New Hotel Says Hello to Vietnam

InterContinental Hotels offers clients a modern sanctuary

By: Kara Cutruzzula

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts officially opened the doors of its first Vietnam property this month the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake in response to travelers’ growing demands for luxury hotel accommodations in the area. Built entirely over the serene waters of Hanoi’s historic West Lake, the new hotel features 359 guest rooms and suites showcasing contemporary Vietnam design.

Located just 10 minutes from the heart of Hanoi, the waterfront hotel evokes a resort-like ambiance with its torch-lit Venetian promenades and hard-to-find airiness in Vietnam’s bustling capital. Balconies extend from each of the hotel’s 340 rooms and 19 suites, all with views of the 1,235-acre lake, the cityscape, or the property’s tropical gardens.

“In many ways, Hanoi is one of the liveliest cities in Asia for business and leisure travelers alike. As a hotel, we must respect the unique dynamics of this city and its demand for the authentic and the progressive,” said Jon Nielsen, general manager. “The Hanoi Westlake breaks the mold of what travelers expect from a big-city hotel.”

The Hanoi Westlake is anchored by a 161-room main tower that functions as its own island and is complemented by three pavilions, each with 66 rooms and suites. All guest rooms provide the latest in modern technological amenities, including LCD televisions and high-speed Internet access. Each bathroom offers double-basin vanities and both a deep-soaking bathtub and separate walk-in rain shower.

The suites offer an array of amenities and services, from Bose entertainment systems and complimentary Club Lounge access to around-the-clock butler service. In both suites and rooms, the contemporary decor reinterprets familiar Vietnamese designs, from sitting room chairs that echo Nguyen Dynasty aesthetics to reading lamp shades styled like West Lake fishing traps.

For a more indulgent stay, guests can reserve the exclusive InterContinental Hanoi Westlake Presidential Suite, a 3,300 square-foot space with seven private balconies, two bedrooms, two full bathrooms and a butler’s pantry with private service entrance.

“Historically, West Lake, or Tay Ho as it’s known locally, was the preserve of Vietnam’s Ly and Tran royalty, as well as the country’s mandarins, who built summer homes on these shores,” said Nielsen. “We are compelled to uphold that heritage with a hotel that caters to the highest expectations.”

Tourism expectations are soaring all over Vietnam, as the country’s GDP increases at a 9 percent growth rate, reputed to be among the fastest in the world. InterContinental has developed a ballroom that can accommodate 400 guests and meeting rooms equipped with technical support that includes Internet access, video conferencing and projection capabilities.

Beyond accommodation and conference facilities, the hotel wets the palate with a wide variety of dining and lounge options. Its signature restaurant, Milan-Saigon, sprawls across the entire mezzanine level of the main building, a stylish fusion of contemporary European and rustic Asian aesthetics. Its glass-encased show kitchens satisfy a desire for transparency and action, while offering both Italian and pan-Asian cuisine. For a respite, guests can dine in the elegant private dining rooms. The bar and lounge lure pre- and post-dinner patrons with its trendy setting and a extensive wine list.

The dining options shift gears at Cafe du Lac, a classic brasserie that fronts the expansive lake waters. Referencing the great cafes of Paris, the venue blends wood, stone and light colors, creating a relaxed atmosphere for informal dining. An icon in the making, the outdoor Sunset Bar occupies its own island in a lake that ranks as one of Hanoi’s great attractions.

Currently under construction, an eight-mile footpath will circumnavigate the West Lake, taking in the storied pagodas of Tran Quoc and Kim Lien, as well as the flower villages of Tay Ho and Nghi Tam.

In addition to the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake property, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) will cultivate Vietnam’s luxury hotel market with the debut of the 200-room InterContinental Danang Resort in mid-2009, situated on the Son Tra Peninsula. Also in 2009, IHG will manage its first InterContinental branded property in Ho Chi Minh City.