Mia Mui Ne turns 15 in style

All paintings starts out equal, nothing more than a simple mix of pigment and canvas. It takes something special to transform one into a work of art, a universally appreciated balance of execution and inspiration.

Set on the Mui Ne – Phan Thiet stretch of beach just four hours from Ho Chi Minh City, Mia Mui Ne (www.miamuine.com) shares many of the same ingredients as its competitors—a long, narrow plot of land bookended by the main road and a stretch of sandy beach. But it’s what Mia has done with those elements that has made it into a Mui Ne favorite, now set to celebrate its 15th anniversary.

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From its humble beginnings as a budget backpacker inn, Mia Mui Ne is now all grown up, sporting a barefoot luxury chic thanks to a recent 2015 renovation. Only a keen observer might be able to divine its age based on its lush, mature gardens and a faux graffiti wall with notable dates behind the bar. Well-travelled guests might also see similarities in effortless sophistication and Instagram-ready backdrops shared with Nha Trang’s iconic Sailing Club and the luxe Mia Nha Trang Resort, owned and managed by the same group.

However, if this family of properties were social media royalty, Mia Mui Ne with its bright pops of color, gorgeously mosaic’ed pool and vivid nautical stripes would boast Kylie’s fresh, young appeal to Mia Nha Trang’s more elegant Kim. The property is basically your favorite beach house Pinterest board come to life, with framed glass menus and whimsical signs showing the way to the men’s bathroom on the left because “women are always right.”

It’s easy to roll with Mia’s fun, easygoing exterior, but the truth is that every element of the property has been carefully tweaked to get the most out of it and then some, with lots of serendipitous touches of luxury thrown in for good measure. Compact rooms are made to feel more spacious by the addition of outdoor showers, vintage tiles and televisions cleverly hidden behind sliding panels. Custom-designed dispensers so pretty you’ll want to steal them are filled with high-end L’Occitane products. And instead of inspirational poems, a practical card containing the week’s weather forecast is provided at turndown along with premium chocolates.

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Barefoot Luxury

The same thoughtfulness applies to the resort’s layout. Mia’s 31 rooms are spread across a pretty hotel block and a handful of duplex bungalows, each hidden behind beautifully manicured pathways so as to preserve the views. The Xanh Spa is aptly named (“xanh” meaning “green” in Vietnamese), tucked away behind a wavy wall and set in lush garden surrounds with flowing water features, flowers and chirping birds. Comprised of a lemongrass-infused steam room, two semi-outdoor treatment rooms (one set up for Thai massage) and an air-conditioned double room, the spa offers a range of treatments focusing on everything from sunburned and sensitive skin to prenatal massages and lighter massages just for kids. After a refreshing tea of honey, ginger and mint, I opt for a relaxing full body massage, the therapist’s magic thumbs and firm kneading strokes releasing tension from knots I didn’t even know I had, all in a cocoon of lingering lavender and the soothing sounds of trickling water.

The heart of the resort, however, is the beachfront pool and restaurant, a hive of activity where a host of complimentary daily activities like yoga, Vietnamese language classes, coffee classes and liqueur tastings take place to a fun, upbeat island vibe. The wide beach itself is home to Sailing Club, the resort’s kite surfing school, taking advantage of Mui Ne’s 260 days a year with winds over 12 knots.

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Where other properties reserve the beachfront for its most expensive rooms, Mia has generously dedicated that premium space to a striking pool surrounded by comfortable seating areas and to Sandals Restaurant with its upstairs Kid’s Club and library ensuring that the beach can truly be enjoyed by all.

The new and improved Mia extends to its take on upscale beach fare with emphasis on light, fresh flavors. The included breakfast is worth the price of admission alone, with a buffet of cheesy quiches, freshly baked breads with homemade jams, banana peanut waffles and freshly squeezed juices including daily shooters with zingy flavors like ginger pear. Diners can also choose one from among 18 a la carte options, ranging from the decadent, like a croissant brimming with cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers and dill beautifully presented on a wooden board or a hearty Spanish breakfast, to the lighter yet tasty Quinoa cake or Spiced oatmeal with caramelized pears and crunchy granola. The resort is also known for its incredible smoothie bowls, cold and refreshing, and incorporating fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, cereals and other superfoods with names like Green Goddess (avocado, mango, banana, coconut milk, peanut butter, spinach and honey) or the Red Dragon, taking advantage of Phan Thiet’s best-known crop with its juicy red flesh, banana, raspberries and homemade coconut milk.

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Lunch and dinner fare are also equal parts execution and inspiration, designed to tantalize with serendipity, like in the miso mayonnaise that accompanies the Chili Salt Phan Thiet Squid, the Fish and Chips given an extra kick with ginger beer, and the Sesame Tuna Salad with tropical notes provided by sweet mango and a coriander-ginger vinaigrette. Sandals even serves refreshing popsicles to beat the afternoon heat with flavors like Watermelon Hibiscus or the adults-only Cucumber Lime Mint with rum.

Constantly reinventing itself even after 15 years, Mia Mui Ne offers the same family-friendly feel but with a barefoot luxury look that ensures it will always have many happy returns.

Images Provided by Mia Mui Ne