Do you ever reach a point on your travels where you feel the need to treat yourself to somewhere special? If you’re tired of roughing it and need to recharge and recover from the toils and trials of long-term travel, there’s nowhere better than Mai Chau Ecolodge.
Situated on its own private hill overlooking the rice paddies and mountains of the stunning Mai Chau Valley 135 km southwest of Hanoi, you have the option of exploring nearby villages on foot, or renting a free bike and heading further afield. Many of the villages have markets selling handmade trinkets and traditional clothing. There are also some impressive caves in the hillside, and panoramic views of the town to check out.
The best way to make the most of your stay in Mai Chau Ecolodge, though, is to slow the pace down, admire valley views from the comfort of your room, relax beside the pool and book in for a spa treatment.
Rooms at Mai Chau Ecolodge range from US$108 to US$289 depending on the season, and they’re the definition of luxury. Light and spacious, with huge comfy beds and the softest pillows, you’re guaranteed a restful stay.
The decor is natural and stylish, adorned with artefacts from nearby villages. Stone walls, tiled floors and thatched roofs are in keeping with the surrounding landscape. Highlights include huge mirrors in the bedroom and bathroom, a chaise longue, dimmer lights, and a curved, deep wooden bath. Mosquito nets are also provided, you can choose between a fan or AC, and the WiFi is among the best in Asia.
Amenities such as a hairdryer, toiletries, slippers, towels, dressing gowns, and even traditional Vietnamese bamboo hats, are provided, and if you need anything else, reception will be happy to arrange it for you. There’s also free tea and coffee, water and oranges, as well as a very reasonably priced mini bar.
At the back of each property is a private enclosed area with an outdoor shower, and out front is a porch with lounge chairs and incredible views of the valley. The floor-length windows beside the bed also slide open so you can watch water buffalo and rice farmers from the comfort of your bed.
Breakfast is included and served from 6:30 until 9:30 am, and checkout at midday allows you to appreciate the pool one last time before you leave.
RESPONSIBLE TOURISM AND SUSTAINABILITY
The core values of Mai Chau Ecolodge are to be close to nature; to protect the environment; to preserve culture; and to promote responsible tourism.
They hire local staff who are incredibly warm hearted and friendly, build using natural materials local to the area, plant native trees, promote the conservation of water and electricity, and make a conscious effort to avoid light and noise pollution.
The restaurant and bar are both open until 10:00 pm and serve a wide selection of drinks, and both western and Vietnamese food. There are a few dishes specific to the Mai Chau area, as well as an extensive wine list.
A free traditional dance show is performed every evening, either in the bar or outside the main restaurant beside the pool. A brief description of the story behind each dance is presented, before local men and women parade on stage in brightly coloured outfits, with umbrellas, fans and percussion instruments as props. At the end of each show, there’s a chance for the audience to get involved, and the evening culminates with a taste of rice wine sipped through straws from a communal pot.
Every guest should put at least a couple of hours aside to enjoy the swimming pool. There are comfortable loungers with towels and parasols, and it rarely gets crowded.
The staff are on hand to fetch drinks or poolside snacks and there’s a shower block and changing area if you can’t face the short stroll back to your room. There’s also a magazine rack in case you require some mental stimulation.
The views over the valley are breathtaking and made all the more magical by the occasional appearance of a white dove or iridescent butterfly.
Open from 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm, the spa offers a wide range of treatments to help you unwind and relieve any aches and pains. These include:
– Steam Bath (15-30 mins; 160,000 VND): Opens airways, improves breathing and alleviates congestion
– Sauna (15-30 mins; 160,000 VND): Relaxes muscles and relieves tension and joint pain
– Foot massage (50 mins; 240,000 VND): A herbal bath and massage with oil focusing on Shiatsu points corresponding with other parts of the body
– Holistic Swedish body massage (60 mins; 300,000 VND): To relax aching muscles, stimulate circulation and assist in the removal of toxins
– Traditional Thai massage (75 mins; 400,000 VND): Uses yoga-like stretching movements to enhance joint and body flexibility
– Hot stone massage (75 mins; 430,000 VND): Heated smooth flat stones are placed in key places on the body to help warm up tight muscles so the therapist can work more deeply more quickly
– Korean queen massage (75 mins; 430,000 VND): Combines Swedish, Shiatsu and Vietnamese massage techniques to restore energy balance and health
– Shoulder and back massage (45 mins; 250,000 VND)
– Hot stone shoulder and back massage (45 mins; 270,000 VND)
Mai Chau Ecolodge can arrange day tours and multi-day itineraries. Activities include boating, trekking, bike rides, visits to local villages, and even a romantic proposal package.
For travellers who are used to luxury, this will feel like a steal. For those more acquainted with budget accommodation, the price tag is a little hefty, but there couldn’t be a better location to treat yourself to a few days of pampering. Whether it’s a special occasion, or just a rare treat, Mai Chau Ecolodge won’t disappoint.