Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Six Senses of Ninh Van Bay

After almost three weeks of exploring Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, we find ourselves on the tranquil beaches of Ninh Van Bay in the exceptional setting of Six Senses Hideaway Retreat. Set on a private peninsula of pristine beaches and verdant palm trees, Six Senses can only be accessed by the resort's private launch, as there are no roads leading to this earthly paradise, which feels more like a private island. Stepping ashore, we are introduced to Ahn, our private butler, who escorts us to our secluded 2-storey beachfront villa with it's own pool, outdoor shower garden and 2nd floor open-air living area offering exquisite views of the crashing waves and evening sunsets — an idyllic setting where traditional Vietnamese architecture has blended into the area's natural surroundings of imposing rock formations, lofty Hon Heo mountains and lush vegetation, creating a sense of being luxuriously at one with nature.

Dining at Six Senses is also at one with the tummy, offering a choice of 4 spectacular locations in which to enjoy traditional Vietnamese cuisine or an Asian-fusion menu, along with a bamboo bound book dedicated to exotic cocktails. The main restaurant is a large open air Bamboo thatched pavilion on stilts, with high ceilings and offering wonderful views over the bay. The bar features luxurious Vietnamese day beds, comfortable pillow-clad loungers where guests can hang back and enjoy one of Six Senses many blended juices or potent cocktails.

The cuisine at Six Senses is outstanding — from the locally caught seafood to their own organically grown fruits, vegetables and herbs in the resort's sprawling Organic Garden — everything is freshly made using traditional Vietnamese ingredients and local recipes from Southern, Central and Northern Vietnam — inspired dishes such as Pho Ga and handmade rice cakes in the morning, to delightful vermicelli coated calimari and tangy Cham curries and Seafood 'claypots' with delicious Vietnamese brown rice. 

Six Senses is a memorable experience on every level, from the setting, to the cuisine, spa to the wonderfully friendly staff — it truly is a unique hideaway. It'll be hard to leave and head back to the hectic pace of Saigon.