Vietnam: Permission to Unwind
Something about Con Dao’s reclusive beauty makes it nearly impossible not to relax
Con Son, the largest island of the Con Dao archipelago off the southern coast of Vietnam, is spectacular and pristine. To get there, you take a 45-minute plane ride from Saigon. As soon as we landed, we were struck by the lushness that engulfed the desolate airport and felt grateful to be greeted by a representative from our hotel, Six Senses Con Dao, the island’s first five-start resort. We sensed immediately that we had found ourselves in a truly hospitable place.
We traveled to the resort via meandering roads, many of which were carved into the green cliffs that preside over the ocean and hugged close to the edge of steep drop-offs. Unlike many of the luxurious properties we explore, Six Senses feels hidden and unassuming, meant to reflect the essence of a traditional fishing village. It’s modern and well-designed, but it’s not ornate, nor does it need to be—the landscape speaks for itself.
At its entrance stands a little village with a convenience store, restaurants and an incredible ice cream shop. When we arrived, the general manager greeted us with fresh watermelon juice, indicative of the type of service we’d receive for the length of our stay. The staff was attentive and authentic with their gestures of hospitality. They not only met our needs, they anticipated them, allowing us to take in and appreciate our surroundings.
We took golf carts to our private villas, situated in a secluded area towards the outskirts of the property. The villas were stunning, and photos do not do them justice. Our bedrooms opened up to a private infinity pool with a view of the ocean. We felt alone—in a calming way, and took a moment to reflect and feel grateful. This is paradise.
The afternoons often gave way to quick rainstorms, welcome breaks from the humidity. The sun always returned quickly, though, and we marveled at the quality of the sunshine, the strength and color of the rays and how they hit the ocean in such a way that you could see straight down to the bottom. The water is pristine, and its unadulterated beauty seems to just evaporate tension. Our muscles relaxed as we took a deep breath and reveled in the view.
Our first evening, we enjoyed a welcome reception for hotel guests in the village. We took a delightful cooking class, where we made hand rolls with rice paper, shrimp and pork and a variety of accompaniments. All of our meals were divine. The ingredients were remarkably fresh, and we loved experiencing new foods and flavors. We also fell in love with congee, a breakfast rice porridge that you mix with different proteins, herbs and spices.
One afternoon, we rode electric scooters into town. We decided to stop at one of the piers, where many of the locals were celebrating the end of the work day with a dip in the ocean. It was inspiring to see the community unwinding together. We attracted a lot of attention, and a horde of men soon surrounded us, using laughter, smiles and gestures to communicate. They snapped some photos, and it was a pleasant interaction, showing how easily smiles can bridge any language barrier.
We spent the rest of our time bike-riding, sunbathing and swimming. For us, travel doesn’t always entail relaxation; but even though we had to work a bit, something about Con Dao forced us to unwind. We had graciously been given permission to relax.
On our second day, it rained so hard that you couldn’t even see Turtle Mountain (named for its shape) in the distance. When the storm cleared, we were treated to a gigantic, crystal-clear rainbow. We could see its entire arc, from the surface of the ocean, up to the sky and back down again. It gave way to an incredible double rainbow that was truly remarkable.
There is something about this property, the people and the atmosphere that makes relaxation inescapable. As we waited to board our plane back to Saigon, a stranger tapped us on the shoulder, then handed over his phone. We had to laugh. His Facebook feed was littered with pictures from our pier photoshoot with the locals.
Ready to experience ultimate relaxation? Contact The Accomplished Traveler today at 212.586.2020.
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