Six Senses Southern Dunes Sets Landmark Opening in Saudi Arabia in 2023
More signs that Saudi Arabia is getting even more mainstream in terms of luxury travel and boutique resorts. Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea, the first Six Senses in Saudia Arabia, will take guests on a journey into nature, wildlife and culture, setting new standards in sustainability and desert hospitality. Six Senses Southern Dunes is part of the Red Sea Project, and is set to open during the first phase of development of that project, which is well under way and on track to be completed by the end of 2023.
Untouched and enticing, this part of the world remains relatively unknown. In ancient times, however, it was a busy trading route, used by the Nabataeans to transport luxury goods like silk, incense and textiles. Along the way, they would set up camp and gather around the fire under a starlit night. In 106 CE, the Nabatean Empire was annexed by the Romans, and Red Sea routes overtook land trading routes. Nabatean cities were no longer centers of trade, and so began their decline.
Six Senses is now recreating these elements to write the next chapter in the region’s story, combining an architectural approach that pays homage to the Nabataean heritage and majestic desert surroundings along with the brand’s trademark wellness formula and respect for centuries past. This vision is being realized in collaboration with the British architectural firm, Foster + Partners, renowned for its eco credentials and responsible design development.
The transfer route from the new Red Sea International Airport will take guests southeast along the coastal highway before turning east inland through serene desert mountains and narrow wadis and on to the 76-key resort.
The heart of the resort is the Oasis. Inspired by a desert flower, the canopy is a self-shading structure, blurring the lines between the natural finishes inside and the native plants and water features outside. The base structure is a modular, precast system that ensures the building only touches the ground lightly to leave most of the site undisturbed, with minimal paving to ensure the surrounding pathways remain natural and authentic.
The plan for the Oasis is to feature the reception, lobby lounge, boutique, meeting spaces and prayer rooms, plus a community lounge and Earth Lab under one roof. The Artisan Village will host four pods to tell the story of the region’s history and cultural heritage through arts and crafts, dance and music. The all-day dining restaurant is complemented by a chef’s table and cooking school, along with a juice bar, brew bar and water bar.
Surrounding the Oasis will be a collection of rooms and suites featuring an open-plan bedroom and living area, and an outdoor terrace allowing guests to enjoy the serenity of the pristine landscape and become one with nature. Clusters of villas occupy strategic peaks to offer prime aspects over the landscape. Ranging from one to four bedrooms, the villas are inspired by the sandy dunes, with their double-layered undulating roofs creating their own unique scenery. Inside, the interiors also reflect the tones and textures of the desert, with soft furnishings drawing from the rich colors and patterns of traditional tribal dress.
The Six Senses Spa will feature self-shaded water surfaces and deep cold pools creating a contrast to the hot climate. Highlights include a Holistic Anti-Aging Center, male and female grooming centers, and indoor zones with wet facilities, sensory suite, outdoor treatment cabanas with a relaxation area and a pool bar.
“The mission of early travelers was to trade, document, observe and see things in a new way,” says Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs. “Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea is an invitation to explore a region that is undiscovered and untrodden. Our job here is to tread very lightly. This has been a unique opportunity to see how we can bring to life wellness and sustainability—two great values of Six Senses—in an exciting new destination that is opening to a wider global audience. It is going to receive a huge amount of interest so we’re making sure we’re working with very talented people, who are in tune with creating beautiful structures that are healthy and sustainable, to deliver this vision to our guests.”
Six Senses Southern Dunes is one of two inland locations that together with coastal and marine initiatives form The Red Sea Project spanning 10,800 square miles on Saudi Arabia’s west coast. The project will pursue high environmental standards to demonstrate to the world that development can serve to preserve and enhance the region’s biodiversity and beauty.
“With its world-leading approach to sustainability and wellness, and of course, famed for providing ultimate luxury, Six Senses mirrors our development's ethos,” said John Pagano, CEO of The Red Sea Development Company. “The Red Sea Project is set to deliver a new type of barefoot luxury experience, underpinned by a commitment to regenerative tourism development. We are proud to be partnering with a brand that is renowned for its high level of hospitality and uncompromising commitment to protecting the environment. We look forward to leading the way together in setting new standards for the industry.”