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Six Senses: instinctive luxury

By affirming the desire to "Awaken its sixth sense”, the group’s signature hotel gives the sensory journey – a recurring theme in upscale hotels – a new developmental twist that is surprising to say the least. The awakening of the sixth sense being looked at is that of a new luxury dimension as well as heightened environmental awareness.

Like Banyan Tree , another great luxury name, Six Senses Resorts & Spas is first and foremost a personal story, the business of an involved couple. In 1995, Sonu and Eva Shivdasani, confirmed environmentalists, founded their hotel management and development business. He is English of Indian origin and graduated from Oxford University and London Business School. She is Swedish, a former model who made the cover of many magazines in the 70s and 80s.The luxury segment is on a quest for meaning and can no longer relegate environmental problems to ignorance. In this regard, Six Senses has visibly made progress with respect to a high impact 21st century: conciliating relaxation and responsibility.Twelve years into their shared venture, they now lead three brands that combine their two passions: luxury hotels and environmental protection. First of all Soneva, the group’s first historic brand (which takes its name from the contraction of their two first names). Since its very beginnings Soneva’s leitmotiv has been to offer “intelligent luxury”. This formula summarizes the desire to combine hedonism and responsibility, luxuriousness and environmental respect. Two Soneva hotels are today in full operation: the Soneva Fushi and the Soneva Gili, both located in the Maldives. The brand will soon be joined by two new resorts under development. First and foremost the Soneva Kiri, which will open on the island of Koh Kood Island in the east of Thailand at the end of the year. This new property will be followed by Soneva Nisi on the island of Milos in the Greek Aegean Sea in mid-2008. A first European development.In 2001, Six Senses launched its second brand “Evason”, a banner under which to develop hotels that fully integrate both the human and natural environment of the country where they are located. For the time being, Evason includes the Evason Hua Hin and the Evason Phuket, both of which are in Thailand, as well as the Evason Ana Mandara in Vietnam. A new opening is scheduled for 2008: the Evason Laamu on the island of Olhuveli. And finally, the group’s most recent brand, Evason Hideaway made its first forays onto the luxury market in 2005. Its concept is “Innovative Style”, meaning an intimate spirit cultivated through hotels that offer only private villas. The brand includes the Sila Evason Hideaway Samui on the island of Koh Samui and the Evason Hideaway at Hua Hin, both in Thailand, as well as the Evason Hideaway at Ana Mandara, in Vietnam. As for Soneva, two new resorts are being developed. The Evason Hideaway at Yao Noi in Thailand, with an opening in September 2007, and the Evason Hideaway in Zighy Bay at the Sultanate of Oman, which should be operational by next November.A hybrid of luxury and the search for harmony, the spa is a backbone of the Six Senses concept. It has its own division and brand that is present at most of the group’s hotels, as well as at eleven prestigious properties worldwide: the Hotel Arts in Barcelona, the Porto Elounda in Crete, the Janna Spa and Resort in Jordan... the concept goes to even further extremes with “Spas Suites”, individual spas with their own sauna, gym and private gardens. Even more sophisticated, “The Earth Spa by Six Senses” is an ecological village-spa located at the heart of the Evason Hideaway in Hua Hin, Thailand. Behind the “Earth Spa” concept lies a particularly original principal: "Skin Food," literally nourishment for the skin, based on the 4 natural elements: earth, water, air and fire, and an adapted diet with products from the garden. These are used in cooking but also in treatments applied directly to the skin.In addition to the omnipresent wellness theme, the strong environmental sensibility of Six Senses’ founders fully pervades the group’s policy. For Six Senses, sustainable development is not a required trend that has been imposed: it is the foundation of the house’s philosophy. Thus it comes as no surprise see this aspect particularly emphasized at the group’s resorts. In the Maldives, for example, hotels use wood as the primary building material. Generally speaking, recycling is a perpetual concern in hotel conception, so the stilts the Soneva Gili is built on are old telephone poles, while the boards for the stairs come from old railroad ties. At the hotel Soneva Fushi, the teak comes from Indonesian plantations while the large pillars supporting the buildings are made of pine imported from Europe. As for furniture, for the most part they are made of bamboo, palm tree or branches from local trees. The environmental concern may be read in the slightest details: recycled paper for letters, faxes and telephone messages are delivered in bamboo tubes to limit the use of envelopes... More ambitious yet: the final goal of the “Six Senses Zero Emissions” program is to reduce gas emissions that produce a greenhouse effect by 60% in 2008 and stop using fossil fuels in 2010. Six Senses works closely with the environmental consulting firm XCO2 to replace limited energy sources (diesel fuel) with sources of renewable energy (solar, wind, tidal energy).Finally, still within this idea of "intelligent luxury" that presides over all the orientations of Six Senses, the guest plays an active role in the hotel’s actions to preserve the environment. He is constantly reminded about this aspect of the stay. He gets around the property on foot or by bicycle... And by leaving a star on their bed, they may tell personnel that they which to keep their sheets, towels and laundry another day. This technique reduces laundry which otherwise produces additional waste. Such “responsible tourism behavior” should develop further in the years to come.The luxury segment is on a quest for meaning and can no longer relegate environmental problems to ignorance. In this regard, Six Senses has visibly made progress with respect to a high impact 21st century: conciliating relaxation and responsibility.

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