If somebody told us that Alma Resort was the size of Monaco, we might believe them. Properties don’t get much bigger - or more comprehensive - with (wait for it...) 14 bars and restaurants, 12 pools, a private beach, a cinema, a kids’ club, a science museum, an 18-hole golf course, an amphitheatre, a VR games room, a water sports centre, a waterpark with slides, tennis courts, a mini market, a youth centre, a conference centre and a karaoke room. Crickey. Guests not wishing to embark on long walks in the heat can whiz around on golf buggies.
All rooms, suites and Pavilions face the ocean – our stylish, one-bedroom Pavilion had its own infinity-edged pool on a terrace, a spacious lounge with a fully-equipped kitchen (and fridge stocked with cold beer), a large bathroom and two loos. We loved the spacious, mid-century design and the jaw-dropping views day and night.
What’s on offer?
All 12 swimming pools run through the centre of the resort, with the beach Pavilions on either side, and the main accommodation building and lobby behind (or ahead if you are on the beach). The pools vary in size from small enough to dip your feet in to 50-metres for swimming lengths - each faces the sea and is surrounded by loungers; several have swim-up bars at one end.
Before heading for our spa treatment, we swam lengths in the largest pool before taking a seat on a stool in the water and ordering a coconut from the bar, complete with straw for sipping the juice out of. Heaven can’t be too dissimilar...
Considering the size of the resort, Le Spa is modest by comparison - but no less striking - with 13 individual treatment villas separated by botanical gardens, each named after a Vietnamese flower. We exited our buggy and walked into the stand-alone reception area with its creamy marble floors, rattan furniture, reception desk and spacious area to drink a refreshing juice and complete consultation forms.
Guests wishing to work out can get out of the buggy one stop earlier and use the comprehensive fitness facilities; there’s a studio for yoga sessions here, too.
Changing rooms are light and bright with half-height white lockers containing robes and spa slippers; showers have large rain heads and Spa Pure shampoo, conditioner and body wash. You’ll find the steam room and sauna here too, each seating six, as well as three vanity areas with large mirrors, and two mani/pedi chairs. Le Spa also has a hair salon for wash and blow dries. Everything was ‘see-your-reflection-in-it’ clean on our visit.
Tell us about your treatment
We tried the Warm Stone Therapy (75 mins, £34).
My therapist, Duyen, met me in the reception area and led me to a treatment villa called Rose – before heading out, she thoughtfully put a large umbrella up and used it to shield me from the midday sun. Duyen then invited me to remove my shoes, enter the villa and walk into the shower in the corner of the room, where fluffy white towels and disposable underwear were laid out in preparation.
Showered and dried, Duyen invited me to sit on a chair so that she could place my feet into a bowl of hot water containing white lotus flowers. She washed my feet with warm essential oils and dried them before inviting me to lie on the treatment bed face down, holding up a towel while I did so to protect my modesty.
The massage began with warm oils which Duyen smoothed onto my calves before working out my tight muscles. She then placed hot stones on my calves which, at first, were too hot so she let them cool down and tried again. That felt just right.
Duyen then left a stone in each hand while she continued onto my back and shoulders, using warm oils to relax the muscles before penetrating deeper with the help of the hot stones. This felt very grounding.
Feeling the tension in my left shoulder, Duyen left one hot stone there while she worked on the other one – the heat doing more than massage alone to loosen the knot without leaving me feeling stiff or achy.
Duyen ended the treatment by placing a warm, moist towel over my feet, removing it after a minute. She then asked me to sit up so that she could karate chop my neck and shoulders – one last attempt to get those knotty shoulders to yield, perhaps? Either way, I felt fantastic and not at all like I’d just arrived on a long-haul flight from London. Duyen then helped me off the bed and invited me to get changed in the shower room while she waited for me outside.
She then walked me back to the spa reception using her magic umbrella to keep the heat off. In the reception area I sipped a ginger tea and browsed the range of Aromatherapy Associates products on offer behind the reception desk. My spa partner loved his first ever facial.
Le Spa offers a range of treatments including facials (collagen, radiance, rejuvenation), massages (four-hand, Balinese, deep tissue) and body scrubs/wraps, as well as treatments for children aged 6 to 11 (mani/pedi, facial), more unusual treatments such as cupping, and washes/blow dries in the salon.
Le Spa doesn’t cater for lunch so we grabbed a buggy and headed to The Food Court, a casual dining spot with rotating food trucks for a self-serve-style lunch. Today’s options: Little New York, French Bakery, Noodle House and Tokyo Express.
We made a beeline for Little New York and ordered Southern Fried Chicken, chips, coleslaw and a glass of Pepsi which - despite not being particularly local - was just what the doctor ordered (salt and sugar for natural rehydration, perhaps?). We were handed a buzzer and a tray and took a seat in the central area to wait for it to go off. The drinks bar in the centre offers a range of soft drinks including speciality coffees. We followed lunch with a selection of desserts from the French Bakery including banana cake, Vietnamese choux buns and Dragonfruit cake.
Later that evening we dined at Atlantis, Alma’s seafront seafood restaurant with outdoor seating beside the beach and strings of fairy-lig setting the scene. Be sure to check out the tanks of live fish on the way in including Long Beach Sea Crabs, Nha Trang Flower Crabs and snails. We tucked into a mezze of plates to share including Vietnamese rice rolls filled with fresh shrimp, stricky pork ribs, sweet and sour seafood soup and steamed Grouper.
Then it was our turn... in the centre of the table was a plastic device with circular rice papers in one side and water in the other. Taking a rice paper, we dipped it in the water, placed it on our plate, stuffed it with a selection of shrimp, pork, vegetables and chillis to taste and rolled it up. Voila: Vietnamese rolls made to order. A mental note to purchase such a device was made. Dessert was a Vietnamese staple of sticky rice with fresh mango. Everything was complemented by a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from France – liquid courage for karaoke at the Sports Bar afterwards.
Alma Gardens is the place for breakfast, a huge space with many different cooking stations for everything you could wish for – and more – including pastries, meats and cheeses, eggs to order, Vietnamese noodles and help-yourself-to pancakes affair using a machine. The juices are worth trying - watermelon became our morning go to.
We loved / we didn't love
Our villa with its view of the pristine beach, private infinity pool and mid-century design. If we could have picked it up and stuffed it into our suitcase, we would have.
Doing Karaoke in the resort’s own Karaoke room – an evening to remember.
The staff: large resorts tend to fall down when it comes to service but not at Alma, where everything was dealt with swiftly and with a smile. From the cleaning staff to management and the chefs to the spa therapists, everyone we met was a credit to the place.
We didn’t love
The 8am alarm to check out.
Who do you think would like it?
Families: with its own water park, kids' club, VR games room, science park, babysitting service and spa treatments for children between 6 and 11, children of all ages are very well catered for.
Couples: with its picture-perfect beach and romantic villas with views to die for/private pools, Alma Resort has romance written all over it.
Celebrities wishing to holiday without the paparazzi – Alma Resort is still a well-kept secret amonst Westeners (for now), with privacy guaranteed.
11th October 2022
Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching.
Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones.
Behind the scenes