Published on August 28, 2007
It's crowded when I arrive at the Nam Hai Spa and despite having booked in advance, I'm told that only a male therapist is available.
"You have to be kidding!" I tell the receptionist.
"My first body massage and you only have a masseur. No way!"
Western women may not understand my dismay but Thai women like myself have no experience of stripping down to our smalls in front of a man.
While common sense tells me that he would be professional and not do anything other than his job, I'm far too shy to even think of letting a man give me a massage.
The Nam Hai Hoi An has 13 therapists and only two are them are male. Why could I not have landed one of the ladies, I ask myself.
Thankfully, another kind guest comes to my rescue and offers to swap.
The spa is billed as a sublime sanctuary for relaxation and renewal of body, mind and spirit inspired by Eastern healing traditions.
Surrounded by a large and tranquil lotus pond, two spacious pavilions accommodate eight luxurious private spa villas, four single and four double. Each villa features a steam shower and a separate and private bathing facility, as well as a changing and relaxation room housing an oversized daybed.
Using the expertise of Vietnamese and Balinese therapists, the spa offers a range of natural therapeutic treatments and holistic beauty rituals, all designed with the client's total wellbeing in mind.
I choose the traditional Vietnamese massage with Imperial oil, which I'm told has proved the most popular treatment since the spa opened last December.
First I take a shower, then my Vietnamese masseuse hands me a sarong and spa underwear, which I slip on, although many guests choose to be massaged without clothing.
When I'm ready, she leads me to the relaxation room and serves me a glass of lemon, mint and lemongrass tea before scrubbing my feet.
After that, it's back to the massage room.
This massage uses an ancient technique combining massage and pressure point work to balance the flow of chi through energy channels in the body for relaxation and rejuvenation.
"The Nam Hai Spa's concept could best be described as using a holistic theme with an ethnic twist," says Brenda Ramen, director of spas at General Hotel Management.
Based on Oriental healing traditions, the menu is designed to offer guests a cultural experience within the context of a spa treatment.
"The facility is second to none in that it provides a completely private suite for all guests, including a place to change in private," Ramen adds.
"Most spas only provide this sort of luxury as an added extra in their higher-priced treatments.
"Our spa is without a doubt the most luxurious facility in Vietnam - possibly Asia," she says.
The resort has been open for just six months and already the spa has won two internationally prestigious accolades. It's been voted one of the world's top new spas by the US edition of Conde Nast Traveller and one of the world's top 75 spas by the magazine's UK edition.
Among the range of natural therapies on offer, the most unique treatment guests will find is the Nam Hai Indulgence.
This two and a half-hour pampering ritual features aromatherapy, foot polishing, Asian-style foot massage, traditional body scrub, natural facial, the Nam Hai massage and a tranquil petal bath.
The spa also stocks a wide selection of local and international products, some of which have been designed specifically for the Nam Hai.
For many of the treatments, the spa uses products from New York's Sundari line, which uses natural, organic ingredients.
Next year, the spa is looking to increase its Abhyanga massage treatments. Abhyanga is therapeutic, traditional ayurvedic massage, which helps increase circulation, oxygenate the skin cells and promote general wellness of the entire body - perfect for those who only have a short time to relax and de-stress.
Spas are growing in popularity almost everywhere in the world.
"As the pace of life accelerates, people seem to feel the need to slow down and recharge body, mind and spirit. Visiting a spa is a great way to nurture all three," says Ramen,
For more information on the Nam Hai Resort,
Hoi An, Vietnam