Ms Nguyen Viet Loan Deleo Foster, aka Ms Loan, is the quintessential host to entrust with your sojourn in Vietnam and broader South East Asia.
Ms Loan is a descendant of a respected family of high-ranking officials in Nam Dinh Vietnam’s north, once the capital of the Tran Dynasty (1226-1400) emperors and renowned for producing the country’s literari class and top diplomats.
Ms Loan’s been dubbed “one of Hanoi’s most fashionable hostesses” by The Wall Street Journal and “Ambassadress of Cultural Tourism” by Vietnam Entrepreneur Magazine. She has accompanied dignitaries and introduced them to Vietnamese marvels ranging from the archaeological excavation site of Hanoi’s 1000-year-old Citadel to art galleries and furniture makers. With her long history in Vietnam, coupled with her warm, infectious personality, Ms Loan will help you open a window to Vietnam’s incredible diversity.
A Hanoi native, Ms Loan and her 8 siblings are French educated as her father sent them to the French Lycée to study the language and learning of Montaigne, Racine, Voltaire, Jean Jacques Rousseau and the family eventually emigrated to France before the Vietnam war ended. She lived in Europe for many years before returning to Vietnam when the country was still reeling from decades of war and privation.
“Hanoi was way out on the fringe of the world’s radar screen when I came back here in the late 1980s. The US embargo was still on, and I thought ‘What can I do to help?’” Ms Loan remembers.
Her vision for Journeys to the East stems from a 1995 assignment with legendary hotelier Robert Burns, who is credited with bringing the concept of five-star hotels to Asia by founding the Regent Hotel Groups in Hong Kong. Ms Loan’s mandate was to find locations across Vietnam for five-star hotels and resorts.
“My understanding of real five-star standards started with my first challenge to secure approval for Bob’s chartered Cessna to land at Hanoi’s airport, the first private Cessna to do so, just as the US was lifting its embargo,” Ms Loan says. “With his focus on innovation, attention to detail, top-class cuisine, exquisite accommodation and unrivalled service, Bob was an inspiring mentor for Journeys to the East. He helped define the exceptional service standards we observe, and he helped hone our appreciation of what it was that travellers really want out of a sophisticated journey.”
Ms Loan, who speaks seven languages due to her extensive time abroad, is guided by a deep sense of history and wears many hats. She’s a respected interior designer, a practicing archaeologist, a fine arts and antique collector, a proud mother of four whom she raised to be respectful of family traditions all the while acquiring the dexterity of world citizens, and Journeys to the East’s founder and chairwoman.
A recognized researcher at Hanoi’s Institute of Archaeology, where she specializes in Chinese and Vietnamese ceramics, Ms Loan has engaged in a lifetime of academic study. She studied Linguistics at the Sorbonne, History of Arts, Chinese Studies and Archaeology at the Munich’s University Ludwig Maximilian, and acquired a Chinese language proficiency degree from Taipei’s Fu Ren Da Xue University. She studied for her MA in Beijing’s Bei Da University, writing her thesis on the history of the origins of the discovery of papermaking in ancient China under Pan Jixing, professor of the history of science at the Academia Sinica in Beijing.
Among Ms Loan’s array of accolades, she was named “Honorary Consul of Uruguay” in Hanoi by then Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez Ms Loan has also clinched a coveted Award of Merit from Vietnam’s Prime Minister for "having made significant contributions to the socio-economic development and spoke at the Global Summit of Women in Paris in 2014 and again in May of this year in Sao Paolo, where she accompanied Vietnam’s Vice-President Madam Nguyen Thi Doan, promoting gender equality. And most recently Ms. Loan is once again been appointed “Honorary Consul of Uruguay” based this time in Ho Chi Minh City by the Oriental Republic of Uruguay. The Consulate of Uruguay headed by Ms. Loan will open its door to the public in the fall of 2015.
A pioneer in everything she puts her mind to, Ms Loan refurbished a villa that made Architectural Digest’s January 1998 cover page. Standing on the fringe of Hanoi’s stunning West Lake, the villa makes for an exquisite backdrop to dinner parties as part of her Journeys to the East tours.