Written by: Saigoneer.
During Tet, the most important time of the year in Vietnam, Saigon empties, its beloved energy spilling out alongside the droves of people returning to their hometowns.
Because the Lunar New Year focuses on reuniting with extended family and honoring ancestors and Saigon has such a transitory population, the city can become boring during the week-long holiday. And while more shops and restaurants are staying open compared to years past, it can still be an inconvenience to eat and play the way one is accustomed to. This situation provides the perfect impetus to escape to a tropical paradise.
Phu Quoc’s elegant sand beaches afford visitors some of the only unobstructed sunsets in all of Vietnam, and a nature-filled reprieve from the steel and concrete of the country’s major cities. And while the flood of people returning to their hometowns usually causes a surge in travel costs in the days surrounding Tet, Phu Quoc’s small native population and robust flight schedule means ticket prices remain surprisingly low. A stay at a boutique hotel like Salinda Resort thus allows one to maximize the rejuvenating potential of one’s vacation time.
An Intimate, Eco-Conscious Escape
Tourism, and thus luxury accommodations, on Phu Quoc have rapidly grown in the last decade, as people around the world take notice of the serene island off the coast of Vietnam. But some properties go above and beyond. Salinda Resort is one of those locations thanks to its intimate setting, nature-filled atmosphere, dedication to environmentally responsible practices and attentive services.
With only 106 rooms and 14 villas, Salinda Resort remains exceedingly secluded, especially when considering more than 70% of the grounds are dedicated to landscaped greenery, including more than 100 types of plants. The flower-lined paths that lead down to the beach and sunlight-drenched rooms with stunning views of the beach allow guests to connect with their natural surroundings in a way that is impossible in the city.
Moreover, Salinda Resort pays careful attention to ensure every visitor feels pampered. Whether it’s an indulgent Thai spa appointment, dip in the expansive saltwater pool or simply enjoying an hour of peace and quiet in a shaded gazebo amongst fluttering butterflies and blooming flowers, every moment spent on holiday there feels worlds away from one’s daily grind.
The attention Salinda Resort pays to environmental stewardship, including renewable, biodegradable building materials, recyclable drinking bottles, energy-saving lighting and locally sourced ingredients served in its Vietnamese, Indian and Italian restaurants allows one to feel responsible about the extravagances.
Preserving Tet Traditions
Traveling to Phu Quoc during Tet does not mean missing out on the splendors of the holiday. Rather, a stay at Salinda Resort allows one to easily experience the most treasured elements of the festivities.
In the legend of the great animal race that established the ordering of the Lunar New Year animals, the rat’s clever machinations allowed it to cross the finish line first, and thus be the opening animal in the cycle. One should, therefore, greet 2020, the year of the rat, as midnight strikes. At Salinda Resort, one can do so after having savored a buffet of traditional holiday items accompanied by traditional dances and music performances. An altar similar to those in family homes to honor ancestors will be set up in the main lobby to allow guests a chance to experience the most sacred of Tet moments.
Vietnam celebrates Tet with a variety of traditions, but few are more important than the food one consumes. Bánh tét and bánh chưng, sticky rice cakes with mung beans and pork that won the favor of the mythical Hung King, are essential elements of every holiday meal. Representing humanity’s connection with the land and heavens, they are painstakingly hand-made and cooked for hours. Salinda guests can enjoy the items at a dinner on January 24th alongside holiday specialties including fried spring rolls, pickled onions, pork belly and fresh fruits.
The first day of Tet is reserved for immediate family, and few places allow for more quality time than Salinda Resort. Whether lounging together on the beach, sharing a BBQ dinner or relaxing on a private patio with the sound of the ocean in the background, the resort allows one to connect distraction-free. Meanwhile, the second day of Tet expands the holiday to extended family and often involves playing a variety of games. Salinda, therefore, is hosting a board game night with drinks and folk games.
“Mùng một Tết Cha, mùng hai Tết Mẹ, mùng ba Tết Thầy,” or “the first day of Tet is for the father, the second for the mother and the third for the teacher.” Salinda Resort is honoring the role of educators on the third day in a creative way. Their chef, Liladhar Kandel, grew up in Dehli, and his cooking is informed by the street food vendors in the romantic streets of Old Dehli he studied with. He will be sharing what he learned with guests at the resort during a special Indian buffet with complimentary cocktails on January 27th.
An important aspect of Tet is the burning of ceremonial offerings as gifts to ancestors in the afterlife. The act serves as a way to appreciate the temporal joys of the world and the desire to pass along the pleasures to one’s forebearers. Salinda Resort honors this impulse via a sumptuous six-seven course Vietnamese sampling menu served on a rattan platter.
In preparation for Tet, families across the country are already cleaning their homes and making special dishes to best welcome family and friends. Salinda Resort is no different. They’ve made every extra effort to allow guests to enjoy the holiday in an idyllic tropical setting.