In need of a little rescue? Isolated in a crescent-shaped bay accessible only by boat, the rustic yet undeniably luxurious Six Senses Ninh Van Bay boutique retreat near Nha Trang offers the weary a total reality break. Villas with decks over the sea, outstanding cuisine, butler service and the chance to dive, spa or simply laze will have you rejuvenated in no time.
Get this when you book through us:
Your choice of a 30-minute foot massage for two or a body scrub for two
Noon; earliest check-in, 1pm, but both are flexible subject to availability.
Double rooms from £637.49 ($832), including tax at 15.5 per cent.
Rates include breakfast.
Follow sandy paths through the jungle and prepare to experience enlightenment, Six Senses style. Treatment pavilions are dotted about the hillside and designed in the same style as the villas, but with alfresco Jacuzzis. The Vietnamese massage is popular, but more trad styles are available, too, along with facials, scrubs and the like.
At the hotel
Six Senses Spa, restaurants, bars, swimming pool, gym, yoga pavilion, excursions/watersports centre, golf buggies and bicycles, kids' club, free WiFi in lobby, free broadband in public areas, outdoor cinema, beach, butler service. In rooms: satellite TV, CD/DVD player, iPod dock, minibar, mini wine cellar, free bottled water, free broadband (free WiFi by request only).
Our favourite rooms
For those who prefer jungle seclusion, request Spa Suite Villas 4 or 5. Beach Pool Villas are set over two levels near the beach. Oh, but the Water Villas: with a private plunge pool perched amid boulders, and a ladder directly into the sea, this is special – Water Villa 5 is the pick.
Every villa has its own pool. The main pool is spacious and quiet, with a beachside location.
Download your desert island disks. You’ll want tunes, books and an array of swimwear to fully kick back.
The resort is accessed by boat. Staff will pick you up from the airport and organise your water taxi from the Six Senses Lounge in Nha Trang. Presidential Suite guests get a private boat transfer. Butler service is available.
They’ll love it here as much as you. There’s a children’s club with organised activities, located conveniently close to the bar (we’re just saying). Under-12s can stay in extra beds from US$40 a night; cots are free.
Six Senses Ninh Vanh Bay has a very green outlook. When building the resort, they kept as much of the surrounding nature as the could, including many of the trees that were on the site. They also plant new trees, clean the beach and remove anything that could harm the coral reefs. Organic waste is composted and used in the vegetable garden, which is watered with wastewater. All the bath products are eco-friendly, too.
The best views are to be had at Dining by the Rocks. For a more intimate affair, request a villa barbecue.
Walking boots for Dining at the Rocks (only teasing, it’s not a major climb); sultry swimwear for Dining by the Pool; and anything goes at Dining by the Bay.
Dining by the Bay offers informal dining with expansive views over the twinkling resort by night. The menu includes Vietnam’s finest such as banh xeo (stuffed savoury pancakes) and seafood hotpot. Dining by the Pool is ideal for a light lunch such as papaya and seafood salad. Dining by the Rocks is the resort’s special-occasion eatery, high on the cliffs and only available by reservation. You can also dine à deux in the romantic Wine Cave.
Poolside sipping is on offer throughout the day, but towards evening, make a beeline for Drinks by the Bay. During ‘no rush hour’, 4pm–7pm, drinks are two for one. You can also quaff cocktails from noon at languid thatch-meets-decking den Drinks by the Beach, which boasts sunset views of sea and peaks from its central vantage point on the sand. Happy hour at sunset is a must, or swing by for the twice weekly starlight cinema, when the venue transforms to screen classic and new release flicks. Don't miss the signature cocktail, an indulgent concoction involving organic Vietnamese chocolate.
Available from 7am–10.30pm, featuring a hearty selection from the restaurant menu. A more limited after-hours menu is on offer through the night, including pizzas, salads and ice-cream.
Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is on a private bay at the end of a jungle-clad peninsula. The only way in and out is by resort speedboat, ensuring it is very exclusive. Ninh Van Bay is a 20-minute boat ride from Nha Trang on Vietnam’s south-central coast.
Cam Ranh International Airport, about 35 kilometres south of the Nha Trang, has connections to major cities in Vietnam. Flights are planned to international destinations, but aren’t yet available. Resort transfers cost from US$59 a person each way, including pick-up from the airport and the boat trip from the Six Senses Lounge in Nha Trang to the resort (get the resort your flight details at least 48 hours in advance – last-minute transfers are US$179 a person each way).
Nha Trang is a major stop on the Reunification Express (www.vr.com.vn) and sleeper berths are available to and from Ho Chi Minh City, Danang and Hanoi. Transfers from Nha Trang Railway Station cost from US$40 each way.
Foreigners can’t hire cars to drive themselves, but you can hire a car and driver in either Ho Chi Min City or Hanoi if you want to go cross-country.
Worth getting out of bed for
As well as Six Senses Spa, the resort has a LIFE (Leisure Interest Fun Entertainment) centre for excursions. Tackle the local waters by windsurfer, water ski or catamaran or duck below the surface for snorkelling or diving. Further afield, island hop by boat, try your hand at fishing or visit a lobster farm. Land-based adventures include visits to waterfalls, hilltop hikes to hidden coves and lifestyle immersion experiences. More than mere day trips, these are carefully crafted adventures to lure you away from paradise, if only for a few hours. If you are inspired by the wonderful aromas wafting from the restaurants, try a cooking class. Pick fresh herbs from the organic garden, mix them with seasonal vegetables from Dalat and learn the secrets of the Vietnamese kitchen. For true romance, Six Senses offers a romantic sunset cruise on a traditional wooden boat. Quaff champagne and canapés as the sun melts into the horizon.
So many dining options on your castaway peninsula, so little reason to leave. If you must, take a sunset cruise, and quaff champagne and canapés as the sun melts into the horizon. For a slice of local life, it’s back to Nha Trang: Truc Linh 1 (+84 (0)583 526 742), on Biet Thu, is a popular open-sided restaurant serving succulent seafood. Beachfront the Sailing Club (+84 (0)583 826 528), at 72 Tran Phu Boulevard, excels at shellfish, alongside a varied menu of Vietnamese, French, Italian, Indian and more.
A Vietnamese beach resort seems an unlikely spot for a microbrewery – all the more reason to sup for yourself at the Louisiane Brewhouse (+84 (0)583 521 948) on 29 Tran Phu Boulevard.
To the Vietnamese, geckos are considered symbols of good luck. A small white one welcomes us at the front door of our villa and already this weekend away feels auspicious. Our two-storey lodgings at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is an inspiring example of eco-serenity. Wooden features throughout, bamboo railings and whitewashed walls are just the start. Lashings of natural light stream in from all sides. The bay window overlooking our own secluded infinity pool and the beach beyond is most impressive, although Mr Smith is having all sorts of problems dragging himself away from another arresting sight – the fridge, which is stocked with 16 bottles of wine as well as Taittinger Champagne.
It’s all a far cry from the scene that welcomed us – thankfully, from the comfort of an air-conditioned car – as we left Nha Trang’s Cam Ranh airport. The city’s scooter mob is a remarkable sight; hundreds of mopeds zip along the streets, and almost anything goes, from a tradesman carrying a long ladder to a family of four on a single motorbike. Although driving Vietnam-style resembles out-and-out chaos, you quickly realise there is some vague logic shaped largely by horn etiquette. Basically, you honk when you start, stop, overtake or at will any time in between.
Finally we arrive, happy and safe, at the Six Senses Lounge. Although not on an island, as many think, the resort isn’t accessible by road, so we take a short trip north by speedboat – very James Bond – to Ninh Van Bay. Each time we experience a surprise bout of South China Sea spray, Mr Smith and I exchange smiles.
Our weekend getaway first reveals itself as a long crescent of white sand backed by towering mountains with dramatic rock formations closer to shore. Arriving on the private jetty we’re met by our butler, who escorts us to our villa. During the buggy ride An informs us that Ninh Van Bay is one hour ahead of Hanoi. Not because of an officially different time zone, mind, but purely to give holidaymakers an extra hour of daylight. Here, time seems to be on our side.
Dragging Mr Smith away from the fully laden fridge, we explore our Hill Top Villa, a mod Robinson Crusoe abode. We have a choice of sleeping either upstairs beneath a mosquito net that splays over a giant day-bed on an open balcony, or in the air-conditioned comfort of the downstairs room. The bathroom blends perfectly with the subtropical outdoors courtesy of an open-air shower and a wooden bath tub for two – it looks a bit like a huge, misshapen wine barrel – that Mr Smith suggests we try out later. Small details – herb-filled linen pouches to scent the room, soaps wrapped in recycled paper and ceramic jars filled with Six Senses bath products – add an eco-friendly, at-one-with-nature feel and help distinguish this retreat from so many others. An leaves us to enjoy the welcome platter of exotic fruits and champagne, and to explore two very large beds plumped with dream-inducing pillows.
Dinnertime finally arrives, so we amble to the grand wooden pavilion of Dining by the Bay. It’s a balmy evening and the view of the bay as the sun sinks is sublime. Mr Smith enjoys a local Vietnamese beef stew, but since we’re on holiday I don’t hesitate before ordering lobster. Freshly caught this morning, it’s barbecued before my eyes and served with just a wedge of lime and salt and pepper. It’s simple but sensational. Once the last of our feast has been devoured we head back to the villa, take a dip under the stars and then luxuriate with a long, relaxing herbal soak in the tub, glass of red in hand.
Waking mid-morning to the sound of a fishing boat puttering past, we decide on the day’s plans while helping ourselves to a breakfast spread worthy of royalty. First stop: the spa. When you opt for a Six Senses Spa experience, the pampering starts the moment you step into its sanctuary. Here, the entrance features enormous white stepping stones suspended over a small lake. We’re seated for our consultation with the spa manager and given ginger-infused tea and cool towels. Pardon the cliché, but there is a plethora of treatments on offer. However, I’m smitten by the sound of the Escape Journey – exfoliation, massage and facial. Mr Smith, meanwhile, has set his heart on the Oriental Massage, which is meant to uplift and enhance vitality. We peel off to our respective women’s and men’s sauna and steam rooms before rejoining for two blissful hours in the couple’s treatment room.
For more energetic holidaymakers there are all sorts of daytime activities and excursions – from diving and fishing trips to cultural visits to local villages – but this place, to us, is all about rest and relaxation in the comfort of our private villa. On our final evening, we organise an intimate meal in the romantically lit Wine Cave. It’s just Mr Smith and me, rows and rows of fabulous wines, and a few lucky geckos.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Six Senses Ninh Van Bay’s Guestbook below.
A fabulous arrival by boat and a warm welcome from the staff. Bikes are provided which is always fun and our pool villa right on the ocean was divine. As you would expect from Six Senses, a fabulous spa!