By Linh Le

Principal & Co-Founder at LUXPERIA DMC COLLECTIVE

When it comes to recalling the memory of a destination, little does one think about the price paid for the trip. We recall the type of room/s we had, the style of the hotel or resort, and the memorable tastes we enjoyed from that region. As a Destination Management Company, LUXPERIA is responsible for the creation of these memories. We connect the dots of how to get there and where to sleep while tailoring the tour to the tastes of the travellers. Frequently, we work with management from top resorts to curate experiences that include a diverse range of activities and flavours. We ensure that every taste sampled within a journey is distinctly unique and culturally fitting for the region. The latter appeals to those who are sustainably-minded because food is prepared using local produce and seasonal ingredients whilst also supporting local businesses. 

The ultimate goal of any travel professional should be to make voyages as logistically easy as possible while fulfilling individual needs. Creating the perfect cultural and culinary memories is that little extra something that transforms a trip from a vacation into an immersive experience. If there’s anything I’ve learnt from the recent period in time, it’s that life is too short to waste on a bad bottle of wine/meal/night of accommodation.

The Market for New Immersive Experiences in Hospitality

Whilst providing the essential needs for shelter and food, hotels and resorts must also compete in an age where adding value to their offerings can create strategic gains. An example of this is creating a better user experience. Taking the technical term aside, the better the experience of the traveller, the higher the probability of referrals, recommendations, and the all-appealing 5-star review online. 

Here in Vietnam, we are seeing a strong recovery and due to the Government’s stance on protecting its people, the country is set to have one of the fastest adoption rates for new travelers in 2022 and beyond. In February, the Hanoi Times reported “analytical data from Google Destination Insights dedicates that the number of international searches about Vietnam tourism is on an upward trend. The country is the fastest-growing destination globally among the list of “Top Growth by Destination Country” with a growth rate of over 75%.” 

In terms of recovering from the pandemic, Vietnam (and the greater region) is on track for a positive rebound. In concert with this is the appeal for travelers to seek their own recovery by investing in new experiences that serve the purpose of stimulating better well-being. Obviously, the idea of well-being has been around for a long time via retreats and educational travel, but nowadays, hotels and resorts are also offering valuable touches that indulge all the senses from sound, site, touch, smell and taste. 

Culinary Voyages through Local Flavors 

Amanoi combines the Sanskrit-derived word for ‘peace’ with noi, meaning ‘place’ in Vietnamese. This contemporary beachside resort certainly lives up to its peaceful name, nestled as it is within the Nui Chua National Park UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Guests can either book a villa featuring a private pool or a residence with up to five bedrooms. All Villas and Residences include magnificent views and unfold from the hilltop infinity pool and its central pavilion, where all public spaces are homed.

Beyond the resort, Amanoi also offers a local home-grown dining experience in the neighbouring village: dinner at the home of a local resident, Ong Bay. 

Within a family-style setting, guests are introduced to an authentic slice of Vietnamese life. A Vietnamese dinner is served in the house where Ong Bay’s family have been fishermen for many generations. While guests dine, they are introduced to local seafood delicacies and learn about how the local fishermen have begun adopting new ways to sustainably fish.   

How to get there: After a short flight to Cam Ranh, visitors will travel 1.5 hours by car to the resort located in the Vinh Hai Commune of Ninh Thuan Province. 

For guests who are truly looking to add top-of-the-class style culinary inclusions in their travel itineraries, we rely on the ‘taste experts’. 

Moving regionally to another contender in the growing market for culinary and experiential inclusive travel, we discover one of LUXPERIA collective members, Siem Reap-based Founder of Taste Siem Reap, Evi-Elli La Valle. 

Consider an evening excursion that utilises tuk-tuks and English-speaking drivers who are also trained as concierge hotel staff (by day) and local culinary guides (by night). Guests are led from one exquisite location to the next—a physical journey that is also a journey for the tastebuds. 

My personal favourite excursion includes three of the most highly-rated restaurants in Siem Reap. The guests will experience a progressive dinner with a starter, main course and dessert in three different locations while engaging with top chefs who (between them) have worked with the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay. 

Celebrity-led referrals such as Bourdain and Ramsay are the original ‘influencers’ for food-inspired travels. It’s because of this publicity that Michelin-starred street food was able to rise up in cities like Singapore and Bangkok. 

Chef Jay Fai in downtown Bangkok operates with her famous ski goggle glasses and serves a crab omelette streetside that inspired many of my own Covid creations during the lockdown. A must for all travellers to Thailand’s capital, I would pair the local experience with a stay at the luxury riverside destination The Siam. The Siam is a Bill Bensley-designed urban retreat that lends its design to a modern take on colonial-inspired luxury and the best of yesteryear—its massive collection of curated antiques styled across every room and public space in the resort.  

Those of you who follow architecture and design in the world of hospitality are likely familiar with the Bensley name and style: eclectic, adventurous, romantic, and whimsical are some of the adjectives I would use to describe his interiors. Bensley has emerged as a prolific designer and artist for many great resorts across Asia. With this following, he too has become an influencer for travellers from around the world, inspiring them to stay at the resorts that his firm has designed. These include Bensley Collection Shinta Mani Wild (Cambodia), One & Only Maldives, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, and the latest in Vietnam, Capella Hanoi.

In my world of designing travel, I’ve learned that it’s possible to fulfil the needs of every sophisticated palette, whether guests are looking to be the first to stay at a newly design-focused resort or are more interested in chasing a new flavour. Since coming back full-time to LUXPERIA with the goal of creating tailored experiences that go far beyond simply offering a bed and breakfast, we’ve noticed that the post-pandemic world of travel is lined with countless opportunities to fulfil the niche interests of every type of traveller. Now that our borders are open, let’s go… 

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Tim Burrill
Membership Manager & Executive Assistant
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