This just-opened desert retreat offers a serene escape amid the biblical landscapes of southern Israel.
Adventure-minded travelers seeking out a socially distanced holiday in the Middle East may want to consider the newest luxe resort Israel’s Negev Desert. August 5 saw the debut of Six Senses Shaharut in the lunar landscape of the Arava Valley, blending traditional desert hospitality with a chic, eco-conscious twist.
Getting there is part of the fun; the drive from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem takes around three-and-a-half hours, while the journey from Petra in neighboring Jordan is three hours by road. Alternatively, guests can opt for a private helicopter transfer from Tel Aviv, or a 45-minute car transfer via the new Ramon International Airport near Eilat. A Six Senses GEM (Guest Experience Maker) — the brand’s version of a personal butler — will meet guests on arrival and remain on hand throughout the stay to share insights into the region and local life.
Six Senses Shaharut features just 60 suites and pool villas spread across the desert landscape, a modern interpretation of nomadic tents, recalling the Nabatean community that occupied the area over 2,000 years ago. While their exteriors blend into the arid, otherworldly setting, the interior design draws inspiration from patterns and textures found along the ancient Incense Route, which stretched from the Mediterranean across the Levant to India and beyond. Local artisans worked with natural stone, wood, and copper to create furniture and various fittings; interior doors are made of reclaimed teak salvaged from disused boats, houses, and footbridges, with some pieces more than 200 years old.
Elsewhere on the property, the on-site Earth Lab showcases Six Senses’ approach to sustainability and the circular economy. The facility also has camel stables with an arena and grooming area that allows guests to interact with the “ships of the desert.”
Wellness is a major area of focus for Six Senses, with a roster of programs led by visiting practitioners specializing in Chinese medicine, osteopathy, energy healing, and more. Therapists at the Six Senses Spa deliver muscle-melting massages in six treatment rooms, while other facilities include saunas and steam rooms, the Alchemy Bar for mixing botanicals, a nail salon, plus a fitness center and yoga studio. Guests can cool down in a subterranean indoor pool and an outdoor infinity pool with desert views.
Gourmands are also in for a treat: meals at Six Senses Shaharut showcase the natural bounty of the Levant, harnessing ingredients that run the gamut from tahini, olive oil, and date honey to freekeh, fresh Mediterranean fish, local lamb, and beetroot. Aside from the main Midian restaurant, there’s mezze and tapas venue Edom View, an outdoor space that also hosts weekly dinners with tajine dishes served on a central communal table and assorted meats cooked in a traditional Bedouin zarb, or underground oven.
Meanwhile, Jamillah lounge is just the place to enjoy bar bites and high tea, craft cocktails, premium spirits, and a range of house-infused liquors. The resort’s Pool Bar doesn’t just offer refreshing drinks and snacks; its ice-cream stall comes stocked with a mouth-watering array of homemade flavors. For a more intimate experience, in-villa dining is possible too, as well as a Bedouin-inspired desert picnic paired with top-notch wines from the Levantine region.
From Kibbutz visits that incorporate food tastings and hands-on experiences in an organic garden or dairy farm, to camel treks, desert hikes, and overnight camping, there are myriad ways for guests to explore the scenic surroundings. Other options include e-mountain bike trips, jeep excursions, and even a Shabbat dinner in a nearby community. Travelers will also have the opportunity to explore destinations farther afield, including the Dead Sea and the dramatically sited rock fortress of Masada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
More information here.