Saturday, 14 August 2010
The Charm and Challenges of Danang
On the Vietnam Airlines plane, we each get a bottle of water and nothing more, which probably explains why the aircraft is pretty clean. Every two hours there is a flight from either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh to Danang, each filled with a good portion of foreigners and locals.
I last visited Danang 13 years ago when they started opening up the place to capitalism, and also development to build the city into a resort town.
One of the first resorts to open was the Furama Resort Danang and it's still basically the only international hotel there. Others are trying to catch up, but construction has been delayed for two possible reasons: the global economic crisis or investors trying to sell the land instead of making a long-term investment into building a resort on the property.
The best part of the city is its gorgeous beach, with very fine sand and pretty much clear waters. All the resorts (and the ones being built) are all lined up next to each other on what was formerly known as China Beach. It was there, particularly in front of the Furama Resort Danang, that there was an evacuation hospital and rest and recreation area for American soldiers.
However, there are efforts to try to erase this wartime image and just called it the "beach" than its nickname. Hotel brochures have even used a marker to black out "China" and left "beach" and hotel staff don't refer it to its American name either.
Nevertheless, once you're in your resort you don't really want to leave the property. The pool draws people throughout the day and a view of the beach from there is like being in an oasis.
Many resorts are trying to cash in on Danang, but few having much success. There's empty lots next to the Furama, the Hyatt advertising its residences, Le Meridien has posted up signs marking where it will be, but no construction in sight. One place called Olalani has structures already built, but construction was abandoned two years ago. I've heard investors have pledged to finish the project, but with no action on the property, it's hard to gauge if this will really happen or not.
Construction is slow in Vietnam, and it's understandable with the oppressive heat and people's attitudes that things will be done eventually.
But unless these projects are completed, Danang cannot build itself into a viable resort destination for both locals and foreigners alike.