Six Senses Resorts & Spas together with the Favourite Group, Auro Holdings and Timex Garments signed an agreement with Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC, a subsidiary of Aitken Spence PLC in September 2010 to establish its first Six Senses project in Sri Lanka. This is a Board of Investment approved venture worth US $45 million. In addition, SSR intends to make Sri Lanka its Indian Ocean Regional Headquarters in the near future, overseeing new and existing Six Senses properties in the Maldives and Indian Ocean region.
It is a dual project. Six Senses Before Galle, a resort and spa, including residential villas, on a 10.5-acre plot, adjoining Heritance Ahungalla on the Southern coast and Six Senses Meeraladuaa, an ecological, environmentally very low impact site, of semi tented structures, on a 27-acre island nearby. The proposed opening date is late 2012. Six Senses expects an average room rate in the range of USD400-450.
Sonu Shivdasani, Chairman and CEO of Six Senses Resorts & Spas, said, ‘I am absolutely delighted to be opening a Six Senses resort in Sri Lanka, a wonderful country which Six Senses has been interested in for some time. To be working with Aitken Spence on such a project and in such a beautiful area of Sri Lanka is doubly exciting. Aitken Spence shares the core values which Six Senses is based upon, a full commitment to supporting both the environment and local communities, whilst developing a successful luxury operation.’
Mr. J M S Brito, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC said, “We are extremely pleased to bring Six Senses to Sri Lanka. The entry of a high-end international resort operator with a truly exceptional track record in sustainable tourism certainly strengthens Sri Lanka’s destination brand”.
Following the opening of its first property, Soneva Fushi by Six Senses, in 1995, Six Senses has been recognized as the global benchmark for eco-responsibility in the hospitality sector. Its philosophy is developed around the core purpose of creating innovative and enlightening experiences that rejuvenate their guests’ love of SLOW LIFE: Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wholesome – Learning, Innovative, Fun, Experiences.
Six Senses is totally committed to sound ecological principals. Its goal is to be carbon neutral by 2020, with Soneva Fushi pioneering the way for the other 14 resorts, by reaching this goal in 2012. In an effort to reduce its carbon footprint, Six Senses has many proactive projects and initiatives. An area in Northern Thailand is being reforested, with a target of planting 200,000 trees per year for 10 years. A windmill generating 1.5 MW was installed in South India, giving electricity to local communities and raising enough funds for a further windmill to be bought. Each of the Six Senses resorts supports, schools and charities in the local area, offering education in English and waste management, as well as the chance to learn about the environment, flora and fauna. In fact 0.5% of all Six Senses profits goes into a fund which serves the community and the environment, locally and globally.
In the last eighteen months, Six Senses has begun a water project. It has banned imported water – reducing ‘food miles’ as well as the use of plastic – and now bottles its own, in glass, recyclable bottles, adding minerals at source. Revenue from sales of Six Senses water is divided amongst three water charities, whose work has now meant that over 300,000 people with no access to clean water now have it. Over US$250,000 has been raised.
Common to both Six Senses and Aitken Spence, support and protection of the environment and of local communities is the fundamental aspect of the design philosophy. Building materials are sustainable, natural and sourced locally and every measure taken to ensure that the lightest of footprints is laid on the natural surroundings. Local craftsmen and workers are employed both to inspire and enhance design and architecture, which in turn will help reduce the construction footprint and support local commerce. The villa design has been inspired by the work of , Geoffrey Bawa, the world famous architect, born in the area. Once open, Six Senses Before Galle and Six Senses Meeraladuaa will look to employ staff from the local community and source produce and goods from the surrounding region. Materials for interior design will, where possible, be sourced locally and reflect traditional handicraft techniques indigenous to the area. The resort will also look to establish a collective amongst the local farmers to supply fresh fruit and vegetables.
A special feature of Six Senses Before Galle will be the Six Senses Spa. A team of highly skilled international therapists will take guests on sensory journeys with Six Senses’ signature and local salt-inspired treatments for balancing the senses. The Six Senses Spa, located between Six Senses Before Galle and Heritance Ahungalla, will serve both the resorts; making it the best beach resort complex in Sri Lanka.
Six Senses currently operates fourteen high-end resorts branded as Soneva, Six Senses and Evason in the Maldives, Thailand, Vietnam, Oman and Jordan. There are also several new developments underway in locations such as Morocco, Turks and Caicos and China. The Six Senses Spa division has twenty-seven company-operated spas, with new spa developments underway in several locations, including India, Morocco and, Oman. The group recently launched the Six Senses Sanctuary brand, of destination spas.