VIETNAM – NINH VAN BAY
Luxury Beyond Aspen: Six Senses Ninh Van Bay
Within seconds of stepping off the plane at Cam Ranh International Airport in Vietnam, our personal concierge approached holding a Six Senses Resort sign with my name included. The moment I saw the personalized welcome sign, an immediate sense of calm ran through me knowing, from this moment on, I have respite from navigating maps and planning. As I know from its reputation, Six Senses will have everything handled, perfectly. Our host escorted my friend, Amanda, and I to a Six Senses-branded tiki bar adjacent to the luggage belt (how convenient!) and offered us a greatly welcomed cool towel.
He departed, temporarily, after he knew we had a cocktail in-hand, and shortly returned with our luggage. After a pleasant hour car ride, we came upon a dock where a boat was waiting to transport us to our final destination: the boutique resort of Six Senses in Ninh Van Bay.
About 40 minutes later, we arrived at what we both thought was an island. Due to the dramatic location of the resort (it sits on an alcove of the bay), there is an illusion you have arrived on an island. It is actually an inlet of the South China Sea situated on the southeastern coast of Vietnam, between Phan Rang and Nha Trang, approximately 180 miles northeast of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). Still, it looks like an island and is even referred to as such by everyone at the resort.
I had never been to this luxurious of a resort, but had viewed in photos more times than I could recount. It’s the type of destination where I imagined only the “rich and famous” vacationed…and there I stood! From one far end of the beach to the other, you could see the incredible accommodations. From beachfront villas over the water, to some nestled into the islands rock formations, the view was spectacular. It was abundantly clear why this was a multi-award winning resort. Six Senses resorts, as we learned, focus on harmonizing their build-out with the natural environment.
From the dock, we were greeted and led to an outdoor lounge area by our property host. After a warm greeting, and mango cocktail (scrumptious!), he led us to our beach-front villa. The beach villas are all separated by both private entry trails and lush tropical plants. Each villa offers extreme privacy as they are set far enough apart into the greenery of the landscape. The architectural villa style is a mix of traditional Vietnamese with rustic beach décor. All natural, sustainably-sourced materials are used in the construction.
On the first floor of our two-story villa was the bedroom housing a canopy bed surrounded with white mosquito netting. The bedroom has sliding doors that open to a plunge pool. Leading from the pool is a short trail and footbridge that opens up to the beach. Breathtaking! In the middle of the en suite bathroom, a stunning handcrafted wooden bathtub. Wall-to-wall glass doors open to a zen-themed garden and include a very private outdoor shower.
Upstairs: an open air living room decorated with teakwood furniture covered with thick and bright colorful cushions in lime green, peach and pink. The living room showcases a swinging chair, bar area, couches and dining table. It’s a perfect spot to watch the sun set or entertain.
Our host led us back outside to two bicycles, the preferred mode of transportation around the resort. Each bike has a mounted wooden plaque personalized with our name. This small, yet personal detail, speaks volumes about the Six Senses guest experience.
We took off on our bikes to explore. We peddled thru the resorts herbal gardens and to the farm area to see the chickens. Guests are encouraged to gather eggs for use in the morning breakfast! We continued riding on the bike trails, getting ourselves a bit lost along the way, but thoroughly enjoying every moment. Enormous trees, overhead, offered shade with the sun peeking in between the natural ceiling that the leaves create. Exotic birds were serenading us with sounds we had never heard, and just beyond the trees was the payoff. An amazing sparkling beach. Paradise. Well worth the journey!
For a small boutique resort, I was surprised to see there were a number of dining options. Options include dining waterfront in the indoor/outdoor dining room, an intimate wine cave found sub-level, or a mountain-top restaurant (note: some major steep climbing is needed to get there). Both international and local dishes are served. You can also find great choices for lunch dining by the main pool, all within eyesight of the Vietnam sea.
No matter where we went on the property, there was someone nearby to offer assistance with any need. My time was split between relaxing on the beach/poolside, and actively taking part in a few activities. I participated in a fabulous cooking class and spent some time at the resort’s amazing spa. There is so much attention given to every detail at the resort with all staff striving to ensure every experience is unique and unforgettable.
I was also able to experience a private sunset boat ride around the bay. The wooden boat, owned by the resort, is stunning with just enough room for two people to fully lounge (and a private captain to drive it). Perfectly presented were beautifully plated appetizers and cocktails; I truly felt like a princess. We had perfect weather and a perfect sunset. Although I was traveling with my girlfriend,and not with a romantic partner, it didn’t stop me from fully appreciating the magic of the moment. #grateful
The Six Senses mantra is “to treat each other with respect and guests with empathy, because life is for living, love is for sharing and a smile is for everyone”. From what I witnessed during my stay, this is genuinely the resort’s practice. It is taken so seriously that it naturally trickles down to every guest, in hopes they will take it back to their home and pass it on. It surely did with us.
I left Six Senses, chanting “Chúng tôi đã có một kỳ nghỉ tuyệt vời”, Cảm ơn.
Translation: We had a wonderful stay, thank you so very much.