All that glitters may not be gold, but chances are that you are bound to find it at one of the most spectacular hotels that Hotelintel.co has covered in this region – The Reverie, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).
When we heard that the GM of The Reverie was Kai Speth, we knew that this place must be something special. We had met and interviewed Speth previously during his role as the GM of the Hyatt, Taipei and we were impressed by his management style and eye for detail.
Before you read any further, I think it’s important to point out here that this piece is not a paid advertorial for the property. You might run into several superlatives while reading through this article. Rest assured, it’s not just hyperbole. The Reverie is a property that is significant for the industry and for Vietnam on many levels. It’s a symbol of what’s happening right now in not only Ho Chi Minh City, but also right across Vietnam.
Rêverie is French for ‘dream’ or ‘daydream’, and is certainly an apt name for what you experience in this property which is a member of the luxury hotel group ‘LHW’ (Leading Hotels of the World). The hotel is located in Saigon’s ‘District 1’, or ‘D1’ which is considered the main diplomatic, international and exclusive district. As you walk into the foyer area of the Times Square building where the hotel is situated, you start to get a feel for what to expect. Deep blue Rolls Royce Phantom Dragon, Bentley, Maybach and other uniformly coloured luxury vehicles sit parked just outside of the entrance and are used to shuttle hotel guests on the shortish (25 mins) ride back and forth between the hotel and Ho Chi Minh’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
The owner of the hotel is Vietnamese company and owns several other hotel properties in Vietnam, but none of them as opulent as The Reverie. It seems that the Reverie has been built as both a statement of what ‘can be done’ and a fulfillment of their cumulative dream as to what ‘luxury’ is.
Walking into the foyer is admittedly overwhelming. No matter what direction you tilt your head, you find yourself gazing into something mind-blowingly intricate with a price tag to match.
The statistics can give you a bit of an idea, but you can’t truly appreciate what has been accomplished without actually experiencing yourself. Even seeing it yourself doesn’t do it the full justice that it deserves. We walked around in awe for the first day just imagining the stories behind why there was a winged table in the lobby, or a giant green marble clock that lit up on the hour at reception.
It wasn’t until the second day there that we could fully appreciate it when Marketing Manager Nathan Ryan Kuehlthau took us on a tour of the property that we could fully grasp the extent to what the owners and designers had gone to, in order to produce such an ‘opera d’arte’.
Kuehlthau had done his homework, and had memorised an unbelievable amount of statistics and trivia regarding the hotel – the names of all the pieces, down to the mosaic inlays in each bathroom and names of individual pieces of furniture in each room, as well as figures, times, dates, names, histories of designers and the progressively high thread-counts of the linen used in each category of room.
The 9 Seater Colombostile ‘Esmerelda’ series baroque / eclectic sofa that sits as a centerpiece in the hotel’s lobby has a twin that was commissioned by Michael Jackson for one of the pieces in his ‘This is It’ concert in London and if it hasn’t been sold at auction recently, will most likely be sitting at the Neverland Ranch.
The egg shape crystal chandeliers hanging from the roof as you walk into the foyer and lobby areas are called ‘Arabesque Egg’ chandeliers, made by Italian design company VG New Trend. The owners noticed that there was a large bare column in the foyer area, so VG New Trend was asked to ‘do something with it’. Following in the theme of the Arabesque egg, they created a crystal and metal egg-themed inlay for the 4 sides of the pillars – each egg containing 32 crystals, each square containing 20 eggs – 8 on each side, meaning that there is a total of over 20,000 crystals in all decorating the once bare pillar.
The Baldi green clock that also sits in the lobby was custom built for the Reverie, Saigon. Rather than what would traditionally be marble pillars on the side, the Reverie’s owners requested that the side pillars of the clock be green crystal with LED lights that lit up on the hour. The Baldi team flew over and assembled the clock in the hotel. Take a look at this video and you will have a new respect for the clock next time you visit the property. The clock has a sister piece downstairs in the Bechstein grand piano that dates back to 1895 and is veneered in Malachite stone. I can testify that the piano is in tune, has a lovely action and is in perfect working order.
Each elevator has its walls decked out with thinly sliced agate stone inlayed with fossils. The translucent amber glow and silhouettes of people in the lift is something that you will remember for a long time after leaving the hotel.
There is a famous Cassina ‘Valerio’ bookcase in the Saigon suite, based on the original design of Franco Albini that is based on the rigging of a ship’s sails. Steel shelves strung together by wire, in the original design couldn’t take any real weight on the shelves. A polytechnic school subsequently took the original design and re-engineered so that it could now take up to 90kg+ (200lb). The bookshelf required specialists to fly out from italy to assemble it. Perhaps not a good selection of suite to stay in if you have toddlers.
Once the hotel’s outer structure had been completed in 2012, it took another approximately 4 years until all the fitting out to be completed as the top designers from Italy set up shop there in the hotel and turned the portions of the hotel that had been allocated to them into their own masterpieces.
For food lovers, the restaurants in the property are also extraordinary. ‘The Long’ Italian restaurant downstairs, so named because of its 48m long bar, in its quest for authenticity has hired a master Pizza maker ‘Ciro’ who comes from a long line of Neapolitan pizza makers. Every pizza is made with dough that is made with a 3rd generation ‘mother yeast’ that belongs to the executive chef – Giovanni. That means that the pizzas made by his grandfather shared the same yeast as the pizzas that you will eat there today. The Burrata cheese served in the restaurant comes from a village in the southern Italian Apulia region in the province of Foggia. The village originally only made 500 cheeses per month and The Reverie, Saigon would buy them all. That number has now gone up to 800 per month, with The Reverie remaining as their exclusive customer.
The 1,200sqm spa is like none other, with an enormous marble laden foyer area and separate female and male sections where guests can enjoy all the usual spa facilities plus some pretty special ones including a Himalayan pink salt sauna, colour therapy steam room and even an ‘ice fountain’ for the men to stand next to once you step out of the sauna.
Every room has floor to ceiling windows with electronic curtains that let you feel like you are floating in the centre of the city. Many of the rooms have automated television cabinets which will lower to allow you to enjoy the full panoramic view. There are HDMI, USB, RCA and Bluetooth bays in each room so that you can wire your media devices into the audio visual systems in the room which include separate encased bath-side television sets.
The hotel is one that has to be experienced to really be appreciated, and to truly appreciate it, I highly recommend doing your homework on the designers listed in this piece. Every square inch of the property has some kind of ‘meaning’ or symbolism (note – during your next stay, see how many times you can see references to the ‘peacock’ which is the symbolic emblem of the hotel). The hotel is a tribute to Italian design, and many of those designers now have their own showrooms in the Times Square building on the lower levels. That means that if you like something that you see, you can order your very own.
Vietnam is in a very special period in its history right now. 40 years after the War, the country has rebuilt itself and is crafting a new, modern, diligent and prosperous identity. Business is booming in Vietnam and there is development going on everywhere you look. The new workforce is well educated, driven and takes initiative. This combined with what we see at The Reverie Saigon should be like a flare for neighbouring countries in the region. Watch this space – Vietnam is rising and this is only the start of it.