The Secret Con Dao | Independent Review

First published August 2022 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

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Tom, Vietnam Coracle
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Tom Divers is the founder and creator of Vietnam Coracle. He’s lived, travelled and worked in Vietnam since 2005. Born in London, he travelled from an early age, visiting over 40 countries (he first visited Vietnam in 1999). Now, whenever he has the opportunity to make a trip, he rarely looks beyond Vietnam’s borders and his trusty motorbike, Stavros. Read more about Tom on the About Page, Vietnam Times and ASE Podcast.


Located on the beautiful and elegant seafront road in Côn Sơn town in the Côn Đảo Archipelago, The Secret is the most recent high-end resort to open on the island. It’s also the first luxury accommodation to be located in town rather than on a private, secluded beach. The position is fabulous. Unlike other resorts on the island, The Secret focuses on leisure and modernity rather than the heritage and hardships of the island’s past. Décor and design is minimalist, sleek, clean and contemporary. Facilities include a large infinity pool, 24-hour gym and multiple dining and drinking options of high quality. Some French colonial-era structures are incorporated, but the general aesthetic is modern. Although a big property, The Secret is low-rise and just about avoids being a blot on the Côn Sơn skyline. However, the property can feel a bit sterile and impersonal at times. Half-board rates represent fairly good value for money, but standard rates don’t even include breakfast which is very disappointing.

*To check rates, availability & make a reservation for The Secret Côn Đảo please BOOK HERE

The Secret Con Dao Resort, Independent Review
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REVIEW: THE SECRET CON DAO


Address: 8 Tôn Đức Thắng Street, Côn Sơn Island, Côn Sơn Town, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province, Vietnam [MAP]

Average Rates: $100-$150/night


CONTENTS:

The Location

Hotel Grounds & Layout

Pools & Facilities

Guest Rooms & Décor

Breakfast, Dining & Drinking

Summary


Please Support My Site
All my reviews are independent: I never receive freebies or payment. If you use the links on this page to book your accommodation, I make a small commission. Alternatively, please consider making a donation or becoming a patron.
Thank you,
Tom


[Click the image below or BOOK HERE]


MAP:

The Secret Côn Đảo


The Secret Con Dao Resort,

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The Location: At the northern end of Côn Sơn town’s glorious seafront boulevard, The Secret occupies one of the most desirable locations on the island. The property fronts the seafront road which sweeps along the coast, shaded by the horizontal canopies of giant, century-old tropical almond trees. Beyond the road, the glassy waters of the bay spread to the horizon with little green islets rising from the cobalt sea. At low-tide, a lip of sandy beach is exposed beneath the seafront walkway. From the resort’s back entrance, all of the island’s major historical sites are accessible on foot – the museums, prisons, cemeteries. The town’s sleepy back-streets, local market, cafes and restaurants are all just a couple of minutes walk away. The Secret is both in town and on the sea, meaning guests have direct access to both. This is something that other high-end resorts on the island lack, choosing private beachfront and isolation at the expense of direct access to the town.

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

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Hotel Grounds & Layout: A modern, four-storey structure in a kind of C-shape with two wings on either side of a central courtyard enclosing gardens and a big swimming pool which opens onto the seafront road, The Secret is large by the standards of Côn Sơn town. Although conspicuous for its modernity and size, it is a relatively low-rise and ‘inoffensive’ structure. While it certainly doesn’t blend in with the scale and style of the rest of the town, neither is it a blot on the skyline. Perhaps there are height restrictions in place for new structures on the island – I hope so – which prevent the likelihood of new, high-end hotels, such as this one, from building multi-storey monoliths. The Secret is a fairly functional structure with pitched roofs and four floors of guest rooms with large windows and balconies. The general aesthetic is clean, minimal, sleek, modern. It’s not particularly architecturally interesting, but neither is it overbearing and obnoxious. Scattered around the garden are some old, French colonial-era walls and architectural fragments entangled in webs of roots and branches. The Secret Restaurant is housed in a handsomely restored colonial-era villa, which is lovely, but does rather clash with the contemporary character of the rest of the resort: they feel totally disconnected.

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

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Pools & Facilities: The resort’s showpiece is its large infinity pool which occupies the centre of the property. Edged by tropical trees and facing the ocean, the swimming pool is big enough to swim laps and to accommodate lots of bathers. Much of the pool is shallow so children can play safely. There’s a poolside bar, loungers, gazebos, hammocks and a strange, rather ugly golf-ball-shaped stage which presumably hosts live music events. A decently equipped 24-hour gym with floor-to-ceiling glass windows faces the seafront road and there’s a spa, too. In addition, The Secret has lots of in-house activities and classes on offer to guests; some free, some not. These include, cocktail mixology classes, yoga, cooking classes and tai chi. There’s a calendar and price-list in all guest bedrooms. Just across the road from the resort, a seafront walkway provides a viewing platform and steps down into the ocean. The water is clean and clear and the swimming is good. At low-tide, a sandy beach is exposed. The views and ambience are magical at dawn and dusk, and during the day the colours are exceptionally vivid.

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

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Guest Rooms & Décor: The Secret is a big property with nearly 200 guest rooms. The vast majority of these are Deluxe city- or sea-view double/twin rooms with or without balconies. The rooms are bright, comfy, stylishly minimal, and tastefully appointed, but not spacious or particularly well-equipped considering the price. Average room size is between 25-30m2 and prices are from $100 a night (without breakfast) to $130/$150 a night (including breakfast/and lunch). Even bearing in mind that prices on the island are always about 20-30% higher than on the mainland, this is fairly expensive for what you get. However, there are $100-a-night properties on the island that offer far less than The Secret. The rooms are modern, clean and nice places to be: the lighting is excellent and the build quality is good. But really what you’re paying for is the resort’s excellent facilities, location and dining. However, the ocean-view rooms with balconies almost pay for themselves because of the amazing vistas. Even ‘city-view’ rooms look out over the town and green mountains behind. There are a handful of much larger, luxuriously appointed ‘suites’ and ‘villas’, but these are several hundred dollars per night.

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

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Breakfast, Dining & Drinking: There are several atmospheric dining and drinking options at The Secret and the general standard is very high and prices are fairly reasonable considering the quality. It’s worth noting that The Secret offers good deals for staying half-board. The Spice Kitchen is the venue for the buffet breakfast (and lunch if you’re staying half-board). An echoey, high-ceilinged, marine-themed hall, the restaurant is extremely spacious, bright, light and airy. Outside, there’s more seating on a patio overlooking the pool. Variety and quality at breakfast are very good, including everything that you’d expect to find at a high-end buffet. Lunch is a generous and well-balanced typical Vietnamese rice-based meal, such as roast pork, stir-fried bok choy, mustard leaf soup, and papaya salad.

The property’s fine-dining venue is The Secret Restaurant, an extremely tasteful, classy and unique place to dine. Housed in a renovated French colonial-era villa on the seafront road beneath old tropical trees, the outside seating is scenic and breezy, while inside it’s a stylish mix of contemporary-meets-Indochine. It’s quite fabulous, but prices for main courses can be pretty high, so dining here is a treat. The Sunset Lounge is located on the top floor of the resort’s southerly wing. With superb views over the bay and islands, this cocktail bar has indoor and outdoor seating, an extensive drinks list and a foosball table. Unfortunately, there’s no happy hour – something the management might want to introduce. Lastly, Tropical Cafe is located by the lobby for coffee, teas, snacks and cakes.

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

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Summary: The Secret’s strengths are its wonderful location, sea views, direct access to the charms of Côn Sơn town, the seafront road and historical sights; its dining options and quality; its leisure facilities, especially the pool; the comfort, cleanliness, and build quality of its guest rooms; and the attentiveness of service staff. Weaknesses include room size and high rates which sometimes don’t include breakfast; architecture that while fairly inoffensive is also fairly uninspiring; and, inevitably, pop music that’s played through speakers throughout the property, including around the pool and restaurant: why ruin the ambience with this insipid music when you could let nature be the soundtrack – the sea breeze rustling through tropical trees and the surf lapping the beach?

*To check rates, availability & make a reservation for The Secret Côn Đảo please BOOK HERE

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

The Secret Con Dao Resort,

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Please Support My Site
All my reviews are independent: I never receive freebies or payment. If you use the links on this page to book your accommodation, I make a small commission. Alternatively, please consider making a donation or becoming a patron.
Thank you,
Tom


The Secret Con Dao Resort,

*Disclosure: I never receive payment for anything I write: my content is always free & independent. I’ve written this review because I want to: I like this resort & I want my readers to know about it. For more details, see my Disclosure & Disclaimer statements & my About Page

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