Six Senses Con Dao: An Eco-Friendly Vietnam Island Resort where barefoot luxury meets sustainable living
Con Dao Islands, Vietnam
Six Senses Con Dao is a wonderfully serene retreat with a deeply eco-friendly ethos and a rustic, castaway charm. Together with its untouched and breath-taking scenery, the resort pulls in guests with its award-winning spa, eco-luxe design and enriching sustainable activities.
Six Senses Con Dao is perched on a private bay in a protected national park on Con Son Island – the only inhabited island of the Con Dao archipelago. Although it’s just a 45-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City and then a 10 minute drive from the airport, the rugged landscape makes it feel like you’re worlds away.
Six Senses Con Dao is the first and only five-star resort in the archipelago islands; the area has been protected for decades as a national and marine park that plays host to several endangered species unique to this part of the world.
With sustainability at the heart of Six Senses, it has been recognised as one of the world’s top eco lodges by National Geographic. The resort has been built with the lightest possible eco-footprint, and contributes to positively developing the local environment and the communities that share it – but the creation of an independent, self-sustaining system within the hotel is what makes it stand out.
The epitome of barefoot luxury. Without sacrificing contemporary opulence and comfort, Six Senses Con Dao still affords guests their very own slice of uninterrupted quietude. The chain, which boasts a collection of beautiful resorts, is iconic for transporting guests to otherworldly locations – so it’s no surprise they chose this one. Flanked by Jungle-clad Mountains and a mile-long stretch of golden sand with coral-rich waters brimming with marine life, Six Senses radiates much of the same, tranquil energy as the surrounding landscape.
Villas start from £502 per night. A super expensive, splash-out-occasion kind of stay. An impressive buffet breakfast is included.
My brother. He entered the resort as a backpacker traveller but once he saw the bespoke pillow menu, he left a new man.
Where You’ll Stay
At Six Senses Con Dao there is no such thing as a standard room. Each of the 50 villas, which range from one to four bedrooms, have their own private infinity pool, dedicated butler service and terrace with sun loungers.
When it comes to décor, think bamboo furnishings, breezy white linens, tropical hardwoods and floor-to-ceiling windows, largely constructed from local materials in keeping with the Six Senses style and mission.
Ocean Front villas offer direct beach access, but no matter which accommodation you go for, the sand is only a few steps away. For more privacy opt for an Ocean View Villa, tucked neatly into the hillside. If you’re travelling with a larger group, the residences offering 3 or 4 bedrooms have spacious living rooms in separate pavilions.
We spent 3 nights in the Ocean View Villa; a two-storey bamboo structure. Upstairs is an airy, light-filled bedroom, equipped with a white canopy bed and en suite. The indoor-outdoor design style reduces air conditioned spaces while providing natural ventilation of the balmy sea breeze.
From the upper level’s balcony you can enjoy dazzling, unobstructed views of the South China Sea. Downstairs there is a large open-plan bathroom large enough to rival a spa, sporting rope towel rails, double vanity basins and terrazzo flooring that compliments the more locally inspired furnishings. Not paradisiacal enough? Take a trip out back, where you’ll find huge, sweeping leaves of banana trees encircling an alfresco rain shower.
You don’t really get a minutes rest from the lavish living – pillow menus are sent to you prior to arrival, something which really sets the tone for the rest of the stay and reflects Six Senses’ passionate dedication to spoiling you rotten, even in your sleep. All contemporary comforts are catered for, with Bose sound systems and LCD TVs subtly embedded in the design. To top it all off, super sustainable amenities like bamboo toothbrushes make wonderful take-home treats.
World class eco-credentials – The resort’s commitment to self-sustainability is second to none – effective wastewater treatment has been developed, solar panels were introduced, produce is grown in the organic garden and waste is composted. The concept is extended all the way down to even the smallest details – even the driving range’s golf balls being biodegradable. When they are lost out of bounds and end up in the water, the dissolvent remains serve as fish food.
Beyond the resort, Six Senses Con Dao plays its part in the sustainable development of the local area. It actively contributes to protecting endangered native wildlife, organises beach clean-ups, runs monthly environmental workshops to raise environmental awareness for school children and provides clean drinking water for them.
Village living – The resort mirrors several aesthetic features of a traditional Vietnamese fishing village, with reclaimed teak wood used in the design and construction – over a thousand antique panels to be (sort of) exact. It even has its own replica high street, with a boutique shop, market stalls, restaurant and bar.
Food and Drink – The Six Senses Con Dao offers a range of cuisines at its two restaurants and deli, ranging from traditional ‘street’ food to beachside seafood barbecues, and romantic, private dining is also available at several locations around the resort. Ingredients for dishes are sourced locally or fresh from the resort’s organic gardens and mushroom huts. Down on the shore is ‘By the Beach’ restaurant, where contemporary international dishes come with a large helping of gentle sea breeze and glorious ocean vistas. For a more laid-back experience, head to the Vietnamese ‘By the Market’ restaurant and indulge in all the sticky rice balls and pho noodles your heart desires.
The Italian deli, Deli’cious, is perfect for afternoon snacks – think poached eggs, freshly squeezed juices, pastries, and a cold room housing the finest meats, cheeses, fresh fruits, yoghurts and more. Table-side shoulder massages and mini spa treatments are also on offer. Yes, you read that right.
Pool and beach – If you’re able to tear yourself away from the villa, take a stroll down the private beach, where sweeping views across the national park are nothing short of spectacular. To make the most of sunset, enjoy aperitifs at the poolside Splash Bar. If you’re one of those of weird and wonderful people who enjoy exercising on holiday, work off the cocktail calories in the well-equipped fitness centre.
Spa time – Set amid tropical gardens and framed by the dramatic Lo Voi Mountains, the spa features both indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, an open-air Yoga and Meditation pavilion, a nail bar and a coconut oil workshop studio.
Activities galore – It’s not all zen and wellness at Six Senses – there’s plenty of fun to be had here too. There are plenty of non-motorised water sports to choose from, including stand up paddle boarding and kayaking, and land bound activities range from beach volleyball to kite flying. Boats can be hired for excursions to neighbouring islands, for discovering secluded beaches, diving, fishing and turtle watching.
For those who prefer a slower pace, kick back on the loungers at the resort’s outdoor cinema, or try your hand at a traditional Vietnamese cooking class with one of the hotel’s chefs. Others available teach guests how to make coconut oil, homemade soap and cocktails. There is a department dedicated to teaching guests about the culture and environment surrounding the hotel, too, meaning there is really something special for everyone here at Six Senses Con Dao.
What I loved
Luxury from the moment you step foot off the plane. We were met at the airport by a Six Senses representative who escorted us to the resort in the complimentary airport transfer.
The first-class service and enthusiastic attention to detail that never stops – each villa is assigned a dedicated Guest Experience Maker, who are more than a personal butler but a personal host. Not only do they provide round-the-clock service, they also sort you out with a bespoke blend of experiences throughout your stay. Fancy a sunrise yoga session? Sorted. Need advice on the best restaurant in town? No worries, your GEM has got you covered.
Unlimited and complimentary homemade ice-creams and sorbets. Need I say more? At the hotel’s ice-cream parlour, you can enjoy unlimited scoops made fresh in house, with flavours changing daily.
Complimentary bicycles. The property sprawls across quite a sizeable area, so each guest is given their own bike to travel around on. If you’re feeling lazy, not to worry, as there are on-call buggies available.
Things to Know
Nervous fliers, be prepared: access to the island is via a small, propeller-driven plane.
The island is relatively undeveloped and new to tourism, so if you’re after a destination with a bit of a buzz, the slow pace and quietness of Con Dao won’t suit. Here, the nightlife is limited to the star-studded sky and a bottle of wine.
Guests have the unforgettable opportunity to experience turtle hatchlings. Let’s Get Cracking, the resort’s very own incubation centre, lets guests join in with conservation efforts and release baby turtles back into the wild.
There’s not much you can reach within walking distance, but you can take a bike, book a car, or rent a motorbike to reach the local town and historical sites. Con Son Town is just a 10-minute drive from the resort and there you’ll find a central market and selection of shops, cafés and restaurants. Renting a motorbike will allow you to discover shrines and temples built nearby, and marvel at the spectacular viewpoints by the deserted beaches.
The colonial era, French-run prisons built to house Vietnamese involved in the independence movement are harrowing but deeply moving sights to visit in Con Son Town. Along with the Dao Tang Con Dao Museum and the Hang Duong Cemetry which was built for the victims, they form part of a sobering, educative experience that is well worth making time for.
Those seeking an undeveloped island escape rich in tropical wildlife and steeped in a wealth of fascinating history. It’s perfect for eco-tourists, wellness junkies and those in need of some off-grid R&R. It works perfectly as a romantic getaway but with the range of villa sizes, both couples and families are well catered for.
What makes Six Senses Con Dao so innovative is the way it unifies the concepts of sustainability, organic design, local culture and barefoot luxury. With responsible travel principles which offer experiences that are both good for you, the surrounding communities, and the planet – this retreat is truly rewarding. Here, sustainability is sumptuous and travel is truly purposeful. Con Son may be a little off the radar but Six Senses Con Dao is truly worth the short flight from, and is the perfect remedy to, the fast pace of Ho Chi Minh City.
about the author
Hi! I’m Maz, born and raised in London. After working in finance for 5 years, I was left craving a life with more meaning and less monotony - so I decided to set up my hotel reviewing business, something I'd always dreamt of doing. Now I am always in search of beautiful spaces which inspire people and create memorable experiences.