Why La Residence Is One of Vietnam’s Top Hotels

Ten years ago, in the fall of 2005, this hotel opened with a dream common to many hotels: That we would not just be another pretty property in a pretty place, but that we would make a name for ourselves worldwide.

10-Year Anniversary at MGallery La Residence Hue Hotel & Spa 2015

The early returns were good. One of the top-two travel magazines in the English-speaking world, Condé Nast Traveler, lauded the hotel on its Hot List. And Andrew Harper identified us a Grand Award Winner in his Hideaway Report. The auspices were good.

And we have lived up to the promise of those early days, Condé Nast Traveler has recognized the hotel in its Readers Choice Awards in 2014 and 2015 and Travel + Leisure has recognized the hotel on its T+L 500 list in the same years. These two awards are the two most respected by the international audience that we’ve captured, and La Residence is only one of four hotels in Vietnam to be on both lists.

La Residence Team Celebrates Its 13th Place in Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice for Top 15 Hotels in Southeast Asia (Not Including Singapore & Bangkok)

Why is this? - friends and family asked me over Tet, the Lunar New Year, as we chatted about the year that was and the year to come. I have been thinking a lot about this, and I think there are three reasons worth sharing.
First, we knew what we didn’t know, and now we know what we know. Over the past 20 years, as the hospitality industry has come into the international mainstream in Vietnam, I’ve noticed a common problem in our industry, and it’s this: We don’t know what we don’t know. All too often in Vietnam, when we don’t know something, we will not seek outside expertise from those who do know - how to build an airline terminal, for example, or how to merchandise product, or how to furnish a room. We do know how to appeal to a local audience, but we are trying to build an international audience in Vietnam. Instead of seeking outside help, too many hotels put pink table-cloths on dining tables and fluorescent light tubes in guest rooms, and we think because it’s no problem for the local market, it’s no problem for the foreign tourist. But that has been a big problem. They don’t have to understand us. We have to understand them, and what they want. We had to understand what our guests valued (quality, attention to detail), and we had to deliver that day in and day out. When we developed this hotel, the owners sought a foreign partner. The local ownership said to the foreign partner, who is also a part-owner, you know what foreigners want. Do it. Apple Tree Group did it, and voila, we have La Residence — a hotel that is today locally managed but that understands the foreign traveler intimately.

Second, location, location, location. This is a phrase that real estate people in the West use a lot to talk about the three most important things about real estate. They are all the same thing: location, location, location. See the story here.  Look at the pool, look at the grounds, and the wild riverside garden, and you see that our setting is like something out of a storybook. And I believe that we have an incredible phong thuy (feng shui). The Nguyen Emperors used phong thuy to build their city, and the same kind of magic has been worked on this hotel, too. So many guests have said this to me: This place just feels right. You cannot buy that. It is something magical. Our peaceful, relaxing ambiance is perfectly in tune with the city of Hue.

La Residence Hue Colonial Garden

And third, Art Deco. The bones, or the foundation of this hotel are very, very strong. At the heart of the hotel is an Art Deco masterpiece that was built in 1930s as a guest house for the colonial French governor of Vietnam. People love this style. It evokes a certain dreamy nostalgia. We built two annexes to the mansion, and the annexes look as if they have been here as long as the mansion. At the same time people travel through space on holiday, from Sydney, let’s say, to Hue, they also hope to be able to travel a little bit through time. The hotel’s principal designer, Brigitte Dumont de Chassart, is a Parisian who built on the art deco bones of this building with art deco decor that helps people to journey back in time.

Lobby Entrance of La Residence Hue

At La Residence, we continue invest in all of these attributes. We seek experts when we need them; we celebrate the destination; and we continue to invest in the dreamy nostalgia evoked by this property.

By Phan Trong Minh, General Manager La Residence Hotel & Spa