Con Dao Island is a 1 hour flight from Ho Chi Minh City. Six Senses Con Dao is located on a bay 6km from the small French colonial era settlement on the island that once supported its prison network. It's around 15 minutes from Con Dao's airport.
Vietnam's remote, infamous, former prison island, Con Dao, may seem an unlikely place to locate one of the country's most luxurious resorts. But the people from Six Senses were obviously more taken by the island's mellow feel and spectacular coastline than its blood-drenched history. And they chose well.
Six Senses Con Dao consists of 50 pool villas on an isolated 1 kilometre strip of protected bay enclosed by mountains. The villas have been carefully placed along the beach in rows that are set across the rising terrain. All have excellent ocean views and have been designed to avoid excessive imposition on the natural landscape.
The villas are of faded timber with low pitched roofing and angular lines. It's stripped back, rustic luxury with muted decorative touches.
Thanks mainly to the gifts of nature, architect, Frenchman Reda Amalou, achieves something more cosy here than he has with his other major Vietnam resort development - the more flamboyant, Nam Hai in Hoi An.
As with the Nam Hai, guest privacy is a prime concern at Six Senses Con Dao. While this means you'll be safe from your neighbours' gaze when enjoying your private pool, it also means a compromise in the character of the common areas and the overall aesthetic of the complex where bamboo fencing becomes a defining visual attribute.
Six Senses Con Dao opened in 2010 and received an early boost when Brad and Angelina brought the family along for a stay. And family friendly the resort is with villas boasting 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms.
The lead-in villas are a generous 154 sqm and feature private plunge pool and deck, open plan bathroom with double vanity basins, bathtub and outdoor shower. There's fast wifi, a Bose iPod docking station and large screen cable TV with a good selection of in-house movies.
Duplex villas are even more spacious at 194sqm and then there are 2, 3 and 4 bedroom pool villas in similarly generous proportions.
The island's restaurant options are limited and quite a distance from the resort so expect to spend most mealtimes in-resort.
There are three restaurants. In the more casual Market area there is local cuisine at Vietnamese at the Market as well as relaxed Western dining at Delicious.
Looking over the bay, By the Beach is the main restaurant, serving a range of a la carte, beachside BBQ and specials each night in both Asian and Western style. Breakfast is an extravaganza of fresh juices, fruits and traditional brekky fare - again from both the Asian and Western kitchen.
There are full spa facilities.
Con Dao may be Vietnam's best dive location and the resort offers private and group dive touring. Check the season for the best conditions. Summer months tend to be better.
The resort's website touts its eco-credentials. There are no details about environmental impact or renewables. During our visit, it seemed to be powered by a large diesel generator with no sign of renewable energy.
It's a shame since Con Dao is bathed in sun for much of the year. We understand the resort is presently exploring renewables - which seem a perfect option for this environment. If this issue is important to you, be sure to ask during your stay or when making your booking.
Everything you'd expect from one of the country's most exclusive resorts in a beautiful natural setting.