The Sheraton Grand in Danang, Vietnam. The slice of heaven we needed to recharge our sightseeing batteries.
We know what makes our family still function and travel well on longer trips and that’s some downtime from traveling. So after a little over a week of sightseeing, we booked a few days at a beach resort town in central Vietnam called Danang. It’s a pretty hopping place for beach resorts (Four Seasons, Hyatt, Sheraton, plus seemingly a million others) with tons of new construction on the way. This break from our travels was perfect for our crew. Everyone got some pool time to recharge and forget about the many time zones (too many to count), airports (6), layovers, and hotel switches (6) we recently endured.
Heading onto the plane from Hanoi to Danang late at night, targeting a midnight arrival.
Danang is about an hour south of Hanoi by plane. It’s a great beach town with significant infrastructure of restaurants, spas (which may outnumber restaurants), supermarkets, and miles upon miles of incredibly soft sand.
We arrived close to midnight because we wanted to enjoy as much of the previous day in Hanoi as we could. So a late departure from Hanoi meant a really late arrival in Danang. We pre-booked a hostel just a few kilometers from the airport. We booked a pretty kick-ass resort for the bulk of our time in Danang, but didn’t want to pay for a night we’d hardly actually utilize. So it was a $30 hostel for the arrival night with a post-breakfast departure for the resort so we could spend virtually a whole day at the pools.
The rooms at the Fedora Hostel gave us a great place to crash after our late arrival into Danang, We'd stay there again in a second!
The Fedora Hostel was great. Unlike the Hay Hostel in Hanoi, Fedora didn’t have a 6 person bunk room so we had to split up 4 and 2. We still had our own private rooms, just not as a family. The Fedora Hostel was clean and did the trick for us. As part of our $30 stay, Fedora offered a cook-to-order breakfast off their menu, which was a mix of scrambled eggs and noodle dishes. We sampled several and all were really good. After breakfast we “grabbed” a car to the resort. Grab is the SE Asian version of Uber. It’s fast, cheaper than a taxi, and everywhere. And it offers more choices for travelers, because unlike Uber, has a motorbike option if you’re solo and just want to hop on the back of a drive on moped (helmet included). On a moto you can go about 20-30km for about $2. Not too shabby if you’re traveling with backpacks and want a little extra adventure!
When we showed up at the resort we knew we struck gold. The resort was gorgeous the moment you stepped into the lobby. A wall of windows looked out to the pool and the beach in the distance. And I say distance, because the pool is a 240m lap pool that leads into the main infinity pool at the beach. I tried swimming one lap and didn’t make it very far. Very humbling. I always thought I’d be able to do one lap in a pool, but being the length of about 2 ½ football fields, it got the best of me. We had no trouble finding pool chairs or space to move in the enormous pool, because for some reason, counting us, there were only about 10 people total in the pool area. And we dug that!
240 meters of pure cooling bliss! (And the longest lap pool in all of Indochina.) When you're done with the lap pool you can just swim into the infinity pool at the beach, which is a gigantic pool in itself. We spent many hours in the submerged loungers.
We booked two rooms to hold our crew, and with Caren and me both being Starwood (Sheraton) Platinum members, we got upgraded to their suites which gave us extra kitchen, dining room, and living room space for the family to stretch out and enjoy. This is also key, because on long trips like this, even with some of the meals being so inexpensive, we like to make some meals in the room from a supermarket run. Nothing like living like a local with the food prep! But we also used our Platinum status to get free breakfasts in the hotel's buffet which was a spread like I hadn’t seen before. We spent some time talking to the head of the food and beverage at the resort and the executive chef, and to cater to all the international travelers from the west and throughout Asia, their buffet has traditional breakfast dishes (heading from left to right/east to west) of Chinese, SE Asia, Korea, Japan, American, and Western European breakfast choices, along with a fresh-pressed juice bar with pre-made (watermelon, pineapple, and others) or made-to-order for those seeking something a little healthy. And the coffee bar was to die for. We thought the egg coffee in Hanoi rocked (which it did), but the Vietnamese coffee the buffet served up was something out of this world. It’s a dark coffee mixed with a sweetened condensed milk, which gives it an unbelievable taste. It’s served hot or cold, but based on the heat, we took this one (and the next several in rapid succession) cold.
Our daily activities consisted of pool tricks...
....games in our living room....
...and sampling the massive breakfast buffet. The choices were difficult between the pancake station, sushi bar, or juice bar.
In the end, we barely went into Danang except for a grocery run for food, drinks, snacks, and pool floaties. Because everyone needs a pool floatie to try and go the full 240m, right? Plus I’m sure we’ll deflate them, strap them to our bags, and bring them the rest of the journey. We may need them again. Danang may have had some cool things to offer, but we couldn’t pass up the chance to just chill at the resort, swim, read, and play some card games once the sun went down. I mean, once here, why leave? So Danang did its job admirably, because we’ve got a string of heavy sightseeing cities coming up as we spend the last part of our week in central Vietnam and then begin heading west into Cambodia.