Wyndham Chooses Halong Bay for its First Hotel in Vietnam
Photo courtesy of Wyndham Hotels
Halong Bay is one of the main attractions in Vietnam. Just a few short years ago, this bay, which has around 2,000 islands featuring towering limestone rock formations, was a target for budget backpackers, rock climbers and regional tourists. Now, the classical-painting-like scenery draws hundreds of thousands of sightseers.
Cruise companies, some with fleets of boats decked out to look like classic junks, offer hour-long or days-long trips through the area, which has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Travelers can even spend the night on some of the larger islands in the bay.
Success brings crowds
Actually, this is one of those destinations that could turn out to be a disappointment for some tourists. People come here expecting an idyllic frozen-in-time place, but they are confronted by crowded cruise ships, aggressive touts and generic hotels.
For many, the crowds are not an issue. Most tourists consider Halong Bay as necessary to a proper Vietnam travel itinerary as the Eiffel Tower is to a stay in Paris.
A new marketplace for upscale hotels
Like other popular destinations, one of the best ways to get away from the crowds in Halong Bay is to opt for a premium experience. High-end cruises and four-star hotels make it possible to avoid a disappointingly crowded stay in Halong.
Higher-end spots like the Halong Paradise Suites provide cruise itineraries for their guests. This is an example of a place that caters to older travelers and families instead of to the backpacker set that once dominated the tourism industry here.
Wyndham enters Vietnam (a little later than the competition)
One of the world’s largest hotel brands, Wyndham, has seen the need for upscale hotels in Vietnam in general, and Halong Bay in particular. The hospitality giant is teaming up with a local tourism investment firm to create the Wyndham Legend Halong. Not only will this be the first major joint hotel venture involving a US company in Halong Bay, it will also be Wyndham’s first foray into the Vietnamese marketplace.
The Legend will have 217 rooms, conference facilities, a gym, a fitness center with pool and a full service spa. It is already under construction and slated to open in early 2016.
Actually, Wyndham has arrived a little late to the party. Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) is now awash with big name hotels. Marriott operates the Renaissance Riverside. Pullman, Sofitel and Hyatt have centrally-located properties in the city as well. A room at the InterContinental Asiana is as coveted as a reservation at Saigon classics like the Rex, Continental and Caravelle.
Finding the right niche
Wyndham is getting in on the ground floor in Halong. They will be entering the local marketplace as one of the premiere hotels, rather than just being “one of the crowd” in Downtown Ho Chi Minh. And, while Halong might be tapped out as a budget travel destination, there is probably still plenty of room for its upscale market to grow.
Furthermore, Halong is near two of Northern Vietnam’s largest cities, Haiphong and Hanoi, the country’s capital. Foreign hospitality investment in these cities hasn’t been as aggressive as it has been in Ho Chi Minh City, which is considered the economic hub of the country. There is room for Wyndham to grow in this part of Vietnam.
It remains to be seen if Wyndham opens more properties in the country in the future. As relations between the U.S. and the Southeast Asian nation warm to new levels of friendliness, American hotel brands might have the inside track when it comes to entering new markets in Vietnam.
More by Josh Lew
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