Legendary hotelier, Adrian Zecha, the founder of Aman Resorts, has a new venture in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. Located within the city of Can Tho, a booming metropolis of around 1.2 million inhabitants, the resort is set on a private, tree-shaded, 8-acre island, to which guests are transferred by speedboat. Centered on a huge lotus pond and a spectacular 100-foot swimming pool, Azerai is a haven of serenity. It seems impossible that you are so close to the center of a major city. Guests either walk or cycle around the property, which comprises a series of elegant pavilions, some open-sided, others enclosed by glass. These are widely spaced and set amid trimmed lawns dotted with palms and banyan trees. Zecha’s stated intention was to create an Aman-like resort at a more modest price point. There are 60 accommodations at Azerai, approximately twice the number at a typical Aman property and their dimensions are relatively modest at around 375 square feet. The refined minimalist aesthetic is entirely familiar, however, with expanses of local hardwood, rattan, bamboo and a color palette of creams and grays.
Traditionally, Can Tho was the entrepôt of the Mekong Delta, and even today it is famous for its Cai Rang floating market, where each morning farmers from far afield bring their agricultural produce — pineapples, melons, garlic, radishes — to sell or exchange. Once, such markets were common on the rivers of Southeast Asia, but they are fast disappearing. Cai Rang is among the largest and most authentic of those that remain. It is located about 20 minutes by riverboat from Azerai Can Tho.