After a six-month suspension of operations, Life Heritage
Resort Hoi An is
to reopen 1 August 2008. Renovations at the popular 94-room resort pared the hotel back to its concrete shell and then, with Pisani Designs holding the palette, recast the
property with more space in the rooms, more light in the bathrooms and bespoke furnishings.
The second-generation upgrade features a new spa, a new Heritage Bar that celebrates the history of the exquisitely preserved 19th
Century trading port and a revamped restaurant that’s set to reestablish its reputation as
one of the top tables in town.
“Life is what you make of it, and we’re making the most of it on the Thu Bon River,” said Chris Duffy, general director of the Life Resorts. “To
effect the kind of overhaul envisioned for this resort, it made sense to close up shop, dig through the feedback we’ve gotten from tour operators,
travel agents and guests, and then re-emerge with a Life experience that’s more sophisticated and more comfortable than ever.”
Notable at the new resort are two new links to the historic Old Town of Hoi An, itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A new riverside promenade
delivers guests from the edge of the resort to the heart of the fabled downtown. And the new Heritage Bar provides an outdoor perch on one of
the town’s most quaint streets.
“This is a window on Hoi An we’ve never opened before,” said Cathy McConkey, the resort’s general manager. “We’ve always traded on our
proximity to Hoi An, but we’ve never really had a balcony on the town itself. Now, you can watch the world go by from a prime perch outside the
Inside the air-conditioned bar, a series of archival prints explore the town’s past. A trading port since the Cham people controlled this part of
Vietnam in the 13th Century, Hoi An lost its purchase on maritime traffic in the 1830s when silting in the Thu Bon diverted commercial traffic to
the nearby port of Danang.
Nineteenth-century Hoi An’s loss is a boon to contemporary travelers who roam the streets of a town that looks, more or less, the way it looked
200 years ago.
Upstairs at the Heritage Bar, cigar aficionados will hold court in segregated space, seasoned by the finest imports and Life’s recommitment to a
wine list that would do justice to the finest New York hotels.
In the rooms themselves, the furnishings and new design scheme trades on widening popularity for the timber, texture and warm colors of the
Tropical Asian Moderne aesthetic.
Though Life’s sunken terrazzo tubs remain hallmarks of the bathroom’s appeal, the black tubs have been swapped for golden brown tubs, a color
feature that melds with the imported oak artfully deployed in the furnishings and the warm hues of the contemporary Asian art decor.
“These rooms are at the very forefront of Asian style, and our European guests are bound to be remarkably impressed by the contrast between
what they’ve left behind and what they’ve slipped into here,” said Annette Pisani, managing director of Pisani Designs.
Life ratcheted up the comfort level by another category altogether, said Duffy, with investments in the finest beds available, sofas that look great
and feel even better and discriminating modern Asian art.
“The shell remains the same, but the scintillation is something else altogether,” said Duffy. “We’ve taken a very popular resort to a whole new
level, a whole new dimension of experience.”
The previous-generation Life Heritage Resort featured spa treatment facilities in a cabana by the pool. New plantings now boost shade cover
around the pool, and the spa has moved indoors to space designed for spa from the ground up.
Three single treatment rooms open to views of the Thu Bon while a double-room gives onto the resort’s gardens.
At Senses, the resort’s signature restaurant, the menu like the resort itself has been completely revamped to feature a fusion of Asian and
Western cuisines. The open, riverfront exposure remains the same, but custom furnishings have redefined the ambiance.
At Vienna Cafe, the ground-floor pastry and light-meal eatery, Old World aesthetics conjure a remarkably different dining experience. But, like the
rest of the resort, its tiling and furnishings are fresh and stylish.
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