‘Six Senses’ Luxury Resort Brand Comes to Israel
Six Senses is an international chain of luxury properties with many distinctive characteristics: places of extraordinary natural beauty, meaningful experiences, warm hospitality, pioneering well-being, sustainable design. and healthy and delicious food.
Just recently, the world’s newest and long-awaited Six Senses Resort finally opened – Six Senses Shaharut, in a remote corner of Israel’s Arava Valley – and it ticks all of the aforementioned boxes.
The highly anticipated complex spanned 12 years and was built at a cost of over $ 100 million. While the structural construction used only locally available materials – such as the hand-cut stones in the many beautiful curved walls that characterize the exterior architecture – no expense was spared in importing exotic woods and artifacts. from all over the world for furnishings and interior design.
Great care has also been taken to preserve the ecological integrity and the landscape of this desolate corner of the Negev Desert. No building creates an artificial skyline or visibly alters the physical surroundings: the guest units have been carved into the slopes of a hill and blend seamlessly into the natural background.
It takes a lot of vision to explore a barren place in a wilderness and dream that it could become the location of a resort with an international pedigree. It’s fair to say that 99% of Israelis have never even heard of Shaharut, an indescribable cluster of hilltop dwellings literally in the middle of nowhere; and there is not even a road connecting the hotel to the village.
Getting to Six Senses Shaharut can be tricky: the nearest airport is the new Ramon International Airport, which primarily serves Eilat, a tourist destination on the Red Sea; from there a car can be arranged for the 40-minute journey on two-lane roads.
Alternatively, one can travel about four hours from Tel Aviv and Israel’s main international gateway; the reward for time and effort are endless views of breathtaking scenic beauty. The fastest and easiest of all – if money isn’t an issue – is to get in by helicopter and land at the resort’s helipad.
Upon arrival, guests are treated to a welcome ritual at the Experience Center: a refreshing wet towel, a glass of water and delicious cookies. There is a brief orientation, followed by the first of many rides in electric golf carts that transport guests around the property; the friendly drivers of these small cars are on call throughout the stay.
Your first likely stop is your accommodation, of which there are a plethora of choices at Six Senses Shaharut: 48 suites and 12 villas, to be precise. In addition, there are three categories of the first and two categories of the second, plus the crème de la crème: the private reserve, a complex comprising a three-bedroom villa, a large swimming pool, an indoor and outdoor kitchen, etc.
The suites here are actually large bedrooms – which can still comfortably sleep three people – while the villas are one- or two-bedroom apartments with private pools (albeit without a kitchen). All guest units have spacious outdoor terraces with comfortable lounging furniture, like day beds; six suites have plunge pools.
Basic amenities here go far beyond what can be found at most five-star establishments, which include extremely comfortable queen-size beds (king-size in villas); user-friendly individually regulated air conditioning; in-room safe (but not large enough to accommodate laptops); smart flat screen TV with satellite and entertainment system; [Marshall] bluetooth speaker; and unlimited free WiFi and bottled drinking water. Plus, there are stylish wooden ceiling fans inside and out, as well as some quirky items that can be used freely during your stay (and purchased afterward): a yoga mat, a tote bag, canes and stylish hats.
The minibar area is richly equipped and stocked, with an espresso machine and capsules, an electric kettle with premium teas, two jars of free cookies, and crystal glasses of all shapes and sizes. Along with the standard refreshments kept cool in the mini-fridge, there’s an impressive bar stocked with fine spirits in full size.
The bathrooms are no less luxurious, with a separate bathtub and shower cubicle, as well as a toilet with its own door for more privacy; Hair dryer; dental and shaving kits; organic cotton bathrobe for him and her (again, free use during your stay) and Moroccan-style terrycloth slippers. Sustainability requires that the combs are made of wood and that the aromatic liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner be dispensed in beautiful, sturdy containers.
The emphasis on sustainability is evident even in the hotel’s multiple restaurants, where plastic straws are banned in favor of thick bamboo straws. There must be more or less variety in the dining options, as there are no practical alternatives for going out to eat within a radius of several kilometers.
Meals of the day begin naturally with breakfast and the sumptuous complimentary buffet that can suit all tastes from simple to sophisticated and from the health conscious to self-indulgent. There’s fresh bread and pastries, plus hot and cold options, all washed down with natural juices and smoothies – plus, of course, freshly brewed hot coffee. Waiter service satisfying special orders completes the myriad of buffet selections.
Lunch and dinner are a la carte, and prepared under a number of dietary restrictions stemming from Jewish tradition: there is no pork or shellfish on any menu, and meat and dairy products will not be cooked together; this “kosher style” kitchen will meet the demands of most Israeli diners, although it does not meet more stringent standards to be categorized as true kosher.
The casual restaurant here is the Edom View Grill, which serves light meals during the day and has a weekly barbecue on Tuesday evenings. Its name derives from the beautiful view it offers over the Edom mountain range in neighboring Jordan.
The fine dining restaurant here is Midian, where menu items are labeled according to a wide range of nutrition alerts, from vegans and gluten-free to sugar-free and containing nuts or other known allergens. The quality of the food here is easily comparable to that of one of Israel’s leading restaurants, thanks to the expertise of the chefs and the care taken in sourcing the finest ingredients, from fresh locally grown vegetables to the superb beef of the region. Golan Heights. An annex to the restaurant is a welcoming wine cellar housing premium wines, where private meals can be prepared.
Finally, the Jamilla Bar serves not only specially designed exclusive cocktails, but also a full menu of hot and cold tapas. It shares with Midian a panoramic view of the Arava, whose agricultural settlements have made the desert bloom, creating along the way a patchwork of verdant green against a brown background of desert sand.
Integrated wellness is woven into the fabric of all Six Senses resorts, and Shaharut – with its world-class exercise facilities and holistic spa – is no exception. The gym has state-of-the-art equipment, as well as a studio for yoga and meditation classes. There are two pools – one indoor and one outdoor – including a hot-water whirlpool and a kids’ pool (though the resort doesn’t accept guests under 12).
Whether you opt for a personalized treatment regimen under the supervision of India’s resident Ayurvedic physician, or just want a relaxing massage, a visit to the spa dramatically improves any stay at Six Senses. A unique dimension is the Alchemy Bar, where you grind and blend your own preferences of herbs, oils and spices to create pleasant botanical exfoliators and soothing compresses. There are single and double treatment rooms, saunas and steam rooms for men and women, and even a nail bar. Prepare for your visit by browsing the spa’s electronic menu, accessible either on the resort’s website or via the QR code on the camel hump sculpture in your room. The hotel’s commitment to the environment extends to refraining from printing the brochures on paper.
The experiences at Six Senses Shaharut aren’t limited to the property lines. Enjoy morning or night hikes in the immediate pristine surroundings, mountain biking, and in the near future, horseback riding and camel trekking. Alternatively, venture further afield with off-road 4 × 4 adventures or longer excursions to the Dead Sea – and possibly post-pandemic restrictions, all along the international border to visit an incredible heritage site. UNESCO World: Petra. Finally, escape the planet completely by taking part in a guided stargazing in the endless black sky untouched by light pollution.