Two Vietnamese hotels boast world’s best spas

Two hotels in Vietnam have been ranked among the five that have the best hotel spas in the world by readers of the US Travel&Leisure Magazine, the world’s leading travel guides, articles and information.

In the list, the Nam Hai in central Quang Nam province’s Hoi An town comes in fourth while the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is positioned fifth.

Besides, the Nam Hai is also ranked 12th in the Best Resorts in Asia. The Metropole is named in two other categories, finishing 52nd in the Top 100 Hotels and fifth among the Best City Hotels in Asia.

Also in the category of the Best City Hotels in Asia, the Park Hyatt Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City is listed in the 17th.

Spa rankings are based on readers’ ratings for ambience, treatment packages, service and its value, and facilities, while hotel rankings are based on ratings for rooms/facilities, location, service and its value, and restaurants/food.

The honours are part of the 2013 World’s Best Awards, the 18th annual event by the Travel&Leisure, which is one of the magazines holding the world’s biggest number of readers.

The results will be announced on the magazine’s August issue, to go on sale on July 19.

Vietnam increasingly popular with Russian tourists

Vietnam’s tourism sector sees Russia as a potential market when an increasing number of Russian tourists are choosing Vietnam as a holiday destination.

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the country welcomed over 100,000 arrivals from Russia in 2012, and the number is expected to rise to 350,000 by 2015.

In June 2013, more than 17,000 Russian tourists arrived in Vietnam, bringing the total number visiting the country to almost 154,000 in the first six months of 2013, a year-on-year increase of 60 percent.

Nguyen Manh Cuong, VNAT Deputy Director said the number of package tours bought by Russians in recent years has increased sharply.

He said Russian tourists tended to choose tours to resorts and beaches, where they enjoy participating in water sports such as water-skiing, jet skiing, sailing and scuba diving.

However, except for popular beaches such as Nha Trang and Danang in central Vietnam and Phan Thiet and Phu Quoc in the south, he said that other famous destinations such as Halong, Sapa , Ninh Binh and Hue are failing to attract Russian tourists.

Experts said that it is necessary to create a link between tourist sites across the country in order to offer more choices to Russian holiday-makers.

They added that the country’s travel agencies should develop new tours to neighboring countries such Laos, Cambodia and Thailand to raise the attractiveness of their tourism deals.

 Da Lat Flower Festival to highlight Truong Sa Archipelago

Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago will be highlighted at the 5th Da Lat Flower Festival that will take place from December 27-31.

The Island, the sovereignty landmark and the red flag with a gold star will be made of stone and flowers at the festival, contributing to highlighting Vietnam's sovereignty over the Islands and Sea.

The 5th Da Lat Flower Festival will mark the 120th anniversary of the establishment of Da Lat City. It is an important event for the region as not only does it highlight the beauty of Da Lat flowers, it also will boost tourism, the local flower growing industry, and honor the popular resort town.

It will act as a base for local and international flower lovers, farmers, local and foreign flower businesses, to share experiences and seek trade opportunities.

The event will present to national and international visitors a vast variety of flowers along with many cultural activities, such as flower exhibitions, music performances, fashion shows, seminar on flowers, a night wine festival and a New Year fireworks display.

The festival was organized for the first time in 2005 and is subsequently held every two years.

Operators offer cash prizes to drum up travel demand

Many travel firms have resorted to a range of promotional tactics, especially offering attractive prizes such as cash, diamonds and motorcycles, to avert a travel slump.

Free tours and hospitality services, and inexpensive gifts like raincoats and crash helmets are no longer used as baits to boost tour sales. Instead, tour operators have deployed more practical programs with higher prize values.

Many tourism services companies in HCMC like Du Lich Viet, Vietravel, Ben Thanh Tourist, Fiditourist and Saigontourist have launched promotion programs in which those buying tours can enter lucky draws for cash, diamonds or motorbikes.

“Customers prefer cash prizes because they can find it hard to manage time to join free tours after their travels,” said Doan Thi Thanh Tra, marketing manager of Saigontourist Travel Service Company.

Following the success of a similar program in the 2013 Lunar New Year, Saigontourist this summer is putting on cash prizes totaling VND100 million. The company initially printed 80,000 sweepstake tickets and has recently printed an additional 20,000.

Meanwhile, Fiditourist lures tourists with a scratch game. Tourists are given a number of scratch cards proportional to the sum they spend to win instant prizes.

This program began in April and will last until September, with a total prize value of VND2 billion. The highest award is VND50 million.

“In a sweepstake, customers must wait, but in a scratch game, they know results immediately, making them excited and eager for more. The program is very effective,” said Tran Thi Bao Thu, marketing director of Fiditourist.

Community-based tourism lures visitors to Hue

Holidaymakers to the central province of Thua Thien–Hue can now engage in community-based tours besides the must-have visits to royal relic sites in the ancient imperial city of Hue.

Among the newly-launched tours, tourists can visit communal and ancient worshipping houses, go rowing, try their hands at making conical hats, wrap “Tet” cakes and taste local specialties, all included in a trip to Thuy Thanh commune, Huong Thuy township.

This tour has been jointly developed by the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Another new destination is A Luoi district, where visitors can cycle around Aka-Achi hamlet in A Roang commune, enjoy local cuisine, build campfires, bathe in hot springs and join local people in singing and dancing.

Museums which keep tens of thousands of valuable objects depicting Hue’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage have also attracted a growing flow of tourists.

The province hosts the Ho Chi Minh Museum, Museum of History and Revolution, Hue Royal Antiquities Museum, Hue Cultural Museum, Diem Phung Thi Art Exhibition House, Le Ba Dang Art Centre and Tran Dinh Son private museum, which offer tourists with insights into the history and culture of the ancient city.

According to Huynh Dinh Ket, Director of Hue Cultural Museum, the museums receive about 250,000 visitors each year.

In the first six months of this year, Thua Thien–Hue received nearly 1.5 million tourists, earning over 1.2 trillion VND. The locality wants to welcome 2.5 million visitors this year.

Air China launches HCM City route

Air China, China's flagship air carrier, has announced it will launch a new air route between HCM City and Houston via Beijing on July 11.

There will be four round-trip flights on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday using new generation Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, making Houston the company's fifth gateway in North America, in addition to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.

Houston has the third-largest Vietnamese community in the US, with more than 60,000 Vietnamese people and Vietnamese-Americans.

On the occasion, the airline has also launched a promotion, offering one-way tickets at $370, excluding taxes and fees.

Summer escape package at Sunrise Hoi An Beach Resort

Escape to the luxurious haven of Sunrise Hoi An Beach Resort and indulge in myriad of activities, with minutes from Vietnam’s most picturesque town of Hoi An.

As an ideal destination for both couples and families, Sunrise Hoi An Beach Resort consists of 222 luxurious rooms, suites and beachfront villas boasting comfortable, open, contemporary features.

The resort is offering summer package package from May 1 to September 30, including two nights accommodation for two persons, daily breakfast, one set lunch/dinner, airport shuttle bus.

The special rate starts from VND5.691 million. A 15 per cent discount on best available rate for the third night and 10 per cent discount on recreation and spa.