Having just been named as the Best Luxury Hotel, Vietnam in the Business Destinations Travel Awards 2015, the Ho Tram Resort Casino Vietnam is blazing trails in the fast-growing Southeast Asian nation. Set on 2.2km of beachfront and surrounded by acres of stunning forests, the resort is located only a two-hour drive from the country’s largest metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City.
The magnificent resort is part of a long-term vision; the very first phase of an ambitious development that will ultimately see the construction of a second tower on the site, bringing the total room inventory up to 1,100. An additional integrated resort and three further five-star resorts will be constructed in addition to the Greg Norman-designed championship golf course, The Bluffs, which was completed and opened to the public in 2014.
The magnificent resort is part of a long-term vision that will ultimately see the construction of a second tower on the site
Near and far
The resort currently features 541 elegant rooms, nine bars and restaurants, Vietnam’s first international standard casino, a luxurious spa, and one of the largest meeting and convention spaces in the country. Since Shaun McCamley became president of the integrated resort in October 2014, he has since seen it go from strength to strength. He told Business Destinations: “Business at the Ho Tram continues to be very good – VIP areas in the casino have been performing solidly for some time now. A few months back we turned our attention towards more aggressively marketing the mass gaming areas, and we are seeing results of those efforts coming in now, with growth across all areas of our mass floor.”
The resort guarantees luxury accommodation with stunning views of either The Bluffs golf course or the South China Sea. The amenities that are on offer – including 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi, beach activities and the exclusive Club 9 nightclub – attract a unique class of business traveller, particularly those that are looking to get a little more from their stay. “We tend to target the Intra-Asia network as our source market”, said McCamley. “We have a huge potential gaming and golfing market all within a few hours from here, and this is where we direct most of our effort and attention. Locally based expats are also important to us, as they are right on our doorstep and have the propensity to play both the course and the tables. Koreans, Japanese and overseas Vietnamese tend to be the most important of these groups.”
However, it is not tourists alone that are drawn to the Ho Tram Resort Casino Vietnam. In spite of the fact that gambling is illegal for local residents, McCamley said: “Local Vietnamese have really taken to the product here, loving our landscapes, our culinary scene, and are flocking to the events that we host here. Should the laws change that currently prevent them entering our casino, they would quite rapidly become one of our top priorities.”
Perhaps few other people in the world would have felt qualified to take on the presidency at a casino resort in a location with such restrictive laws: “In many ways, my career path has always been building up to a role like this”, said McCamley. “I started as a croupier in one of London’s exclusive Mayfair clubs, and have spent my entire career working my way up from the floor.
“Ever since my introduction to the industry, I had been looking for an opportunity where I could use my extensive background knowledge and skills towards building and developing an organisation. For me, that’s where both the real challenges and the opportunities lie. So when I was asked to submit my name for consideration to take on the role of president at the Ho Tram Resort Casino Vietnam, and knowing some of the background of the project, for me it was just too good of an opportunity not to go after it.”
Standing out from the crowd
There is an abundance of unique hotels and residences around Vietnam, ranging from beachside traveller hostels to five-star luxury palace resorts. With so many options catering for the entire spectrum of leisure and business travellers, it is crucial for the Ho Tram Resort Casino Vietnam to distinguish itself from the rest of the industry. Being Asia’s only beachfront integrated resort gives it an immediate edge, one that is further reinforced by the immeasurable beauty of the building and its natural surroundings. “No one else has our beach, our climate, our cuisine or a first-rate casino”, said McCamley. “It’s amazing how quickly sceptics become believers when they visit Ho Tram. We have had many industry leaders visit the resort in the last couple of months, and all of them, without exception, have been completely blown away with the quality of product we have at the Ho Tram.”
Arguably the resort’s defining feature – and undoubtedly one of its greatest attractions – is its world-class golf course. The Bluffs satisfies a key gap in the market for the Ho Tram Resort Casino Vietnam by appealing to the 200,000 Koreans currently living in Ho Chi Minh City, along with the growing number of visitors from Japan, China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. The huge potential for a golf and gaming market is directly on the resort’s doorstep, and McCamley is intent on making the very most of it. “The reviews of our course are astounding”, he said. “We became the first course to ever be nominated in three categories at the Asia Pacific Golf Awards – and that was before we were even formally open! The course is an absolutely crucial piece in our puzzle.”
While McCamley is delighted with the popularity of The Bluffs and the success that the resort is currently seeing across is VIP gaming platforms, there is always room for growth. As such, much of the team’s focus now rests on building up the mass gaming floor and improving the hotel’s range of entertainment facilities. With the construction of a new condominium tower currently underway – with beach houses and golfing villas to be added at a later date – it is an incredibly exciting time to visit the resort.