For years, travellers have been tempted with wonderous renders of The Red Sea Global – one of Saudi Arabia’s head-spinning giga projects revolutionising its tourism industry and elevating it onto the world stage. In some ways, these projects seem lifetimes away, but one has officially opened and is ready to welcome guests now: Six Senses Southern Dunes.
Six Senses Southern Dunes resort
Located inland of the ocean in the Arabian Desert, Six Senses Southern Dunes is the first glimpse into this spectacular project and the second Six Senses in the Middle East after Oman’s Six Senses Zighy Bay. Part of The Red Sea globa – a project including Maldivian-inspired overwater villas and hotels from the world’s most elite brands – Six Senses Southern Dunes has just 36 guest rooms and 40 private pool villas, dotted across the landscape strategically to maximise views of the dunes and wadi. With sustainability at the heart of Saudi’s developments, the hotel has been constructed using locally sourced materials and designed by British architectural firm Foster + Partners, known for its eco credentials. Echoing the Six Senses brand’s strive for innovative eco-friendly practices (just look at the wonderous work done by Six Senses Zighy Bay), the hotel hopes to be the first LEED platinum resort in Saudi Arabia, and All electricity is powered entirely by its own solar farm.)
Inside the villas, guests can expect soft furnishings and colours reflecting the tone of the desert, with pops of rich colours and fabrics inspired by traditional Bedouin dress. Villas range from one to four bedrooms and cluster around strategic peaks, offering stunning views of the landscape. Elsewhere, restaurants will use ingredients grown in the chef’s garden, or locally sourced where possible, focusing on health and wellbeing. Six Senses Desert Dunes has four restaurants, a cooking school and a private chef’s table, plus a Gelato pod.
Wellness is also a key brand pillar of Six Senses, and the spa mirrored the undulating patterns of the dunes with honeycomb walls and a salon, barber, biohacking recovery lounge, and treatment rooms (the Frankincense Suite offers Rasul treatments), and a hammam. There’s also an Alchemy Bar to handmake clean skincare products using the rich spices and fragrances once traded by the Nabateans, and the Arabic influences continue on the Desert Bliss quartz sand treatment bed and during the anti-ageing Deluxe Gold Hammam. There’s also a fully equipped gym, separate spin studio and suite for yoga and aerial yoga, all with golden views. Each changing area offers various saunas, a cold plunge pool, steam room and relaxation room.
Six Senses Southern Dunes location
The property lies inland from the Red Sea, part of The Red Sea Global project and is set amidst burnt-orange desert and dunes. Adventurers can enjoy outdoor pursuits like hiking and desert activities, while wellness lovers can experience meditation and yoga sessions in the desert. Culture and heritage are also crucial to the project, and the property and The Red Sea offers a range of activities and experiences to showcase Saudi Arabia. Experiences include artisan workshops, and guests can get involved with everything from sadu weaving to local fishing and cooking. An on-site artisan village showcases local arts, crafts, dance and music – connecting guests with this special corner of the world.
‘Everything we’re doing here reflects our unwavering commitment to sustainability and cultural preservation while also pushing the boundaries of adventure and wellness,’ said Fredrik Blomqvist, General Manager of Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea said. ‘This part of the world holds much intrigue for visitors and immense potential for regenerative tourism. We aim to showcase the unique beauty and cultural richness of this region, while promoting sustainable tourism practices that contribute to the economic growth of the region and the conservation of its heritage.’
From now until 31 December, the hotel is offering guests a complimentary 30-minute biohacking experience, early check-in at 10am and late check-out at 4pm (subject to availability), an Earth Lab experience (Beeswax Wraps with a Sadu Motif print or Glass Upcycling into jewellery) and an in-villa private BBQ experience for those booking one of the property’s private pool villas.
How to get there
The 45-minute private car transfer from the new Red Sea International Airport takes guests southeast along the coastal highway before turning east inland through serene desert mountains and narrow wadis and the resort. Saudi guests can also fly into Yanbu Airport, followed by a two-hour transfer to the resort. Transfers must be booked in advance and are subject to availability and an added charge. AlUla Airport is 4.5 hours away, and Jeddah Airport is within 5 hours.
Rooms from AED3,219 (low season), AED5,367 (high season); sixsenses.com