“Do you want Anna’s juice?” I am asked for breakfast every morning. Yes, please, although I never quite understood what exactly is in it – a combination of vegetables and home-made live yogurt. But it does the trick and after a couple of days I’m starting to feel human again.
But other factors are at play and I have a feeling that they too could make a difference. I’m on a remote island off the southeastern coast of Vietnam at Six Senses Con Dao with my ten year old daughter Gracie.
If you can’t rediscover your mojo here, forget it. And what a total contrast to the dark and complex world of Marcella, the ITV drama that I finished a few days before I left.
Green: Six Senses is eager to keep its carbon footprint low. For example, all villas are equipped with bicycles
The hotel is a short flight (just under an hour) from the crazy streets of Saigon and is protected by lush, forested mountains on a mile-long stretch of sand.
Our villa, one of 50, was designed to reflect the natural surroundings. It’s wonderfully luxurious, but what I love is the complete absence of disingenuous smiles from the staff, no waiting for tips and the way nothing is too much trouble.
The general ethics behind Six Senses is the commitment to improve the ecological and carbon footprint. For example, all villas are equipped with bicycles, although if you can’t cope with the idea of selling street vendors, there are golf buggies.
After a couple of days, I worry that I have come in a quiet time, but I later learn that he is at peak capacity. It is so spaced out that you can spend a whole day on the beach without seeing another soul.
My island mates are a mix of couples and families. I get the impression they think I’m Gracie’s nanny because this isn’t an obvious choice for a mother and daughter vacation. It’s a long way to go and it’s expensive, but none of us will ever forget it.
Connection: Anna Friel and Gracie stayed at Six Senses Con Dao on an island off the southeastern coast of Vietnam
The sea is like a giant bath. It has gentle waves, so Gracie and I paddle board almost every day. I do my daily exercise in the pristine swimming pool, a set routine that requires me to keep by the pool to perform a series of Pilates moves.
A short drive away is Con Dao Prison, a disturbing reminder of the island’s ancient use as a prison colony. The prison was built in 1861 by the French and used during the Vietnam War to house the Vietcong and anyone against the US-backed Saigon government. It was cruel to the extreme. Most visitors won’t want to linger, but it’s important to see it.
Back in the world of five-star luxury, we have our own GEM (or private butler) and a gem she proves to be. He asks us what activities we want to do on a given day or if we want our villa to be cleaned, even what kind of pillow we prefer.
The hotel spa is exceptional. I do five massages and also participate in a meditation session with Tibetan bells with Gracie. Tibetan bells are a type of handcrafted bowl, somewhat resembling a metal pestle and mortar, in which a stick circulates to produce a soothing sound.
Dark: A short drive away is Con Dao Prison, a disturbing reminder of the island’s ancient use as a prison colony
It’s probably not Gracie’s first choice of business, but I think she still likes it and has more patience than I do.
I look at it and reflect on what my holidays were like at the same age.
As a child, I wanted to take an all-inclusive trip with friends but, instead, my parents insisted on the long drive from Rochdale to lodgings somewhere in the middle of France.
We did the same trip every year, but at least I learned French, which comes in handy at Six Senses when I find myself playing Gracie’s interpreter with her new Parisian friend from the resort’s Kids’ Club.
The only real adult conversation I have is with Andy, the talented and charming Yorkshire chef. But the lack of adult dialogue doesn’t bother me at all. Then Gracie announces that our stay is the best vacation she has ever had.
I take that as a huge compliment since it’s just the two of us. And wholeheartedly agree.
Travel information: plan your luxury stay in Vietnam
Scott I don’t know (scottdunn.com, 020 8682 5060) offers seven nights B&B at Six Senses Con Dao, Vietnam starting from £ 2,450 per person based on two shares.
The price includes return flights and private airport transfers