The flight from Ho Chi Minh City to the tiny Vietnamese island of Con Son takes only 45 minutes but as soon as you leave the airport it’s clear that this is as about as far from city life as you can get. Gone is the cloud of smog and the relentless stream of scooters that buzz through Saigon and instead there’s empty roads that wind along the cliff edge with waves crashing against the rocks below. Mountains rise up sharply from the coast, covered in thick jungle foliage, and small coves of white sand appear around every corner. Con Son, the only inhabited island of the Con Dao archipelago, is remote, wild, and stunningly beautiful.
All of which makes it the perfect location for Six Senses, who pride themselves on creating luxurious resorts in beautiful, slightly off the beaten path locations. Six Senses Con Dao opened in 2009 and quickly became one its signature resorts due to its spectacular location on a cliff edge overlooking one of the island’s prettiest white sand beaches. Approaching it from afar you barely notice it’s there, with the villas and hotel buildings cleverly camouflaged into their surroundings.
There’s no lobby or reception at Six Senses Con Dao; instead guests will enter into a cluster of small buildings designed to look like a local fishing village. There’s an open air restaurant serving traditional cuisine, a bar with leather swing seats looking out to sea, and – our favourite part – a small shop that has handmade ice creams available each day for free. From here steps descend down to the beach where there’s a communal pool and bar, an outdoor cinema, and the flagship restaurant called By The Beach – no prizes for guessing where that’s located.
From there, the individual private villas are spread out along the grounds for quite a long way, so long in fact that each guest is given their own bike to travel around on. As you would expect from a top-level resort the villas are incredible. Ours was facing right out to the ocean with our own private terrace, sun loungers, and pool, and a staircase leading right down the beach. Inside was a lounge area, huge bed in the middle of the room that was facing the sea, separate bathroom and an outdoor shower.
The design is luxurious but quite low key with lots of wood, glass and soft materials used throughout. There’s plenty of modern tech too with wireless speakers, Nespresso machine and even a wine fridge with premium wines – plus if you don’t like the standard selection, the hotel’s sommelier will come and have a chat with you and then fill it with things that you do like.
Aside from their locations and luxurious rooms, Six Senses are renowned for their spas and the one here was extremely worthy of that reputation. Making the most of its spectacular setting backdropped by the Lo Voi mountains, the spa is surrounded by tropical gardens and features both outdoor and indoor treatment rooms and an open-air yoga studio where free classes start at 7:30 every morning. Every kind of treatment imaginable is on offer, from pain barrier-testing Thai massages to relaxing body scrubs, and at least one visit here during your stay is highly recommended.
Of Six Senses Con Dao’s two restaurants, we preferred the Vietnamese dishes at The Market, where we joined one of the chefs one evening for a cooking class. We surprised ourselves by cooking up some very decent fresh spring rolls, a Vietnamese seafood pancake (Ban Xeo), and a fish clay pot one night before enjoying the fruits of our labour. Down at By the Beach there’s more of a French-Asian fusion menu with locally caught seafood and vegetables grown in the hotel’s organic gardens, backgrounded by the crashing waves. This is also the scene for an exceptionally good daily breakfast set up which features a Vietnamese street food section, fruits, pastries, eggs and anything else you could wish for.
Six Senses Con Dao is a very special place on a beautiful and very non-touristy island. If you like to escape the crowds but still like to have somewhere incredible to stay when you get there, then this will be your kind of place. Six Senses have a big number of new openings in 2019 too, including one on Krabbey Island in Cambodia not far from one of other favourite hotels, Song Saa.