A new ecolodge in Vietnam’s sprawling Mekong Delta is set to open its doors in July 2019. Can Tho Ecolodge, located 10km south of Can Tho city, will welcome guests pursuing responsible tourism and seeking eco-friendly accommodation with minimal environmental impact.
Can Tho Ecolodge is the newest venture of Asia Ecolodge, the company behind the highly successful Mai Chau Ecolodge in the north of Vietnam. Now the company aims to bring its progressive philosophy and green practices to the southern Mekong Delta, Vietnam’s most vulnerable region to climate change.
A combination of eco-friendly approach and support of local communities is sure to appeal to the growing number of tourists travelling to Vietnam with concerns of tourism’s impact in the country. As well as enjoying guilt-free travel while staying at Can Tho Ecolodge, guests will also find beautiful 4-star comforts across both its rooms and facilities.
“This is the dawn of a new kind of tourism in the Mekong Delta,” explains Nguyen Thu Trang, director of sales and marketing for Asia Ecolodge. “Our guests at Mai Chau Ecolodge have shown us that there is an increasing demand for responsible travel in Vietnam and Can Tho Ecolodge hopes to address those issues in the south of the country. We are very excited for the opening of the new lodge as it will offer a highly comfortable stay that benefits the guests, the environment and the hard-working locals of the Mekong Delta.”
At base level, Can Tho Ecolodge operates on the abundant potential of green energy around Can Tho and the wider Mekong Delta. Solar power is drawn from the intense delta sun throughout the day, powering most of the daily operations of the ecolodge. Natural water comes from the neighbouring Ba Lang River and is thoroughly treated before it finds a use in showers, cooking and the tending of the lodge’s lush gardens.
After its use, wastewater flows back safely into the environment and feeds the rice paddies and orchards neighbouring the Ecolodge. Inorganic wastewater, such as that containing laundry detergents and other chemicals, passes through several layers of filtration before cleanly returning to nature.
It is the environment of the Mekong Delta that Can Tho Ecolodge captures so effectively within its 2,7 hecta area. As well as featuring tropical plants such as coconut trees and local palm, 70% of all buildings and amenities of Can Tho Ecolodge are built from materials from the surrounding area.
The Mekong Delta’s famous trade in redbrick is represented across the rooms and facilities of the ecolodge, lending an old-time feel with deep ties to its delta home. In a similar manner, thatched roofing from local palm trees, environmentally friendly decorative wall tile panels made from coconut shell, and wood from Ca Mau mangrove forest, which is remodelled and refined to feature across bedframes, writing desks, deckchairs and unique bathtubs housed in every room.
“Our use of local materials not only brings guests closer to nature, but it also benefits local artisans enormously,” says Le Canh, operations manner for Can Tho Ecolodge. “We have made some very close ties with the craftspeople of the Mekong Delta and have learned that their history of construction and refinery is part of their deep-set heritage. At Can Tho Ecolodge, we wanted to utilise the skills of local people as much as possible and ensure that they receive good payment for their work.”
Of course, guests’ experiences have to be built on more than the eco-conscious philosophy of Can Tho Ecolodge. To that end, its rooms offer a beautiful and quaint home base in which guests can relax while surrounded by nature. There are 48 deluxe rooms and 4 family connecting rooms spread across 12 thatched cottages, with 8 suite rooms due to be completed next year.
Each room offers a breadth of 4-star comforts, all built with local materials in the tropical style of the Mekong Delta. A luxurious bed with thick mattress and rustic wooden frame comprises the centre of each room, flanked by sturdy timber furnishings like the wardrobe, desk and seating area. The furnished balcony or terrace outside the rooms looks out over the lush gardens and the wilderness of the Mekong Delta beyond the Ba Lang River.
En-suite bathrooms are filled with natural light and contain a strong combination of stone and wood. Stone is especially abundant across the bathroom floor and vessel sink, while wood features across mirror frames and the bathtub, the latter of which is made from waterproof Đước wood and finished with a luxurious gloss.
Can Tho Ecolodge’s 4-star approach extends across its facilities. The most noticeable of these is the central swimming pool, which combines with palm trees and sun loungers to offer guests a tranquil holiday experience. The swimming pool comes with a separated, shallow section for children as well as a Jacuzzi section, both of which are situated next to the thatched-roof bar and its varied stock of domestic and international drinks.
The restaurant is located on the other side of the central courtyard, offering local Mekong specialties sourced directly from the farmers, growers and fishermen of the region. Guests can try the famous elephant ear fish, braised chicken in lemongrass and coconut leaf cake, all supplemented by herbs and spices from the on-site garden.
In an echoing of the Mekong Delta’s water-based lifestyle, Can Tho Ecolodge features both a long canal and a large fishpond. The canal snakes between the cottages along the grounds’ central path, while the fishpond provides serenity at the back with an array of colourful, local fish.
Next, guests can find further serenity at both the outdoor and indoor spas. The treatments offered here are built on thousands of years of Mekong culture, which has featured massage and body healing as remedies for aching joints after long days of rowing boats and farming rice. These local treatments at the lodge's spas are provided by local people, who understand the culture of the Mekong better than anyone.
Út Mai, a local of the neighboring Ba Lang village, is currently undergoing hospitality training for the lodge’s imminent opening. “It’s really exciting to be part of the local team,” explained Miss Mai, “most of the staff here are from a local background and are honoured to be chosen to work for Can Tho Ecolodge. The wages we receive will definitely benefit our families and hopefully the wider community as well.”
Local on-site staff at Can Tho Ecolodge join a wider base of local off-site staff, who assist in tours throughout the Can Tho area. Biking and trekking feature heavily throughout a menu of tours designed to unveil the wild beauty of the Mekong Delta to guests. All of these are eco-minded and feature visits to historical sites, orchards and vegetable nurseries, with guests having the option to plant a tree in a bid to reforest the delta.
Direct access to the Ba Lang River at the back of the ecolodge gives guests the option of several boat tours. Of the Mekong Delta’s many thousands of miles of waterways, perhaps the best-known spot to tourists is the floating market at Cai Rang. Can Tho Ecolodge offers private tours of the market as well as many of the quieter backwaters across the delta.
Eco-tours and handicraft workshops directly benefit local communities, both in terms of financial aid and assistance in the preservation of Mekong culture. Cooking classes, massage workshops, seasonal farming tours and visits to wood-carving and noodle-making villages allow guests to explore the Mekong Delta through a variety of socially and environmentally responsible activities.
“That is the true essence of Can Tho Ecolodge;” concludes Miss Trang, “a local service run by local people. Asia Ecolodge wants to do its best to protect the precious environment of the Mekong Delta while also offering a nature-based accommodation that we think people will really love.”