By Simeon Halstead
The tourism industry has been impacted by the current global pandemic, especially in the Caribbean where the old economies of agriculture have been mostly replaced by smiles for happy tourists. Experts everywhere are now anxiously trying to predict the future. Will it all go back to the old days where everything just gets bigger…mega cruise ships, huge all-inclusive resorts…or do we take a step back?
Who has not noticed that nature has returned in the lockdown? The birds seem to sing louder; the skies are bluer, starry nights more vivid; even the grass seems greener after we remove the noise and pollution of everyday life. We bond more with our families, we share, read, play old board games that got forgotten about when we all had our heads in our phones. We have enjoyed cooking and baking again choosing fresh farm produce instead of frozen ready meals.
How do we keep this moving forward, this step back to a more wholesome and caring life? Well, we capture it in our new resort design for the Six Senses by creating a resort that is all about returning to nature, back to the old ways, charm, and scale of the Caribbean.
Back in the day, the image of an idyllic Caribbean holiday was not a grand, mega hotel but a lovely Caribbean style cottage on a beach. We have reverted to that lifestyle in the design of the Six Senses with just 100 guest rooms spread over 28 acres. On the bluff adjoining the hotel, will be a collection of 6 of the most luxurious villas to be found anywhere in the Caribbean. We have consciously underdeveloped the land (approximately with a 20 percent built-up ratio) so that privacy and social distancing when needed is built into the DNA of the resort.
Of course, we want our guests to mix and mingle, but in the shadow of COVID-19, we want them to have the confidence that they are not pushed into crowds. If they want complete privacy and seclusion, then this is what we offer them through the design of the resort.
Everyone has their own very private guest suite with separated entries and no communal corridors. Each suite has a spacious indoor and outdoor living room and a personal horizon edge plunge pool. The villas and cottages are laid out using the natural topography of the site to create separation and complete privacy from within the suite, all looking out to the blue Caribbean over lagoons and white sand beaches.
There is a mix of individual suites, 1 and 2 bed villas for families, and for those who want true seclusion, there are 6 luxury villas on a bluff that has 270-degree views to the sea and the resort’s twin beaches. These are each a hotel within a hotel, with 3 or 4 full guestrooms, indoor and outdoor living, dining and kitchens, personal gym, spa treatment room, private gardens, extraordinary swimming pools. Here, families can be together and enjoy the full services of the resort while isolated if needed.
Everything about moving through and living in the Six Senses has been thought through for safety from open shaded 3 meters wide resort roads, options for one way systems if needed to keep a distance, to the broken up “Village” configuration of the public areas.
In the “Village” we have pulled apart the idea of the big hotel lobby, crowded reception, and packed buffet line. The reception is a small counter for two where the guest is simply greeted and whisked off to their guest suite. The “lobby” is split into smaller components with a Library for small groups to meet and the “Experience Centre” where guests can plan their holiday, shop for local arts, crafts and fashion, and learn how to make their own natural herbal remedies, potions and beauty creams.
There is also, in separate buildings, a water bottling plant where the guest bottles their own drinking water a distillation lab where guests can mix and sample the local rums, the “Earth Lab” to learn about the environment, and an ice-cream bar. This reinvention of hotel functions is a signature of Six Senses, but importantly in these times, it divides the guests into smaller groups and creates a natural distancing.
The Village concept, and these artisan functions it promotes, also keeps alive the new discovery of the pleasure of nature; and learning the old ways and skills again that we have found under lockdown. Who does not want to learn how to make rum, to make their own coconut-infused local beauty products, or to do a creole cooking course? We have embraced this and designed it into the fabric of the resort.
This natural distancing, avoiding big groups runs through into the restaurants which have been oversized to allow for separation if you do not want to be in a group. Food is always freshly cooked from farm to table and very personal … there are no big buffets. Guests have the choice of sitting indoors or outdoors on big, landscape filled desks. Wherever possible we avoid air conditioning in the public spaces, so the natural Caribbean breezes keep the air fresh.
The Resort is being developed by Range Developments and is scheduled to open in 2022. Range are renowned developers of award-winning luxury hotels across the Eastern Caribbean. The company is the most successful developer of luxury hotels in the region through the respective island’s citizenship by investment programs. Range takes pride in its progressive vision, fully committing itself to the outstanding results. Range’s previous completed projects include the Park Hyatt St Kitts (named as the best new Caribbean hotel by CNN in 2017) and the Cabrits Resort Kempinksi Dominica (named as the most anticipated hotel opening by Bloomberg in 2019)
The Resort has been designed by Simeon Halstead, one of the World´s leading Resort Architects with over 20 five-star hotels completed around the world. Each of his designs is unique and carefully crafted to embrace the culture, tradition, and landscape of the host country.
Simeon´s particular passion is tropical architecture and designing for the islands. Range Developments have harnessed this creativity, working together to complete the Park Hyatt St Kitts, Kempinski Dominica, and now the Six Senses La Sagesse in Grenada.