China Beach hosts a new 'invasion'
Hong Kong investors are leading the way in developing China Beach - made famous by the TV series of the same name - as Asia's next resort destination.
This year's opening of the luxury four-star Furama Resort-China Beach was a 'showcase of successful development' for international investors to follow, said Herman von Treskow, chief executive officer for Majestic International Hotels.
He said Vietnam's first deluxe holiday resort, opened 30 years after American combat troops established a 'rest and recreation' retreat there during the Vietnam War, would herald a tourism revival for the spectacular, pristine, white-sand beach.
'The local government is committed to developing the area as a business and leisure destination and recently there has been approval for a US$750 million tourism master plan which includes hotels, golf courses and related infrastructure,' he said.
Mr von Treskow also forecast a dramatic increase in visitors to the central region of Vietnam once direct flights to Da Nang are launched from the principal tourist markets of Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok.
He said a decision to invest US$35 million was strategic.
'Vietnam is developing and we feel it has great potential,' he said.
Already the resort had attracted government ministers and executives of major international development companies, said general manager, Paul Stoll.
'It has also become extremely popular with expatriates working in Vietnam, and overseas guests staying here have even changed their itineraries to stay longer,' he said.
Although Da Nang is served by three flights a day from both Hanoi and Ho Chi Ming City, Mr Stoll wants more.
'We are working on getting direct flights from Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. With these connections established, there will be nothing to stop Da Nang and its world-renowned China Beach from becoming a major destination in Asia,' he said.
Developing in a 'pioneering' market, he said Majestic Hotels decided on a sensitive approach. The 200-room resort, developed in extensive grounds overlooking the sands, was designed in low-rise clusters reflecting a French-colonial architectural influence. Facilities include a professional diving centre.
Three-night package tours to the resort, in conjunction with Vietnam Airlines, include one-night stopovers in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and cost from $4,280 to $4,780. Extra nights at either the resort or the cities cost an additional $780.
A spokesman for the carrier said: 'We believe Da Nang is not just a phenomenal holiday resort but will also become an important business location.' Apart from China Beach, Da Nang - or 'Rocket City' as it was called during the war - is also a strategic sightseeing base for some of Vietnam's major tourist attractions, including the nearby Marble Mountains which boast Buddhist shrines in eerie caves.
The ancient city of Hue is close by as are the ruins of the old Cham capital of My Son and the so-called 'living museum' of Hoi An, where some of the best-preserved historic buildings in Vietnam miraculously survived the devastation of war.