Expansion plans for destination spa brand


Six Senses Destination Spa Phuket on Naka Yai Island in Thailand offers holistic spa treatments combined with organic cuisine to achieve wellbeing through balance.

It is the newest innovative concept to be unleashed by the group. CHERYL MANDY spoke to Ana Maria Tavares, managing director of Six Senses Destination Spas


Regarding your recent promotion - how will you be developing the destination spa brand?

Our main priority here is to have proof of concept, and this will happen once we have completed all the fine tuning. We have 61 villas and will be fully operational as far as accommodation goes by October 1. That excludes our retreat on the hill, the Indonesian Spa and the enclave with six villas, which will be ready later in the month.

The promotion is an adjustment of the title really. The responsibilities are the same. It didn’t make sense for my title to be brand director because I was involved in development of the future destinations product.

We have already been approached by investors from other parts of the world to create a destination spa depending on the region. We are currently in negotiations for destination spas in Puerto Rico, Brazil, America (close to Chicago), Italy and next to our Ziggy Bay property in Oman, which will be completely separate from the property already there.

Our next immediate project is in Nilgris, India, in the middle of a tea plantation. All of these products will be completely different and adapted to the region and the culture so it is not a copy/paste situation. Another area it makes sense for us to go into is China. Africa too is on the cards, possibly in Cape Verde islands.

 It sounds like a lot of projects but obviously one has to take into consideration that these are being discussed although we have three confirmed, and there is a sensible plan to develop them gradually. Over in the next 10 years we will be well represented across the continents.


How is the concept being received?

Very favourably. We will start to pick up occupancy by the end of this month as the high season starts until March. Peak season between December 22 and January 7 is almost totally booked up already.


How are you going about attracting the Middle East market?

The big issue is for agents to know the difference between a resort with a spa and a destination spa, so we need to carry out a lot of product training with the agents that represent us to get them to understand the concept. A destination spa is different. Unlike other properties in the group, the best way to reach the Middle East market is through the media, one to one presentations and meetings with prominent figures throughout the region. Initiatives with American Express and airlines are also happening.


Your target market?

We can tap into every market, but we aim more at the wellness market - people that want to be treated or transform their lifestyles. We help with all those illnesses of the 21st Century such as stress, fatigue, coping with society, relationships, allergies plus weight loss programmes.

We have the facilities for small incentive groups and can handle conferences for 20 to 25 people but this is not the main focus. Weddings too can be arranged here – if someone wants to take over the whole resort of course they could do so.


This is not a place for the disabled. Will you ever be able to provide for all sectors of the community?

Most of the Six Senses properties cater for wheelchair access. However here ramps could not be included because of the design concept of this property which is very up and down – it has varying levels in tune with the natural surroundings. In future destination spas we will definitely provide disabled facilities.


Will you ever be carbon free here like Soneva Fushi aims to be?

Absolutely. Our objective is to get all our properties on environmental programmes. We are definitely the only company in the world that is so committed to the environment and introducing new ways to save this planet and work with it.


What is the main aim of your destination spa?

What we try to do here is educate our clients. We try to teach them to prepare for a more moderate life outside. When it comes to healthy eating habits, I truly believe that raw food is going to be the food of the future. We don’t take everything away from the client (such as coffee, condiments, alcohol – although red meat is a definite no) as we want to leave a little bit of the responsibility with them. It’s not a boot camp. If people want to change their lifestyle they will get the willpower and won’t revert back to the old ways once they leave. People staying here for longer can definitely change. When people come for just three to five days it is a bit more difficult. But these people still do take something away with them.