Fusion Maia Resort seems like a duck in water; everything looks very smooth and peaceful on the surface, but you suspect there’s a lot of busy paddling underneath to ensure our stay is relaxed and ripple-free.
The genuinely friendly greeting on arrival is overwhelming, and from that moment on the doorman remembers us, disarming Ms Smith, our normally shy four-year-old daughter. It’s an impression that stays with us, right up to our goodbye photo with our Fusionista – personal concierge come ‘experience mixologist’ – two days later.
Our large, L-shaped Pool Villa boasts huge sliding doors, which open onto a private courtyard garden and pool. Ms Smith declares she won’t need to leave the room, as it’s so perfect – until Mrs Smith reminds her that she hasn’t seen the resort pool or the beach yet! I immediately notice the swivelling TV, which means I can view it from both the bed and the luxuriously deep bath; the bath and shower also offer pool-scoping opportunities.
All of egalitarian Fusion Maia’s rooms are pool villas, so there’s never a crowd in the public areas as guests tend to lounge in their villas, or head for the spa. However, there’s a sociable buzz at breakfast in the main restaurant Five, even though you can choose to eat breakfast anywhere at anytime. The idea of a table on the beach for our morning coffee and croissants is decadently appealing.
Mr and Mrs Smith are quick to explore the huge resort infinity pool overlooking the beach. While indulging in the first of the twice-daily all-inclusive spa treatments that both of us will be spoiled with during our sojourn, Mrs Smith reminds me that this is a health resort. A somewhat foreign concept, as my idea of healthy living is having fruit in my cocktails. I’m tempted by the morning yoga classes held in a beachside pavilion, but am happy to watch while diving into chocolate croissants washed down with Melbourne-worthy coffee. There are t’ai chi sessions on Marble Mountain, and other activities on the resort’s ‘Seven Practices of Natural Living’ programme, but the pool, spa and cocktails are just too good to leave.
Lounging at the main infinity pool takes up most of our days, which is bliss – especially when staff members deliver tubs of ice-cream and fruit sticks. Double cabanas on the surrounding grass are the perfect place to laze around and read books, while listening to jazz tunes wafting from nearby beach café Fresh. We intersperse pool time with strolls to the beach for ocean swims and to watch fishermen trawl past searching for seafood delights.
A total escape, the serene Spa is decorated in soft grey tones with soothing, low-level lighting. Prior to appointments, we sip on refreshing herbal tea; afterwards, it’s hard to resist the spacious adults-only pool complete with waterfall. Beautifully quiet and tropical, it’s a fantastic, child-free place to relax between treatments, too – the small kids’ club ensures Ms Smith is happily distracted by biscuit-making and hair-braiding.
Boy do we indulge! I experience more treatments in the few days at Fusion Maia than I’ve previously had in my whole life. In fact, I undertake a complete review of the spa’s menu. Kicking off with the Fusion Feeling signature massage, I move on through traditional Swedish techniques to Thai therapies, where the practitioner manipulates my body through complex poses creating moves I haven’t attempted since that big night at an Ibiza club in the Eighties. The relaxing massages, facials and manicures are catnip for Mrs Smith, who actually falls asleep during one gloriously pampering mud wrap.
The Fusionistas come into their own as we plan a shopping trip to local town Hoi An. The super-helpful Emeline meets us at breakfast on our first day to chat about what we hope to do during our stay, taking care of treatment bookings, and advising us on – and making reservations for – restaurants in Hoi An. She’s helpful, without being intrusive, and there whenever we need her. All staff members take English lessons, which means we can get a better understanding from them of Vietnamese life. By the time we leave, we know the names and ages of many of their children, a sign of the pride in family here.
Cultural melting pot Hoi An is a Unesco World Heritage site, and the Old Town is well worth visiting. Boasting almost 2,000 years of history, Hoi An was a major international port in the 16th and 17th centuries, and has been influenced by the Arabs, Chinese and Vietnamese. We’re fortunate to catch the monthly Full Moon Festival, when the Old Town turns off all electric lights, and everything is lit by lanterns. Tourists and locals light candles in lotus-shaped hoa dang (ceremonial paper lanterns) and float them down the Thu Bon River. We watch the festivities from a riverside restaurant for a memorably magical night out.
Venturing back into Hoi An on the thrice-daily shuttle bus the following morning, we make the most of the Fusion Lounge, an outpost of the resort which provides a great base for trips into town. Early birds can even breakfast there before hitting the shops. It’s also handy for dropping off shopping bags! We borrow Lounge bicycles, and with Ms Smith perched in her own seat on the back, we head off to explore. Cycling is a perfect way to get around the Old Town, where roads are blocked off to traffic making it a safe and convenient way to take in the cultural sights and engage in some retail therapy. Mrs Smith gets her favourite top, purchased from Barneys in New York years ago, replicated by a seamstress – one of Hoi An’s many tailors – who does an amazing job for only a few dollars. The ceremony of the fittings and decisions over buttons and details is fun, only beaten by lunch at Morning Glory restaurant. We like it so much we visit sister café Cargo the next time we’re in town.
A Vietnamese barbecue by the pool beckons on our final Saturday night. We eat far too much fantastic food and listen to Vietnamese music played on a dan tranh – a 25-stringed zither – and a bamboo xylophone. It may sound kitsch, but the setting is fantastic. We chat with other guests, when normally by the pool it would just be a wave and a smile. It seems Fusion Maia has managed to fuse us all into one big, merry, massaged family…