In line with Gulf & Indian Ocean Hotel Investors’ Summit, HN spoke with Omar Romero, chief development officer at Six Senses Hotels Resorts, to get the lowdown of the company’s business developments, its new projects and growth strategies.
Managing hotels requires constant adaptability. It doesn’t matter how long we have been working; all of us in the industry must acknowledge that the last two years have been about learning and adapting our businesses. Some of this learning was focused on new ways to look at revenue management, the importance of staffing, etc. I think that hoteliers all over the world during this period of time understood that we all needed to take action in order to save and protect the interests of hotel owners. The great positive is that under these circumstances, we were forced to innovate and find better ways to attract revenue and stay in contact with our customer base.
The importance of the domestic market was reinforced by the pandemic. The new generation of traveler is more conscious of the environmental effects of travel and has a tendency to take more frequent but shorter holidays. I believe that destinations that are within driving distance from major cities will continue to thrive.
Furthermore, we realized that being part of the digital world is mandatory and not an option. During Covid-19, Six Senses launched a very successful digital campaign called “At Home with Six Senses” that allowed us to stay connected with our guests around the globe, from “at home” wellness programs, cooking classes, talks on sustainability and more. This enabled the Six Senses brand to keep abreast of the market needs and also keep in touch with all of our customers. As we started opening our properties again, we experienced strong pick up from loyal customers who wanted to stay with us.
What makes Six Senses stand out?
I believe that due to the Covid-19 crisis and increased health awareness, responsible travel and the need to have genuine experiences during our travels, the Six Senses brand is now more relevant that what it was pre-pandemic. We can see this in the interest that our brand has generated from the developer community but also from our new openings in new destinations such as Six Senses Botanique in Brazil, Six Senses Ibiza in Spain and our latest Six Senses Fort Barwara in Ranthambore, India.
Do you think that resorts have become more popular post-Covid-19?
As mentioned above, yes. I feel that our brand is more relevant today than ever before. During the many lockdowns that we all experienced, people were forced to isolate and focus more on their health. They lacked connection with friends and family, as well as with nature in many cases. The Six Senses’ brand mission is to “Reconnect People with themselves, each other and the world around them,” while staying committed to our values of wellness, sustainability and experiential travel.
Business is making a steady comeback to the destinations where we are able to attract guests without heavy travel restrictions. Furthermore, we maintained good occupancy levels at the properties we were able to keep open during the pandemic.
What are the new trends we should keep in mind?
Travelers value personal space even more and are attracted to resorts that welcome them with warmth and transparency. The wellness trend will continue to grow, and sustainability is no longer simply “good to have” but a must in all hotels and resorts around the world. Guests will also continue to seek adventures and experiences that they find enriching.
What are your expansion plans for the MENA region?
We have quite a significant amount in the works. For more than two years, we have been involved in the refurbishment of a series of old kasbahs around Morocco that we hope to open to our guests toward the end of 2022/early 2023. We have three iconic properties under development in KSA — two will be announced shortly and one was announced just a few days ago, the Six Senses Southern Dunes in the Red Sea Development. We are exploring a great opportunity in the UAE and hope to be able to talk about it very soon. In addition, we are very interested in exploring opportunities in countries like Oman that will complement our beautiful Six Senses Zighy Bay, as well as in countries such as Jordan.