Phu Quoc Island - Hotels - Rusty Compass travel blog

Phu Quoc Island - Hotels

| 22 Nov 2009
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22 Nov 2009

Phu Quoc is Vietnam's largest and most beautiful island. Curiously sitting just 18 kilometres from the Cambodian coast (it’s much further from Vietnam), it's also the largest island in the Gulf of Thailand. Phu Quoc is home to some of Vietnam's most picturesque beaches and forests and while the mini tourism boom that's been gathering speed over the past five years has spawned some calamitous developments, there's a handful of very nice accommodation options.

Before you choose a hotel on Phu Quoc Island you need to work out two things. Do you want to spend big in luxury or keep it eco friendly and very simple? And do you want to stay on the more developed Long Beach or on a remote stretch of beach where isolation and privacy are a big plus but access to restaurants and other island life is less convenient?

As you weigh up your options, it's worth noting that one of the best things about Phu Quoc is that it's largely undeveloped - even Long Beach is uncrowded most of the time. There's no nightlife to speak of and there are only a few restaurants around Long Beach and Duong Dong town outside of the resorts.

Long Beach Phu Quoc
Photo: Mark BowyerPhu Quoc's Long Beach is the most developed part of the island - but it's definitely not overcrowded yet

If you're looking for the comforts of an international resort, Phu Quoc has two options - the Accor managed Grand Mercure La Veranda Resort and the recently opened Chen La Resort Resort and Spa. 


For mid range accommodations, there are four very simple, moderately priced (40USD to 100USD per night) bungalow resorts that are in beautiful settings and go easy on the environment as well - Mai House, Mai Spa, Bo Resort and Mango Bay Resort.

The two top end options are appealing for different reasons. The Grand Mercure La Veranda on Long Beach is the established property with several years of operations behind it and the sound if predictable character of an Accor hotel. The relatively new Chen La Resort is set on a beautiful remote beach away from the main town and the eating options of Long Beach. While it has an international team of staff, Chen La is independent of the major hotel groups.

Photo: Mark BowyerChen La Resort and Spa is the second deluxe property on the island

Both are charging at least 200USD per night most of the time making them expensive in regional terms - but check rates because there are definitely specials around and Phu Quoc's unique charms are worth an extra spend.

Our preferred resorts in the moderate price range - Mai House, Mai Spa, Mango Bay and Bo Resort - charge a minimum of 50USD per night for the right to stay in a room free of air conditioning, TV, telephone, mini bar or any other semblance of modernity. These places have plenty going for them though.

They’ve all been very careful not to overbuild their spectacular locations and they all boast atmospheric garden settings facing the beach. You're paying for space and ambience rather than comfort. You’re also going easy on the environment.

Photo: Mark BowyerLounge by the beach, Mango Bay Resort

Mango Bay and Bo Resort are set on especially generous lush coastal blocks and are remote from the town and other island life making them very special getaways. Mai Spa and Mai House are both located on Long Beach.

Long Beach sports stunning white sands and calm turquoise water for most of the year. It’s where Phu Quoc’s first wave of development has occurred and it's home to dozens of small mainly unappealing resorts. Piles of rubbish at stretches of beach not tended by resort owners are a disappointment. Mai House, Mai Spa and La Veranda are the best options along Long Beach and they all keep the beach areas around their resorts tidy.

The area north of the airport is where Chen La, Mango Bay and Bo Resort are located. Stay in this area if you want a real escape.

High season on Phu Quoc seems to run from October to the beginning of May. Many resorts on Phu Quoc surcharge during Christmas and New Year. Check with the resorts.

Grand Mercure La Veranda Resort

Prior to the opening of the Chen La Resort and Spa late in 2008, La Veranda was Phu Quoc Island's only international resort. Set on the island's main Long Beach, La Veranda Resort has been tastefully designed in French colonial style. The grounds are not large and quite a lot has been squeezed onto them but abundant lush gardens provide a sense of space and serenity.

Photo: Mark BowyerLa Veranda Resort

Its 43 rooms are attractive with period tiles and matching fittings. All rooms have private balconies. The lead in Deluxe rooms are on the small side. It's worth paying extra for a Deluxe Villa or a Suite Villa. Suite Villas are very spacious and front on to the beach.

The beach at La Veranda is very nice but like much of Phu Quoc, if you venture beyond the patch maintained by the resort, you'll find yourself among piles of plastic and other rubbish. The island's administrators and the hotels that use the beach need to find a solution to what should be an easily solved problem.

The hotel has a great restaurant and its position on the main Long Beach also makes for easy access to the island's other restaurants.

La Veranda has dominated high end accommodation on Phu Quoc Island since its opening in 2006. While Chen La Resort and Spa is a worthy challenger with its own set of advantages, most notably its beautiful remote setting, for the moment, La Veranda offers a level of polish and experience that Chen La is still cultivating.

La Veranda Resort Facilities Brief - Beautiful beach location with good swimming, restaurant, cable TV, air con, mini bar, beachside pool, spa, water sports including kayaking, sailing, snorkelling.
Pricing. More than 150USD

Chen La Resort and Spa

Phu Quoc Island has just two international standard resorts. Chen La Resort and Spa is the newest. It's in a splendidly isolated location amidst forest on a pristine stretch of beach. It's been open for over a year now but it still feels very new - for better and for worse. Some of its facilities are only coming online now in late 2009.

Photo: Mark BowyerChen La Resort and Spa

Chen La rooms are spacious with timber floors and all have views to the sea and verandahs with large built in baths. Room interiors are tasteful but feel incomplete or lacking definitive character. Pool villas have private pools. The main pool is Phu Quoc's finest both large and attractively set by the beach.

The grounds are spacious but the manicuring is excessive - especially in such a natural setting.

With only 26 single level villas Chen La will always feel uncluttered.

The location of Chen La Resort makes it ideal for a beach getaway but it's also removed from other island life. You'll need to enjoy being remote. It's not far in distance terms but the availability of transport makes leaving the resort an effort. Bo Resort and Mango Bay are nearby but only accessible by cab or motorcycle taxi so expect to use the resort's somewhat pricey restaurant very frequently during a stay.

Chen La Resort and Spa Facilities Brief - Beautiful beach location with good swimming, restaurant, cable TV, air con, mini bar, private pool (pool villas), large beachside pool, spa, water sports including kayaking, sailing, snorkelling.
Pricing. More than 150USD

Mai House Resort

Mai House Resort is a collection of 20 thatched roof bungalows that sit unobtrusively on an especially pleasant stretch of Phu Quoc's Long Beach.

A big part of the appeal of Mai House is the cosy atmosphere created by its owners Mai and Gerrard. Mai also doubles as the chef and her simple Vietnamese dishes, especially her seafood dishes using fresh local produce, are a great complement to a stay here. Even if you don’t stay at Mai House, it’s worth stopping by for a meal.

Photo: Mark BowyerBungalow at Mai House

The owners of Mai House have done well to resist the temptation to pack their rambling space tight with bungalows. The bungalows are well separated with plenty of greenery. They're set back from the beach keeping an uncluttered feel and ensuring all guests have good access and open views to the sea. It's a model other small developers on the island should note.

The bungalow interiors are basic but tasteful with stucco walls and terracotta tiles and some minimal decorative touches. They're fan cooled (no air conditioning), no mini bar, TV or telephones. Intermittent wifi is available at the restaurant. Power can also be intermittent. Service is friendly but very laid back, sometimes sleepy. Bookings can be difficult as the owners have a fairly relaxed attitude to the reservations process as well and Mai House is very popular. That relaxed attitude is part of Mai House's appeal but it can be frustrating if you need some special service for any reason.

Mai House Resort Facilities Brief - Hot water, occasional wifi in restaurant, beautiful beach location, good swimming beach, great restaurant. No TV, no air conditioning, mini bar or pool.
Pricing. Garden bungalows from 45USD in low season, 60USD in high. Beachfront bungalows 55USD in low to 70USD in high season.

Mai Spa

Mai Spa is a Phu Quoc gem - unfortunately for travellers though, there are only seven rooms so you'll need to be lucky to get in at busy times.

Photo: Mark BowyerMai Spa's views across Long Beach

Set in the middle of the main Long Beach, the owners of Mai Spa had the inspired idea of relocating three traditional VIetnamese wooden houses from outside of Hanoi to Phu Quoc. That was a huge project of itself and involved dismantling the original structures, shipping them the length of the country and reassembling them. The result is Phu Quoc's most distinctive accommodation.

Rooms at Mai Spa are wonderfully atmospheric and the garden is perfect for relaxation. As the name suggests, the owners take their spa very seriously. In fact, the spa enjoys pride of place on the beachfront in one of the traditional houses. One of the owners, Jean Claude, is a specialist in Shiatsu, Traditional Thai Massage, Chinese Reflexology and massage using oils and fruits.

Guests may wish to make their stay at Mai Spa a spa retreat or enjoy its lush grounds and atmosphere as a base for exploration of the island

The difference between rooms at Mai Spa is considerable. The best rooms are very large, comfortable and include air conditioning. The basic rooms are good value for money but basic.

Don't expect international service at Mai Spa. It's friendly and homely but not in the slightest bit slick.

Mai Spa Resort Facilities Brief - Hot water, beautiful beach location, good swimming, some rooms have air con, extensive and professionally run spa facility, restaurant. No TV, refrigeration or pool.
Pricing. Basic garden rooms from around 40USD in low season. Seaview and beachfront rooms are from 100USD to 130USD.

Mango Bay Resort

Photo: Mark BowyerBungalows overlooking Mango Bay

Mango Bay Resort is another of Phu Quoc's collection of minimalist properties in superb settings. It occupies a vast tract of largely unspoiled rocky coast that boasts a couple of beautiful coves for swimming. Its low impact bungalows are sparsely set throughout the generous grounds - a real escape.

Mango Bay Resort's Saigon based expatriate owners have been commendably restrained in keeping the density of the development well in check. And while the bungalows are very humbly fitted out (no air con, phone, TV, mini bar etc), the upside is plenty of personal space and access to extensive natural grounds and a rocky coastline that is beautiful - if not ideal for swimming. This place never feels crowded - except occasionally in the restaurant.

Mango Bay is set north of the airport and around 30 minutes by motorcycle or taxi from the more developed Long Beach. Many guests at Mango Bay will elect not to leave the resort. The restaurant’s food and prices are good  though the range of options is limited for those staying longer than a few days. Bo and Chen La Resorts are reasonably close by for those needing a menu change but you'll need to be ready to jump on a motorbike or wait 30 minutes for a cab.

Mango Bay boasts of its eco friendly credentials and in room power consumption is mandatorily limited as the only electrical appliances in the rooms are the lights. Hot water is solar powered.

The newest rooms are made of rammed earth which is touted by the owners as both an environmentally sustainable and attractive building material.

The 31 bungalows come in a range of categories - all spartan but tasteful and built with local materials.

Prices range from 45USD in low season for basic bungalows up to 100USD in high season for the large Plantation Bungalows.

Mango Bay Resort Facilities Brief
- Hot water, beautiful beach location though not ideal for swimming. Enormous natural grounds. No TV, air con, refrigeration or pool.
Pricing. Basic garden rooms from around 40USD in low season. Seaview and beachfront rooms are from 100USD to 130USD.

Bo Resort

Bo Resort is Phu Quoc's definitive back to nature resort - taking the facilities and in-room minimalism of Mango Bay Resort to another level. When you arrive, you wander down a steep forested incline with sweeping views to the sea to the beachside shack that is Bo's restaurant cum reception. A kindly middle aged couple from Saigon who manage the place will welcome you and you'll start to work out the rhythm of this place. It's the antithesis of slick - and that's the secret of its success for its devotees. Bo Resort's 16 bungalows are basic in the extreme - and beautiful. There isn’t even hot water here but you probably don’t need it in Phu Quoc’s climate.

Photo: Mark BowyerImmersed in nature at Bo Resort

All bungalows are shrouded in forest with rustic balconies and views to the sea.

Like our other favourites in Phu Quoc, Bo Resort has avoided the temptation of over building. Each bungalow has a great sense of privacy and remoteness. It's very well spaced out.

Bo's other great feature is its access to deserted Ong Lang beach.

Bo Resort Facilities Brief
- Beautiful beach location with good swimming, restaurant. No TV, air con, refrigeration or pool.
Pricing. Low season rates start at 35USD and go to 65USD. High season rates 50 - 85USD.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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