Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tokyo/Vietnam July 2011 - Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel And Spa

***This post is part 16 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

So finally, almost a week and a half into my trip to Tokyo and Vietnam, I arrived at my first internationally branded hotel: the Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel and Spa. Not that I'm complaining really, since virtually all of the local accomodations I'd stayed at so far exceeded my expectations, and in some cases completely blew them out of the water (see Hanoi Elegance Diamond Hotel). Nevertheless, I admit I was a little excited to finally return to a sense of familiarity.

Stepping into the lobby of the Sheraton Nha Trang, I was quite impressed with how large and upscale it was compared to most Sheratons in the United States. To the right was a grand circular staircase leading up to the second floor restaurants and bar, and if you looked up, you would see a hundred or so hanging glass sculptures of birds in flight. All in all, it was a pretty spectacular entrance.

I went up to the check-in counter and was greeted by a pleasant gentleman probably in his late 20s. He saw my booking from the Starwood website and acknowledged my gold status, informing me that he had put us up on the 19th floor "SPG Level". I wasn't quite sure what exactly that meant, but I later found out it wasn't the club floor and didn't really come with any additional benefits besides being on one of the higher levels. Now here's the embarrassing part... it's definitely been a while since I stayed at an SPG hotel, and when I do, it's typically for work on a special corporate rate that includes internet. In any case, for some stupid reason, I thought having SPG gold provided complimentary internet, so I asked the gentleman about it, and he was apologetic and said that unfortunately, it doesn't. I challenged him a bit on it but he didn't budge, so I let it go and went up to my room. Later on, I went ahead and purchased internet access (~$15/day) and perused SPG's website for the specific benefits of gold status, and indeed I was wrong... oops! I really should read up on these details prior to checking in!

The standard room itself was very spacious and nicely decorated. I requested 2 beds and was glad they were able to accomodate us. Every room in the hotel has a balcony as well as an ocean view since they are all slanted at an angle towards the beach, but being on a higher floor does provide a nicer panorama of the surroundings. I also really liked the bathroom because the large bathtub and shower are sort of in an enclosed glass room by themselves, with the entire room being open to the shower.

Ocean view from the room balcony

City view from the room balcony

Along with the slight room upgrade for gold status, they also provided some complimentary fruit and water, as well as a 30% off certificate for one of their restaurants, Steam 'n Spice. We did end up trying 2 of the restaurants in the hotel since, to be perfectly honest, we got a little lazy in terms of actually exploring the city (I'll talk more about this later). Steam 'n Spice served up a diverse selection of Chinese dim sum fare as well as a mixture of traditional Vietnamese cuisine. I went with a simple pho noodle soup, which was just ok, and a couple of dim sum dishes, which were decent. I also ordered a passionfruit drink that was delicious. The next day for lunch, we tried out Feast, a typical hotel buffet restaurant. But instead of getting the buffet, we decided to try something else (since we had been eating nothing but Vietnamese food for the past week and a half). My friend ordered sushi and I got a nice juicy burger with fries - I had been craving some greasy American food that day ;)

Steam 'n Spice restaurant - pretty empty that night

Feast restaurant

Sheraton Nha Trang has it's own private section of the beach directly across the street. They provided towels, and I believe you could also order drinks there, but we didn't bother. I really enjoyed the infinity pool inside the hotel as well, and I ended up spending as much time there as I did at the beach. They also had a full gym and spa at the hotel... I tried out the gym on both days, and was happy they had a full range of new equipment. These are some of the things you most likely won't find at a locally-owned hotel, so there are always advantages and disadvantages to choosing one or the other.

Gym overlooking the pool

Overall, I was very happy with our stay at the Sheraton Nha Trang. It was definitely a nice change of pace from the string of local hotels we stayed at, and provided a more luxurious experience, despite being very reasonably priced.

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