Diary, a week of vegan luxury
As full time travellers and seekers of amazing vegan food, we like to mix up our Vegan Food Quest travels and experience all kinds of travel. Sometimes we backpack, sometimes we stay in luxury resorts, sometimes we stay with families in a homestay.
Wherever there is vegan food, you can find us eating it, and then telling you all about it though our blog.
Recently though, we went deep into the world of luxury vegan travel and checked into the world class laid back luxury resort of Six Senses Con Dao. We’re no strangers to the Six Senses concept having previously experienced Six Senses Yao Noi and Six Senses Ninh Vanh Bay but we’ve never stayed longer than a few days.
What exactly happens to people when they sign up for a week of vegan luxury?
Read our ‘Diary: A week of vegan luxury’ to find out…
Why we really needed a week of vegan luxury…
After landing at Con Son Airport, we squeezed into a shared minibus and headed to a local guesthouse that we’d found online. It was a bizarre check-in with the girl on reception insisting we accompany her to the police station to hand in our passports as we were unwilling to let her keep them for the duration of our stay. We politely refused (several times) until she went away, never to mention it again.
Odd, and a rather unsettling start
This was followed by a sleepless night listening to James Blunt’s ‘You’re Beautiful’ played on loop until 5.30 am in the restaurant next door. We’re no stranger to torture by noise pollution having lived in Siem Reap for 7 months but torture by James Blunt?
A step too far
We checked out and found a new place to call home for the rest of the week, one that was a James Blunt free zone thankfully.
We quickly learned that life in Con Son operates under it’s own rules. Places open and close at leisure (leisure being the operative word) and prices for essentials like water seem to fluctuate with the wind. Despite this we managed to find a few good spots for eating and drinking and spent our days doing just this (check out our Vegan Guide to Con Dao for more details).
After a few days of this we were beginning to get a little worn down. The island is truly beautiful, it really is, but not even a beautiful ocean view could sooth our aching backs, ruined after a week sleeping in a bed that was a strange combination of lumpy, bouncy and hard depending on which way we laid.
We’d also eaten an unnatural amount of MSG. We got used to walking about with furry mouths, being perpetually thirsty and cursing our inability to communicate our lust for something that isn’t laden with it and then cursing other people’s habitual use of it when they have such nice ingredients to cook with. Why is the human race so stupid?
It was definitely time to move on.
Diary, a week of vegan luxury
Day 1: Monday – Check in day
We arrive at the reception area of Six Senses Con Dao and are greeted by the staff team including Hui our GEM (that’s right, we have a personal ‘Guest Experience Maker’ to help us) who escorted us to our home for the week; a two story villa made from wood and glass with a private pool with beautiful ocean views.
As we are shown inside we’re excited to see that someone has thoughtfully prepared vegan chocolate cake and watermelon juice to welcome us, our selection of pillows (buckwheat and a butterfly shaped one) has already been arranged, our room smells of lemongrass, lavender, wood and sea air.
Hui swaps all the decaf coffee for the proper stuff on our request and there is much smiling at the shiny proper coffee machine as we think of all the really good coffee we’re going to brew. We eat our cake (which makes us even happier) and agree that cake tastes better when sat by your own private pool.
We take in the view quickly; lush jungle, imposing mountains, gentle ocean waves and uninhabited islands in the distance, then head out to get acquainted with the complementary ice cream parlour.
We decide all resorts should have a complimentary ice cream parlour
‘Deli-icious’ is open all day and night for guests to eat ice cream at their will. After discovering the numerous different flavours of vegan sorbet on offer, working out which toppings are for us and beginning to experiment with flavour combinations (banana and coconut with popcorn and mango slices wins today) we vow to eat our own weight in vegan sorbet during our stay.
We meet Carina who spends her time “making peoples lives happier and healthier”.
She is here as one of the visiting practitioners and we excitedly chat for ages about raw vegan food, travel and being healthy. She’s one of those people who glows with loveliness, who manages to inspire gently and who’s full of great knowledge for a travelling vegan.
We make mental notes to try to be more healthy.
Day 2: Tuesday – “I’ve got a bit of fruit salad for you” (Executive Chef Chris Long)
The day begins with some gentle morning yoga, part of the complimentary wellness activity schedule from the spa team. For only the second time in 17 years of knowing him, Paul decides he might give it a go and puts himself in the hands of Dr Aneesh for a yoga and relaxation session, complete with the chimes of singing bowls.
At breakfast we opt for healthy herb laden bowls of Vietnamese pho, fresh fruit and vegetable juices and almond milk lattes and then we chat about food with Executive Chef Chris who we instantly love because of his passion and his enthusiasm for creating vegan food.
Today we dine from the well established healthy menu as it’s all mainly vegan by default
Our ‘Quinoa Superfood Salad’ is full of chick peas and black beans, has quinoa running throughout and is laden with jewels of juicy pomegranate; it’s delicious and whilst glancing though the ingredients list at the back of the menu (which lists all the benefits of what we’ve been eating) and feeling just a little bit virtuous.
At the end of our meal Chef Chris comes and says “I’ve got a bit of fruit salad for you”, to which we politely thank him (with slightly deflated hearts because every vegan will tell you that a fruit salad isn’t really what we dream of for dessert).
Then it arrives; a ‘Mojito Fruit Salad’ where the fruit has been ‘vacuum soaked’ making the colour become so vibrant that it looks like we are eating candy and intensifying the flavours like everything has been sealed inside magically. And there’s a big scoop of a sweet, refreshing, champagne sorbet sat atop making this creation no longer a humble fruit salad but more of a decadent indulgence that just happens to tick a few healthy boxes too.
We begin to realise just how good the chef and his team are
We decide we want to only eat fruit salads like this from now on
Day 3: Wednesday – Caryl “Can you send this cake to our room?” Hui “of course we can” Caryl “this place is amazing”.
The water here is treated like a princess and I’m starting to wonder if it’s having some kind of supernatural effect on us. Because Six Senses are big on wellness (not just for people but also for our planet), they built their own Crystal Water plant so water is piped in to the resort, filtered, mineralised and then, as it sits in re-fillable bottles waiting to meet the guests, it’s played classical music.
This might sound quirky, but a man called Masaru Emoto did some ‘research’ about it, photographing the changes in crystals depending on different environments and the playing of classical music produced pretty crystals (as opposed to the not as nice crystals formed through less pleasing conditions).
We’re not quite sure how the science stacks up, but I am personally starting to wonder if the happy water is beginning to take effect as Paul tells me he’s decided to come to the morning meditation session with me. I pinch myself to check I’m not dreaming and then we cycle off to the spa to see Dr. Aneesh who guides us through an uplifting meditation focusing on different areas of consciousness. We focus on beautiful sights, smells, tastes, sounds as well as sending out love into the universe.
There are more singing bowls, which fill the room with what seems like a million chimes coming from every possible angle.
I’m blushing a little as I type this but I think I may have exclaimed that the whole thing was “blissful” with a dreamy look on my face.
So, off we go to breakfast and today the bakers have got their bake on; they make us a small mountain of vegan cakes for breakfast, along with everything else we can already stuff ourselves with. I probably would have been exclaiming more bliss but I’m too busy stuffing my face with cake and I’ve descended into a state of total happiness and satisfaction where I can’t talk.
We can’t finish the cake mountain, so it gets sent to our villa so we can continue eating cake all day, which we do, because we really like cake.
Meditation, universal love and vegan cake all before 10 am? I want every day of my life to start like this.
Day 4: Thursday – We actually force ourselves to leave the resort for a few hours…
We both head to morning meditation (I know?!).
At breakfast we are offered more vegan cakes but the happy water is in full force and we both decline. We also turn down coffee in favour of the Chef’s own blend of green tea made from fresh ginger juice and some other ‘good for you’ stuff.
We decide to venture out for a spin on one of the resort’s Vespa’s, just to cruise around the island but all this swanning about in a blissful haze of yoga, meditation, superfoods and cake, interspersed with floating in our pool has turned our brain’s to mush and we head out at 1pm when the sun is at it’s hottest.
It’s nice cruising about the island (which is really very beautiful) on our Vespa but we’re happy to return ‘home’ and do some more pool floating.
After a few solid hours of daydreaming, hanging about in the pool and generally relaxing in our stress free bubble, we head out to take a cooking class. We don aprons and get cooking under the expert guidance of Chef No, who is not only a genius in the kitchen, but is a very calming presence and a very patient teacher.
The Six Senses team have veganised the cooking class for us, preparing 4 traditional Vietnamese recipes for us to learn and it’s actually surprisingly easy (plus we get to keep the recipes and aprons).
Mental notes are made to throw cool dinner parties for friends where we skillfully recreate Chef No’s food.
Everything we do seems to inspire a new thought that gets added to the ‘to do list’ and we’re beginning to feel as though there are changes afoot.
Day 5: Friday – “Shame we didn’t do that sun salutation thing again” (Paul)
Got up for yoga and the class was different today with no sun salutations, to which Paul expresses a little disappointment as he’s decided he quite likes this classical yogic routine. I’m becoming suspicious that my real husband is hiding somewhere else and Six Senses may have supplied me with this new yoga loving version.
Later, we have an Ayurvedic consultation with Dr. Aneesh which is a little like having your fortune told. It’s a spooky experience where after a few questions, he seems to tell us things about ourselves that make me wonder if he has our villa bugged.
How can he possibly know that Paul is really tidy and I am really messy?!
We both get a print out of information about our different Ayurvedic types and I make a note to follow his advice of “eat what you want, but eat less” (the latter never being something I’ve been good at).
This place is really making us think about life, health and wellness; I have a growing list of changes to work on, things to do and a new enthusiasm for, well, everything.
In the evening we eat hotpot looking out over the pool and agree that life is indeed good
We are definitely living in an alternative reality, a wonderful alternative reality full of vegan luxury and we never want to leave.
Day 6: Saturday – Death by chocolate
Today we nearly died from chocolate.
It started as a usual day in paradise; singing bowl meditation, green tea and green juices. We potter around our villa, floating in the pool, looking at the sea… that kind of thing.
In the evening we head to ‘By the Kitchen’ to eat at the chef’s table, which is a cool private dining room behind the wine cellar with a window straight into the kitchen where you can see the chefs at work.
It’s all very exciting, especially when we see the menu which includes a fusion dish of mushroom ravioli with a sweetcorn puree with greens, hoisin sauce and deep fried leeks. Having been travelling in South East Asia for nearly 2 years now, a vegan ravioli isn’t something that comes into our world that often.
I’ve been doing well with the new “eat what you like, but eat less” approach; I’m eating everything during the meal because I like it all but I’m being mindful to leave a bit of room so I eat a bit less than usual.
I’m actually feeling like this approach suits me well, but this is before the ‘Chocolate tasting plate’. Chef Chris Long has a gift with chocolate and so everything on the pretty chocolate laden platter that’s put before us has our eyes nearly popping out of ur heads.
We have vegan white chocolate swirls, we have mousse, a soup, a fondant cake, ice cream, a chocolate log. It’s chocolate heaven, it’s a grown up chocolate playground that would make Willy Wonka jealous and the “eat less” part of my new mantra is instantly dropped.
We’re keen to keep going to the end, we try to finish every mouthful but we have to admit defeat.
Day 7: Sunday – Can we stay forever?
Our last full day on Con Dao; it’s a serene, post-cholocate-platter kind of day where we reflect on our week and sit and listen to the peace of this place. The weather is eerie with mist, the ocean is still and we desperately don’t want to leave. Ever.
We want to stay cocooned in this bubble of wellness and good food and beautiful things and the outside world feels a million miles away.
Day 8: Monday – “So we can’t leave and have to stay another day?”
We wake up to more misty weather knowing it’s time we leave our little paradise of vegan luxury only to find out that all flights have been cancelled due to the weather so we head back to our villa in a state of ‘pinch me, I’m dreaming’ disbelief.
Maybe we’ll be stuck here forever, living a life full of meditation, yoga and good food? Sadly not as we get confirmation that flights are due to resume the next day.
But we have the gift of one more day!
We hang about appreciating life and the little surprises that it throws at us.
The After Effects:
So off we went to the outside world where there is a lack of singing bowls and, let’s face it, the water is just plain ordinary.
We admit we’ve considered playing music to our water (OK only one of us has considered this) and we dream about the food; we tell other people about the time we ate of of the most amazing vegan burgers ever (you can read more about that here) and we drool at the thought of that chocolate platter.
It crossed our mind that getting so used to living in such a perfect bubble might not be good for the rest of our travel and we admit that as we sit on a slow moving Vietnamese train surrounded by other people’s rubbish, building up the courage to face the definitely not-luxury-toilet, we feel a little sad.
But, the good vibes and all that health and well being seemed to have soaked right into us and we’ve taken a bit of that healthy Six Senses way out into the big wide world.
Paul has continued with his yogic journey resulting in inadvertently taking part in a short yogic dance session (that’s another story) but the point is that there seems to have been a real change in us.
We’re a little bit healthier, a little bit more chilled, a lot more inspired; our hearts are full and we’ve got heads full of memories to dine out on. Not a bad way to spend a week at all.