16:12 (GMT +7) - Wednesday 22/05/2019


Quick escapes from the city

Released at: 14:34, 24/02/2019

Quick escapes from the city

Photo: Viet Tuan

Resorts on the outskirts of cities like Hanoi or in nearby areas that are easy to reach are increasingly finding favor among those keen to get away for a brief sojourn.

by Ngoc Lan

Descriptions such as “Top 5 locations in suburban Hanoi to ‘take each other to escape’ on holidays” and “Top 5 destinations in suburban Hanoi ‘attracting’ young people” found on online media and social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram reveal that holidays in and around major cities are throwing out something of a challenge to coastal destinations. Locations in and around Hanoi, such as Ba Vi, Hoa Binh, and Vinh Phuc, have increased in popularity in recent times and are considered great getaways, attracting many property investors with hotels and resorts. 

Ms. Nguyen Hoai An, Director of Research and Consulting Services at CBRE Vietnam, told VET that along with the development of infrastructure and the increased ownership of private vehicles, demand for tourism and leisure in locations within two or three hours of Hanoi is indeed a new trend. “It also facilitates the development of suitable types of resort real estate to meet the needs of Hanoians, especially during weekends and for short-term holidays,” she said.

New idea, new opportunity

In December, the Tuan Minh Group signed a cooperation agreement with Japanese partners to develop the Tuan Minh Paradise Resort project in Luong Son district, Hoa Binh province, with total investment of VND3.5 trillion ($150.2 million). Covering an area of 99 ha, the project features a new resort model, combining traditional resorts and resorts for the elderly (oldotel). The resort will have over 1,500 villas, a five-star hotel, and shophouses. The oldotel will be built with a host of green utilities and spiritual areas for elderly guests, such as clean agricultural areas, hills, landscapes, medicinal plants and meditation centers, Buddha worshiping areas, a tea ceremony club, and Onsen hot mineral springs. Construction will begin in the second quarter of this year and be completed in 2021, with three phases. 

Mr. Truong Huu Quang, Managing Director of the Tuan Minh Group, told VET that the Tuan Minh Paradise Resort is a pioneering project in combining a resort and an oldotel and is inspired by Japanese meditative culture. “With the aim of becoming the first oldotel, Tuan Minh Paradise Resort also boasts an international hospital to cater to elderly guests, providing physical therapy, rehabilitation, and other treatments,” he said. 

In the midst of vast green hills and mountains in Hoa Binh, another upscale resort community, Ivory Villas & Resort, is located just 44 km from the center of Hanoi and developed by the Archi-Reenco Hoa Binh JSC. Ivory Villas & Resort consists of four main sections, of which the first two have been completed with investment of VND800 billion ($34.3 million). Sections 3 and 4 target the high-end segment, with investment to be from 1.2 to 1.5-times higher than for the first two sections. On an area of 66 ha, it will have 184 villas and a range of facilities. All villas are designed in ivory white with multi-story curved roofs, inspired by the curves of terraced rice fields, which are characteristic of the northwest region. Mr. Tran Minh Tien, Director of Archi-Reenco Hoa Binh, said this special design is one of its strengths in attracting tourists. He also revealed that the resort will welcome about 800 guests on weekends and holidays. 

Unlike the abovementioned resort models, the Urban Getaway homestay chain model managed by Mr. Le Trung Kien provides an aesthetic setting at sites close to nature, offering an escape from crowded cities and the fast pace of technological age. Opened in November 2017, Urban Getaway now has over 80 different homestays, covering not only Hanoi and surrounds but also Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh City.

Identifying a different concept, Mr. Kien told VET that Urban Getaway’s homestays host activities for groups to encourage connections among guests. “There is no internet or TVs at Urban Getaway’s homestays, and instead are a swimming pool, camping areas close to nature, flower gardens, lawns, pine hills, and others,” he said. “This is a huge difference and brings a whole new experience compared to resorts and hotels.”

There are many options for tourists in and around Hanoi, such as Meliá Ba Vi Mountain Retreat, Flamingo Dai Lai in Vinh Phuc province, Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh, and Mai Chau Ecolodge in Hoa Binh. Explaining why the segment of resorts in and around Hanoi has become “hot” in recent times, Ms. An said that locations with green space and outdoor activities within Hanoi itself are quite limited, so resort projects that create suitable spaces and combine family activities and relaxation are becoming much sought-after.

Hanoi has 4.5 million people in its inner districts, but with the accompanying stress from work, pollution, and traffic jams, the need for resorts in or near the city will continue to increase. According to a survey conducted by the Tuan Minh Group last year, more than 90 per cent of respondents said they want to take a break in or near Hanoi more than ten times a year, but there are currently less than 1,600 three-to-five-star rooms in the city and neighboring provinces. “Limited supply fails to meet the needs of the people in the capital,” Mr. Quang affirmed.

On the outskirts of Hanoi and nearby are a range of ideal locations for relaxation that can be easily reached by car. “Traveling just one or two hours from the center of Hanoi, guests can admire scenic mountains, rivers, lakes, and nature,” said Mr. Kien, which are advantages in developing resort real estate.

Many experts also believe that, in the past, resort real estate in and around urban areas simply weren’t attractive among guests as they were lacking in landscape design, management, and service. The segment now has a number of professional developers and has gradually attracted more tourists, which encourages not only more guests but also more developers and investors. 

Difficult reality

Though resort real estate in and around Hanoi is growing, difficulties remain. According to Mr. Nguyen Manh Than, Chairman of the Hanoi Tourism Association, the segment has been in place for some time but is still small and scattered. “These resort projects are being built in a spontaneous manner and many fail to meet needs,” he said.

From a developer’s perspective, Archi-Reenco Hoa Binh had problems with land when building Ivory Villas & Resort, because transitioning forested land to commercial land is beset by a host of obstacles in administrative procedures and in complying with the Land Law and the Law on Construction. Mr. Tien, though, noted that the site has natural advantages such as hot springs, flat terrain, and natural ponds, which also help curb construction costs. “But land funds are small, while the number of developers is increasing,” he said.

Research by Savills released last November pointed out that these projects will attract guests mainly on weekends and have low occupancy on weekdays, so developers need to create more facilities and activities to attract long-term guests and better balance occupancy rates between weekdays and weekends. 

Despite such challenges, industry insiders are confident that there is space for tourism in and around Hanoi to grow. According to Ms. An, new models such as oldotel are popular in developed countries and can become a new trend in Vietnam as lifestyles and needs change. “Traditional models such as resorts and homestays, with professional operations and good service, will certainly continue to grow,” she believes.

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