We’ve finally slowed down to the pace of sloths at the Anam and find it dangerously seductive. Maybe we will never be able to speed up to normal life-pace again. However, that hasn’t prevented me from observing some of the quirks of the place.
At two years old, this is a relatively new resort and not part of a big international chain. Rather than having a strict hiring and training policy the management plucks staff from here and there, often from LinkedIn on the Internet. While politeness and helpfulness are prerequisites, a command of English isn’t. Miscommunications and lack of staff coordination have brought some hilarious outcomes.
For instance, last night at the free guzzlethon hour at the beach club I ordered a gin and tonic from one young waiter and while he was away getting it another two asked what I was waiting for. Even though I explained I had ordered with the first one, I promptly got three G&Ts. The same thing happened with my spaghetti arrabiata – for which I requested extra chilli. Three different waiters, plus the manager, all went and told the chef to add chilli, and when it arrived, I could see it glowing from across the deck. I needed all the gin and tonics to put out the fire.
On Trip advisor, one contributor tells how he ordered up a surprise 19th wedding anniversary room for his incoming wife and when he threw open the door it was empty. Because of a problem in understanding numbers they’d put the decorations in a room in another block.
Down at the beach yesterday the peace and quiet was broken by the yells of a drowning man. Apart from his bellowing it was hard to take him seriously because he was standing in waist deep water near one of the floating markers that tell swimmers to venture no further. The two young lifeguards, suitably attired in official yellow lifeguard wear with impressive signage, ran down to the water, one holding a polystyrene flotation device above his head like a trophy. There was no indication that the lifeguards could swim either, because they were able to wade out to the drowning man and walk him back to the beach. Wondering what all the fuss was about I asked one of the heroes the next day what had happened. After I repeated my question three times slowly, like an elocution lesson, he looked at me for a long time, giggled to his colleague, and said “the sun benches all use up, sir.” Somebody later suggested that the drowning man had become tangled in the rope that tethered the marker which had been placed there to prevent drowning. I’ll never know.
Another water hazard concerns our private swimming pools. While you jump in, there is no ladder for you to get back out. There are basic steps at one end, but many people would find the rise too high to manage. To get out you must either have extra powerful legs in good working order or slowly propel yourself, snail-like, across the steps and up over the top.
Priority personal transport
VIP transport is important to Anam. Occupants of cheap rooms are taken there by electric car, but if you are about to move into an expensive space you are transported by elevated bicycle chair peddled by an on-staff, ex-Olympian cyclist who once rode for Vietnam.
Second hotel toaster report
I knew that in order to get five stars, a hotel had to have two washbasins in the bathrooms. What I didn’t know was that it also had to have two toasters. I found the second one today when we made use of the smaller, upmarket breakfast room. This toaster was the daughter of the big one in the main breakfast room. Called a Justa (short for justanothertoaster) it has narrow hips and long skinny legs – like women to whom I am not attracted. A chip off the old block, the Justa is ponderously slow but convulsively expels the toast into the front of the arrival tray – which is more than I can say for its mum.
I’ve had a bad hair holiday. Before leaving home I used my usual conditioner which has been known to bring out the hidden tints. But when its chemicals were combined with the resort’s shampoo and the salt water of the South China Sea an unexpected and unwelcome chemical reaction took place. I’ve now got a puce/copper head of hair. Even the massage girl was mystified by it. She tried pulling on it, thinking it was a wig. I may have to reintroduce myself to friends when I get home, especially to Tim Littlemore, who is always concerned about my hair colour. (I now expect Littlemore to come out of retirement and make a comment).
I know I have a bit of an obsession with things going wrong. I have a weakness for recounting them. But a lot more goes right, as it does at the Anam. This is a beautifully designed five-star resort, with unparalleled expanses of the best lawn I have ever seen, an outstanding beach, friendly staff that try very hard to give good service, a spa with high quality massage, and plenty of shady places to sit and take in the relaxing warmth. Michelle suggested that a better way the launch the resort would have been to lease it to an experienced hotel group for the first five years – because that’s what it lacks: professionalism. One day soon they’ll get it right, but in the meantime the deals it is offering on the likes of Luxury Escapes and Credo are good value for money – as long as you tailor the offer to suit you and you don’t expect outstanding food or cheap drinks.