21 April 2024

Anna Friel and daughter Gracie had their ocean view villa at Six Senses Con Dao
A feast for all senses in Vietnam
Actress Anna Friel unwinds with her daughter on a remote and blissful eco-friendly island
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ou want an Anna juice?' I am asked every morning at breakfast. Yes, please, although I never work out exactly what's in it – some combination of greens and home-made live yoghurt. But it does the trick and after a couple of days I'm feeling human again. But other factors are at play – and I have a feeling they might just be making a difference too. I'm on a remote island off Vietnam's south-east coast, staying at Six Senses Con Dao with my ten-year-old daughter Gracie. If you can't rediscover your mojo here then forget it. And what a total contrast from the dark and complex world of Marcella, the ITV drama I finished a few days before heading out.
Six Senses chef preparing delicious healthy meals
Eco-friendly bicycles are the preferred method of transport at Six Senses Con Dao
Six Senses is committed to improving the ecological and carbon footprint. For example, all villas come with bicycles although if you can't face the thought of peddling, there are golf buggies. It feels as if I've come during a quiet period, but I learn it's at maximum capacity - but so much space that you can go a whole day on the beach without seeing another soul.

My fellow guests are a mix of couples and families. I'm sure they think I'm Gracie's nanny because this isn't an obvious choice for a mother and daughter holiday. Gracie and I paddle-board almost every day. I do my daily exercise in the pristine pool – involving holding onto the poolside to perform Pilates moves. A short drive away is Con Dao Prison – a haunting reminder of the island's former use as a prison colony. The jail was built in 1861 by the French and used during the Vietnam War to house the Vietcong.

Back in the world of five-star luxury, we have our own butler - she arranges all our activities and even organises the kind of pillow we prefer. The hotel spa is exceptional. I have five massages and also take part in a singing bowl meditation session with Gracie. Singing bowls are a type of hand-crafted bowl, a little like a metal pestle and mortar, in which a baton circulates to produce a soothing sound. I reflect on what my holidays were like at Gracie's age.

Every year my family made the long drive from Rochdale to gites somewhere in the middle of France. But at least I learnt French, which comes in handy at Six Senses when I find myself playing interpreter for Gracie with her new Parisian friend from the Kids' Club. Gracie announces that it is the best holiday she's ever had. And I agree wholeheartedly.

Original article published in Aug 2016. All info and prices correct at time of publication.
The hotel is a short flight from Saigon and protected by forest-clad mountains on a mile-long stretch of sand. Our villa, one of 50, is designed to reflect the natural surroundings. It's wonderfully luxurious and nothing is too much trouble for the staff.
"Our villa, one of 50, is designed to reflect the natural surroundings."
0330·100·2220i 0330 calls are included within inclusive minutes package on mobiles, otherwise standard rates apply. X 0330 calls are included within inclusive minutes package on mobiles, otherwise standard rates apply. X