For professionals with families, living in Saigon poses a number of challenges, especially a lack of public space and fresh air. For many parents, a trip to a verdant cafe or kids club is the most practical way to provide a bit of recreation for their children as forests and beaches often require hours of travel. There is, however, something of an oasis only 25 minutes from District 1 or 15 minutes from District 2.
Just up the river lies An Lam Retreats Saigon River, an intimate, lush retreat. Beyond offering sophisticated and beautifully designed accommodations, the property creates experiences for its guests via a holistic journey that covers everything from F&B to well-being, mindfulness and regeneration.
Upon arrival by speedboat (or by car should one prefer), parents will immediately smile upon seeing their children’s eyes open wide to take in the landscape comprised of huge trees, beds of flowers, koi ponds and wooden planks.
While parents will quickly be drawn to the perfectly manicured landscaping, younger guests will likely see themselves as characters in a jungle adventure. Most importantly, unlike resorts where children are dropped off at kids’ clubs or spend time on screens, the activities at An Lam Retreats Saigon River are designed for parents and young ones to share so as to create long-lasting bonds and memories.
The centerpiece of the retreat is its spacious villas and suites which are ideal for families to play. Though there are a number of different suite configurations to choose from, the river-front 2-bedroom villa with private pools is perfectly tailored for families. Particular attention is paid to the property’s little guests via colourful baby cots outfitted with stuffed animals upon request. The villas also provide families the option of having a floating breakfast with a large tray of assorted dishes that appeal to even the most picky eaters and guests can dine in the water or poolside.
An Lam Retreats Saigon River caters to various traveller types but has taken many steps to create experiences with families in mind. The open space and fresh air ignite young imaginations. Families are even encouraged to feed the koi fish in the ponds with food provided by attentive retreat staff. During the evening, families are invited to take in an outdoor screening of kids-friendly movies, complete with comfy pillows and fresh popcorn.
Family meals are also a focus at the retreat. Most will be eaten at the Sen restaurant where breakfast and all-day dining are available with a fusion menu that is expertly designed by both the kitchen and wellness staff. Meals are balanced and the kitchen focuses on healthy cooking and sustainability. Food is prepared with small amounts of oil and extra food items, such as the skin of pineapple, are repurposed for teas.
In addition to the meals prepared by the retreat’s staff, the retreat’s most interactive family experiences are related to food, highlighted by cooking classes. These begin with a trip to the property’s organic garden where vegetables and herbs are grown and used in most of the retreat’s dishes. The chef joins the family to pick the best ingredients for the season and points out how to know which to select and why.
At the table in the specially-designed outdoor kitchen, all the ingredients for cá kho tộ and bánh xèo are laid out, and guests don a chef’s hat to properly get into character. The retreat’s chef gives clear step-by-step instructions in English or Vietnamese that are easy to follow, and children can take on the roles of helpers by selecting ingredients and assisting in different parts of the cooking process. In a separate, less ambitious cooking activity, families can bake cookies together, from kneading the dough to placing them in the oven. Each of these help to provide kids with a bit of knowledge about nature, foster creativity and instill a bit of patience to boot.
Such structured activities are balanced by relaxing moments poolside, either at one’s villa or the main pool. Children can enjoy the companionship of colourful floats while parents can take time to indulge in some afternoon cocktails and cool off in the shaded waters.
Like most guests, many parents will want to spend some time at Jungle Spa to rest and rejuvenate. Its signature oil massage is inspired by traditional Vietnamese practices and combines different massage techniques, such as pressure point, palm pressure, and sweeping movements that help a body and mind regain harmony. The spa can also pamper children as well with hair washes, and manicure/pedicure options for those over the age of 5.
Wellness is a buzzword thrown around, sometimes haphazardly in the hospitality industry. But for children and parents with busy work and school schedules, quality time can be the ultimate currency for improved physical and emotional states. With its amenities and conscious efforts to promote a balanced experience, An Lam Retreats Saigon River is an ideal destination for families looking to regenerate and hit the reset button on their sometimes frenetic lives.