October 10, 2017 marked two important days for Kathryn and me. It marked one year since we left our home in Washington, DC to start traveling full-time, and, more importantly, it was our seven-year wedding anniversary. It was an obvious reason to book a more luxurious visit somewhere, and the perfect time for a full week at a beachside resort in Phu Quoc, Vietnam. The fact that it was free (due to using hotel points), and Tessa and Kyle would join us as well (their stay was also free from hotel points) made it an even better celebration!
Though we knew we were going to do a special stay for our double anniversary, we weren’t too sure where it would be in the beginning stages of our travels. As always, it all came together when we realized one of the best redemption values for our Marriott points was at a new resort in a desirable tropical Vietnamese island. None of us had heard of the island before finding the hotel, but it was easy to get to, cheap, and beautiful.
The flight from Hanoi was turbulent but quick. We were surprised to see many advertisements for luxury apartments and resorts on all the walls of the airport upon arrival. Apparently, the island is gaining notoriety with nearby vacation-goers, particularly catering to luxury travelers.
Ensuring we were headed in the correct direction once we piled in the taxi was easy. Go away from the airport, turn right, and the hotel would be on the left after several miles. There were hardly any other options on the small and quiet island!
The driveway to the resort indicated major plans. Marble covered every surface in the high-ceilinged lobby, and our arrival felt as if we took a step back in time. The hotel sits at the site of an early 20th-century university and the location comprises the theme. Period-dressed staff welcomed us with a drink and cool towel, then we climbed aboard a golf cart to ride to our rooms.
Dozens of acres make up the grounds, all meticulously maintained. About seven buildings contain the guestrooms, and we were in the last one. Through a massive red door lay vaulted ceilings and more marble everywhere. A wall of windows showcased the infinity pool, palm trees, white sand, and turquoise water steps from our bed.
Our arrival was in the dark of night, so our first morning was splendid. Bright sunlight welcomed us on our walk to the restaurant. Our stay included a breakfast buffet with an expansive array of cuisines. Freshly baked bread and pastries, eggs to order, Japanese, French, Vietnamese, Korean, British spreads, ice cream sundae station, and my favorite – shaken Vietnamese iced coffees to your heart’s content. What a fine way to start the day!
A list of activities continued the university theme. I signed up for the Beer Yoga and was the first to arrive. The instructor, like every staff member, was exceedingly nice and friendly. She apologized for not knowing much about yoga while she handed each of the five participants a beer.
The premise of the class was simple. She would call out a move, wait for a breath or two, then say, “Now, drink beer!” This was our cue to take a sip while remaining in whatever position we held. One guest asked for another beer after probably five moves, which she happily obliged. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and smiled through it all.
Once it was over, I thanked the instructor and met the others at happy hour. When they asked how it was, I eagerly told them we had to do the next one together to share in the joy. Alas, the schedule changed and it was at the same time as the complimentary happy hour. I was the only who experienced the Beer Yoga.
We spent our time leisurely. Happy hour was the main event for the day, bringing us all together from the pool, room, or other relaxation spots. The bar sat right next to the beach, a perfect place for drinks and appetizers.
The staff would frequently check up on us after another person had done so. We never sent back a drink delivered mere seconds after one round showed up. By the third afternoon, they doubled our appetizer portions. Would this week of celebration get old?
Tessa and Kyle left the resort for Ho Chi Minh City two days before us. It was our actual anniversary, so Kathryn and I had scheduled a night at the spa to celebrate. The spa staff recommended an evening start so the darkness would make it more romantic. We arrived at 19:30 ready for our pampering.
We had the spa completely to ourselves. After some time exploring the sauna, steam room, and shower room, we were called in for our scrubs. Thirty minutes later we showered off and returned for our massages.
The package included a 90-minute massage. Ninety minutes! We each chose a style, me going with a Lomi Lomi Hawaiian method. This was the longest I have ever had a massage and it felt incredible. We continued straight into a 30-minute facial. All of the treatments were outstanding, and I also had an excellent ten-minute nap. OK, maybe 20 minutes…Kathryn can say more accurately based on my snoring.
I was awakened from my slumber to a hot bath covered in rose petals, candles, red wine, and chocolate. The tub, really a small pool, was cut out of stone similar to the curved walls and ceiling. This must be how the gods live.
To be honest, I’m not the best hot bath person at any time – I think they are generally way too hot for enjoyment. After all that, though, I could barely keep my eyes open. This was the part they recommended nighttime for, but we both agreed we could have started two hours earlier and still bathed in darkness. What a struggle!
We didn’t finish the wine or chocolate that night. Thankfully, they let us take it to our room. There waiting for us was another surprise – tiramisu. Not just a piece to share, but an entire cake!
Our last hours at the resort were spent much like all the other hours, but it was odd Tessa and Kyle were not at happy hour. All four of us benefited greatly from our resort stay, though I suppose you could say that about most people. However, travel can be tiring. This marked nearly two months of full-time travel as a group of four, so we were thankful to have nowhere to be and nothing to see.
Anniversaries are excellent opportunities to reflect on all that has transpired since the last one and the event that started them all. Our week on the Vietnamese beach allowed just that. Only time will tell what we will remember on our next anniversary, but I’m certain it will include plenty for which to be thankful.
And you can be sure we will be toasting it all.
© Cheers Life Partners 2018