The Grand Ho Tram Resort & Casino

Last updated June 2017 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

INTRODUCTION | REVIEW | MAP | RELATED POSTS

Big, brash, bold and extravagant, The Grand Resort and Casino marks the beginning of the transformation of the quiet and unassuming coastline of Ho Tram, into what is hoped will become Vietnam’s answer to Macau and Las Vegas. Just two hours’ drive south-east of Saigon, I saw this project grow: from the first piledriver to the ostentatious opening ceremony. Born out of the windswept sand dunes and empty beaches that I used to ride along on my motorbike (pretty much all to myself), I was both fascinated and repulsed as I witnessed the progress of this massive monolith that came to spoil my ocean views. I was disturbed by its grotesque size, but also impressed by its engineering brazenness. Now that it’s complete, I’ve stayed here a few times and, although I still have some mixed feelings, the quality of The Grand really shines through. [Average rates are $100 a night. To check current rates, availability & make a reservation for The Grand Ho Tram BOOK HERE].

*Please support Vietnam Coracle: I never write a review for money: all my content is free & my reviews are independent. You can support the work I do by booking your hotels via the Agoda links & search boxes on my site, like the ones on this page. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Any money I make goes straight back into this site. Thank you.

Guest room, The Grand Ho Tram Casino & ResortLuxury and extravagance is what The Grand Ho Tram Resort & Casino is all about

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REVIEW: THE GRAND HO TRAM

Address: Phuoc Thuan, Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, Vietnam [MAP]

Price: $100 a night | Phone: +84 64 378 8888 | Website: www.thegrandhotram.com

Check Rates & Availability:


MAP:

View in a LARGER MAP


Marble lions stand guard over the main entrance to The Grand Ho Tram Resort & Casino. Beyond the fountains and the gleaming, polished floors, the doors open – courtesy of uniformed porters – into a bright, airy and highly air-conditioned lobby. The size of a small concert hall, the lobby is lit from above by a skylight where an intriguing chandelier-like arrangement of colourful spheres hangs over the vast, squeaky-clean space. Staff at the concierge are young, patient, exceptionally well-trained and have a good grasp of several foreign languages. It’s an impressive introduction. (Note that guests are required to pay a deposit of 2,000,000vnd ($90) when checking in, which will be returned when you leave.)

Marble lion, The Grand Ho Tram Casino & ResortWelcome to The Grand: marble lions stand guard over the entrance to Ho Tram Casino & Resort

For some visitors, the lobby may be as far as they wish to go, because this is where the entrance to the casino is. Although gambling is illegal for Vietnamese citizens, it’s extremely popular in regional countries – especially those in which gambling is also illegal, notably China – and for returning overseas Vietnamese, known as Việt Kiều. Indeed, many countries in Southeast Asia are looking to cash in on China’s pent-up passion for gambling, leading to the construction of lavish pleasure domes such as Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands.

The lobby, The Grand Ho Tram Casino & ResortFloating spheres: the intriguing chandelier hanging above The Grand’s lobby and concierge

I haven’t gambled since I won nine straight rounds of blackjack in a Pyongyang casino in 2009, but I did take a stroll around The Grand’s gaming rooms. After a passport check by beefy but gracious bouncers I was allowed in, but not my Vietnamese staff chaperon, who had to wait outside. I was jumped upon as soon as I got my camera out, so I don’t have any images. However, the casino was very neat, new, clean, orderly and staffed by very young Vietnamese, who were all far more glamorous than the rather sad, dead-eyed, mostly middle to old age Chinese gamers.

Glitzy decor, The Grand Ho Tram Casino & ResortBling-bling: glitzy decor can’t hide the fact that gambling just isn’t that, well, glamorous

The lobby, casino and conference rooms are all connected to the main hotel building by a long, and slightly sinister, carpeted corridor. Leading off this walkway there are high-end designer shops and excellent quality cafes and restaurants, including sushi bars and dim sum buffets. Unlike many of the large construction projects in Vietnam, one gets the impression that The Grand is built to last. Building materials are high quality and there’s a sturdiness behind the flashy furnishings and elaborate adornments. Many new developments in Vietnam simply aim to appear high-end by using shoddy materials and dressing them up, then sticking an expensive price tag on. This is not the case at The Grand, where you certainly get what you pay for.

Glitzy decor, The Grand Ho Tram Casino & ResortA carpeted corridor leads between the casino and hotel buildings

Elevators – complete with Braille control buttons – whisk guests up to their accommodations. Room prices vary according to the view: sea view rooms are on the east side and are around $10-$20 more expensive than garden view rooms on the west side. However, both types offer spectacular prospects of the surrounding area, which consists of kilometres of empty beach, sand dunes, forest, and farmland. A slight concern is that the continuing construction along the Ho Tram Strip can be a bit of an eyesore and a bit noisy at times.

Sea view room, The Grand Ho Tram Casino & ResortYep, that view is real: a standard sea view room at The Grand Ho Tram, around $100

Floor to ceiling windows make the most of the fantastic views. However, guests can no longer open the windows. Presumably this has to do with safety, but it is a bit of a disappointment. Rooms are highly decorative but also very refined: there’s an air of opulence about the colour scheme and embellishments, some of which are reminiscent of Vietnamese imperial decoration. I used to think The Grand was all about garish colours and ostentatious design; now I see it as elaborate and indulgent but still very elegant and tasteful. In some ways, The Grand is the antithesis of the other major accommodation option in the area, Ho Tram Beach Boutique Resort & Spa. Being a massive fan of the latter, I expected to dislike The Grand, but that’s not the case at all.

Lavish room decor, The Grand Ho Tram Casino & ResortLavish decor: gaudy and ostentatious interior design in one of The Grand’s sumptuous suites

Room facilities and services are exceptionally good. The bathrooms are huge, including a large sunken bathtub. However, if the ‘standard’ rooms aren’t luxurious enough for you, there are several suites to choose from; all of them on the upper floors, the most expensive of which comprises an entire floor, complete with spacious balcony, kitchen, living room, multiple bathrooms and in-room butler. From the balconies of the sea view rooms you get a real sense of just how big this complex is, and just how enormous the swimming pools are.

Swimming pools, The Grand Ho Tram Casino & ResortChoose your pool: a bird’s-eye view of The Grand’s impressive selection of swimming pools

Once you’ve had your fill of the cigar lounge, Chinese restaurant, casino, pools, beach, spa (and much, much more), you can practice your swing on the Greg Norman designed golf course, located just across the road. Golf tourism – just like gambling holidays – is another growing and lucrative industry in developing Asian countries, and The Grand is in a great position to exploit this. Once Saigon’s new international airport is constructed at Long Thanh, The Grand will only be an hour’s drive away. Add to that the lure of southern Vietnam’s beautiful dry season weather during the winter months – when it’s bitterly cold in regional cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo – and you have a pretty secure recipe for success.

Bathroom, The Grand Ho Tram Casino & ResortGolden opportunity: The Grand is in a great position to grow and prosper in the near future

There are currently over 500 rooms at The Grand, but capacity will double once a second tower is completed in the coming years. When you consider that this is only the first phase of a $4.5 billion project along Ho Tram Strip, it’s easy to see how this could be the makings of a gaming-integrated resort destination to rival, perhaps, the biggest in the world.

Exterior, The Grand Ho Tram Casino & ResortThe Grand Casino & Resort is just the first phase of a $4.5 billion gaming-integrated resort development

While I do prefer the understated decor and elegance of similarly-priced resorts like Ho Tram Beach or Ana Mandara Villas, I can also appreciate the giantic scale, bold design, and superb quality of The Grand and the business model that it adheres to. Of all its qualities, perhaps the greatest is the buffet breakfast (included in the room price), which is exceptionally good: the best I’ve had in Vietnam. Flaws include the constant arctic air-conditioning throughout the complex and lack of any natural ventilation in the rooms. [Average rates are $100 a night. To check current rates, availability & make a reservation for The Grand BOOK HERE].

*Please support Vietnam Coracle: I never write a review for money: all my content is free & my reviews are independent. You can support the work I do by booking your hotels via the Agoda links & search boxes on my site, like the ones on this page. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Any money I make goes straight back into this site. Thank you.

Check Rates & Availability for Ho Tram Grand:

Sea view room, The Grand Ho Tram Casino & ResortAlthough it’s not ‘my kind of thing’ I can still appreciate The Grand for what it is

Disclosure: I never receive payment for anything I write: my content is always free and independent. I’ve written this review because I want to: I like this hotel and I want my readers to know about it. For more details, see my Disclosure & Disclaimer statements here

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