Dear my fellow – traveller,
Allow me to introduce our Pu Luong Retreat and its story.
Back in 2010, we started our dream of opening a retreat in the foothill mountains of North West Vietnam. We wanted to find an ‘off the beaten track’ and undiscovered destination, in a beautiful setting, that would allow visitors to soak in the natural beauty, trek through timeless landscapes and experience the local cuisine and life-style of the Thai/Northern Mountain tribe people.
Pu Luong Nature Reserve came into our consciousness way back in 2007 when we visited the tourist town of Mai Chau (40km away from Pu Luong), a popular destination but over developed and we felt Pu Luong held something untouched and extraordinary – A “microcosm” of Northern Vietnam, containing Sapa’s magnificent mountain ranges; Mu Cang Chai’s stunning rice terrace fields; Cao Bang’s scenic rivers and waterfalls; Ha Giang’s breathtaking mountain passes and Mai Chau’s remote traditional villages of ethnic minorities who still retain their unique cultural heritage and way of living. Although, Pu Luong area didn’t offer any tourism services besides very basic home stays. We saw the potential and held a belief that it was a place where we could create sustainable tourism.
We went on the hunt to find the perfect location within Pu Luong Nature Reserve for our retreat: Every twist and turn, nook and cranny reveals beautiful landscapes of terraced rice paddies and babbling rivers but the location also needed to be near a main road for easy access and have an existing power and clean water supply, as well as nice climate and easy connection to Hanoi.
God blesses us with his gift in tranquil Don Village. Two large wooden stilt houses set in the land that also boasted of stunning views across the valley along with easy access and utility supplies. An agreement on new living conditions has been made with the original land owners, as well as jobs for family members and a sincere promise to protect the condition and environment of the land.
It was important that the Retreat needed to be built by local builders and carpenters and we wanted to maintain the existing natural landscape of the plot as much as possible: avoid cutting down ancient trees along with our special promise with the land owner 82 year old Tran, to not destroy her treasured jack fruit tree that grew with her childhood. This vision can even be seen in the unique interior design of one of the bungalows was purposefully built around two trees: creating a calming and natural setting as they stand within the bathroom and the lounge area.
The two original stilt houses of the land owners was in perfect view. We spent many days and nights trying to find ways to keep them in their original setting and build the bungalows around them, but in order to maximize the views, accommodate guests and create a good working place for the staff the decision to move them was eventually made. A team of professional engineer as well as a big carne counted in, but finally the skill and precision of the local builders convinced us that all details of two houses should be taken down then rebuilt with relative ease, a mission that we still finds incredible! The first is now used as the restaurant and lounge area and the second as a spacious and pretty bedding area.
We turned the original fish pond into an infinity pool with an incredible view over mountain passes and many rice terrace fields. We maintain the same location and sizes of the the pool as exactly as the former fish pond, to balance with the natural landscape. Spring water are in and out regularly, keep our pool fresh without chemical treatment.
We felt it was important to use a fusion of local ethnic design and decoration. For example the ceiling lamps are made out of fish cages. We had always admired the craftsmanship of the fishing cages the locals use in the area is the perfect opportunity to incorporate them within the interior design. We discovered a local man who was unable to walk making them along with musical instruments nearby and quickly employed him, whom we now remain good friendship with.
All the tables, chairs and other lamps are made by the “Bamboo Master”. Self-taught he creates many beautiful objects and can put his hand to making almost anything out of bamboo.
Along our journey, from the initial dream in 2010 to finally now, we have faced lots of obstacles: transporting construction supplies to the site, choosing the best adaptable material for the Retreat, training local people up to a Western standard of hospitality… Despite these obstacles, everyone has been willing to learn and support us in both his adventure and his vision. Creating a Retreat that is not only peaceful and beautiful job, but also holding a fundamental understanding of this incredible landscape and its people.
Our vision is to always have the landscape of Pu Luong Nature Reserve at the heart of the Retreat, to have as many as possible the local people involved in and make this a sustainable enterprise.
We are glad to welcome you in our beautiful Retreat.
Co-founder / Managing Director