Can Tho in the south of Vietnam, although offering a rich culinary culture and a relatively untouched authentic Vietnamese experience, is unexplored territory for many. That’s all changing, however, with the opening of Azerai Can Tho. Dubbed as affordable luxury, the brand by famed hotelier Adrian Zecha brings stylish digs on a private island to the river city giving luxury travellers more reasons to take a trip south.
Can Tho Attractions
Boasting the Delta’s largest floating market, Can Tho is famous for its variety of tropical fruits, fresh food and riverside beauty. While the area is growing, its rural charm remains and it continues to be relatively untouched by tourism giving globetrotters a veritable taste of Vietnam.
During the heat of the day, the area is peaceful and sleepy. In the early morning hours and late afternoon, however, when the temperature drops a couple of degrees, the city awakens. Dawn sees the river abuzz with vendors and consumers making exchanges between boats on the Mekong, and in the evenings, locals gather to eat, shop and be merry. Blessed with far less traffic than HCMC and Hanoi, the city has a welcoming vibe, and with the development of the Azerai hotel, visitors now have a contemporary place to stay.
Azerai Can Tho
Set on a sprawling eight-acre river island, Azerai Can Tho boasts the luxury of space, and is reached via a 10-minute boat from jetty. Villas are dotted around its edges with garden and river views from patios, and mangroves guarding the borders. The central courtyard brings visitors together with its 30-metre pool, sun chairs, café, grill and bar. And, all are linked by lush landscaping with the sweet fragrance of tropical gardenias scenting the air with natural aromatherapy. Giant old banyan trees act as the keepers of the estate, shading the lawns with their dangling vines and steadfastly reminding us of the history of the grounds.
Villas at Azerai Can Tho
Rooms are divided into a sleeping and living room, bathroom and changing area, and an outdoor balcony. Sliding glass doors connect the inside to the out and the daybed beckons as a comfortable nest to listen to the sounds of the river and admire the protective eucalypt trees and their resident birdlife.
Quality Elemis products, an espresso machine, Jing tea and local snacks are homely comforts. Hubby is impressed by the Blue Ray TV screen, and complimentary Wi-Fi is found throughout the resort. Also, much appreciated are the dual vanities, make-up mirror with light and the powerful hairdryer.
Dining at Azerai Can Tho
A trio of food and beverage outlets easily service the 60 rooms. Café, Grill and Bar all focus on quality ingredients prepared simply. We find many dishes that have no more than four or five components allowing the quality of the produce to shine through.
Brekkie is a delightful experience on the patio by the pool or in the cooler interior looking out through glass folding doors onto sleepy banyan trees. Western and Vietnamese tastes are catered to and if staying over a number of days it’s a good idea to try both.
We fill our tummies with western comforts of homemade yoghurt, Bircher muesli, tropical fruits and eggs done in various forms. Poached Eggs Turkish Style are yum with wilted spinach, Greek yoghurt, sourdough bread and spiced olive oil. The Eggs Benedict boast perfectly poached eggs atop a toasted English muffin with plentiful strips of ham and Hollandaise sauce. Juices are freshly squeezed. Coffee is good and the non-dairy option of soy milk is available too. Worth noting is that gluten-free and vegan choices can be prepared with a little notice to the kitchen.
Lunch is lighter fare with burgers and sushi popular options, and dinner keeps the casual feel while offering something more hearty, again with a mix of local and international recipes. We dine two nights at Azerai Can Tho’s all-day-ding restaurant, the first night focusing on Vietnamese cuisine and the second we explore the international side. For a more in-depth look at the local menu follow this link and for the rest take a look here.
Authentic Can Tho Street Food
Dining in the Azerai hotel Can Tho is a satisfying affair but the reason many visit Can Tho is for the chance to try the extensive and distinctive Vietnamese street food. Tropical fruits and vegetables flourish in the fertile Mekong Delta, with an abundance of this fresh produce an identifying factor in local recipes. The riverfront and main attractions of the city of Can Tho are a 10-minute boat road away and easy exploration. The Azerai team have also sorted through and the found the most professional local tour providers for a more educative excursion and we highly recommend a day trip discovering local food and river culture with Thomas and his team at Can Tho River Tour. Check out the top things to do in Can Tho here.
Fitness and Relaxation
Exploring the region is the reason many visit Can Tho city but it sure is nice to have comfortable accommodation to return to. Following our sunrise start and day of activities around the Mekong, the spa is a wonderful treat.
The spa has its own dedicated section of the hotel with a tree-shaded side canal running its border. As the property moves from its soft launch phase to fully functioning there’ll be gardens between the treatment rooms and the river encouraging guests to leave the blinds open if they’d like to enjoy the view. The Azerai spa menu offers the standard list of treatments including massage, facials, body wraps and scrubs and will soon schedule daily yoga sessions in the open-walled yoga pavilion.
Complementing the facilities are a Pilates pavilion, grass tennis courts and well-equipped fitness centre outfit with Technogym machines and weights. The piece, however, that steals the show is the 30-metre swimming pool that centres the resort. We’re drawn to it like fauna to an oasis. Lined with sun chairs and surrounded by beautiful landscaping, early mornings and late afternoons are magical times relaxing by (and in) the pool as the changing light transforms the scene.
The Azerai Experience
During the time of our stay, Azerai Can Tho is in the soft launch phase expecting the official opening to take place in February 2018. We can’t help but feel part of something special having the privilege of seeing a newborn evolve. Our interactions with local staff reflect the enthusiasm showing pride in product and the chance to share the beauty and deliciousness of Can Tho with the greater world.
Reasons to visit: Can Tho offers an authentic Vietnamese experience remaining relatively untouched in comparison to its northern cousins; local culinary culture is a highlight for any serious foodie; beautiful resort on its own private river island; stunning pool and grounds; warm hospitality.