Travel Weekly Magazine Journalist Mark Edward Harris calls La Residence Hotel & Spa 'a world-class property' in Hue
Kenya tourism plots a path back after violence 6
Travel Corp. brands returning to Egypt 7
[ CDC WARNS THAT CHIKUNGUNYA VIRUS IS SPREADING FROM CARIBBEAN ]
Tourism vector: Mosquitos and
travelers spread viral infection
By Gay Nagle Myers
A nasty bug with a big bite that
infects victims with a painful and
untreatable virus has been spread-
ing rapidly through the Caribbean
region and now is making its way
into the U.S. and other countries.
Although the disease is mosquito-borne,
it is spread by travelers returning to their
homes from countries where they have been
infected by a bite of the Aedes mosquito,
which transmits the chikungunya virus, or
chik-V for short. (The name, pronounced
chik-en-GUN-ya, translates from the Ki-
makonde language of Mozambique as “that
which bends up.”)
The viral disease was discovered in Tanza-
nia in 1952.
Most people infected with chik-V become
doubled over with severe joint pain, a fever,
a rash and fatigue. The symptoms, while not
fatal, can last for weeks.
The current outbreak was first reported
in St. Martin last December, then quickly
spread to seven other Caribbean islands.
It has now has been detected on 29 is-
lands. More than 175,000 cases have been re-
ported in the Caribbean, 5,000 of which have
Within U.S. territory, 88 cases have been
confirmed in 23 states, Puerto Rico and the
U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the Centers
for Disease Control (CDC).
All Western Hemisphere cases reported
outside of the region involved travelers who
had recently returned from Caribbean islands.
Disney’s ‘Frozen’ is sending tourists
packing for Norway, operators report
By Michelle Baran
Not even Disney’s legendary marketing prow-
ess could have produced (or anticipated) the
overwhelming success of its animated film
“Frozen” — or the subsequent surge in travel
to Norway it has spurred.
“We have seen buzz before resulting from a
book or film, most notably the rush to Ever-
est after [Jon] Krakauer’s ‘Into Thin Air’ was
published, but never anything quite like this,”
said Barbara Banks, director of marketing
and new trip development for Wilderness
Banks said that following the release of
“Frozen” in November, the company’s Nor-
way products were 90% sold out before
spring even rolled in. She personally traveled
to Norway in March to create three new itin-
eraries to fill the demand, as well as to add
more departures for the company’s existing
Tour operators like Wilderness Travel have
reported a 20% to 40% increase in sales to
Norway for the 2014 season, according to
VisitNorway, the country’s tourism market-
Virtuoso reported a 65% in increase of
sales to Norway for this summer, and total
arrivals from New York at the international
airport in Oslo for the first quarter of 2014
were up 57% over last year, according to Vis-
While the uptick in business seems aston-
ishing when tied to the success of a single
See FROZEN on Page 50
See MOSQUITO on Page 52
T H E T R A V E L I N D U S T R Y ’ S T R U S T E D V O I C E
W W W . T R A V E L W E E K L Y . C O M J U L Y 7 , 2 0 1 4
INTHEHOTSEAT FAMTRIPS DESTINATION:MEXICO EDITORIAL
Two Air France-KLM executives discuss the
carrier’s $1.3 billion cabin redesign effort. 4
Perillo Tours is offering six nights in Costa
Rica in August, with a choice of excursions. 44
Cirque du Soleil is building a permanent base
for the troupe near a Riviera Maya resort. 42
Common sense and the Constitution pre-
vailed in a ruling on DHS’s no-fly list. 48
W W W . T R A V E L W E E K L Y . C O M J U L Y 7 , 2 0 1 4
With its idyllic beach resorts, championship-caliber golf cours-
es and historical sites, the country has moved past the turmoil
of the last century to make way for a thriving tourism industry.
BY MARK EDWARD HARRIS PAGE 30
Sometimes generalizations derived from
our expertise can trump ‘big data.’ 48
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Bay via kayak.
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There’s nothing unusual about cad-
dies standing next to a bunker. Er-
rant shots are a part of golf. But in
this particular case, along the par-
four sixth hole at the challenging
Montgomerie Links located mid-
way between Hoi An and Danang,
the bunker is made of concrete. The
massive French gun emplacement is a
reminder of Vietnam’s turbulent 20th
century. It would take far more than
a sand wedge to blast out of this relic
of the colonial years.
As Vietnam celebrates the 60th anniversary of the de-
feat of the French at Dien Bien Phu and prepares to mark
the 40th anniversary of the unification of the country in
2015, the Colin Montgomerie-designed golf course and the
nearby Nam Hai beach resort, which opened its doors in
2006, serve as shining examples of just how far the coun-
try has evolved as a tourist destination since the end of the
Vietnam War — or as it is known by the Vietnamese, the
The Nam Hai features 60 one-bedroom villas, 40 two- to
five-bedroom residences with private infinity pools, a spa
made up of eight pavilions built around a lotus pond and
world-class eateries known simply as the Restaurant and
the Beach Restaurant, all designed by Reda Amalou of AW2
Architects in Paris.
All this, combined with a gleaming white-sand beach,
makes it difficult to leave the property. Still, one must ven-
ture forth in a land with so many extraordinary travel op-
Near Nam Hai are the Unesco World Heritage sites of
Hoi An, a canaled town retaining much of its French Co-
lonial architecture, and 30 miles inland, the 1,500-year-old
temple complex of My Son, Vietnam’s version of Cambo-
dia’s Angkor, Myanmar’s Bagan and Thailand’s Ayuthaya.
Dragonair’s new daily route from Hong Kong to Danang
makes for easy access to this central area of Vietnam across
the Pacific on Cathay Pacific Airways’ network.
A leisurely three-hour drive to the northwest is Hue, a
city that brought the Vietnam War into the living rooms
of Americans in 1968, especially with the battle for the city
during the Tet Offensive.Yet here, too, rising from the ashes
of the conflict, is another world-class property, La Resi-
dence Hotel & Spa.
The main building of the resort dates to 1930, when it
was part of the colonial governor’s residence. The Apple Tree
Group led a refurbishment which maintained the interior’s
art deco architecture, opening as La Residence in 2005. Once
again,a world-class restaurant (Le Parfum) and treatments at
Le Spa might tempt many a visitor to stay put, but there are
too many must-dos in this city of 340,000.
On the opposite bank of the Huong (Perfume) River
from Le Residence is the Imperial City, dating to the early
19th century, when Hue was the capital of Vietnam.
Cyclos arranged by the hotel take guests to the gates of
this walled fortress and former palace. Bullet holes and
shell craters in the stone walls, especially around the Cita-
del, are unfortunate souvenirs of the Tet Offensive, which
began in the wee hours of Jan. 31, 1968, when North Viet-
namese army and Viet Cong soldiers launched a coordi-
nated attack on Hue as part of a countrywide assault.
An order for Allied forces to not bomb or shell the city
due to its religious and cultural status was rescinded as
the battle turned into house-to-house and building-to-
building fighting. Out of 160 buildings in the Imperial
City before the battle, only 10 major sites survived. The
W W W . T R A V E L W E E K L Y . C O M J U L Y 7 , 2 0 1 4 31
Clockwise from top left: A woman in traditional Vietnamese garb explores
Hue’s Tu Duc Tomb complex; the Sung Sot Grotto in Halong Bay; a painting
of a Vietnamese child by Joan Baez in the Hotel Metropole Hanoi’s lobby;
Vietnamese spring rolls served at the Beach Restaurant at the Nam Hai beach
See VIETNAM on Page 32
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32 J U L Y 7 , 2 0 1 4 W W W . T R A V E L W E E K L Y . C O M
remaining buildings have been restored and preserved. In
1993 the Imperial City was named a Unesco World Heri-
Spared the brunt of the fighting in Hue is the Tu Duc
Tomb complex with beautiful temples, palaces, pavilions,
courtyards, ponds and gardens. Built between 1814 and
1931, its seven tombs are laid out in accordance with phong
thuy, the ancient Asian art of placement known in China
and the West as feng shui. Hue remained the imperial capi-
tal of the Nguyen Dynasty until 1945.
Saigon, the former capital of South Vietnam, now offi-
cially called Ho Chi Minh City, and Hanoi, former capital
of North Vietnam and now capital of all the country, have
both developed and prospered since 1995, when normal-
ization of diplomatic relations with U.S. ushered in a wave
In the tourism arena, two of the first benefactors were
the legendary hotels Caravelle in Ho Chi Minh City and
Metropole in Hanoi. Following the fall of Saigon in 1975,
the Caravelle had been taken over and renamed the Doc
Lap (Independence) Hotel by the government, and soon
descended into an old Eastern Bloc-feeling property.
But with the normalization of relations with the U.S.
and an infusion of foreign investment, the Caravelle name
was relaunched in 1998 following a complete overhaul. The
renovated original 10-story hotel was joined to architect
Nguyen Van Hoa’s 24-story tower rising into the Ho Chi
Minh City sky, earning endless praise and a five-star rating.
Its Saigon Bar, where so many journalists had swapped
war stories over cocktails at the end of a day in the field, is
once again a center for socializing, this time under much
happier circumstances, with Prada and Vuitton replacing
pens and reporter’s notebooks.
The 364-room (including 22 suites) Sofitel Legend
Metropole Hanoi is one of Asia’s most iconic hotels, be-
coming the first Sofitel property to acquire the status of a
“Legend” hotel in 2009.
Former guests at the hotel, which opened its doors in
1901, include Charlie Chaplin, Somerset Maugham, Gra-
ham Greene and, during the war, Jane Fonda and Joan
Baez. In fact, a painting of a Vietnamese child by Baez grac-
es the Metropole’s lobby. Its restaurants Le Beaulieu, Spices
Garden and Angelina are among the most elegant dining
spots in the capital.
During a renovation of the Metropole’s pool/garden area
in 2011, workers unearthed a wartime concrete air raid
shelter. Rather then burying their past, the hotel embraced
it, offering a Path of History Tour into this time capsule led
by a local historian. The festive poolside atmosphere and
the clamor of the Bamboo Bar located directly above the
bunker stand in stark contrast to this relic of the war.
In addition to the standard stops on a tour of Hanoi,which
include the Temple of Literature, the Ho Chi Minh Mauso-
leum, the Presidential Palace, One Pillar Pagoda and the Hoa
Lo Prison, an early morning stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake
should be a part of any itinerary.No admission ticket is need-
ed to watch the city come alive as its residents warm up for
the day with games of badminton and tai chi routines.
(Hoa Lo Prison was dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton” by
American prisoners of war, including its more notable
“guests”: future senator John McCain and Douglas Peter-
son, the first postwar U.S. ambassador to Vietnam.)
Many of the Metropole’s guests take an overnight train
to Sapa, home to 30 mountain tribes in the northwest re-
gion of the country and/or a cruise in Halong Bay, the top
tourist attraction in Vietnam.
To do the train journey to Sapa in style, the Victoria Ex-
press departs Hanoi six days a week at 9:50 p.m., arriving
in Lao Cai between 8 and 8:30 the following morning. The
train accommodates up to 52 passengers in two luxurious,
air-conditioned sleeping carriages, each with six superior
cabins (four berths) and one deluxe cabin (two berths).
The dining carriage, Le Tonkin, serves both Vietnamese
and Western cuisine and has an excellent selection of wines.
Upon arrival in Lao Cai, prearranged shuttle buses take
visitors another 20 miles through winding roads to Sapa,
which was originally a hill station settled by the French in
1922. At an altitude of 5,413 feet, the town has a cooler cli-
mate than most of Vietnam.
Among the top hotels in Sapa is the four-starVictoria Sapa
Resort & Spa, which operates the Victoria Express. Built as a
traditional mountain chalet, the 77-room property has dra-
matic views of the town below. Due to its proximity to the
Chinese border, hotel guests in Sapa are required to present
their passport and Vietnamese visa upon check-in.
The most popular excursions in Sapa are walking tours
to visit hill-tribe villages such as Lao Chai and Ta Van,
home to Hmong and Dzay people. The scenery itself is
breathtaking, with terraced rice paddies being passed along
the way and Mount Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest point, at
10,311 feet, in the distance.
For the return journey, the Victoria Express departs from
Lao Cai at 8:20 p.m., arriving in Hanoi at 4:45 the follow-
Among the ships that ply the waters of the Unesco World
Heritage Site of Halong Bay is the Emeraude, a century-old
converted paddle steamer celebrating its 10th anniversary
as a well-appointed, three-suite, 34-cabin luxury ship of-
fering overnight cruises. An exploration of Sung Sot (Sur-
prise) Grotto and kayaking around the limestone karsts of
Halong Bay are its top off-boat excursions. In the evening,
a Vietnamese-French fusion buffet dinner is followed by a
top deck open-air projection of the epic French film “In-
Nearby these tranquil waters is the Gulf of Tonkin, where
50 years ago an encounter between an American destroyer,
the USS Maddox, and North Vietnamese torpedo boats
prompted President Lyndon Johnson to ask Congress for a
decree — the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution — to assist South-
east Asian countries whose governments were considered to
be jeopardized by “communist aggression.”
U.S. conventional forces began landing en masse early in
1965 on China Beach near Danang for direct military ac-
tion against the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong.
Five decades after the Gulf of Tonkin incident and antici-
pating next year’s 40th anniversary of the guns falling silent
with the reunification of the country, a united Vietnam,
with a solid infrastructure and willing and able workforce,
continues its march down the tourism path of glory.
Its newest golf resort, the Bluffs Ho Tram Strip Golf
Course designed by Greg Norman, located in the coastal
town of Ho Tram 80 miles southeast of Ho Chi Minh City,
Continued from Page 31
See VIETNAM on Page 34
Clockwise from left: La Terrasse
at the Hotel Metropole Hanoi;
caddies at the Montgomerie
Links course; the pool area at the
Nam Hai beach resort.
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is yet another major step forward.
Norman also designed the Dunes Course at the Danang
Golf Club. The Bluffs golf course, which opened in March,
is one of the few championship-caliber links courses with
significant elevation changes. An official grand opening
with Greg Norman is scheduled for October.
The course sits perched on coastal sand dune topogra-
phy and is reminiscent of the great Scottish courses where
the game began in the 15th century. Like the legendary St.
Andrews course, the Bluffs is exposed to high winds and
seasonal inclement weather, which creates the drama that
serious golfers long for.
Golfers and gamblers stay at the Grand Ho Tram Strip,
which opened in July 2013 as Vietnam’s first international
luxury casino resort. The continuing development already
features a 541-room upscale hotel, more than 10 restau-
rants and bars, a spa, nightclub, convention center and casi-
no with 90 gaming tables and more than 600 slot machines.
The miles of untouched beaches along this sunshine-
drenched area of the East Sea make it yet another of Viet-
nam’s travel industry treasures.
hile it ranks as the seventh longest river in Asia, the
Mekong is known as the “Mother River of South-
east Asia,” sustaining civilizations throughout the
As the Mekong descends from the Tibetan Pla-
teau through China’s Yunnan province, Myanmar, Laos, Thai-
land, Cambodia and Vietnam, it reveals itself as one of the
richest areas of biodiversity on the planet.
In 1995, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam created
the Mekong River Commission to assist in the management
and coordinated use of their shared vital artery.
Among the international companies that have Mekong river
cruise offerings are Avalon Waterways, Viking River Cruises
My Tho, 45 miles southwest of Ho Chi Minh City, is the eco-
nomic heart of the Mekong Delta and the embarkation port
for northbound cruises and the terminus on southbound itin-
eraries that originate in Cambodia.
Avalon Waterways offers a seven-night cruise between My
Tho and Cambodia’s Siem Reap aboard the 36-passenger
Siem Reap. Because of its intimate size and shallow draft,
it is able to sail all the way to Siem Reap for at least half of
the year, rather that embarking/disembarking passengers at
Kampong Cham, Cambodia.
Siem Reap is home to the Unesco World Heritage Site of
Angkor Wat. Dating to the early 12th century, the temple com-
plex was first Hindu, then Buddhist, and is the largest reli-
gious monument in the world.
Viking River Cruises, which operates the world’s largest
fleet of river cruise ships, sails its Viking Mekong between
My Tho and Kampong Cham. Refurbished in 2013, the Viking
Mekong accommodates 56 guests with river views from every
stateroom. Motorcoaches connect Siem Reap with Kampong
AmaWaterways operates two Mekong ships: the 92-passen-
ger La Marguerite and the 124-passenger AmaLotus. Both are
operated between My Tho and Kampong Cham with motor-
coaches connecting Siem Reap with Kampong Cham. The
company recently announced that its new, state-of-the-art
vessel, the AmaDara, will make its inaugural sailing on the
Mekong on Aug. 17, 2015.
Cathay Pacific Airways: www.cathaypacific.com
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi: www.sofitel-legend.com/
Emeraude Classic Cruises: www.emeraude-cruises.com
The Press Club: www.hanoi-pressclub.com
La Residence Hotel & Spa: www.la-residence-hue.com
The Nam Hai: www.thenamhai.com
Montgomerie Links: www.montgomerielinks.com
Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa: http://victoriahotels.asia/en/
The Grand Ho Tram Strip: www.thegrandhotramstrip.com
The Bluffs Ho Tram: www.thebluffshotram.com
Viking River Cruises: www.vikingrivercruises.com
Avalon Waterways: www.avalonwaterways.com
Clockwise from top: A view from the second tee at the Bluffs golf course; a suite at the Hotel
Metropole Hanoi; a cyclo ride through the streets of Hue; artwork and souvenirs for sale at a
rest stop located between Hanoi and Halong Bay.
The 124-passenger AmaLotus is one of AmaWaterways’ two Mekong vessels. The
company will launch a third, the AmaDara, in August 2015.
34 J U L Y 7 , 2 0 1 4 W W W . T R A V E L W E E K L Y . C O M
Continued from Page 32
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