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Life Heritage Resort Hoi An to reopen 1 August 2008

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Podcasts Wednesday, 30 July 2008

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 thats set to reestablish its reputation as one of the top tables in town.

Life is what you make of it, and were 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 weve gotten from tour operators, travel agents and guests, and then re-emerge with a Life experience thats 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 towns most quaint streets.

This is a window on Hoi An weve never opened before, said Cathy McConkey, the resorts general manager. Weve always traded on our proximity to Hoi An, but weve never really had a balcony on the town itself. Now, you can watch the world go by from a prime perch outside the Heritage Bar.

Inside the air-conditioned bar, a series of archival prints explore the towns 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 Ans 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 Lifes 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 Lifes sunken terrazzo tubs remain hallmarks of the bathrooms 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 theyve left behind and what theyve 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. Weve 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 resorts gardens.

At Senses, the resorts 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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