Six Senses has revealed plans to open its first resort in Israel, close to the Red Sea destination of Eilat. The resort, which is due to open in late 2018, will have 58 suites and villas, including a three-bedroom retreat.
Fascinating, enchanting and of biblical proportions, the Negev Desert is the epitome of desert landscapes. It is on this boundless horizon that Six Senses Shaharut will be nestled into a dramatic cliff.
This inspired location, named ‘Shaharut’, which translates as ‘the moment just before dawn’, adds yet another dimension to the portfolio of natural settings that Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas calls home. History abounds in this region, home to the ancient Midianites and their fascinating tribe people.
To the south of the Negev Desert, which covers more than half of Israel, at the Arava Valley, is the small community of Shaharut, where traditional desert hospitality is expressed by generosity of spirit. This is the site of Six Senses Shaharut, just 58 suites and villas occupying a footprint of approximately 18 hectares including a Six Senses Spa.
The architecture of Six Senses Shaharut has been designed to integrate into the desert topography and preserve the natural terrain. The villas are built from, and inspired by, local rocks and pigments, with the landscaping utilising regional cacti and indigenous desert blooms. Exterior lighting is considered to avoid light pollution at night, preserving the clarity of the starry sky. Many furnishings of the resort are sourced from a partnership with local community artisans.
Accommodations comprise junior suites, plus one- and two-bedroom villas and a three-bedroom Retreat all with private pools. Junior suites measure 46 square metres with 14 square metres of outdoor space; five junior suites also feature private pools. One-bedroom villas have interiors of 100 square metres and exteriors measuring 80 square metres. Two-bedroom villas feature 150-square-metre interiors and 95 to 175 square metres of exterior space. The Retreat has an indoor space of 300 square metres and 344 square metres of outdoor living area which includes a 72-square-metre pool. It also includes a spa treatment room and kitchen plus a poolside barbecue.
In respect of the environment, the resort will only feature electric cars.
An all-day restaurant will serve a fresh buffet breakfast and à la carte selections, à la carte casual lunches and seasonally themed dinners. A poolside bar and grill opens for lunch and dinner, and a juice bar and alchemy bar are located at the spa. There is also a multi-use function space with an indoor space to accommodate up to 100 guests served from the main restaurant plus an outdoor pre-function deck. Fresh ingredients are harvested seasonally from the resort’s own gardens, or, when possible, from local farmers at the nearby kibbutzim.
Six Senses Spa Shaharut will include single and double treatment rooms, male and female sauna and hammams. In addition to the menu of Six Senses specialty treatments, several traditional therapies will be offered together with Six Senses Integrated Wellness, which is based on the preventative principles of Eastern medicine and result-oriented Western influences. This innovative approach to wellness allows in-house experts to measure and analyse key physiological biomarkers in order to provide guests with lifestyle and nutritional advice and design a personalised program of spa treatments, fitness and wellness activities. The Six Senses Spa facility also offers a 18-metre indoor pool, 25-metre outdoor lap pool, gym and yoga studio with desert views. There is a nail bar for manicures and pedicures, the perfect spot to enjoy a chilled glass of wine.
The resort’s many on-site attractions are diverse and out of the ordinary. A desert activity centre incorporates the Earth Lab, where the property showcases its sustainability efforts to reduce consumption, produce locally, and support communities and ecosystems. Guests are invited to visit Earth Lab to reconnect with the natural world and learn some simple life-hacks that will allow them to make a difference. There are functioning camel stables with an arena and grooming area and from where early-morning and twilight camel rides set out. An open-air amphitheatre is created from the natural terrain contours to become Cinema Paradiso beneath the stars and a tented Bedouin dining experience is created at the heart of the resort’s oasis, complete with a fire pit for late night feasting using centuries-old sand cooking techniques.
This desert setting presents a host of activities for guests who choose to be out and about. Within the resort is Grow With Six Senses, a dedicated kids’ hangout for younger guests who do not wish to join their parents’ adventures. The Arava Valley and the surrounding region features historic, archaeological and nature landmarks together with the opportunity to participate in extreme sports such as off-road driving, mountain climbing, mountain biking and rappelling. More leisurely family-inclusive activities are hiking, camel or jeep safaris, craft workshops, bird watching and wine tours. Eilat, which is located on the Red Sea, is ideal for families; a 60-minute drive from Shaharut, the resort town features calm waters, abundant sea life and excellent snorkelling and diving. Camel camping overnights can be arranged, while dune walking with Bedouins includes storytelling and desert lore. Trips further afield can be arranged to Petra, Masada, Mount Karkom and the Dead Sea.
The journey to Shaharut is part of the story, travelling through the timeless landscape. Flights from Tel Aviv to Eilat are 50 minutes, followed by 45-minute transfers to the resort from new international airport, Ramon. Currently under development, the airport will serve domestic flights and major carriers from European markets. Driving from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem takes around 3.5 hours or 3 hours from Petra in neighbouring Jordan