The New Park Hyatt Saigon

Symbolizing the dynamism of Ho Chi Minh City and the new Vietnam, the sleek and stylish 252-room Park Hyatt Saigon ( has rapidly emerged as the preferred hotel for both leisure and business travelers since opening in August 2005. A member of the elite group of 26 Park Hyatt properties worldwide, it has raised the bar for upscale properties in Ho Chi Minh City and added panache to one of the most vibrant and happening cities in southeast Asia. Guest rooms at the Park Hyatt include four poster beds

Among the hotel's key selling points is its prime location on

Lam Non Square
in the downtown business district across from the opera house and within walking distance of several tourist attractions, including the ReunificationPalace, Ben Thanh Market and the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Book VIPs into either the Park Suites or Park Executive Suites. Each of the 15 Park Suites (which are 700 square feet) has its own private terrace with direct access to the swimming pool and views overlooking the pool and garden. The five super spacious Park Executive Suites (1,100 square feet each) have a separate living room and bedroom area and either pool views or city views.

Both Park and Park Executive suites come with four poster beds, work desk with broadband Internet access, multi-channel flat-screen TV, marble tiled bathrooms with separate bath and rain shower wet area and 24/7 butler service. All suites are bookable over the GDS. Agent liaisons are the sales managers, who can be contacted through the hotel's sales and marketing department (84 8 824 1234; [email protected]).

Other Elegant Furnishings

Another reason for the Park Hyatt's initial success is the 16,500 square foot Xuan Spa offering a full menu of treatments and seven treatment rooms outfitted with exquisite antique Vietnamese wood furnishings. It is the first spa in Ho Chi Minh City with a Vichy shower for skin purification and body exfoliation, and its signature treatment is a rejuvenating package that includes a hydrating facial, classic Swedish massage and detoxifying mud therapy. Request masseuse Nguyen Thuy Xuan Huong and reserve treatments in advance by contacting spa director Shekhar Malkotia (84 8 824 1234; [email protected]).

The Park Hyatt is also home to Square One, one of the city's hottest new restaurants, which specializes in all varieties of Vietnamese seafood. A menu favorite is Vietnamese-style lobster served with pomelo salad, spring roll, minced shrimp and scallops with sticky rice. Square One also is known for the best Western-style steaks in the city. The hotel's other restaurant, Opera, is a contemporary and casual Italian restaurant with alfresco dining built around a glass enclosed wine library.

Bathrooms are spacious

Contact the concierge desk (84 8 824 1234; [email protected]) to arrange personal shopping tours for antiques, clothing (embroidery and silk), ceramics and lacquer ware. Parkson Department Store, adjacent to the hotel, has a selection of luxury brand clothes, cosmetics and shoes. The concierge will also set up a city cultural tour that visits artistic and religious sites, including the CityFineArtsMuseum, Jade Emperor Pagoda, One Pillar Pagoda and MariammanHinduTemple. Another tour stops at several sites associated with the Vietnam War such as the Cu Chi Tunnels, WarRemnantsMuseum and MilitaryMuseum.

The restaurant scene has exploded in Ho Chi Minh City over the past decade and gastronomes and other foodies have more to choose from than ever before. Highly recommended for creative Vietnamese dishes is the Mandarin Restaurant (11A Ngo Van Nam; 84 8 822 9783), which has hosted VIPs including former U.S. President Clinton, former French President Mitterand and the king and queen of Sweden. The signature dish here is a classic duck in orange sauce, and other favorites include grilled fish rolls Thang Long style, grilled scallops Nha Trang style and dragon eggs pancake Mekong style.

A short walk from the hotel is Asian Reflections (19 Lam Son Square/Caravelle Hotel; 84 8 823 4999), which serves East-West fusion cuisine. Start with the Caesar salad prepared with a choice of prawns fried in Szechuan sauce or lemongrass fried chicken, followed by a main course of stir fried Alaska king crab leg with a spicy sweet and sour sauce or French duck breast. Book Business Travelers

For guests who want to create their own Vietnamese-style concoctions, the Vietnamese Cookery Centre (362/8 Ung Van Khiem St., Tan Cang Block, Bin Thanh District; 84 8 512 2746) provides cooking lessons featuring the most popular native dishes. There are also nightly themed cooking shows from 6 to 9 p.m. performed by the house chef; one theme revolves around Vietnam's three regional cuisines, another focuses on vegetarian techniques and a third on the imperial feast and traditional Tet festival dishes.