Some of the best days people will recall are those spent at university. It’s a place where long-term friendships are forged, personal development is enhanced and a set of skills are acquired as a supply chain to businesses.
Whatever the reason for feeling nostalgic for the long-gone days, J W Marriott Phu Quoc in Vietnam will have you reminiscing those wonder years from the moment you step into their grounds as our reporter Sabi Phagura found out.
The lobby area sets the tone of this university-themed five-star hotel with a larger than life bronze trophy taking centre stage. Other century-old relics adorn walls and floors alike and it’s difficult trying to take it all in. The eyes are open equally wide as the jaw.
The hotel’s design narrative was developed around the concept of a mythical academy of learning honouring the French naturalist Jean Baptiste Lamarck who laid the groundwork for Darwin’s theory of evolution. As the story goes, Lamarck University was the educational pinnacle of Phu Quoc in the early 1900s before closing in 1940. Fast forward and five years of restoration, Lam U – it’s trendy name – was reborn this year. Surrounded by the whitest of white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, it’s got to be the best ‘university’ I have ever attended.
Under the watchful eye of respected and renowned architect Bill Bensley, nothing in the décor has been left to chance. Wherever you look, teaching paraphernalia, original school charts, sports trophies have all been unwrapped and on display. Each building – zoology and chemistry and the like – is marked as ‘department’ with furnishings and design reflecting the subject. Nothing is boring here, in fact, there’s a healthy dose of humour dotted around. My particular favourite was the ex-pupils tongue-in-cheek names plastered on walls like graffiti.
Classes and labs have been turned into luxury bedrooms and suites at an estimated cost of one million USD per room. My Emerald Bay View room, like the rest of the 243 rooms, was characterised by contemporary chic design injected with a splash of colour and plenty of light coming through. The bed was so comfy that I was torn between tearing myself from it to watch the beautiful sunrise in the morning from the unobstructed view of the Emerald Bay from the vantage of my spacious balcony and pressing that snooze button.
As for the bathroom, it was bigger than most people’s bedrooms. A walk-in shower was great to be awoken by, while the bathtub was great for unwinding after a day of exploring.