My wife and I were on a 23 day tour of Vietnam, primarily to golf and sight see. The agency that arranged our tour offered the Sea Links Hotel in Mui Ne or the Ocean Dunes Hotel in Phan Thiet as accommodation options in this region because both are directly affiliated with golf courses... Sea Links was the coin flip choice.
We stayed five nights and when we left I was totally baffled about how I'd rate the experience. So much of it is opulent, wonderful and first class but it is a recently opened facility and is experiencing some growing pains. A bi-polar hotel at the moment? I'll explain - you're elated with it most of the time, but things happen that shouldn't and you get a bit depressed over it because you expect more.
The good: All the rooms are ultra modern and huge. The deck facing the pool outside our room was larger than some entire hotel rooms that I've stayed in! The bathrooms are luxurious with walk in shower, tub and vanity and offer every imaginable amenity that I'd ever need. It was also all glass so that you could perch on la toilette and stare outside to the sea. For privacy, blinds are optional! Every room in this hotel is seaview... the higher up you are, the more of the sea you see. From our room #211, we mostly saw the luxurious pools (four or five of them adjoining for the entire length of the hotel with a pool bar in the middle), palm trees stifling whatever view we might have had of the sea. No complaints... you get what you pay for and the pool views are worthy in their own right! The staff were phenomenal with perhaps one exception we'll discuss later. They were never without smiles, greeted you enthusiastically at every turn and were so eager to please. They were the highlight for us and I'll explain why. We dined there every night and were quite happy with the menu, wine list and food preparation.
Because it was just recently opened, it hasn't developed a name for itself just yet. With 200 rooms, no more than 10 were ever occupied while we were there. Plenty of staff with not much to do except cater to us. It turned into a symbiotic exercise. We got to meet them, talk to them at great length and learn something about the Vietnamese people while they served us; in reciprocation, they were able to practice their English skills on us and they were eager to do so. It was a perfect union for us and one that we would not encounter again during our travels since every other hotel was usually teeming with people.
The not so good: As noted, the hotel was recently built. Every room is equipped with movement sensors that turn on the lights including the bathroom. It's a nifty technology when it works... we had some problems. Once, we couldn't get the lights to go off through the master switch. Twice, the lights came on in the middle of the night. Although they eventually went off, our repose was interupted. Once, after an early morning visit to the toilet, we couldn't get the bathroom light to go off. Remember, the walls were glass and the blinds didn't do their job with light! All the problems were ultimately corrected but it sure was disruptive to us and surely the maintenace people as well.
During our stay, we met the General Manager of the hotel on several occasions. He was genial enough and we chatted amicably about our little light issues and other things that he was trying to do with both his staff and the hotel structure itself. Naturally, he was striving for excellence. He noted that there were certain areas of the hotel that were having some of these "electrical" issues and obviously our room was one of them and shouldn't have been let out to us. Which left us wondering why he didn't intervene somewhere along the way and move us to another room, preferably with an upgrade to make amends for our inconvenience. We had a similar experience with the concierge staff. We wanted to tour the famous sand dunes after golf. We were advised that we could do the tour the next day. Later that evening, our tour was postponed to the following day which was to be our last day there. The next morning we received a written note that their tour operator was entirely booked and we were shut out. No alternatives were mentioned. This was where all the friendships we had developed with wait staff bore fruit. Since we were virtually the only guests there, they knew we had planned to go to the dunes. When they heard we couldn't go, bar staff got on the hotline and found friends in the guide business who were available to get us out there. The dunes were magnificent and so were our new found friends who got us there. It's just too bad that the bar staff had to bail out the hotel in getting their guests to see the one can't miss attraction in the region! It's these type of things that just shouldn't happen at a hotel that strives for perfection and legitimate 5* status.
Final thoughts. This hotel will succeed; it's currently on medication and the bi-polar affliction will be overcome. It is off the Mui Ne beaten path and the only way to get to the beach is by hotel shuttle. That will deter the beach only crowd from staying there and if that's your thing, this is not the place to be. Neither will it attract the bar crowd since it is quite isolated. It will do conventions, corporate retreats and the like. It will appeal to golf groups. For those who want a nice peaceful retreat from the bustle of HCMC, this is the place. It should also do a good Honeymoon trade.
For us, it worked and the "incidents" were not grievous by any means. But for those travellers who expect perfection, I'd monitor these pages first before booking. For us, the "people experiences" are what really count and 99% of those were truly memorable here and will be treasured forever.
Directions: About two miles outside of Mui Ne, high among the dunes!
Phan Thiet, Vietnam
24 Nguyen Dinh Chieu St, Han Tien Ward, Phan Thiet
12A Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, Phan Thiet
58 Nguyean Ninh Chieau, Phuong Ham Tien, Phan Thiet
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