(No.10, Vol.4,Nov-Dec 2014 Vietnam Heritage Magazine,Advertorial)
A stream which diverts into a pool by the construction of a weir runs through the four-star Seahorse Resort and Spa. This, together with four hundred coconut palms and lawns formed from Thai penny wort, give the Seahorse Resort and Spa its special characteristics of warmth and charm. Dotted around the 2.6 hectares are the super-comfortable deluxe rooms and suites, bungalows and villas. A spacious pool, beach and ocean, a spa with a wide range of treatments and two restaurants-one of which specialises in grilled seafood-ensured that I and my wifeâ€™s all-too-brief stay left us feeling rejuvenated and longing to return.
We stayed in a deluxe garden view bungalow, within a stone’s throw from the swimming pool and a few steps from the golden strip of beach. A unique feature was the charming tapestry affixed to the bed head. The scene was of Vietnamese women wearing conical hats with young children in traditional rural clothing. I also especially enjoyed sitting out on the veranda with a sea breeze blowing and relaxing to the sounds of the night. At the time of our stay, the â€˜Summer Promotionâ€™ was on. For only VND1,899,000 (that is around $90) we both got accommodation for one night, mocktails, breakfast buffet and a set lunch. To keep us busy, this price even included a free round of tennis and use of the sauna thereafter.
After a substantial breakfast with attentive staff constantly topping up my cup of American coffee and for the first time in Vietnam enjoying yogurt and dates at the Hippocampe Restaurant, I sat down by the swimming pool and met Mr Kha, the general manager. I voiced my fear of coconuts falling on guestsâ€™ heads. â€˜Do not fear, nobody here sings â€œCoconuts Keep Falling on My Headâ€â€™ he informed me. Then he pointed out the netting underneath all the bunches. â€˜We have been operating for over ten years and never had an accident,â€™ he informed me. In fact, I learned that apart from loving their decorative value, guests at Seahorse can sit by the pool and enjoy a coconut for a mere VND20,000.
Still on the subject of food and beverage, we had dinner at the â€˜Seahorse Bistroâ€™ restaurant. Whilst this is roadside, the traffic at Mui Ne is minimal compared to Saigon. There was quite a scene of the chefs at a grill station cooking up seafood. There is display of fresh-as-a- daisy â€˜fruit of the ocean.â€™ No need to order a set seafood platter; here, you order the quantity of each item you desire and are charged accordingly. They even have small lobsters if you just want to sample such an expensive crustacean.
For our meal we chose oysters, scallops, and king prawns. I wanted to see if they were good at Western food too, so I ordered a pizza and a Greek salad. This all came with generous use of the mozzarella cheese on the Hawaiian pizza. At my Vietnamese wife’s behest, we also had on our plates a delicious freshwater white-textured fish. Viewed whole at the grill, this was a small reddish fish. The colour is alluded to in its central Vietnamese name of â€˜Ca Mong Gaâ€™- in English translation, ‘Cockscomb Fish’. A Google search of its Southern Vietnamese name of ‘Ca Ba Trau’ revealed it is a kind of gourami, a fish which is common in Mekong delta waters. This fish is commonly used in the dish â€˜Canh Chuaâ€™, Vietnamese sour soup. We washed it all down with beer and mineral water, but the wine cellar at â€˜Seahorseâ€™ is extensive. It would have to be a bone dry Chardonnay or Rose to go with such superb seafood.
One further activity I can recommend at Mui Ne is cycling. You will not find it too tiring, as the terrain is flat and the sea breeze should cool you. The several kilometres into the actual village of Mui Ne fishing port with its vibrant market all along the beachfront makes a pleasant ride.
For now, at least, ‘The Seahorse’ Mui Ne offers superb value for money. It is a perfect place to unwind by enjoying gardens, pool and beach with the options of the spa and tennis court and wrapping up your experiences with fine dining. The friendly staff will treat you like royalty, but you will not pay a king’s ransom and will have no fear of alarming your bank manager.
Sometimes selecting a hotel for a place you have never visited before can be a bit of a gamble. Gambling such as betting on the horses at the Saigon Racecourse, is of course, a mug’s game. If you were, however, to pick â€˜Seahorseâ€™ you surely would be onto a winner!
Seahorse Resort and Spa
Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, Ham Tien Ward, Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan Province
Tel: (062) 3847-507
Published rates range from $90 (VND1,890,000) for a Standard Room to $256 (VND5,376,000) for a Beach Front Bungalow, double occupancy and including breakfast for two.