Heavenly Olalani Resort and Condotel brings the spirit of Hawaii to Vietnam

There’s a host of reasons why Hawaii is one of the world’s most popular destinations: picturesque beaches, easy accessibility, friendly locals, great food and a laid-back, “hang loose” vibe. Danang, on Vietnam’s central coast, has recently come onto the international travel radar for being one of Southeast Asia’s hottest up-and- coming destinations because it shares many of those golden qualities. Now, thanks to Olalani Resort and Condotel, it can add warm, Hawaiian hospitality to the list.

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Opened in 2013 by its Vietnamese-Hawaiian architect owner, Olalani (meaning “heavenly” in Hawaiian) was conceived as Vietnam’s first resort where guests could experience the genuine Hawaiian lifestyle. The 5-star resort features lushly landscaped grounds, stunning swimming pools and soothing waterfalls, but more strikingly, colorful murals, stone statues of Hawaiian dancers and tiki masks. The concept could’ve easily veered into the kitsch had the resort not been so entirely well-executed. As someone who considers Hawaii almost like a second home, I literally gasped upon entering the resort with a sense of déjà vu which lingered for days – so well did it capture the essence of some of Hawaii’s great hotels. Past the lobby and into the grounds, a feeling of tropical paradise pervades in the three swimming pools, complete with a lazy river and three waterfalls, a lagoon where guests are welcome to fish, and then out onto the wide stretch of powdery beach.

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The resort is built in a half-moon shape, with 80 percent of the 197 hotel rooms and 88 1-3 bedroom condo rooms enjoying stunning ocean views from one of the highest resorts on Danang’s famed strip of luxury hotels. Rooms are spacious, with cool stone floors, large bathrooms and digital TV. The scent of lilies and a fresh Bird of Paradise arrangement in my room were lovely touches. Two tennis courts, a large spa and a 700sqm ballroom (where weddings are organized by Danang’s top wedding planner Bridal House Tu Tu) complete the facilities.

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Olalani’s main restaurant is the Frangipani, a softly-lit space with contemporary furnishings and a tropical vibe coming from the stylized heart-shaped and very typically Hawaiian monstera leaf motif seen in the fabric lanterns and wall decor. The a la carte menu covers well- loved international classics like Salmon Penne with a whisky cream sauce along with Asian favorites. Onolicious Hawaiian fare is also represented by the Loco Moco – a beef patty smothered in mushroom gravy topped with a fried egg, all placed over a scoop of fried rice, the ultimate in Hawaiian comfort food that brought me right back to Honolulu’s iconic Rainbow Drive-In. Shoyu chicken braised in a marinade of soy sauce, brown sugar and star anise was also on the menu which led me to half expect a cone of shave ice with salty ling hi mui for dessert, but it was not to be. Instead, we settled for a delicious Lime and ginger creme brulee.

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To put guests in a chill mood, the resort has three bars servicing the pool and beach, with the Tropical Bar, located between the lobby and the beach the most popular. Cocktails, mocktails and other drinks are on tap including the citrusy Olalani Special (white rum, Cointreau, orange, pineapple, mint and grenadine) and the Blue Hawaiian (naturally!). The Orchid Spa has ten treatment rooms offering Turkish-style scrubs, wraps and salon and massage services like the popular Body Massage, a combination of Thai and Swedish techniques for deep-tissue stimulation.

For fans of Hawaii or simply of paradise, Olalani Resort and Condotel’s unique concept offers a blissful holiday within a holiday.

Doubles start at USD300, including buffet breakfast. See www.olalani.com for more info, including honeymoon packages and other promotions. Now until the end of the year, guests receive 50 percent off all spa and salon services. Set aside February 20, 2016 when Olalani will host an authentic Hawaiian luau!

Images Provided By Olalani