Whether by car, plane, helicopter or camel, arriving at the newly opened Six Senses Shaharut is akin to entering another dimension. Located in an undisturbed, mountainous part of Arava Valley in Israel’s enchanting Negev Desert, the property pays homage to its restorative location with architectural ingenuity, unwavering sustainability measures, locavore cuisine and transformative wellness experiences.
The latest addition to the Six Senses brand, Shaharut opened in August 2021 after a meticulous 12-year planning and construction process that adheres to a high level of sustainability and pays homage to the Negev Desert and its current incarnation after millennia of floods, erosions and tectonic shifts of biblical proportions. The same lands deemed imperative by the Nabateans whilst mapping the ancient civilization’s spice route today camouflage the Six Senses Shaharut, manifesting a serene property where buildings do not obstruct views, rather blend seamlessly into the natural landscape.
What is most striking about the hotel is the painstaking attention to detail. Plesner Architects were in charge of construction and landscape, with all materials of the property—including glass-reinforced concrete, Tadelakt (a waterproof plaster surface used in Moroccan architecture) and stones from the surrounding valleys—having been manicured or produced on site, thus minimizing environmental impact and creating an authentic dialogue with the arid landscape set among the Edom Mountains. The use of stone, wood, copper and fabric reflects the natural surroundings of weathered rock, vibrant sunsets and minimal vegetation.
Atmospherically, a moment in the desert can feel like a year, and one night can feel like a lifetime. That feeling is reflected during meditation workshops with the hypnotizing breathing rhythms of Dr Sujeet. From inhale to exhale, worries slowly dissipate and new energy begins flowing. Also available are body treatments, massages, facials, yoga and pranayama sessions, and sound baths. Each visit to the Shaharut Spa begins along a sheltered walkway lined with green shrubs and fairytale lanterns and leads to a lush, outdoor courtyard pergola, which in itself, is a sensory experience.
Like at Six Senses properties worldwide, the team at Shaharut goes to great lengths to conserve energy, create sustainable water systems and inspire guests to think more mindfully about the environment and human impact. The property’s villas are built from local sandstone rocks and pigments similar to that of ancient Nabatean farmers, while electric Hummer buggies transport guests across the property to minimize air pollution and maintain the desert’s serene atmosphere. Travelers with a penchant for hyperlocal sustainability will be delighted by Six Senses Shaharut’s organic garden, where the very fruits, vegetables and herbs eaten across the hotel’s dining outlets are grown.
The property partnered with artists, ceramicists and carpenters from nearby desert villages to dress the 60 suites and villas, lounge areas and various nooks with a holistic aesthetic representative of the Negev Desert and its copper, brown, red and orange color schemes. Decorative plates evocative of Nabataean-era pottery by artist Rachel Elimelech Urbach, custom looms and tapestries by textile artist Erez Nawi, bed-runners reminiscent of the forms and textures of the nearby sand dunes, and brass-bottled bath amenities are all in harmony with the bronze and earthy tones reflected by the Edom mountains.
The hotel caters to the palates and diets of the most discerning travelers, with myriad eateries, each with their own unique cornucopia of treats. Executive chef Amir Kalfon helms the property’s anchor restaurant, Midian, where an evolving, seasonal degustation dinner menu brings forth the best of the region. Guests—seated in a spacious outdoor dining area with panoramic views of the desert and its serene landscapes—can dine on perfectly braised lamb chops with a singular dehydrated leaf of kale covering a bounty of Jerusalem artichoke risotto, paired with a crisp white wine from the nearby Midbar desert winery. Providing a more relaxed culinary experience is the music-laden Jamillah, where dishes and cocktails are elevated with in-house DJs playing an eclectic selection of vinyl curated by Tel Aviv’s Teder bar and radio station. The outdoor restaurant Edom View provides mezze-style dishes, while the Pool Bar has light snacks (including homemade ice cream) and drinks, and of course there are in-room dining options too.
With Six Senses Shaharut offering an unparalleled experience of desert hospitality representative of landscape and cultures past and present, it’s tempting to stay within the grounds, but the hotel can arrange a plethora of off-property adventures. Guests can take part in expert-guided jeep tours, astrologer-led stargazing sessions, camel rides and more. It’s almost essential to visit Makhtesh Ramon (the world’s largest erosion cirque) and architect Ben Gitai’s Landroom Observatory—an ecological architectural structure for star- and desert-gazing that’s made entirely from local sandstone—is the perfect locale for watching the sunset. With so much magic and history imbued in the Negev Desert, it’s no surprise that a visit to Six Senses Shaharut is transcending.
Images courtesy of Six Senses Shaharut