Every now and then, a game changer comes along that irrevocably transforms something. In recent times, we can point to the iPhone and Facebook. In Vietnam we can single out a number of companies — Trung Nguyen, Kem Nghia, KFC, the Vin Group. On the restaurant and bar scene the Al Fresco’s Group, Quan Ut Ut, Hoa Vien, Mekong Merchant, Zone 9, the original Vine in Hanoi and, if we head to Nha Trang, the Sailing Club. All the people behind these ventures are visionaries. At one time or another, they saw something that no-one else did. They made it happen.
The recently opened Skylight bar in Nha Trang is of this ilk. Sat 45 floors above ground level and even fitted with its own lighthouse, this self-styled, rooftop beach club is phenomenal. First are the views — the venue has a 360-degree skydeck fitted with telescopes, making it the only point in Nha Trang where you can take in the entirety of the city. It’s a wow-factor panorama that is attracting both tourists and locals, despite the VND100,000 entrance charge.
But even the entrance charge is a clever ploy. Coming with a free drink, it ensures that those who make the journey to the top of the world experience not just the physical surroundings, but the atmosphere and the feeling of being in a bar. On a recent Thursday night visit, more than 700 people rode the elevator to the top. At the time of writing, the record was 1,000.
Then there’s the fit-out. It’s not sensational — it doesn’t need to be. The views take care of that. Rather, with grey concrete and deck-style flooring and comfy, beach-style sofas, it’s got a tropical, Bali-style edge, befitting its outdoor environment. With slogans like “it’s always 5 o’ clock in paradise” lining the walls, you get a sense that what the brains behind this place want to provide is experience. With a mixologist from LA working the bar and a selection of beautifully presented tapas (a restaurant is on its way), as well as nightly DJs avoiding the urge to spin Vinahouse, they do it with aplomb.
But let’s take a step back. Skylight really does have the potential to be a game changer, a bit like Sailing Club was in the 1990s. The word here is potential. What the people behind this rooftop bar have started is bold. Very bold. It’s expensive, too. And all four of them, three from the US, one from Canada, have different skill sets which contribute equally to the day-to-day running of this venue.
But as American Olympic gold medalist and probably the best female soccer player of all time, Mia Hamm, writes, “It is more difficult to stay on top than to get there.”
For the sake of the investment and Nha Trang in general, let’s hope Skylight manages to stay on top. Because at this very moment, it might just be the best bar in Vietnam.