Loathed to admit my love of luxury

I feel a little uncomfortable posting about my holiday, and that’s because my highlights weren’t particularly culturally unique to Vietnam, but about the luxuries I enjoyed. We spent some nights in Ho Chi Minh city (or Saigon) and a number of nights at the beach side town of Nha Trang.  The weather was incredibly warm and steamy – at least 30 C (or about 90 F) daily with high humidity.  It really made being out and about a tiring and sweaty business.  That being said, we strolled around a lot and saw as much of ‘normal life’ as possible.

Old Saigon against new Saigon

Old Saigon against new Saigon

Let me start by saying that I usually travel with my parents/immediate family or alone.  When I travel with my parents, they cover all the costs, so we usually stay in cheaper hotels.  When I travel alone, I usually stay in hostels where that’s normal (ie Europe and Northern America) or in cheap hotels in the Middle East and Asia.  That being said, in my recent few independent trips, I’ve created my own tradition of a ‘night of luxury’ usually on my return leg, where I stay somewhere fancy, and enjoy the modern comforts of a private shower, and a big bed rather than a bunk!  So I’ve spent a night in Abu Dhabi’s Hilton, and a night in the Bahamas Sheraton.  Both nights were an amazing rest and a great end to a holiday!  I felt clean, even if all my clothes weren’t!!
Travelling with the BF, well let me tell you, it was a new experience for us both.  The BF’s only travelled for sailing competitions in Australia and South East Asia, and as such, was often sponsored by the boat owner.  He stayed where he was put up.  So, this being our first international trip together, the expectations were to be discovered.
The shot from the bathroom vestibule, through the shower and bath room with glass walls

The shot from the bathroom vestibule, through the shower and bath room with glass walls

My one ‘thing’ was that I wanted a hotel with a nice bathroom – ideally not dated, or growing mould in the silicon (as you know, I dislike even discolour silicon and had two attempts to fix it in the loft!).  Thankfully, both places we stayed have certainly met, if not exceeded my expectations in bathrooms!  It certainly has helped that the cost of things in Vietnam is far cheaper than in Australia.  When we compared the costs of the two hotels we stayed in, they were cheaper than nights we’ve paid for in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Orange.  I have no idea what my stay cost at The Holiday Inn in Melbourne, as I was kindly put up by the conference company.  The other thing is, whilst we pool finances (and used our ‘team account’ for some dinners out, and some accommodation costs), we both see the room rate at half of the listed price, essentially our ‘part’ in the price.
View to die for! Even better than home!

View to die for! Even better than home!

That was my long winded justification of our week long lap of luxury!!
A lovely bed with equally tasteful art (so uncommon in hotels!)

A lovely bed with equally tasteful art (so uncommon in hotels!)

I thoroughly enjoyed staying four nights in the Sheraton.  There was the world’s biggest king sized bed, with a snow white fluffy doona to combat the 19.5 C temperature the air conditioning constantly pumped out.  There was BBC World and CNN on the TV along with endless repeats of Amazing Race, and interesting Discovery Channel shows.  There was even French cartoons, Russian news in English (that was a revelation) and an Australian channel.  I spent many an hour horizontal, between reading the novels I bought with me, watching TV and napping.  I think the BF was surprised at just how chilled out I can be!
Looking out to the bay from the 6th floor pool

Looking out to the bay from the 6th floor pool

We enjoy the pool – with views of the bay.  Although the winds whipped up at time, making it positively cold, it was great to laze around in a modern pool setting.  You only needed to raise the flag and a man would come running to take your order from the menu, which was kindly floatable!  Seriously, it was behind a plastic cover, but it was essentially a kick board!
There was also a beach right across the road from the Sheraton in Nha Trang.  The traffic is pretty constant, though worse at night than during the day.  We visited one evening, and again the morning of our departure to have a proper swim.  Interesting, the Sheraton (and the neighbouring (not so) Luxury Hotel) offer staff to assist in crossing the road at the pedestrian crossing! Complete with a Sheraton bat they usher you to the middle, and then across to the other side.  Once on the sand, if you’re lucky you can score a lounge, but nonetheless there’s a supply of fresh towels.  Again, the kick board menu is available – although I’m disappointed I didn’t see the main road dash to get the food to the beach!!
Waffles and pancakes!

Waffles and pancakes!

To fully appreciate the luxury, I enjoy room service – we ordered two coffees, which were potently strong!  Then we got waffles and banana pancakes.  Sadly, there was just not enough maple syrup (see I do my Canadian readers proud, I hope!), but they were delicious all the same.  I did feel like a princess!  And all for less than $20, which seems close to reasonable, compared to what it would cost for room service in Sydney.
Healthy I was not!

Healthy I was not!

The last morning of our stay, we enjoyed the buffet breakfast, which wasn’t included in our room rate, as it was about $20 per person.  Let me assure, there was nothing lacking from the buffet! There was Vietnamese soup, a salad bar, cold meats and cheese.  Say nothing of the omelette making man, who would also do eggs any way you wanted. There were reading made waffles, pancakes, crepes and mini French toasts, but of course the man would make you a fresh crepe! There was croissants, bagels and doughnuts.  This doesn’t even go into all the condiments, and fruit, and juices.  Let’s just say, Droptober was well and truly over come November 1 when I consumed my fair share!  It certainly made up for some of the less plentiful buffets we had in Saigon and also the Luxury Hotel.
As I said, I feel somewhat uncomfortable recounting these highlights of the trip.  What I do realise is that I enjoy experiences.  I like feeling ‘special’ and ‘splurging’.  By contrast, the first ‘thing’ I bought was a set of metal cup measures!  Seriously, the BF eclipsed me in the first week, but I came out strong in the end (largely due to finding a Banana Republic, which we don’t have in Australia, and I find the clothes are exactly my style).
What makes an authentic tourist, or a proper holiday in your mind?  I’m ready to make it controversial, so please be honest!

This entry was posted in Travel, Vietnam

17 Responses

  • Nice pictures! The hotel and views seem great. I have stayed in a Sheraton once, and their beds are amazing. I haven't taken a proper vacation in a while. The most recent ones were to the same destination, and I stayed in someone's condo and then in a motel, as it was the cheapest, yet nicest, accommodations we could find. I would rather save up for an amazing trip, though.

    Room service for under $20 is not bad at all (I also love maple syrup). I've never actually ordered it, but I always thought it would be more. It's not wrong to enjoy experiences; vacations mean different things to different people. Honestly, as long as I am away from where I live and discovering new cultures, while staying in a clean place, I am happy. Some people would rather have the luxuries that differ from their everyday lives. Whatever makes you happy makes your money well spent! (As long as you don't go into debt over it, of course! Just speaking in general.)

    Reply
    • Their beds ARE amazing!

      I agree, no where have I seen room service for two people be so reasonable, so I'm glad we had the chance to spoil ourselves!

      And of course, we didn't go into debt over it, so you're right, perhaps it's OK to splurge once in a while. It's so hard in 'cheap' places to be sure the place you book online really is clean and nice.

      Reply
  • Oh – I don't think you should feel uncomfortable at all!!! It's a holiday! You've studies hard and worked hard…and I hope you had the break that suited you and really gave you the chance to relax in whatever way you like!

    I'm not used to travelling overseas but we'd definitely do a package deal of some kind at a hotel like that in Asia – purely because I have no idea how to navigate the culture. We went to Fiji once and realised how "green" we were as tourists every time we got off the designated tourist trails…a few unnerving situations and I was glad of a western-style hotel to come home to.

    It looks like an amazing holiday and long may you enjoy the memories!

    Reply
    • You're right – it is hard to navigate the culture – and I think that's a big reason why we chose nicer hotels, to give us a sense of home, and creature comforts. It's so easy to get roped into scams – we had a bad taxi – the meter went up rapidly, and the BF noticed, so I asked him to stop and we hopped out. It was still the afternoon, so it was safe and we walked a bit before we found another cab. In AUD, we only paid him $1.50, but we knew that was the cost for the whole trip last time, and this guy had essentially just taken us around the block!

      Reply
  • Vietnam is now officially on my must see list, if only for the picture at the very top of the screen.

    You have done me proud, and I whole heartedly agree that the amount of maple syrup you received was insufficient. That's enough for one waffle, not three 😉

    I don't think it's bad that you splash out at a nice hotel for one night, in fact I think it's a great idea. You get the experience of travelling luxuriously without the cost of paying for it the whole trip. I used to do something similar on my university ski trips. I'd pack food and eat really cheap while we were travelling there and skiing, and then on the last day I'd go to the resort's high end restaurant and go all out for lunch. Was worth every penny every time 🙂

    Reply
  • Oh don't apologise for loving luxury – I love it too! I will happily cut down on a lot of things, but not holiday comfort! We stayed at the Four Seasons in Vancouver and I could have made if my new home! That's a proper holiday to me 🙂

    If we go somewhere 'new' we always pick a 'good' hotel, however on our last visit to NY we used AirBnB – a great experience – does that make me an authentic tourist lol.

    Keep on telling about your travel, whatever you do, I like to read it.

    Reply
    • Oh yes, I've used Air BnB in NYC as well (to get a place for five people without bankruptcy, I think it's necessary!) and also Wimdu when we needed somewhere in Paris last year – both were very good and much more reasonable than hotels.

      I'm glad I'm not the only luxury lover – and it's nice to make a holiday something a little different from 'home' and the everyday.

      Reply
  • I think westerners who think they are travellers, not tourists, are kidding themselves. You are still visiting a place in a manner that locals couldn't do in reverse. I have had friends work for several years in Vietnam. There are aspects of the culture and community that they cannot access due to being Westerners. They did love the country and the people.

    My idea of travel now is to have a decent bed and a good lie in and time to go slowly. I don't want to do trips that race across countries and cities but I know/admit I am not living in the place and am only seeing things as a visitor who can leave. In my 20s I did hostels. Now I want my own room.

    And I like your idea of mixing luxury with basic. I don't want to spend all my money on a bed but I like to mix it up so that occasionally I have a beautiful room. And who can resist a breakfast buffet?

    Reply
    • You make a very good point Lucinda – no matter how one travels, especially in developing countries, you're never really living like a local or seeing the 'real' side.

      I definitely did appreciate a slower pace – I've been known to do the hop around you mention, wanting to get value for money out of the long haul flight!

      I think in the last year or two I've come to the border, between hostels and private rooms. It feels strange to have moved up in the world, but you're right, a beautiful room and a buffet are pretty nice every once in a while!

      Reply
  • I suppose I balance cost, luxury, privacy and safety! We are staying at a nice B&B in Toronto which is cheaper than a chain hotel and includes a lovely breakfast, but is a 20 minute walk from downtown. We also paid extra for a private bathroom! I usually find a "middle path" on flights and accommodations, and spend more on meals and entertainment. LOL re: the maple syrup – I am so spoiled – I will not use "pancake syrup," only proper maple!

    Reply
    • We're told everything is maple syrup, but I dare say a lot is really maple flavoured syrup, which sounds like this pancake syrup you mention.

      Safety is a big one – and it's sometimes a little hard to gauge when booking online, many oceans away. I really appreciate people's accommodation reviews in this regard, can tell you things you might otherwise have missed.

      Reply
  • Oh, Sarah, you deserve a little lux now and again, don't you think? Life is so short and you work so hard at doing your part. Good for you!
    The view from the balcony looked dreamy. The waffles made my mouth water and that bathroom…. Oh, I'm a sucker for a nice bathroom while on vacation too.
    Good for you for posting and being honest. You're lovely and we're so glad you had a lovley time! We always enjoy your posts, especially to hear you're enjoying yourself!
    Cheers!

    Reply
  • Don't lament your appreciation of luxury, you saved for this and didn't go into debt as long as you can afford it enjoy it. I may not be Canadian, but we have maple trees and a booming industry of maple syrup here. There is no way that is enough syrup!! I laughed at the crossing of the street with bat in hand 😉

    Reply
    • Thanks Lois – I know some of my readers live a frugal life, so I suppose it makes me self conscious. But you're right, I did enjoy it, and budgetted for it with all my usual expenses at home. It's a cheap place to enjoy luxury too!

      Oh I love maple syrup, and so it seems do all my readers. Maybe it's a scarce resource in Vietnam?! Given it was room service, too hard to ask for more, so I took it as a healthy alternative to have less.

      Reply
      • livingsimplyfree November 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm

        Sarah, I do live a frugal life, most of the time. 🙂 I live frugally so I will always have enough for when a special occasion comes up. This month I needed to drive down some furniture to my youngest son. I also planned on visiting them as usual for Thanksgiving. Being as I couldn't borrow a vehicle during Thanksgiving I went a head and splurged for two trips in one month. How I look at it is that money should buy experiences, not things and that's exactly what you did with it. I don't see the point in working my butt off to acquire stuff though.

        Reply


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