Driving eco friendly tourism

Hotel operators around the region can learn from the example set by The Evason Hideaway and Six Senses Spa in Oman
Evason Hideaway Zighy Bay

THE stunning coast of Musandam in northern Oman, now home to the newly opened Evason Hideaway and Six Senses Spa, is a resort that is receiving good press.

And it’s not only because it is the final word in taking a break from the pressures of urban life. The secluded property of 82 villas has a deeper commitment than promoting only tourism. It is built keeping in mind the cultural and environmental aspects of tourism in the region.
TTN’s Manisha Koshy spoke to Naim Maadad, managing director, Middle East, Six Senses Resorts & Spas, for a deeper insight into the group’s approach to promoting sustainable tourism.

What sort of market research did you undertake before you set up the project?
The reason behind this project is our passion for responsible tourism and our projects are chosen at carefully selected locations which do not compromise on our core values. Developing the local community and reviving the cultural heritage in the region is a clear focus. Even the site of the Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay, in the Sultanate of Oman, is a secluded fishing village. The materials used for construction are from the region, and the method of construction is similar to how the heritage houses in Oman would be.

How big is Spa tourism in Oman, and how well geared is the country is to meet the demand?
Tourism in Oman itself is in an exciting phase of major development. Oman has a major advantage of being a late starter in the tourism industry and hence still has pristinely pure locations which can be developed into world class resorts and spas in a truly sustainable environment. Not a feature that many of
its neighboring countries can take advantage of.

What sort of visitor numbers you are targeting for 2008?
Six Senses Resorts & Spas does not believe in mass tourism. The hideaway concept is to ensure maximum privacy and relaxation for our guests and keeping the number of villas to 82, we ensure that our guests can enjoy their holiday in a serene atmosphere where they get individual attention, personalised service and thereby ensuring a memorable stay.
The response we have had to the concept has been phenomenal and we are confident of Zighy Bay being the chosen destination for many a discerning tourist who have realised the vital importance of sustainable and environment friendly resorts the world over.

How will you be marketing the property?
The marketing campaign would be unique and in line with our company strategy. We do not believe in “blitzkrieg” marketing promotions and all efforts would be carefully directed to reach the precise target segment of guests who believe and support the initiatives of Six Senses Resorts & Spas, like the Social and Environment Responsibilities (SERF) Fund to which we direct 0.5 per cent of our revenue.
By differentiating and creating unique experiences, we are able to achieve above average rates and stronger occupancies, giving a far higher yield per room. Our concepts lend themselves to high spends on extras per hotel guest, this being a strong management focus at each property.

What are Six Senses Spa plans for the future regarding Oman and the Middle East?
The Six Senses Spas will soon have a major presence in Oman and the Middle East. There is the Zighy Bay property which has recently had a soft opening, besides which we have our presence in Doha, Qatar at the Six Senses Spa at the Sharq Village & Spa. Later this year, we will be opening the Six Senses Spa at Ma’in Hot Springs, Jordan.
Six Senses Spas are located in Maldives, Thailand, Vietnam, Mauritius, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Sri Lanka, Dominican Republic, China and on board the luxury ship The Christina O. We will soon be onboard “The Orphalese” too.