Six Senses Shaharut, Arava Valley, Israel
A hotel half submerged into the landscape that surrounds it, Six Senses Shaharut is a first for the hospitality group in Israel but another success story just waiting for its first visitors to uncover.
The very latest project for the Six Senses group, which reportedly took 10 years in the making, sees the portfolio expanding to Israel with its first resort in the country’s Arava Valley in the Negev Desert. Created in reminiscence of the structures inhabited by the Nabataeans – a nomadic community that lived in the desert 2,000 years before, Six Senses Shaharut blends seamlessly into its dramatic cliff setting with panoramic views of the desert and features 60 suites and villas including a three-bedroom retreat. The resort is found in the small community of Shaharut, which translates as the moment just before dawn, to the south of the desert which covers more than half of Israel.
Fascinating, enchanting and of biblical proportions, the Negev Desert is the epitome of desert landscapes. It is on this boundless horizon often described as the nexus of heaven and earth. The hotel itself is at one with the almost-supernatural panorama, where sunsets meld into the orange dunes to become an inky sky scattered with stardust.
The architecture of the resort has been designed to integrate the desert topography while preserving its natural terrain. The villas are built from, and inspired by, local rocks and pigments with rough-hewn limestone and flint excavated from the site, whilst using thatched roofs and the landscape utilises regional cacti and indigenous desert blooms. Exterior lighting has been designed to be thoughtfully considered to avoid light pollution at night, preserving the pristine clarity of the starry sky. Many furnishing elements of the resort have been sourced from a partnership with local community artisans.
Suites are generous in size and make the most of the stunning natural backdrop with full-length panoramic views of the Negev Desert and Arava Valley, as well as the ever-changing colours of the Edom Mountains. Villas feature an outdoor patio with a dining area and private pool. They comprise separate living and bedroom areas dressed in cooling neutral tones and natural materials so as not to deter from the main attraction – the incredible and ever-changing natural landscape.
Then there’s the private reserve for the most discerning guest, which is set across 180 square metres of living space and includes a 72 square metre pool, its own private spa treatment room, steam room, fitness room, and fully-equipped semi-outdoor Boffi kitchen. Once open to the public this winter, the all-day restaurant will serve a fresh buffet breakfast, a la carte lunches and seasonally themed dinners. A poolside bar and grill will open for lunch and dinner and a juice bar and alchemy bar will be located at the spa. There will also be a multi-use function room, which can accommodate up to 100 guests. Fresh ingredients will be harvested seasonally from the resort’s own gardens or from local farmers at the nearby kibbutzim.
A Six Senses Spa will offer a layered approach to wellness that unites a pioneering spirit with treatments that go beyond ordinary. In addition to a range of signature massages, restorative therapies, facials, body treatments and personal journeys, the spa will be the pivotal point for Six Senses Integrated Wellness, which is based on the preventative principles of Eastern medicine and the result-oriented Western influences. This innovative approach will allow in-house experts to measure and analyse key physiological biomarkers in order to provide guests with lifestyle and nutritional advice as well as a personalised programme of spa treatments, fitness and wellness activities. It will provide guests with real health benefits, enhance their lives and educate and guide them on their wellness journey. Facilities include an 18-metre indoor pool, a 25-metre outdoor lap pool, a fully-equipped gym, yoga studio with desert views and a nail bar.
“We are very excited to announce this magical Six Senses project in the desert of Israel. Working with Arava Vineyards Ltd. on Six Senses Shaharut has allowed us to align with a company that shares our vision of sustainability and wellness,” says Chief Executive Officer Neil Jacobs. “We could not ask for a better partner or a more perfect setting to showcase the best of Israel.”
The resort will be home to a desert activity centre which will incorporate Six Senses’ brand-wide ‘Earth Lab’ scheme and showcase its sustainability efforts to reduce consumption, produce locally and support communities and ecosystems. Guests will be invited to visit the Earth Lab to reconnect with the natural world and learn some simple life-hacks that will allow them to make a difference. There will be functioning camel stables with an arena and grooming area as well as an open-air amphitheatre created from the natural terrain contours and transformed into a Cinema Paradiso beneath the stars. A tented Bedouin dining experience will also be created at the heart of the resort’s oasis, complete with a fire pit for late night feasting using centuries-old sand cooking techniques. In respect of the environment, the resort will only feature electric cars throughout the property. Another decadent offering from the Six Senses group, this latest addition is sure to become a firm favourite among nomadic travellers searching for a place in which to admire the desolation but at the same time magic of a desert setting.
OPERATOR: Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas
DESIGN: Plesner Architects
SUPPLIERS: Pottery: Rachel Elimelech Urbach Textiles: Erez Nawi Uniforms: Fashionizer
Photography by Assaf Pinchuk