Earlier this year I had been staying in Dong Hoi a lot because of my injured leg, not being able to walk and at the weekends Captain Caveman and I had been spending a lot of time staying at Phong Nha Farmstay. After chatting to Ben, Bich and Veronika we decided to take a look at one of the newly finished properties within the Farmstay’s portfolio of accommodation – ideal for longer term stays. As soon as I saw Elements Collection I was very impressed, I wanted to move in but we still had to think about the practicalities of the location because it wasn’t as convenient as our existing house for Captain Caveman’s work. I was still recovering too slowly from torn ankle and knee ligaments and I needed to stay in a place with less stairs, a more convenient way to be able to cook or have food deliveries when Captain Caveman wasn’t there to help me and, more importantly, I really needed to be able to get out and about for some fresh air by myself. Captain Caveman was due to finish his work for the season and because of the virus we had made a decision not to leave Vietnam, usually we would be in Turkey and the UK for the winter.

We decided to give up one of our rooms at our existing rented place in Phong Nha and give Elements Collection a trial with Veronika. We looked at all 3 villas and chose the one we thought suited Veronika and I the best. I was mostly looking forward to having an easy to access and useable kitchen, the private swimming pool and being able to drink the tap water were also of great benefit for me.

I was the first to arrive and was welcomed by Duyet and Co, who sat me down, got me cold water and took my bags. They introduced themselves and used Google translate to talk. I also tried some of my very basic Vietnamese which they didn’t understand a word of. Captain Caveman was next to arrive and they showed him a place to park the motorbike which was perfectly hidden away. The staff tried to put bags in our bedrooms but we wanted to wait for Veronika to check which ones we were having. When she arrived we were all excited and she took the twin room (which was later changed to a double bed) and we had the double with the mezzanine storage. It did mean we got the ensuite which had the strangest placing of a toilet I’d encountered in a while. The loo faced the window which was only obscured just under chest height and I later noted it was not to be used when taking down a swimming costume without the blinds or windows closed – I came to like the bathroom lay out much more, the more I used it.

In each room there were flowers and we also got given a big bunch of delicious (and seedless) grapes per bedroom. Our massive bed was decorated really nicely with rose petals and swans made from towels. I was already impressed and I was looking forward to sleeping in such a comfy looking bed. The owner had even made sure that the shower shoes were in our respective sizes – how thoughtful.

The small private swimming pool is really lovely, located between the two bedrooms and overlooking a very well maintained communal garden area. Each room has a balcony and appropriate furniture, while the bedroom also has a desk from which to work if required. As we booked for a month initially there were quite a few perks that were included and made my stay so much easier; cleaning and a shuttle service was included and we got a great rate on laundry. Being a short distance from the main building of the Phong Nha Farmstay also meant that it was easy to join in any activities that were being arranged and we often took advantage of the bar and restaurant services there. The owners and staff were very attentive in a subtle and charming way and I was surprised how little we could hear each other, or the neighbours. Even the guard dog was well behaved and friendly to the residents and staff.

During the floods we were in one of the best places to stay and were looked after so well that we felt a bit guilty for being in a lovely home which also had the use of a generator and a good working internet connection.

Over the period of our stay we enjoyed our villa at the Elements Collection so much; the pool was just perfect, the gardens so beautiful and we spent many an evening telling stories over a glass of wine or a White Russian. I started to recover a bit more and even managed to walk without my crutches enough to get round the block and enjoy the fresh air and nature surrounding us.

There is one big problem though with staying at Elements Collection, it is very difficult to leave! Our neighbours have left and returned once already and when we got to the end of our trial period it wasn’t a tough decision on whether we should extend our stay a little bit longer.

Photo credit – various photos taken by Captain Caveman, the staff and owners, Melissa, Veronika and some from Facebook.

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