‘An island paradise’ is a claim often floated by hotel companies, and given wings by those not knowing any better. La Veranda, on Vietnam’s Phu Quoc island, can easily own such a description, however. Paradise, this most certainly is. With lush tropical gardens and grand French colonial style buildings, the resort has a timeless beauty that harks back to a bygone era. This refined hotel is definitely one for the more discerning traveler, with all the features, flourishes, trinkets and tweaks which turn a superb location and building into something just that little bit more special.
Like most hotels – for better or worse – there is a story behind this one. The founder of the hotel, Madame Catherine, has a long and rich association with the island. Her childhood years, spent during the height of French rule, inspired her to design an authentic colonial style mansion which became La Veranda’s charming main house. Her love of this part of Vietnam meant a respect for the natural beauty of the place was essential; nothing too imposing, everything respectful and in its right place.
Situated on the island’s southwest coast, La Veranda’s location on central Long Beach is one of the busiest areas of the island, but you wouldn’t know it here. The hotel is surrounded by myriad other busy resorts and bustling restaurants, yet it maintains an air of peacefulness and complete privacy. Tranquility is the watchword here, but its central location means access is easy and if you wish to venture out of the complex (but why would you?) then local restaurants and markets are just a short stroll away.
As soon as you step into La Veranda, it’s like you’ve been transported back into time with its quintessential French/tropical mash up style. A clay brick path guides you through a maze of exotic plants to your quarters, and everything seems to stroll at such a saunter, it seems like the laid back nature of the place has got deep into their soul.
The refined rooms, with louvered shutters, whirling ceiling fans and shaded Verandas are like the rest of the hotel – timeless. Smart lacquered furniture and period collections adorn the rooms, each unique to the room, creating a really personal touch. The dark mahogany four poster beds complete the look. Ground floor rooms open out onto a well maintained garden, while above balconies overlook the sea. It’s very much a case of ‘one of those good problems’ when choosing which level to house yourself.
Organic bathroom products used in the much lauded spa are also provided in the showers; it seems no expense is spared in the luxury stakes, and it’s the kind of superb attention to detail one comes to expect from such a place.
The spa is the focal point of the facilities at La Veranda, and we’ve covered it in more detail here. Complimentary morning yoga classes are held the beach, led by a professional yet approachable instructor; a really perfect way to set yourself up for a day of relaxation.
As though they’re able to read our restless minds, a complimentary taxi trip to the gorgeous Sol Beach is provided if you fancy a change of scenery, sand and sea wise. Sol is isolated from the rest of the island and incredibly peaceful, with a small restaurant owned by the hotel grilling up freshly caught fish and serving ice cold beers. Heaven!
If you’re on honeymoon and you want to make the most of all the romantic offerings, the resort offers a candle lit dinner on the beach, underneath your very own canapy, watching the sunset; the ultimate romantic experience.
La Veranda features two restaurants. The Peppertree offers a fine dining menu with renditions of French classics as well as dishes from the Vietnamese repertoire given playful, interesting twists. Le Jardin, which is a more casual affair with all-day dining and themed buffets, overlooks the ocean and as such, is perfect for a lazy lunch. In the summer they have barbecue parties on the beach with grilled fish and meat galore.
On the grounds of the hotel there’s an organic garden, where the staff grow salad leaves and herbs, with a tour available if you wish; a really nice touch, we think, and indicative of the vibe of the place. The welcome drink and macaroons are worth mentioning; tropical, sharp flavours of fruit and zest were perfect for arriving in the blazing sunshine.
No matter the season, there is no limit to how low and slow you’ll go at La Veranda. When the weather is wet you can enjoy the spa and fine cuisine; when the sun breaks through the clouds, the beach has its arms wide open. La Veranda is a sophisticated resort with a chilled out pace which means it never becomes overly formal or stuffy. Perfect for its island location, and fitting of its rightful claim as ‘paradise’.
Disclosure: IDEAL stayed as a guest of the hotel