hotels and resorts decorate the new Vietnam
celebrations will bring more business
Thi Ngoc Dung, Deputy
Director of Saigon Tourist Travel Service Co.
a seeming over supply of four-star and perhaps five-star hotelsŚthe
news is not all that great for new hotel developers throughout
VietnamŚthough it is, or should be, happy news for both tourists and
business travelers who have benefited from declining room rates over the
past year or so.
luxury hotels abound now in Hanoi. One of the world's most beautiful
cities, and the country's quiet and reserved capitol, has felt the
rumblings of a budding construction boom for several years, which has
brought world class properties such as the five-star Daewoo Hotel, the
beautifully renovated Sofitel Metropole, the Horison Hotel and the Hanoi
Hilton to name but a few.
traveler quickly discovers that Hanoi's pace is decidedly slower as your
eye follows the steady stream of bicycles passing the Beaux-Arts
magnificence of the former residence of Tonkin. Or travel in a cyclo
around Ho Tay (West Lake) which many locals and writers consider the
poetic heart of this graceful city. This is a city of tamarind-lined
wide French boulevards, beautifully weathered mustard-stained colonial
villas, elegant squares and magnificent buildingsŚincluding the
stunning refurbished Opera House, reminiscent of a scaled down version
of France's Palais Garnier since it was built by the French colonial
administrators at the turn of the century.
admire the beautifully restored Sofitel Metropole and imagine the
notable Graham Greene writing one of his compelling stories about the
former Indochina. Last year, the Australian talented director, Philip
Noyce was re-shooting scenes of Greene's classic novel, "The Quiet
American," with Michael Caine cast as Fowler, the seasoned
correspondent on these same streets and banyan-lined boulevards. And of
course, there are cafes of every conceivable description on every street
The stylish Majestic Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City.
A summer scene in Hue.
Tourists enjoy cyclo tour in Old Hanoi.
Facade of the Hanoi Horison Hotel.
Anoais resort bungalows, set dramatically on the grounds of the
former summer residence of Vietnamĺs last Emperor, Bao Dai.
for us, Vietnam was ranked as the safest country in the Asia Pacific
region by an independent international organization (Hong Kong based,
Political & Economic Risk Consultancy) in the fall of 2001,ö
remarked Jan Hilhorst, general manager at the Hanoi Horison Hotel.
the Hanoi Horison Hotel, the management has reason to be upbeat with
year end occupancy weighing in well above the industry norm, with over a
60 percent average in 2001. The ownership of the hotel is 80 percent
Indonesian, and thus Horison is written with an s because of the
Indonesian spelling for Horizon. The minority joint venture partner is
Vietnamese ľ Hanoi Toserco.
is more than 1,000 not 300 years old, like its upstart boasting southern
cousin, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) showcases in its own tourism
pamphlets. It is in the north, namely Hanoi where the families, guilds
and potentates who have given it life reflect on their ancient capital
with distinct pride. Visit the ancient quarter and experience a
cacophonous symphony of sounds and smells and meander into the many
wonderful shops, like The Furniture Gallery on Ta Hien street, or take a
cyclo to a few boutique shops found on Nam Ngu, where lacquerware and
art- traditional and contemporary is readily available. Hanoi offers a
cultural and intellectual renaissance.
value the earlier architecture. It is a part of our past as much as our
literature, and do wish to lose it through reckless modernization,"
explained Nguyen Khoa Diem, Minister of Culture and Information.
welcomed almost 2 million foreign arrivals during the first 10 months of
2001, 89 percent of the year's target and up nearly 10 percent
year-on-year. Revenue for that period was approximately $600 million, or
91 percent of the projected tourism target figure and up 13 percent over
the same period last year.
the Horison, which is managed by Swiss -Belhotel International, is
already recognized as one of the leading five-star hotels in Hanoi. The
hotel has also quickly gained country-wide recognition in organizing
several International ASEAN and national conferences.
have been able to host numerous dignitaries, including country
presidents at our hotel, but our main asset is our accommodating and
well- trained staff," added the soft-spoken Hilhorst.
most days, the hotel's attractive Marble Court Lobby Lounge is a regular
gathering place for many locals and expats in Hanoi.
majestic view of the Saigon River
The hotel business in Ho Chi Minh City is dominated by SaigonTourist,
which has over 60 hotels and 3,500 rooms. This includes the newer
Century, New World and the fading stars, the Rex, Continental and the
romantic Majestic Hotel with its panoramic view of the Saigon River from
the terrace bar.
the surplus of hotels rooms to fill, including SaigonTourist properties,
Ho Chi Minh City, or as the locals fondly call Saigon, a city still very
rambunctious and racy compared to the capital, Hanoi, where streetlights
are regularly turned off at 10 o'clock.
cities continue to embark on any number of ambitious celebrations
designed to lure visitors. And the largest festival is about to start in
a few weeks. Tet is the largest and most widely celebrated. This
festival takes place generally for a week usually between late January
and mid-February. It is a complex week long holiday whose themes are
renewal, spiritual growth, ancestral reverence and of course, family
So there's now a holiday
mood and it helps that SaigonTourist
at the end of 2001 revealed it enjoyed an 8 percent increase in overall
business. Their Majestic Hotel built in 1925, has undergone a facelift
and her quiet elegance and old world French style charm remains intact.
are happy that the locals (hundreds of Vietnamese wedding parties) use
our hotel for functions and of course, we are seeing far more regional
travelers coming here particularly from Japan," said the Majestic's
slender and energetic general manager, Tran Hung Viet, as he rushed to
his evening Japanese language class.
Majestic Hotel truly exemplifies old Saigon with all her architectural
splendor captured in columned style and arched shapes. From this central
location, the traveler can catch all the sights of Saigon on foot or
cyclos, which are conveniently parked on the corner of Dong Khoi, near
the busy Saigon River.
abound in both Hanoi and HCMC, and should be considered a national
treasure for the city's tourism growth.
HCMC cyclo drivers are more often than not, former South Vietnamese
soldiers, who do speak English. These pedicabs offer the ideal way to
take in the colorful and vibrant sights, sounds and texture of both
early May of this year, Hue is staging a 12 day festival with two
theatrical performance programs and traditional lanterns on the Perfume
River, it will be a huge event and we know this will draw even more
international visitors to our Vietnam," added the SaigonTourist's
radiant deputy general manager, Tran Thi Ngoc Dung.
There is much natural beauty
to be discovered in Vietnam and she offers her charms to anyone who
would come. From Sapa's colorful Saturday night love market, to Hoi An's
winding ancient streets, with its pitched roofs and cobbled sidewalks,
to Long Hai's former summer residence of Bao Dai, Vietnam's last
emperor, the ĹNew Vietnamĺ offers all visitors an opportunity to see
a most beautiful and intriguing landscape on a new day when its people
are poised to begin another chapter in the history of their rich and
ę InternationalReports.net / The Washington Times 1994-2002