Palm Garden Resort, Hoi An review: Tropical bliss on a budget

Read our writer's views on this property below

Christina Pfeiffer indulges in supreme relaxation at Hoi An.

The garden path winds past banana trees, ferns and frangipanis. Stone lanterns and elephant statues adorn a tranquil pond. Gardeners are hard at work, pruning shrubs and pushing wheelbarrows. Green, manicured lawns dotted with swaying palm trees stretch down to Cua Dai Beach, which is an alluring stretch of white sand, with timber deck chairs, thatch parasols, shady palms and hammocks.

Smiling lifeguards linger around a thatched-roof lifeguard tower. The blue sky, aquamarine ocean and swaying palm trees make me feel instantly relaxed. On the beach there are plenty of activities, including beach volley ball, jet skiing and kayaking. Wiping the perspiration off my forehead, I flop into a hammock, slung between two palm trees, and idly soak up the action.

The sprawling five-hectare grounds of the Palm Garden Resort in Hoi An, where I am staying, is a tropical haven of cycads, cordylines, heliconias and more than 400 types of plants.

The pool has eye-catching chequered blue tiles and life-sized stone statues of bare-breasted women carrying water urns. At the poolside lounge, I order a mai tai as the waiter hands me a menu offering barbecue treats.

The menus at this Vietnamese-owned resort's three restaurants cater for Asian and Western tastes. On the poolside menu are beef burger, chicken wings and pork ribs (all about $12). I'm still full from breakfast, which is a hearty international buffet with all the usual offerings and plenty of choices for the kids, including doughnuts and pancakes.

The Colibri Beach Restaurant, between the pool and the beach, is an open-air, boat-shaped structure with a soaring ceiling, serving seafood and Italian dishes. The Terrace Cafe has Vietnamese and Western meals on the menu at reasonable prices, such as lamb shanks ($15) and seafood basket ($19.50).

Although dining in the resort is affordable by Australian standards, I am pleased there is a row of shops across the road. A bottle of beer costs less than $2, a bowl of pho $3 and a massage or haircut $5, although I am happy to pay the $30 for a one-hour massage and 20 minutes in the steam room in the resort's spa.

The sprawling resort consists of a collection of boutique townhouse-style buildings and accommodation wings of varying sizes. Although the architecture is Western, the atmosphere is noticeably Vietnamese.

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The housekeeping staff wear Vietnamese farmers' uniforms, with triangular straw hats, fisherman's pants and traditional Vietnamese jackets.

The room prices are competitive, although my stay was organised as part of an overall trip with Wendy Wu Tours.

A superior garden view room with breakfast for two and extras, such as welcome drinks, tea and coffee, fruit baskets, mineral water and free Wi-Fi, costs about $120 a night.

My deluxe garden view room is spacious and comfortable. The floor has earthy-coloured tiles, warm timber furniture, a queen-sized bed, a writing desk, two chairs and a side table laden with baskets of bananas, dragon fruit, apples and yellow chrysanthemums.

Hanging on the wall, above the bed, is a colourful impressionistic painting, while a traditional wall hanging with a Chinese character balances the contemporary art. Timber doors lead onto a veranda furnished with two rocking chairs.

Satin robes hang in the wardrobe. The bathroom is huge and refurbished with contemporary fittings, a designer wash basin, a black granite table top and an angular bathtub.

A daily activity sheet provides suggestions for excursions, such as a day trip to the Cham Islands, which is highly recommended for snorkelling, and a day trip to explore the craft villages near the Marble Mountains.

The UNESCO World Heritage township of Hoi An is a 15-minute shuttle bus ride away and is a treasure trove of museums, restaurants, galleries, shoe shops and tailor shops. When I'm not on the beach, there are enough shops to keep me happily occupied.

The writer was a guest of Wendy Wu Tours and Cathay Pacific.

TRIP NOTES

WHERE

Palm Garden Resort, Lac Long Quan Street, Cua Dai Beach, Hoi An, Vietnam. See palmgardenresort.com.vn.

HOW MUCH

Rooms start from $120, but you can also stay at the resort as part of a package with Wendy Wu Tours, which also has a selection of tours that include Hoi An, such as the 16-day Vietnam Trails itinerary (from $3880 a person twin share), phone 1300 727 998.

TOP MARKS

The resort's pool is alluring, and along with great beach frontage, this is a top spot for a relaxing fly-and-flop holiday that won't break the bank.

BLACK MARK

The staff don't speak English very well, so at times communication can be a little difficult.

DON'T MISS

The extended happy hour at the bar from 5pm to 7pm, when drinks are two for the price of one.

MORE INFORMATION

wendywutours.com.au.