Adventures in Luxury
We journey in a “close to the bone” style of travel. Taking local transport, we stay in hostels or a 2-3 star hotel and sometimes we book an ocean view resort. It depends on value, available deals, what we want to do, and how long we want to stay.
While we were living in Panajachel, Guatemala, a startup venture contacted us about previewing one of their properties located in Saigon, Vietnam. It took some coordination for us to twist our minds around returning to Asia, a place we had not been for eight years. But after a few conference calls to work out details and letting us know what they were looking for from us, we decided to give it a go.
Compass Living Parkview Lobby
Because we have had experience with the opening of the Four Seasons Resort on the island of Nevis West Indies, we agreed to give the CEO, Head of Marketing and the Head of Housekeeping our feedback on their staff, service and the quality of the room. We were also asked to appear in some promotional videos and brochures. In return we receive two months of luxury lifestyle, compliments of Compass Living. Breakfast and lunch are delivered to our room each day, we have access to a personal driver, and we receive weekly massages, manicures and pedicures. Laundry service, daily cleaning of our room as well as evening turn down service preparing the bed and closing the drapes are also provided.
I know it seems like a tough assignment, but somebody has to do this.
In the past we have dealt with the never ending rule changes on Thailand's visas and having been to Vietnam before, we knew a visa was required. But we were in Guatemala and there was no way we were shipping our passports along with photos and forms filled with personal information to the closest Vietnam Embassy in Mexico City. That posed too much of a risk.
Well, let us tell you that Vietnam has awakened to a new era and Immigration made it extremely easy for us to receive a letter of approval online for a $33.00 dollar fee. We printed out this letter of approval and presented it upon arrival along with two current passport size photos in order to receive our three month visa stamp. This visa stamp was an additional $45.00 dollars. The whole process was surprisingly easy and efficient.
On the go
Our flight from Taipei, Taiwan to Saigon was on time and after clearing both customs and immigration, we were on the lookout for a poster sign from our Compass Living driver. There at the exit of the airport were about one thousand screaming girls (think Beatle mania) which we thought were there to welcome us! It turned out that a Taiwanese rock star was in Business class on our flight and our own personal welcome was slightly more subdued.
We saw the sign and the Compass Living driver was waiting along with Robert the CEO, and Vivian, Head of Marketing.Once we boarded the van and the driver stored our gear they gave us cold bottles of drinking water; perfect for the hot climate here in Vietnam.
Driving through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City past the famous Independence Palace, in short order we arrived at Compass Parkview which will be our home for the next two months.
Checking in at the desk was a snap as the clerks did most of the work filling out forms from the information in our passports then we simply verified the info and signed them. This is normal procedure in this part of the world.
Typical Compass Living Suite
Up the elevator to the seventh floor we arrived at our spacious air-conditioned studio suite. Our 700 sq. ft. room was smartly decorated with black satin finish lattice work, teak wood and blistery white bed linens with views of the city on two sides. The kitchenette was well stocked with a hotplate, microwave, blender, large refrigerator and kitchenware. The living room had a firm mocha-colored pressed velvet couch, a teakwood style table, a 42 inch flat screen TV with English channels and an efficient office area. Everything was here for us; all we had to do was unpack our gear and relax.
By now hours had passed since our last airline meal and between fatigue and hunger we were having trouble making decisions. This is the familiar jet lag.
Notifying the concierge at the front desk, we had him order a pizza and asked that he also pick up a six pack of beer. The friendly staff is here to serve and they are very eager to please answering any of our questions and fulfilling any of our requests. Half an hour later Steve arrives with the pizza and beer, and we settle in for a short night.
This is a whole new style of living for us, one to which we could easily adjust. But since we are used to making our own beds, preparing our own meals and dropping off laundry ourselves, this luxurious approach to living is an adventure! And one we are enjoying immensely.