Having already visited a Six Senses resort, Zighy Bay in Oman, I thought I had an idea of what to expect from Ninh Van Bay in Vietnam. Boy, was I wrong. Located on the exquisite Vietnamese coast, Ninh Van Bay is a stunning beach property overlooking the South China Sea, tucked above the ashen-sanded beach. Not many resorts can boast this kind of paradisiacal luxury.
Ninh Bay is made up of numerous private pool villas and, in keeping with the Six Senses aesthetic, is built to complement the natural environment around it, designed either on the beach, over the water, or into the impressive rock formations. We stayed in one of the Rock Villas, which provided everything one could imagine: nestled on the west end of the Bay and surrounded by the balmy waters of the East Vietnam Sea, offering complete isolation, not only from the busier areas of the resort, but the entire world. Indeed, the accommodation is accessed via a picturesque hillside staircase.
The villa is designed with wooden charm, understated yet elegance, with a welcoming, colonial feel. It feels almost like a secret, hushed and runic, with assiduous affluence and uncompromising comfort. You also get a private butler (ours was the effusive and amiable Bui) to cater to your every whim, with 24-hour dining, served poolside, by the bay, or on the rocks, depending on preference. Being on the coast, I would certainly recommend indulging in the seafood, which is among the best I’ve experienced. Lobster, king prawns and fresh fish is caught daily – a gastronome’s delight. The beef and lamb is even flown in fresh from New Zealand and Australia. You can also dine out on the jetty (which was a personal favourite), in the villa, or in the vast (and well-stocked!) wine cellar.
For those who want to capitalise on maximum relaxation, it’s worth taking advantage of the resort’s holistic wellness and pampering treatments. The setting is enough to send you into euphoria: the backdrop of the tropical rainforest, with a freshwater stream, with waters swishing around the ancient rocks. The treatment menu is vast; I opted for a holistic massage, preceded by a cup of the resort’s somewhat medicinal tea. After an hour or so, I was in a complete state of bliss. My partner took some time to indulge in the beauty treatments, which she still raves about today. It’s an epicurean’s dream.
Ninh Van Bay isn’t all about relaxation, though. Indeed, its fortunate location, near to Nha Trang, means it is perfectly poised to offer some great activities, both on land and sea. I’m not really an activities type of guy, preferring instead to laze about and soak up the sunshine. However, the surrounding scenery was just too tempting. I chose to go snorkelling, namely because the pure azure waters were so irresistible. The sea life is incredible – another private resort under the ocean. I also had a go at water-skiing – my first time, but thoroughly recommended. Others were windsurfing, playing badminton and volleyball, kayaking, and even fishing.
We decided to take a look at a beachfront villa, too, which was equally as impressive as ours. It had an advantageous view of the lagoon, with an indescribable vista of the bay – its open-plan layout is a testament to this, creating a unique indoor-outdoor feel. Indeed, every villa we caught sight of subscribed to the same shrewd aesthetic: an amalgamation of eco-modernism and traditional Vietnamese flair – of course, with all the state-of-the-art technology too.
Ninh Van Bay is a veritable stroking of the senses; an aural remediation. It is a special place – and it wants you to feel special too. And in that respect, it succeeds greatly, surpassing any preconceptions or expectations, and delivering what can only be described a uniquely memorable experience. Vietnam isn’t somewhere I would have normally chosen to go on holiday – but after staying at Ninh Van Bay, I can’t wait to go back.