Travel Editor Susie Boswell finds luxury travel doesn’t have to hurt the environment, at resorts that care for the planet.
Six Senses, a resort management and development company, manages resorts under brand names including Six Senses, Soneva and Evason. I consider them the world’s most beautiful resorts, notable for their “rustic chic” décor and atmosphere, created in the most exotic and serene tropical locations … like the Maldives, and the oceans of south-east Asia.
You really need to visit one of these magnificent resorts and experience them first-hand to appreciate the philosophy, but Six Senses describes it variously as the “slow life” and “intelligent luxury”. Catchwords are sustainable, organic, wholesome, inspiring. A hallmark is that its villas are fantastically spacious and have a unique, captivating, style.
For example: Soneva Kiri, on the island of Koh Kood, south of Bangkok, with its treetop dining in the Treepod, at a top ocean vantage point. Guests board a rattan “bird’s nest”, with sumptuous cushioned seating for four, at ground level and are lifted 6m high up into the trees. As the pod climbs skywards, host Khun Lek simultaneously flies through the air towards diners on a zipline, from a platform on an adjacent hill. Once he’s served the meal, he zips away, leaving guests to enjoy true “bird’s eye” views over the clear, peaceful waters, soothed by breezes in the treetops and with just a passing squirrel or butterflies – surely one of the most memorable meals of a lifetime. Breakfast in the Treepod is an utterly peaceful way to start the day, lunch offers a shady respite, and breathtaking sunsets or a candlelit dinner in the intimate haven are sheer delight. “Canapés in the Canopy” and other menu choices feature produce mainly from the resort’s organic gardens. The Treepod has been built without any bolts or attachments into the trees, and now its clever designers are looking into meeting guests’ requests to be able to fly on the zipline through the jungle themselves.
The developers’ newest resort, stunning Six Senses Con Dao, in Vietnam, opened on December 20 last year. Located 45 minutes’ flying time south of Ho Chi Minh City, it had already won a “World’s Best” international architecture award even before its first guests checked in. Con Dao’s 50 villas stretch along a 1.5km golden sandy beach, lying beneath green forested mountains and the heart of the resort is designed to resemble a traditional Vietnamese village. The island sits amid a 16-island archipelago, most of it protected as a national and marine park, sheltering many endangered species.
Next month, Six Senses Laamu opens in the Maldives after meeting strict environmental standards: at a remote, but accessible and outstandingly beautiful, location, with a pristine reef and surfing wave and a focus on nightlife. It’s a short 40-minute flight and 10-minute speedboat ride from Male airport, with 97 villas set on the beach among the lush tropical vegetation or over the clear blue lagoon. Alongside peace and rejuvenation, Laamu boasts an amazing coral reef for diving, swimming, jet-skiing, snorkelling, or picnicking on a sandbank. At night, Six Senses Laamu will really rock: the Chill Bar is built over the water on several levels, with a world-class cocktail list. Once the sunset dims, visiting artists and DJs will provide the vibe. There’s a wine “cellar” housed in a tower of spun glass rising high out of the sea, restaurants, a chai bar and an ice cream bar.
Whet your appetite at www.sixsenses.com. For details, see local travel agents.