Saturday, July 25, 2009

La Veranda on Phu Quoc Island

Terrace at La Veranda

I am writing this blogpost while sitting in a white bamboostyle plastic chair, having a cappucino and enjoying the sea view. I am at the La Veranda Resort and Spa on Phu Quoc Island. Nearly everyone I know told me to go to Phu Quoc now, because in a few years the beauty of this island might be gone. So we took the plane (one hour flight) from Saigon to Duong Dong, landed smoothly with this old, but still well doing ATR planes.

La Veranda might be one of the most expensive hotels on the island, but we a0 had a package price and b)like to have some comfort (yes, we aren't backpackers anymore). The resorts is worth the money. Beautifully designed as a garden with bungalows hidden between all kind of tropical flowers, this place is exactly the kind of hotel we like for a short vaccation.

Sunset on Phu Quoc

What we like:
- the design of all the buildings and rooms is awesome. It's french colonial style, but ant it's best. Colors fitting as well as the smallest details like the elephant faces on the wall lights, the fresh flowers on the tables or he lemongrass smell in the toilet.

- the staff. If I would open a hotel on Phu Quoc, I would try to hire the La Verandas stuff. Overwhelming friendly and helpful, with good english skills and well trained. Nothing to complain about.

- the beach: its clean, safe, quiet (at least when we were there and the neighboring Eden bar was closed), the sea is not to roug and you habe a wonderful sunset.

- food: the prices are reasonable, that's what we were surprised of. 2 Dollars for a coffee is actually low for a hotel like this. The vietnamese food we had was delicious (Nuong Xo Ot). The breakfast buffet is good, nothing to omplain.

- the spa: .. we had several treatments. one hour body massage was included in the package and we had chosen the Vietnamese massage. One the next day we had a hot stone massage for my wife and a indian head massage and facial for me. The massage itself was ok, the stone were not too hot, the pressure was fine, nice ambient music (although it comes from a gettoblaster. The a/c was on, a bit too cold for me. The facial treatment feels good in general, you also get a arm massage and the upper part of your breast.

What we don't like:
There was only one thing we didn't like: We had a package price including a dinner, an one hour spa treatment and a half day excursion. The excursion was interesting and well operated. The spa treatment was good. The dinner was (under)average. Because my wife is a vegetarian, we asked for dishes without beef or pork, but all kind of fish and seafood is fine. What we got was a pineapple-squid salad as starter and 4 shrimps in tamarind sauce. We were a bit disappointed about the quality and taste. It was not but, but, as I said, just average, and we know they can do better.

Spa: Although the spa treatment was ok, it was not special. In the brochure they offer different types of oil, but ever asked us to choose. When I had my second treatment (the one I was extra paying for) they did not ask for anything, skin type, allergies, any special requests. The indian head massage wasn't better: I felt very uncomfortable sitting on the massage table getting a back massage instead of laying(I have some back pain, so sitting in a position like this is actually hurting me).

Summary: La Veranda is a beautiful place to stay, with a wonderful layout, nice rooms, delicious food for reasonable prices. The spa management has to improve, and even if you sell a package with a set menu you should not offer a lower quality of food for a included dinner.

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