Six Senses Resorts
I first discovered Six Senses four years ago, when my daughter and I were traveling around the world and wanted a unique, kid-friendly stop between Paris and Bali. Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman, with its paragliding entrance, was a perfect addition to our trip, and since then I’ve tried to incorporate at least one Six Senses stay a year into our travels. Over the next two summers my son and I visited Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives and Six Senses Zil Pasyon in the Seychelles, and then last year all five of us traveled halfway around the world to spend a week at Laamu just before Christmas. Every stay has been perfect. They’re the best resorts in the world for the way we like to travel – relaxed luxury in amazing locations with an absolute commitment to sustainability.
This summer my 11-year-old and I were planning three weeks in South Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and looking at our preliminary schedule, I saw a lot of cultural activities but not a lot of relaxation. And that’s not very kid-friendly! I remembered that Six Senses had two properties in Vietnam, so we looked them up, and based on location Ninh Van Bay seemed just a little easier to fit into our itinerary than Con Dao. So right in the middle of our trip, following visits to Seoul and the DMZ, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hue, Hoi An and Da Nang, we booked three nights at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay.
Getting to Six Senses Ninh Van Bay
Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is located outside of Nha Trang, Vietnam. We flew from Da Nang directly to Nha Trang, getting in one hour late (thank you Vietnam Airlines) at 8:20pm. We were met at the airport by a Six Senses representative and taken to a shuttle bus for a 58-minute bus ride to the Six Senses pier, where we boarded a boat for the final 20-minute journey to Six Senses. We love arriving at resorts by boat, but a night arrival wasn’t quite as satisfying! Our fault for booking a late flight. We got in a little after 10pm and went straight to our room, where there was a light dinner waiting for us – a very nice touch.
Two Days to Relax
With the late arrival, and then an 11:30am departure by boat our final day, we had a little over two days to explore the resort, do several activities, relax a lot, and play a lot. It was a perfect break in our schedule.
So how did we spend our days?
Three of our four Six Senses resorts have included bicycles with every room, and we’ve loved it. We were constantly on our bikes, riding to meals, ice cream, the spa and the sports facility, looking for monkeys (we saw maybe a dozen one day) and simply riding just to ride. It never gets old. And as with our other Six Senses stays, our bikes came with personalized plates, which is the coolest touch ever.
Football (Soccer), Frisbee and Ping Pong
We brought a Frisbee and American football with us and we borrowed a football (soccer ball) from the Experience Center, and we played each afternoon on the beach near our villa – as soon as the tide went down. There’s a ping pong table at the Experience Center as well that was fun. If you don’t travel with a Frisbee, I highly recommend throwing one in your suitcase next time you take the kids somewhere warm. It always comes in handy.
We also played several games of pool on the resort’s very odd 5-pocket pool table. Have you seen one like this before?
We always take advantage of free kayaking at resorts. The water was slightly rough one morning, but otherwise was perfect for easy kayaking around the bay.
A Singing Bowl Workshop
So I never had any idea how to make Himalayan singing bowls sing. Now I do! My son was skeptical of this session at the spa, but we both really enjoyed it, and we now have a new talent. And yes, we purchased a bowl for roughly $100 the next day. I’m guessing a lot of people who do the workshop end up with a bowl.
The Sustainability Tour
Six Senses is the greenest hotel/resort chain that I’ve found. There’s no single-use plastic, and really no plastic at all other than the television remotes and the telephones in the rooms. It’s always fun to go behind the scenes and see everything that the resort does to produce as much of its own food as possible, and recycle anything they can. My son and I met Six Senses’ Sustainability Supervisor, who took us to the chicken farm and through the gardens, and showed us where the spa’s essential oils are made. Definitely take the tour. And the chicken farm is open every morning for guests who want to grab (very) fresh eggs and hand them off to be cooked for breakfast. We have chickens at home so we didn’t do this, but for most guests/kids, this would be a fun, unique activity.
We never used the main pool, but we swam in our private plunge pool several times a day. Absolutely perfect.
Coral Regeneration / Learning Vietnamese
Two years ago a typhoon destroyed part of the resort and killed most of the coral reef just offshore. Six Senses is committed to restoring the coral. Our second morning I went out with the resort’s Sustainability Supervisor and a diver to help out. We first headed through rough seas to an area of healthy coral, and the diver went down with pruning sheers to cut off maybe two dozen pieces. Then I helped attach the coral to a coated steel frame using zip ties (pretty much the only plastic at the resort), at which point the diver took the frame into the ocean and set it up near all of the others that have been completed by the resort and other guests. Nice to play a little bit of a role in helping the restoration.
At the same time I was on the boat, my son went to the Sub Club, the Six Senses kids club, and spent an hour learning Vietnamese. He loves studying languages and exploring the differences between languages, and really enjoyed the one-on-one Vietnamese lesson.
The resort’s afternoon tea is impressive! We both loved the lemongrass tea, and we had enough food to feed us and maybe four of our closest friends. Great setting too.
Evening Drinks on the Hammocks
Along with the bikes, we love Six Senses Resorts’ ubiquitous overwater hammocks. To keep our hammock sunset streak going, we sat out our last night (it was too cloudy for a proper sunset the night before). Always enjoyable, even with the low tide that meant that we weren’t technically overwater.
And close to the hammocks, on the jetty, the resort set up a movie night. My son feels like movies are a waste of time, so he wasn’t interested in the kids’ film. But I rode my bike over for 50 First Dates – a good movie anyway, and it was fun seeing in such a gorgeous setting.
With the 20-minute boat ride and hour-long drive, we left the resort roughly 3.5 hours before our flight from Nha Trang. We had a 1.5 hour flight to Hanoi where we changed from the domestic terminal to the international terminal (there’s a white bus that picks up at well-marked stops) and then flew an hour on to Luang Prabang, Laos. It was an easy journey with no issues at all.
We were in Villa 10, a Beachfront Pool Villa. There are three other room categories – one that’s a little less expensive, the Hilltop Pool Villas, and two that are premium, Rock Pool Villas and Water Pool Villas. For families the Beachfront rooms are perfect. The others either don’t have direct beach access or you can’t ride bikes to them. We had the best of all worlds, and Villa 10 is roughly halfway between the main restaurant and the pool/spa/experience center part of the resort, so super convenient.
We had two twin beds with a mosquito net, a large bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers, and a colorful upstairs living area.
We also toured the property and saw the Water Pool Villas and Rock Pool Villas. They’re gorgeous, and definitely more private and secluded. All villas have a similar feel, but the rock and water villas have unique layouts based on the rocks surrounding each site.
Six Senses Ninh Van Bay has two primary restaurants – Dining by the Bay for breakfast and dinner and Dining by the Pool for lunch. There’s also the option to have dinners high above the resort at Dining by the Rocks. We didn’t mind not having a lot of places to choose from – it made life simpler! The food was excellent everywhere – a mix of Vietnamese, Asian and International. We tried to mainly order Vietnamese, but the wood-fired pizzas were very good as well.
And like all Six Senses Resorts, there’s free homemade ice cream! It opens at 11am every day and we took full advantage. We highly recommend the lemongrass sorbet.
Finance and Summary
We loved Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. It’s on par with other Six Senses resorts, and was easier to get to than the others we’ve been to. We received a media rate, and the afternoon tea was provided to us. Their nightly rates the rest of 2019 range from $516 to $728, and are generally in the mid-$600s (holidays excluded). That makes it one of the more affordable resorts of this quality that we’ve stayed at. And food was excellent and nicely inexpensive. Our lunches were maybe $25 for both of us. Dinners were $30-50 total without alcohol.
The weather forecast showed rain every day during our stay, but we never saw any. It was cloudy over half the time, but given the high temperatures and humidity that we had experienced everywhere else in Asia, the clouds helped cool everything down so no complaints.
If I had to pick only one Six Senses for a family vacation, I’d go with Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives. The overwater villas are hard to beat. But it’s also more expensive and harder to reach. If you’re traveling through Vietnam, or anywhere in Southeast Asia, Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is a great way to end a cultural vacation with some beach time. And we met several Aussies who visit regularly since it’s easy to fly from Australia direct to Ho Chi Minh City and then on to Nha Trang, so that works too for anyone in that part of the world!