Neil Jacobs’ passion for wellness, sustainability and making travel purposeful led him to Six Senses in 2012. Ever since, his focus has been to elevate the brand in terms of responsible design, green initiatives and wellness programming. Under his leadership, the company has opened resorts in some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. Jacob’s vision extends beyond a super high-end hotel and spa company. He believes in creating demand through constant innovation, initiatives and programming that are meaningful and tailored to each guest’s health and well-being. Here, the visionary hospitality leader shares his thoughts wellness, sustainability and purposeful, out-of-the-ordinary experiences.
How is the region’s travel and hospitality investment industry faring compared to other markets?
Given that markets in the Middle East opened ahead of many other major travel markets, we are slightly ahead of the recovery curve. Furthermore, EXPO 2020 in Dubai, the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the return of religious travel in KSA resulted in a similar RevPAR to 2019. While the corporate travel segment continues to build momentum, the leisure and transient segment constitutes the majority of our business mix.
We see a great deal of opportunity given that markets such as the UAE, KSA, Egypt and India continue to further endorse the tourism and hospitality sector as a key economic driver. These governments are creating more leisure and entertainment destinations, providing easy access to tourism visas and marketing their tourism benefits to new markets, based on which we are optimistic about delivering a stronger performance in 2023.
At Six Senses, we are aware of the IMEA region’s potential. We have two exciting new openings: one in Saudi Arabia this summer and the other in the UAE, which is slated to open by the end of 2024. We continue to see significant demand for Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman, with ADR and RevPAR results in 2022 better than in 2019. The GCC market continues to grow, with Seychelles, Courchevel and Istanbul being our top three outbound destinations.
How are you catering to the needs of new travelers?
Consumers have become more aware of what they purchase and more mindful about buying from brands that align with their values. They are looking for brands that embrace social and environmental sustainability and offer experiences rooted in local culture, allowing them to actively participate and not just observe. The pandemic has redefined the idea of self-care and wellness. Consumers are more reflective; they want to have access to a greater amount of information and be part of communities that help them reconnect.
We have three projects we are very excited about:
- At Six Senses Zighy Bay – Oman, we continue to create an environment that facilitates connections with newly renovated multi-bedroom retreats built in a traditional Omani village style.
- Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea – KSA, which is slated to open this summer. Every corner of the property reflects an artistic expression inspired by our Bedouin heritage. Our dining experiences combine the region’s rich culinary culture with our Eat With Six Senses principles. Our wellness offerings incorporate local healing traditions enhanced by the latest technology and innovation. We are excited for guests to discover the essence of Saudi hospitality, explore the diversity of the country’s heritage and culture, and immerse themselves in the beauty of this region.
- Six Senses The Palm – Dubai, slated to open in late 2024, the hotel and branded residences will offer a new dimension in community living and further elevate Dubai’s burgeoning real estate and hospitality sector.
How are you considering the wellness narrative and what are some of the most promising ideas and projects you are currently working on?
Wellness has always been one of the brand’s core values and will further gain traction. In design, the use of materials, room layout, the bed and lighting will all promote wellness.
We are constantly evolving our wellness offerings to stay ahead of the curve. At the core of Six Senses The Palm, Dubai will be a 60,000-square-foot social and wellness club, offering a longevity clinic, IV lounges, biohacking room, massage circuit pool, squash court, working spaces and Six Senses Spa. A careful and considered lighting design incorporates natural light to create a range of moods and immersive experiences. Biophilic design elements will also encourage natural circadian rhythms throughout the design, be it above or below ground. Recovery treatments and reconnection programs are vital in helping guests, members, and residents thrive.
Our locally inspired signature treatments at Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea, offer authentic experiences using local ingredients. Other highlights include sound healing, meditation in a dedicated dome and biohacking. A vision of its own, the spa will feature self-shaded water surfaces and deep cold pools that contrast with the hot climate
From an IHG Hotels & Resorts perspective, the overall IMEA IHG has more than 430 Luxury & Lifestyle hotels and resorts globally, with almost 50 world-class residences open or in the pipeline. We are continuing to expand our portfolio to cater to pent-up demand in the world’s most sought-after urban and resort destinations.
Since 2017, one in two luxury signings in the industry, in general, have included a branded residences offer and demand continues to increase for exclusive retreats people can call their own, fueled by the shift to remote working and more blended business and leisure trips.
IHG’s global scale, loyalty offer, and trusted reputation for quality, together with the attractiveness of our brands, locations and service, means we’re helping owners drive sales velocity and sales price premiums.
Which markets are you most interested in breaking into right now and why?
Given the economic momentum and the governmental support that the hospitality sector in the UAE, KSA, Egypt and India benefits from, we consider these to be our markets of interest in the IMEA.