Hai’s offering a bit underwhelming. If you like the option of a kids club for an hour to escape the sun but plan to spend the rest of the day splashing about in the pool with the kids, it’s a bonus option to have.
For older kids there’s also a teenager pavilion which houses a basketball machine, table football etc.
Is it family friendly?
The Nam Hai presents itself as a luxury hotel first and foremost, where kids are welcomed but not by fanfare. Think more of a polite handshake. The fact that kids are only allowed in one of the pools is indicative of this. However, this didn’t put me off, in fact I actually think it’s one of the things that has kept the Nam Hai so exclusive with a quiet, relaxing feel. You haven’t come to the Nam Hai for the family friendly vibe. You’re here because you enjoy the best of luxury travel from incredible food to great service. The fact that your kids can also fit in is a bonus.
This is not the place to come if you’ve got a roaming toddler. The bedroom is full of hazards from a bed on a raised platform to stairs and a sunken bath.
For my kids, ages 3 and 6, we’ve moved on from the days of instantly childproofing hotel rooms and the large size and raised platform actually suited us. I also loved the little touches they left in the room for my kids from the child sized bathrobes to the cute little toiletries.
Would I come back?
In a heartbeat. We had spoken to other guests who had split their Hoi An stay between one of the big names in Danang and then moved to the Nam Hai. Consistent in their feedback was that the Nam Hai was the more luxurious.
This is a great choice if you want to be near Hoi An (the Nam Hai has several complimentary shuttles or taxis are easy and cheap) but still have the feel of a luxury resort. The big Danang resorts are accessible to Hoi An but just that bit further away.
The biggest downside to staying here is that you’re now spoilt for life. I’m not quite sure how exactly I’m going to go back to staying in a normal hotel room!
Disclaimer – Jetlag & Mayhem received a slightly discounted rate to stay at the property. I was not paid for this review and this is all my opinion.