Ana Mandara

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 April, 2004, 12:00am

Where? On the beach in Nha Trang, Vietnam's premier seaside resort, 450km from Ho Chi Minh City.

Old-fashioned or new-fangled? Bit of both. Offering the perfect traditional-modern mix, Ana Mandara's graceful architecture resembles an ancient Vietnamese village, while its facilities - fitness centre, spa, satellite TV - are decidedly modern.

Tell us more? Chic in dark wood and rattan, each of the 74 rooms has a big bed, a bath and a balcony. The smartly symmetrical decor is warmed by a spicy palette of cinnamon, amber, ginger and clove, and the attention to detail is marvellous.

Examples, please? Flower-strewn beds, unguents made from Vietnamese herbs, water-filled earthenware jars for washing sandy feet and handmade board games.

Who goes there? Anyone and everyone - that's the joy of it. Water babes come for the diving, sailing and fishing; culture vultures come for the river trips to ancient pagodas; and foodies come for the pre-dawn raids on the local farmers' market.

What about spa junkies? The Six Senses Spa (as perfected at Soneva Gili and Soneva Fushi in the Maldives) is located in a cluster of palm-shaded pavilions, and attracts the most seasoned of sybarites. Handy hint: the Vichy shower will kick-start your metabolism, allowing for increased calorie consumption.

Tasty nosh, then? Indeed. Vietnamese fare is served at Ana Pavilion, together with international dishes. Just-hooked fish is available from the market-style buffet at Beach restaurant.

Anything else we should know? Deluxe rooms have direct access to the beach, while the hotel's suites have private walled gardens, allowing guests to run naked - should they desire.

Garden View Villa US$194; Sea View Villa US$221; Deluxe Sea View Villa US$250; Ana Mandara Suite US$366. Beachside Tran Phu Boulevard, Nha Trang, Vietnam, tel: [84] 58 829 829 or [001] 800 3746 8357, or