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Six Senses: Lots Of Expansion and Relaxation

It was June 2012 when Pegasus Capital Advisors acquired Six Senses Resorts & Spas. It was in January 2013 that former Starwood Capital Group president and longtime Four Seasons executive Neil Jacobs became CEO. Speaking at a dinner for top travel agents during The International Luxury Travel Mart (ILTM) in Cannes he gave a simple assessment of his team’s progress, saying, “We’re rocking and rolling.”

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Having ramped up the pipeline of new products, 2015 will see the group add three hotels and eight spas. Maybe most importantly, the openings will enable Six Senses to clearly move into the space Jacobs is targeting, which he defines between destination spas and resorts with spas.

The CEO says while his product is “based on a platform of wellness and sustainability,” it’s not part of the sales pitch, as “people are fed up” hearing about green initiatives. He calls the Six Senses viewpoint as “really about doing what’s right,” including a strong focus on the local communities where his businesses operate.

On the wellness front Six Senses is building its offerings to include programs focused on sleep and nutrition.  Surgeon, television personality and magazine publisher Dr. Oz has been signed on as a consultant, as has “Diet Evolution” author and doctor Steven Gundry. The Palm Springs physician is know for his sage dieting counsel he puts in a rhyme: “If it’s white, keep it out of sight. If it’s beige you had better behave. If you eat dark green, you will become lean. If you eat fake fats, you’ll get heart attacks. Weight off fast won’t last. Weight off slow, you’re good to go.”

Jacobs says he has enlisted 250 visiting practitioners who move between the company’s hotels and spas. Yoga is a focus with new offerings of sleep and detox yoga.

Ecole Baie Ste Anne

For past clients, Jacobs says a major change is a shift from the group’s Robinson Crusoe “barefoot design aesthetic” to “contemporary, not marble, but more design” using “beautiful stones and woods.” He describes the appeal as “organic, comforting, beautiful.”

In 2015 the first new opening will be a conversion of Aquapura in Portugal’s Douro Valley, a 20 minute helicopter ride from Porto. Sixty keys will unlock suites and villas, a wine academy, and 20,000 square foot wellness center. In midyear, Six Senses will land in the Seychelles (above) with a private island experience, 25 minutes by helicopter from the international airport in Mahe. In addition to 15 resort villas, there will be 15 two, three and four-bedroom residential villas for sale that will be part of the hotel inventory once sold. Closing the year, Jacobs plans to open the largest hotel to date, Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain, patterned as “a contemporary Chinese village.” It is near Chengdu and within 15 minutes from the famous panda reserve.  Spas will also get a boost as the brand continues its strategy of operating its spas in other operator’s hotels with Pune, Marbella, Mykonos, and Muscat coming online.

Jacobs wants to continue to build business from the U.S., which has doubled year on year with the goal of American based bookings making up 35 percent of his revenues. Getting product where Americans go and want to go is a priority, he told the travel agents in Cannes. In 2016, five properties in Bhutan are expected to open, as is Bali, a ski resort in the French Alps, a spa in the Hamptons on Long Island with projects progressing in Nicaragua, Ecuador and Colombia. Utah and the Bahamas are two places where Six Senses is looking as well.

While the company headquarters remain in Bangkok, Jacobs says his focus in to “not be seen as an Asian company, but a global company.”