Six Senses, known globally for cutting through the noise of greenwashing to offer meaningful socially and environmentally conscious hospitality, is the latest hotel brand to announce its arrival in Saudi Arabia. Just how ethical is this hotel development move? Editor Hamish Kilburn writes…
Saudi Arabia continues to be the burning topic of conversation among the hotel design community. With brands such as Marriott, Four Seasons, Hyatt, YOTEL and now Six Senses announcing they are moving in to the region, the kingdom has unsurprisingly become the fastest-growing tourism destination in the G20.
Despite the region being put under the harsh spotlight regarding how any hotel development plan on this scale can be sustainable, it continues to attract global designers, architects and operators who are helping to design, build and shape the new hospitality hotspot.
Amaala, which spans more than 1,600 square miles of unspoiled natural reserve, will be the setting for Six Senses’ first hotel in Saudi Arabia. The region is blessed with dramatic coastal scenery, majestic mountainous backdrops, pristine white-sand beaches, and untouched coastal reefs.
Six Senses Amaala will serve as a canvas on which to paint an experience of a lifetime. Integrated into the unique landforms, the beachfront residences, a hillside village, and villas that line the private mangrove bay offer varied accommodation options to suit all guest preferences. They blend the natural raw beauty of the site with the understated purity and elegance of the brand’s sustainable design standards.
The 64 rooms, six suites, 30 villas, and 25 branded residences, designed by architects U+A and interiors by Studio Carter, are inspired by the region’s traditional coastal villages, which seamlessly integrate with the naturally occurring topography and use locally sourced materials. They will be located on one of the most dramatic landforms along Amaala’s Triple Bay area, offering panoramic views across the Hijaz Cove to the Red Sea. The meandering streets and paths that crisscross the site lead to enchanting plazas with glimpses of the Pura Cove and its iridescent blue lagoons.
The central feature of the site is the dramatic Mesa, featuring spectacular overhangs and caves. Eons of wind and water erosion have scored the limestone to reveal fossilised corals and mollusks that stand testimony to the ancient history of this land. To the north, the village opens onto the long sweeping beaches of Hijaz Cove, home to a beach restaurant, family pool, and branded residences. To the south, the village leads around the point to natural rock pools, pocket beaches, and a mangrove boardwalk to access the spa, which will set up home in a private cove.
Meanwhile, spa facilities will include a cryotherapy chamber, longevity clinic, and male and female thermal areas featuring Finnish and infrared saunas, herbal steam rooms, salt rooms, vitality pools, and ice baths. The Watsu pool, sound dome, yoga platform, and multi-sensory relaxation areas will all be used for taking time to restore and reconnect.
Layered onto the resort’s facilities will be a host of activities based on Amaala’s three pillars of ‘wellness and sports’, ‘arts and culture’, and ‘sea, sun, and lifestyle’. Guests will be immersed in the aromas and flavors of the region as they pass the coffee roastery, bakery, water bar, and shisha tea house. There will also be clubs for kids and teens, prayer rooms, and communal lounges. Incorporating the Eat With Six Senses philosophy of natural ingredients, local and sustainable, and less is more, all-day dining menus will feature Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences.
“We are connected by a shared commitment to the practice, appreciation, and advancement of arts and culture, wellness, and environmental preservation,” said Neil Jacobs, CEO, Six Senses. “Six Senses Amaala is part of a holistic hub for the arts, a leading diving destination, an extension of the Mediterranean yachting corridors, and an integrated wellness community, all of which we hope inspires guests to embark on transformative personal journeys.”
In addition to the hotel, Six Senses Amaala will feature 25 branded residences, from three to six bedrooms. They have been carefully positioned to balance seclusion with moments of togetherness while opening to uninterrupted coastal vistas. The central courtyards function as a way to connect separate living pavilions while reflecting the vernacular architecture and lifestyles of the Arabian Peninsula.
Sustainability is at the core of every facet of the resort’s building and operating practices. This includes a dedicated desalination plant that has zero impact on the pristine coral reefs and a ban on single-use plastics. All wastewater and organic waste will be used for agriculture and the organic farm. Energy requirements will be met using renewable sources in line with the development’s zero carbon footprint. With the ambition to become a top diving and yachting destination, emphasis has been placed on conserving the marine and coastal ecosystem.
John Pagano, Group CEO of Red Sea Global, the developer behind Amaala, added: “I am delighted to announce this partnership based on shared values with such an iconic brand. The resort is situated within one of the most dramatic landscapes along Triple Bay, with a stunning backdrop of the bay itself and panoramic views of the pristine Red Sea coast. This announcement also comes at an exciting time as we are close to welcoming the first guests to Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea, which will open in the coming months. Our growing relationship with the Six Senses brand across our expanding portfolio reflects our belief in the quality of operations they bring to every property, and our shared commitment to protecting and enhancing the environment.”
Six Senses Amaala is set to open as part of the first phase of the Triple Bay development.
Main image credit: Six Senses Hotels Resorts & Spas