(No.1, Vol.4, Jan-Feb 2014 Vietnam Heritage Magazine,Advertorial)
The TV reports and articles advertising VIP journeys to desert islands, tucked away in the desolate stretches of tropic seas, promising the Robinson Crusoe experience of a century at fabulous prices, always leave me utterly perplexed. Vietnam, just like India, Cambodia and any other South-East Asian country has everything to fascinate a foreigner to the fullest.
All that one needs is to be willing to take a walk on the edge, which usually is some steps away from the path red-stamped by guidebooks and widely trodden by tourists (one will find that this road less-travelled is the edge of a trampoline!) I leave Nha Trang at the crack of the dawn on a shuttle bus heading to White Sand Doclet Resort & Spa, 50 km from the city. As we drive away from downtown and taxi off the provincial highway, the panorama dramatically changes; the air from the sea gets more salty, colours become more vibrant and dense, as though a storm of many days has broken, the sky shadowed by wandering leaden clouds already conquered by the sun.
The rough sea of a bustling fish market at the height of its trade hour emerging behind the window looks all ready to steamroll its giant living body, borrowed from Rabelaisâ€™ Gargantua, over a gaping stranger. Its menacing image fades to give place to the riotous tropical tree groves that alternate with juicy green and emerald rice fields with snowy white cranes stepping gracefully and leisurely or hovering over them with their wings wide spread and looking like white toy kites, all of them forming an overwhelmingly peaceful landscape, where the very kind of silence one can hear a minute after the bell rings in an empty chapel can be seen and is palpable, even from a distance.
To add some piquancy to the still-life images of the small fishing village houses with neatly-kept gardens lined up along both sides of the road are some surprising, funny- looking and totally unconventional road signs showing to the amazed travelling audience: a) â€˜Gentleman in old-fashioned derby, arm-in-arm with a noble-looking lady in the middle of the countryside crossingâ€™, b) â€˜Old man with walking stick in one hand and stoop baboushka in other crossingâ€™, c) â€˜Old man with small kid crossingâ€™, d) â€˜Nodding trees here and thereâ€™, etc. It is obvious that here, road sign painters made maximum use of the absence of obligatory written records for road signs and realized all their creative urges on the most prosaic material one can imagine. On its way, the bus passes picturesque and glistering bright blue lagoons with giant hammocks of fishing nets slung above them, looking extremely exotic and bursting with the rustic charm of an old Asian fishing village, where the way and pace of life has barely changed for the last 100 years.
Finally, the bus wheels out on a small village road, which ends at the huge gates of the four-star White Sand Doclet Resort & Spa, which impresses one with vast spaces of the property yet from the threshold. On the right, from the reception lobby framing the lightly hilly terrain with an ancient house temple on the top are mango trees lined up along an alley leading to the wide stretch of sandy beach. A spacious and light reception lobby with rattan furniture greets arriving guests with a big Xmas tree in its gayest dress in the beginning of November, which is really touching and creates a festive mood right from the first steps made within the resort. In a few minutes, Iâ€™m guided through the White Sand Doclet Resort & Spa property by smiling and hospitable Ms Tania, the CR Manager. The huge and flamboyant tropical garden carpets out on both sides for an impressive 22 hectares bordering the sea and is divided into resort and recreational areas for guests coming on a one-day tour. The exotic resort garden casts a cool shadow on the four lines of cozy-looking bungalows and two deluxe-room buildings and runs down a white sandy beach, where the deep green grove of slim-bodied beach pines frame it beautifully. White Sand Doclet Resort & Spa features five types of accommodations to fit all tastes, from Executive Ocean Front and Ocean View Villas to elegant Deluxe and Superior rooms, with spacious private balconies overlooking the swimming pool and tropical garden in blossom.
The White Hill Restaurant, in the same building where the reception lobby is, impresses with a cozy interior with bamboo-and-wood furniture in warm, sunny-coloured shades and with a rich choice of buffet breakfasts, comprising both Asian and European dishes.
With a step on a sandy beach, one observes the sweeping, sandy shoreline stretching for a few kilometres both sides. It is Doc Let beach, one of the most beautiful sandy beaches surrounding Nha Trang, which still remains hidden from the mass of tourists. On this first sunny morning after the storm, the shoreline was gleaming and rinsed with surf and all spotted with fanciful shells polished by seawater and all ready to turn into an exclusive necklace for all interested beach walkers. In the distance, a fisherman has just pulled the net out of the water and has frozen for a moment, peering into its depths. A few miles away from shore, there is a little island, which is also a part of White Sand Doclet Resort & Spa and can be reached on a yacht and used as a romantic or adventure destination.
White Champa Spa, tucked in the deep of the garden, boasts a truly impressive design full of local colour and both a mysterious and relaxing atmosphere. Its interior design, with exclusive antique furniture of fanciful shapes, stone sculptures and wooden screens with silhouettes of ancient Champa dancers on them are charming decorations for spa packages to treat your precious self. The outdoor verandah for massage, with the ocean waves as a background also offers an amazing chance to walk through all stages of life in five seconds and be reborn. Ask the skilled spa therapists how and watch your step!
Primarily located on the stunning white sand beach in the colourful surroundings bursting with the local rustic charm of a fishing village, away (but within a reach, if desired) from the touristy area, White Sand Doclet Resort & Spa has everything the savvy traveller may need for an excellent seaside retreat, starting from vast green spaces and direct access to the sea, to the small details and pleasant personal discoveries that make oneâ€™s stay truly memorable.