1 Jun 2015   |   Blog

How to Experience Vietnam at Its Most Luxurious

There was a moment at sunset in 2005 when I was on the water in Halong Bay. It was just after dinner, and I was in a deck chair, getting down my notes for the day on an old Mac G12 laptop. I was traveling through the country on assignment for National Geographic, and there hardly seemed to be enough hours in the day to get done all that needed doing.

I looked up from my laptop, and there was a ship’s steward, setting up a small table while another waited in the proverbial eaves with an iced chiller and a bottle of champagne.

“Don’t miss this,” said the general manager of my boat as he gestured toward the sunset.

The sun was going down. I could hear Edith Piaf playing from the sound system on the top deck (Je Ne Regrette Rien, of course). And beyond there was the fantastic seascape of what is truly one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders. The karsts loomed up out of the water magically as if conjured by a magician’s wand. The light was draining between two of these karsts, and I wondered in that moment, if I had ever experienced anything as breathtaking.

“There’s only one thing that makes this any better,” the GM said, popping the champagne bottle. “And that’s this.”

Nearly ten years later, I count that trip, and  in particular that moment, as one of the great pivots in my life. For I left journalism after that last job of work for National Geographic and launched a PR agency that’s been my mainstay ever since. My family and I lived in Vietnam through 2009. Now I commute. I’ve learned a few things about the destination, and how to experience the place as an upscale traveler. 

That’s what this Web site is all about. If I were to put a social media headline on it, I would sum up the ambitions of this site this way: “How to Experience Vietnam at Its Most Luxurious.” 

Vietnam is one of the world’s great travel destinations today, and there are a million places for the sophisticated traveler to go for information. Indeed, there are too many places. We want to be the definitive destination, a one-stop shop for anyone with the financial wherewithal, to look out for how best to indulge Vietnam.

I used to travel through Vietnam as a so-called ‘Expert’ for National Geographic, lecturing on various aspects of the country’s history and culture to groups from the United States. I lived in the country from 1992 to 1994, and then again with my family from from 2005 to 2009, and I’ve been back for extended stays ever since.

I won’t be the only person sharing information here. The general managers of the five properties that anchor this Web site all have long experience in the country. They all know ‘insider’ things about their environs that travel writers can only dream of capturing. They’ll be sharing their accumulated wisdom here, too. Before not too long, we’ll have amassed most of what you need to know before you set out.

Until then, and with reference to what we have going on here, I remember the words of that general manager on Halong Bay: “Don’t miss this.”