Life Resorts Junks Launch with Overnight License

    150 150 Daniel Fountain
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    Steering toward a more personalized cruise experience, the first of Life Resorts’ fleet of 22 heritage junks took to the waters of Ha Long Bay on overnight trips starting Oct. 5.

    After a month of introductory single-night cruises during the resort’s soft opening, Life Heritage Resort Ha Long Bay plans to make multiple-night voyages available in time for its grand opening Nov. 4.

    During the grand opening celebrations, a group of top travel and tour operators, government officials and local media will dine at the marina, and then experience the Life Resorts fleet during a Ha Long Bay cruise the following day.

    Each 13-meter heritage junk is up to date with the most modern maritime safety and emergency features. Every boat maintains direct contact with on-shore emergency services 24 hours a day, and is manned by a dedicated, three-person crew.

    The floating, four-star resort also runs six and four-hour day cruises, as well as wedding photo cruises for couples. Day cruises depart at 11 a.m., while overnight cruises sail at noon and return at 10 a.m. the following day.

    Whether cruising by the hour or the day, passenger preference guides the itinerary aboard the upscale vessels. Upon departure, guests are given the freedom to set their own course by selecting from a ‘menu’ of attractions in the bay.

    “With Life, guests custom-design their trip, choosing where they want to go,” said Chris Duffy, group general director of Life Resorts. “Your crew lets you do what you wish, when you wish, for the most bespoke experience on the bay.”

    Day cruises begin with a leisurely check in at Life Resorts’ private land-based hub at Tuan Chau Island. Crews consist of a captain, engineer and cruise host, who acts as butler to the passengers.

    Inside, each junk boasts a fully-furnished 32-square-metre cabin featuring local Vietnamese touches, carved hardwood detailing and wide panoramic windows opening onto the limestone karst formations of Ha Long Bay. Each vessel is 13 metres in length with a 4.5 metre beam and powered by a WEICHAI engine with maximum speed of 10 knots.

    Life’s private vessels include a separate lounging area, and the cabin features an en suite bathroom, air conditioning and heating, and is outfitted with an LCD television, CD/DVD player and an assortment of board games.

    Sun beds for two await on the upper deck, while below, guests can unwind in their own private, timber-style cabin. For the more energetic, the boat’s kayaks, snorkeling equipment and fishing gear are all complimentary with the cruise.

    Anytime throughout the trip, guests can dine on freshly-prepared cuisine while taking in the sights from the covered dining terrace. A wide spectrum of international wines and chilled beverages are available on board. Guests can also select favorite dishes and drinks from Life Resort’s international menu and wine list prior to sailing.

    Once out on the water, sailing through the maze of islands, the boats cruise past floating fish markets, call on hidden grottos, anchor off secluded beaches and simply sail gently beneath the sleeping dragons of a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.

    General Director Chris Duffy said that besides offering first-rate amenities on a historic Vietnamese craft, it is the customizable aspect of the cruises, set against a backdrop of one of the most stunning locations on the planet, which makes the Life cruise a once in a lifetime experience.

    “We don’t ‘rush’ guests around. Some may opt to visit the famous caves or beaches, but if the guests want to avoid the tourist crowd, we sail past and away,” said Duffy. “And when guests wish to be alone, the whole boat is theirs to do so.”

    A collaborative venture between Life Resorts Vietnam and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs under its Cooperation for Emerging Markets Program, Life Heritage Resort Ha Long Bay is the first project of its kind to be partly financed by the Dutch Government with the goal of stimulating growth and sustainable development in the country.

    The Life Resorts’ fleet has been designed and maintained according to the highest international safety standards. In addition to its recently approved overnight license, the resort has earned compliance with strict new Vietnamese marine regulations.

    Daniel Fountain / 18.10.2011

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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