HUE, Vietnam — Vietnam’s imperial capital finally has a boutique hotel fit for royalty.
Last month, Alba Spa Hotel opened in the heart of Hue with an array of elegant rooms and noble opportunities for budget-conscious guests.
In addition to spa treatments designed in collaboration with renowned spa guru Florence Jaffre (founder of famed Ytsara of Thailand), the chic, 58-room downtown escape offers a 16.5-square-meter Jacuzzi that is flanked on three sides by lush vertical gardens and partitioned into hot- and cold-water sections.
The Jacuzzi is filled with natural mineral water that originates deep inside the Earth. Heated by volcanic magma and enriched in magnesium, calcium and phosphorus while traveling through layers under the Truong Sen Mountain Range, it springs out in a natural cradle 30 kilometers north of Hue, where it is cautiously harnessed before being transported to the hotel.
“It’s not your every-day spa feature,” said Hijaaz Latheef, Alba Spa Hotel’s general manager. “It’s rare to find a hot-water Jacuzzi and cold plunge-pool set-up like this.
“But it wasn’t built to make people say, ‘Wow, that’s interesting.’ It was built for the same reason people have been going to hot springs for centuries — for the health benefits. Heat helps to our relax muscles and rid our bodies of toxins, while cold stimulates and invigorates. Our mission is to offer a wellness experience unlike any other, and having both (hot and cold) options underscores that.”
Alba Spa Hotel was designed by French Vietnamese Architects (FVA), whose use of bamboo, granite and tile is artfully woven into a variety of spaces including the airy lobby and bright restaurant.
But the primary inspirational element is, of course, water, which is creatively illustrated on each room’s main wall through an arrangement of colorful plates that hang in a way that makes them resemble bubbles.
The hotel also uses water — Alba Mineral Water, in fact — to nurture the Vietnamese plants and flowers that grow in the organic garden and to enhance the natural skin-care solutions used in the exotic spa treatments.
“There’s no question water is the resounding ingredient here,” said Latheef. “We want guests to feel that from the moment they arrive.”
The eight-storey urban retreat also features a spacious meeting room and will eventually offer a rooftop bar with panoramic views of Hue, the seat of power in Vietnam from 1802-1945.
The hotel is owned and operated by Openasia Group, a Hong Kong-based investment firm whose business interests range from aeronautics and information technology to luxury retail and hospitality.
Other properties in its portfolio include Emeraude Classic Cruises Halong Bay and The Press Club Hanoi.