September 17 2012
Good Morning Vietnam
Forget the images and stories of war, and rather picture Catherine Deneuve reprising her role in the film Indochine.
Reviving the elegance of the golden days of colonialism, Vietnam lives between yesterday and tomorrow, between the art of living and the tastes of the market, between heritage and contemporary architecture.
Visit the places and the unique personalities…
Text: Marie Le Fort
Major cities: Ho-Chi-Minh (formerly Saigon), Hue (imperial city), Nha Trang, Hoi An, Dalat
Land area: 127 247 sq. mi.
Population: 91 520 000 inhabitants
Specialties: Pho, Bo Bun, Nem
Celebrities: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s adopted son, Pax Thien, Marie-France Pisier, Marguerite Duras
Still riding the wave of the old colonial Saigon, the Temple Club appears like a film setting, a rest place for a monsoon evening where one relaxes in a leather armchair, whilst sipping on a martini before venturing further upstream to the noble residence.
Decorated by Luc Lejeune of the agency Noor, the space unfolds against a backdrop of brick walls and old coloured tiles, alongside beautiful silks, screens and carved wood panels.
With warm light and suspensions shaped like lotus flowers, white tablecloths and a piano in the corner, the meals are brought to the table with equal delicatesse, revisiting all the flavours of Vietnam, from the north to the south…
29-31 Ton That Thiep Street
+84 8 8299 244
Park Hyatt Saigon
Swathed in a colonial air, with its proud row of surrounding palm trees, the Park Hyatt Saigon is the last word in chic.
After passing through the majestic awning and swinging door controlled by elegant white-gloved hands, the humidity dissipates as soon as you come into contact with the cool dark floor…
Here, you almost expect to hear the crackling of the gramophone whilst Jean Yann carries Catherine Deneuve across the room in a dance. Huge dark shutters punctuate the walls, while soft lighting from wrought iron chandeliers hanging from impressive ceiling heights illuminates the club seats, inviting you to enjoy a cocktail whilst the deluge of the monsoon carries on outside.
2 Lam Son Square, District 1 – Saigon
+84 8 3824 1234
Vintage posters, sewing machines and the immense ceiling heights may be sufficient enough to define L’Usine, the creative fashion concept store led by the young Vietnamese, Tib Haong.
And yet, beyond the marble counter of the ‘cafeteria’ – a trendy café where one finds the cosmopolitan Vietnamese youth enjoying colourful cupcakes and freshly pressed fruit juices – the ‘rough around the edges’ space reflects the rich past of colonial nineteenth century architecture before being transformed, in the 1930s, into a clothing factory. Ennobled by District Eight Design, L’Usine now accommodates, under its exposed steel beams, numerous lacquered objects and a selection of sharp and atypical fashion – Marshall Artist, Trois Filles, Tinwell & Bismark, Wetter – all produced in Vietnam.
The luxurious Nam Hai is a hotel of all the highest quality.
Having won all the industry awards there are to be won, the resort, anchored between sandy beaches and palm trees – the work of French architect Reda Amalou, of the AW2 agency – allows its clients to unwind from the high life in a lush neo-colonial inspired setting.
Upon entering, a huge gray stone staircase adds a mineral touch to the verdant décor.
Situated at the top of a hill, a large open pavilion made from dark wood stands, furnished with silk-covered chaise lounges, and opens onto three large shaded swimming pools at the back, arranged in cascade.
The very definition of paradise.
Hyatt Regency Da Nang
With a modernist architecture reminiscent of homes in the Arizona desert, the Hyatt Regency Da Nang is a surprise in that there is adventure. An atypical compilation of local savoir faire, the hotel is decorated with beautiful ‘bulle’ woven chairs (using the ancient technique used to make Vietnamese fishing nets), huge air suspensions, colourful textiles, glistening ocher-brown tiles and local ceramics made from recovered fish coral.
And the final textured touch: a market kitchen that perpetuates the culture with shrimp salad, fresh herbs and grapefruit.
A life lesson.
Six Senses Con Dao
Located in the very South of Vietnam, Con Dao Island accommodates the Six Senses of the same name: a luxury eco-lodge which is bordered by two kilometres of beach, hidden in the landscape behind a bamboo trellis shaded by the elements.
A destination designed by Reda Amalou (founder of the French agency AW2) where, in a breath of wind, suitcases and minds come to be laid to rest. Upon entry, the mismatching walls, houses, and old recycled doors appear to belong to a village, and the market kitchen is located a little further away in an open space.
The colours, aromas and fresh vegetables to be discovered there are a vignette of Vietnamese flavours…will you ever return, after being installed on a leather swing, with an iced lemon tea and a fish skewer wrapped in a betel leaf?
An architectural realisation and interpretation that fits perfectly with the natural conditions.
© Courtesy AW2/ Six Senses
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