Once upon a time famous as the largest American military base in Vietnam, Cam Ranh today is coming into its own as a pristine, high-end alternative to an older, somewhat fatigued neighbor, Nha Trang.
When Vietnamese businessman Pham Van Hien set foot on Cam Ranh five years ago, he was struck by its unspoiled sands and waters, its dramatic headlands and offshore islands. A dream took root and has come to fruition in The Anam.
“I have visited many countries during more than two decades working in the tourism and the airline business and it is rare to find so many remarkable qualities in one under-the-radar location,” said Mr Hien. “There isn’t a more desirable place to be on the water in Vietnam.”
As The Anam took shape, Mr Hien was on the lookout for someone to help launch a resort that would ultimately drive Cam Ranh’s reputation as Vietnam’s hottest new destination.
He found a partner in hospitality veteran Herbert Laubichler-Pichler, who stepped in as the resort’s General Manager, a role not unfamiliar to the Austrian native who has served stints at the helm of Vietnam’s most acclaimed hotels and resorts, chiefly The Reverie Saigon and The Nam Hai.
Mr Laubichler-Pichler first came to Vietnam in 2008. Prior to that, he worked in Austria, Germany, England, Cyprus and Malaysia for two decades.
“Herbert has an unrivalled track record and he brings incredibly rich and diversified experience to the table but what impressed me the most was his unbridled energy and enthusiasm for showcasing this special part of Vietnam to the world in a whole new way,” said Mr Hien.
With a team of more than 400 employees, the pair recently cut the ribbon on the 117-villa and 96-room resort that pays homage to both colonial-era and age-old Vietnamese aesthetics. The Anam’s host of world-class facilities includes a 10-treatment room spa, three restaurants and two bars, 3-D movie theatre, ballroom, conference facilities, gym, yoga room and deck, water sports centre, tennis court, putting green, kids club and three swimming pools.
Mr Laubichler-Pichler has already introduced several novel experiences that help define the destination. The first is an intimate art tour, whereby Mr Laubichler-Pichler takes guests into the homes and galleries of talented local artists to provide insider knowledge of the destination.
He has also initiated “Mamma’s Cooking,” a weekly culinary detour of sorts whereby mothers of the staff don toques and aprons and cook their favourite Vietnamese specialties for guests. A new “Restaurant Hopping” initiative encourages guests to sample the resort’s three restaurants and two bars in one evening.
“Hien and I work closely together, bouncing ideas off of each other and I have to say it makes all the difference working with the owner of an independent resort so open to new ideas and genuinely willing to give them a go,” said Mr Laubichler-Pichler. “You really feel like you are part of something unprecedented showcasing Vietnam at its best.”
Further developments are in the pipeline, including the introduction of a prestigious wine list at the resort’s fine dining restaurant Indochine Grill, as well as an “Artists’ Village” gateway to Vietnamese art and culture.
“Cam Ranh’s landscape is unbeatable and blessed with 300 sunny days a year,” said Mr Hien. “It’s not only Vietnam’s but possibly the world’s best weather.”
“That, and a property that stands on the shoulders of everything we’ve learned about how to design, orient and build a hotel in Vietnam, makes for an incredible new anchor in the country’s IT destination,” said Mr Laubichler-Pichler.