The 36 villa-resort sits atop a terrace of splendid rice fields in Mai Chau.
September 27, 2022: An untouched waterfall, terraces of rice fields and a jungled mountainside setting form the underpinnings of a spectacular new 15-hectare resort in Vietnam’s Mai Chau Province, a 3.5-hour drive from Hanoi. Opened quietly during the pandemic, the 36-villa property features spacious, indigenous design, a spa built on a stream and one of the most majestic dining opportunities to be found in Southeast Asia. Leveraging what’s local is a priority across the board. More than 90% of the staff are from the surrounding area.
“It’s one thing to build a resort near the wonders of nature, but to build in the midst of all this natural splendor, with a footprint as light and retractable as we have, makes for an immersive experience that can be overwhelming,” said Mr. Vu Huy, founder of Avana Retreat.
With architecture that leverages local Hmong and Thai building techniques and aesthetics, the resort’s 36 villas range in size from 1,054 sq. feet to 2,465 sq. feet. Some villas optimise outdoor opportunities with large balconies. One villa perches on top of a terrace of rice fields. Three villas boast private pools, and the most exclusive villa features a 958 sq. feet private heated pool that climbs in tiers like a visual echo of the rice terraces.
The roofs of the bungalow villas are thatched, like the local stilt houses, and the walls are made of earth. The rattan ceilings are made using a Thai weaving technique. The warm wood interiors feature local arts and crafts, including hand-drawn beeswax paintings of intricate ethnic patterns. Lantern-lined pathways and bridges wind through the maze-like property. The private waterfall, which inspired the development of the property about a decade ago, serves as the backdrop for private dinners and intimate parties with a terraced deck overlooking the cascade.
The resort’s open-air yoga studio pavilion juts over the stream, while the eight-treatment-room Orchid Spa is built along the creek, which courses through the site. Spa treatments look to the landscape with local healing herbs and oils used in therapies that range from facials and body wraps to comprehensive pampering packages like the Wild Reconnection.
The property features four heated infinity pools and is aptly-called Cloud Pool Bar, where the fluffy cloud cover settles just below the property for an almost other-worldly view. At this dining destination, guests can enjoy a tipple, light snacks or lunch with a menu featuring local specialities, like a banana flower salad, and western-style fares like pizza, pasta, and sandwiches.
Avana’s all-day dining restaurant, Green Chili, offers an impressive selection of dishes from pho and Australian Wagyu Beef to a line-up of vegetarian and vegan options. The team tries to use maximum local herbs, spices and vegetables and source organic eggs from a chicken farm on the property. “We want as much of the experience of accommodation here to be as singular to this part of Mai Chau as possible, from the sights you see, to the food you eat, to the people you meet,” said Mr. Huy.
Avana is also a plastic-free retreat: trash bags are made from corn starch, organic materials are composted, and they have their Avana bottle plant to produce purified drinking water. They use an electric buggy service to take guests around the resort and continue to add to the region's diversity through their tree-planting program.