There’s a new spot to add to the list of “Places that are easy to get to from Hong Kong with Little Ones in Tow!”… Forget Koh Samui, Phuket and Bali and consider heading off to Con Dao on your next family trip. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either, but thankfully my husband is happy spending hours online searching out new destinations and fab hotels, and stumbled across this gem of an island just a 30 minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City. The only thing Con Dao is famous for is being a former penal colony for Vietnamese political prisoners under the French and American occupations, but thankfully for those of us who might not consider such places the ideal spot for a beach vacation, theSix Senses Con Dao (basically the only hotel on the little island) has engaged Buddhist monks to chant any lingering “bad vibes” away… Phew.
Ho Chi Minh city is a 2 hour flight from Hong Kong, then you’ll need to get your bags and re-check in in the domestic terminal (pretty no frills but there’s a pay-in lounge) to take an Air Mekong flight to Con Dao. It’s up and down and you’re on the ground to be greeted by a Six Senses mini bus and whipped to the resort in under 15 minutes. In terms of ease, you can’t beat it, and we were lounging by the pool by 3pm (having left Hong Kong at 8.30am).
The Six Senses style in general is rustic and eco – plenty of bare wood and clean lines. If you’re looking for super-luxe, this is not the hotel brand for you. The villas and main buildings let the beauty of the natural environment shine through, and are surprisingly kid-friendly as there aren’t any knick-knacks, precious fabrics or super-fancy electronic bits and bobs to ruin. All of the rooms at Six Senses Con Dao are individual villas, each with their own private pool and sea view. And WHAT a view. White sand beach, turquoise sea, mountains and jungle as far as the eye can see. I’ve never been somewhere so utterly unspoiled.
The beach is amazing for little ones – especially as most of the time it’s utterly deserted, and the sea is gentle and shallow for a long way out, perfect for little splashers. There are rock pools at each end of the beach harbouring clams, barnacles and crabs so there’s a little nature-spotting to be done. For older kids, there’s snorkelling, a hobie cat you can take out, or even an overnight trip to another island in the archipelago where you can see sea turtle eggs hatching in the early morning (season-depending). If you’re the active types, you can try out Stand Up Paddleboarding, Windsurfing or Bicycling… Or, you can just lie yourself down, book in hand and snooze!
In terms of dining — there are two main options. The main dining room is open for Breakfast (buffet and a la carte), Lunch and Dinner, and there’s also a Vietnamese-style restaurant which has been made to look a little like a traditional hawker stall. As I was a little worried about whether there would be enough options for my 10-month old who is still having quite a lot of pureed foods, I brought my Annabel Karmel book with me and the chef prepared a menu for my daughter based on the recipes. How great is that? As adults we did get a little bored of the selection by the time our week was up, and some of the Western options were a little hit-and-miss in execution, but nothing that affected the overall experience. Each night while we were having dinner the hotel arranged a baby-sitter to come to our room for 2 hours to take care of our daughter while she slept.
We did find that service could sometimes be a little slow, but by the end of the week our Hong Kong selves had calmed down (thanks to some lovely massages in the spa) and we were happier to go with the pace of island life. The staff were so lovely with our daughter, always wanting to play with her, carry her around and entertain her that she left totally spoiled and happy. I’d definitely recommend Six Senses Con Dao for your next family getaway — it’s the polar opposite of our hectic city lives, and we left totally relaxed and fully unwound!
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