Last April, I enjoyed a great holiday in Vietnam, where some resorts far exceeded my sky-high expectations (and rank among the best hotels I have ever stayed at). You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Singapore Airlines A350 Business Class Düsseldorf to Singapore
- Review: Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City
- Review: The Reverie Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City
- Review: Anantara Mui Ne
- Review: Vietnam Airlines ATR-72 from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Dao
- Review: Six Senses Con Dao (today)
- Review: Evason Ana Mandara, Nha Trang
- Review: Six Senses Ninh Van Bay
- Review: Amanoi
- Review: Avani Quy Nhon
- Review: Anantara Hoi An
- Review: Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An
- Review: Banyan Tree Lang Co
- Review: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
- Review: Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Hong Kong to Düsseldorf.
Today (July 12, 2017): Review of Six Senses Con Dao (Vietnam).
- Location: Google Maps
- Address: Dat Doc Beach, Con Dao Dist, Con Son, 74000, Vietnam
- Hotel website: Six Senses Con Dao
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso
True to Six Senses’ philosophy of selecting remote yet accessible destinations in areas of outstanding natural beauty, Con Dao – a 40 min flight south of Ho Chi Min City – is a breathtaking location, which has been protected for decades as a national and marine park. Six Senses Con Dao is the only five-star resort in the archipelago islands, located along a massive private beach with sweeping views of the snap-worthy islands against the dramatic backdrop of the Lo Voi Mountains. The intimate, all-pool villa resort is contemporary in design and reflects the essence of a traditional fishing village. The spa and dining options are world-class. The resort is popular among A-list celebrities, with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie having stayed here once when they were still a couple.
Six Senses Con Dao features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in Vietnam and the best resorts in the world with private plunge pools.
In this review (more info below my Youtube clipe and slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Six Senses Con Dao enjoys a delightfully remote location in the Con Dao archipelago, a cluster of 16 emerald green, mostly uninhabited island in the South China Sea, which has been protected for decades as a national and marine park. The islands – which served as a prison for political prisoners during the French colonial era and in the last century – are fringed by unspoilt beaches, crystal-clear seas, soaring cliffs, beautiful bays, and hills partially covered in thick rainforests. The Con Dao archipelago features in my top 10 list of things to see and do in Vietnam.
- The hotel is located on the southern shore of Con Son, the largest island of the Con Dao archipelago. It is a 45-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Con Son onboard a turboprop plane of VASCO (a subsidiary of Vietnam Airlines), then a 15-minute transfer to the resort. Charter services, airline ticketing and visa services can all be arranged by the resort, plus VIP pick-up service and transfers between terminals in Ho Ci Minh City are offered. I have previously published a detailed review and Youtube clip about the transfer from Ho Ci Minh City to Con Dao.
- Six Senses Con Dao, the only luxury resort in the archipelago islands, is contemporary in design and reflects the essence of a traditional fishing village. The property is gorgeously built with a lot of attention to detail. Guests enter the fabulous resort via a replica high street, lined by a boutique shop, a spa desk, and the kid’s club. The narrow streets opens up to a larger, picturesque market place, surrounded by a bar, the ‘Vietnamese By The Market’ restaurant, the front office and concierge area, and an ice cream parlor.
- The resort is located on a one mile long (1,6 km), perfect crescent of majestic beach, backed by beautiful hills draped in rainforest. The wide beach, one of the best in Vietnam, is composed of light grey colored sand that feels delightfully soft under the feet. Although the beach is not private, there’s no other development in the magnificent bay except for the Six Senses Resort, so guests have the beach completely for themselves. The waters in front of the beach are a protected National Park, currently open to fishing by local fisherman only. The beach offers a lovely view of the sunrise.
- Six Senses Con Dao is an intimate property, offering 50 magnificent villas, all built from locally sourced teak and antique carved wooden panels from old Vietnamese homes. All villas have their own private infinity pool, range in style from single level to duplex, and offer 1, 3 or 4 bedrooms. Villas are placed in two rows along the beach, with only the first row offering direct beach acces. During my holiday I stayed in a so called “ocean view duplex pool villa”. The spacious two-level villa featured one bedroom on the upper floor with a terrace offering magnificent ocean views plus an ensuite toilet. There was also a large open plan bathroom on the ground floor with double vanity basins, bathtub and outdoor shower. The private infinity-edge swimming pool had a terrace with sun loungers. The room featured all the modern technology you need, such as satellite TV and Bose sound system.
- Each villa has its own private pool, but if you are feeling sociable, there’s also a communal, free-form, infinity pool on the beach, below the resort’s fishing village. Palm and mahogany trees provide some shade when you lounge on one of the plush orange and green sunloungers that are clustered around the pool. A pool bar serves daytime coctails, light snacks, and sundowners.
- Six Senses Con Dao features two excellent restaurants in total, as well as ‘destination dining’ at any location of your choice. The main dining venue ‘By The Beach’ is located along the shore and offer Vietnamese recipes with a twist, Asian fusion cuisine with a hint of French. Up in the fishing village is ‘Vietnamese at the Market’, which serves Vietnamese cuisine prepared by Miss Lan and her team using recipes that have been passed down from mother and grandmother. Having at least one meal at Vietnamese at the Market is highly recommended (I enjoyed there one of my best lunches of my life).
- The breakfast – served at By The Beach – is the best I had in Vietnam. It features several buffet stations, including a Vietnamese streetfood and soup station, a liquid station with the most delicious cold pressed juices, a libation station where you can blend your own mimosa or bloody mary, and a cold room with delicious cold meats and fruits. The amazing breakfast buffet is also complemented by an extensive a la carte menu, with a choice of eggs, pancakes, waffles and other hot dishes.
- The replica high street in the fishing village has an ice-cream parlor with unlimited and complimentary scoops for all guests (during daylight hours only).
- The superb Six Senses Spa at Con Dao is set with the dramatic backdrop of the Lo Voi Mountains and is surrounded by tropical gardens. It offers four indoor treatment rooms, three outdoor treatment salas, a yoga and meditation pavilion and hammam treatment. As you can expect from the Six Senses brand, spa treatments are of the highest quality.
- Six Senses Con Dao is a great place for families with young children. There’s a playroom, a kids’ club every day with different activities (painting, jungle explorations, decorating cookies), plus workshops kids can participate in. Cots can be added to rooms at no extra cost and every villa has a sofa-bed.
- Six Senses Con Dao enjoys a private and secluded setting with a host of activities on hand to entertain all ages and satisfy the most discerning of tastes. From water sports and beach activities to hiking and discovering nature, the Con Dao archipelago has something special for everyone. During my visit, I took a snorkeling trip to some of the other islands and highly enjoyed the excursion. With over 340 species of coral, Con Dao teems with a colorful array of marine life, and offers the best snorkeling and diving in Vietnam.
- As with every Six Senses resort, each villa has its own Guest Experience Maker (GEM) or butler. This guarantees an exceptional level of service during your stay.
- The resort is operated by Six Senses, a hotel and spa management company that currently comprises 10 resorts and 28 spas under the brand names Six Senses, Evason and Six Senses Spas. Six Senses, one of my favorite luxury hotel brands in the world, operates resorts in far-flung locations of incredible natural beauty known for their distinctive and diverse design personalities. Each of the Six Senses properties is supported by a leadership commitment to community, sustainability and wellness.
- With a passionate commitment to supporting and protecting the environment, Con Dao has been built and is maintained with the very lightest ecological footprint.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
Six Senses con Dao is one of Vietnam’s best resorts, mainly due to its fabulous scenery, private bay (with beach), stunning villas with private pools, and excellent food. It would be very hard to dislike to the hotel, but there are a few things you need to know when booking a stay here:
- Nervous fliers (like me), be prepared: access to the island is by a twin-engine turboprop on Vietnam Airlines’ subsidiary VASCO. However, it’s not that bad at all and if I can do it, you can do it as well. The planes are modern, the flight time is only 45 minutes, and Vietnam Airlines has an excellent safety reputation. Nevertheless, when you do suffer from a fear of flying, I recommend you to book the resort during the dry season, when the weather is less turbulent. For your information, Con Dao can also be reached by overnight ferry, but that trip takes 15 hours.
- During my visit, some renovations in certain villas were taking place. This did cause some minor noise annoyance. The good news though is that all renovations are scheduled to be ended by autumn 2017, so guests who check-in by then will be able to experience the resort in all its refurbished glory.
- Some of the accommodations are duplex villas, which would be a real challenge for disabled or elder guests since there are lot of stairs to negotiate. If you have difficulties walking or taking stairs, make sure to book a single level villa. Apart from that, the resort offers wheelchair access throughout, as well as one tailored room for guests with disabilities.
- The food and spa treatments are expensive for Vietnam, but not expensive when compared to other 5 star hotels in the region.
- The resort enjoys a splendid location in a remote island archipelago. Yes, there is a small town nearby, but except for exploring its market, there is nothing to do here. So, most of your time will be spent at the resort or at excursions booked via the hotel. Night life here is non-existing (but I believe most guests that enjoy the Six Senses brand are not looking for that).
- The resort is located in a national park, on the border of the rainforest, where wildlife is present. Some may find the presence of small (and harmless) wildlife uncomfortable or the noise it makes at night annoying. More troublesome are the mosquitos and sand flies which are for real in the rainy season (May to October).
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool: 8/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 10/10
- Breakfast: 10/10
- Spa: 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting best deal at a luxury hotel like Anantara Mui Ne. Book a room at the cheapest price and/or receive many free perks!
- Save money: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
- It’s worth to book a villa on the first row, so you have direct beach access and unobstructed sea views. Guests staying in villas on the second row always have to backtrack to the communal swimming pool to get to the beach.
- If you have difficulties walking or taking stairs, make sure to book a single level villa.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Like most of Southeast Asia, Vietnam varies from warm to very hot throughout the whole year. There are four annual seasons: cool and dry between November and February; (very) hot and dry between March and May; hot and wet between June and August; and cool and wet between September and early November. The best time to visit is the cool season, when the weather usually benefits from a pleasant dry heat and the surrounding countryside is still green from the rains.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest airport is the tiny Con Dao airport on Con Son island, a 5 km (3 mi) trip or 15-minute complimentary ride to the Six Senses resort, in the hotel’s airconditioned car. Direct flights from Ho Chi Minh City (with a flight time of around 50 minutes) are currently only offered by VASCO, and tickets can be booked online on the Vietnam Airlines website or directly via the hotel (the latter will get you free VIP amenities, such as priority check in and access to the lounge at the domestic terminal in Ho Chi Minh City’s airport).