|Photo by Freeimages.com/Pasqualantonio Pingue|
With the successful launch of Six Senses Douro Valley last summer, the brand is poised for expansion in Europe. That’s the message Six Senses Hotels, Resorts, Spas CEO Neil Jacobs relayed to Travel Agent during a recent visit to Los Angeles.
“We bought the company only three and a half years ago. It took six months to really get started. So we’ve only been at it for three years,” Jacobs tells Travel Agent.
A top goal, said Jacobs, is to take the company from its Asia and Middle East focus and become more global.
“Certain parts of the world were very high on our list and Europe was clearly one of them, along with the Americas and Africa. We see a lot of upside in all those places,” he said.
Six Senses has had spas in Europe for years. But the Douro Valley property is their first hotel.
“We found this old country house that was an existing hotel. It’s in one of the most beautiful environments that exist in Europe. It’s really hilly. You have the river running through it that goes all the way to Spain. And the wines are of the best in Europe. They’re only now beginning to get the recognition they deserve,” Jacobs tells Travel Agent.
Wellness is the core of the Six Senses brand globally. The Douro Valley property is no exception.
“We have a fantastic wellness program that goes way beyond spa. We’ve opened to great success. Winter is traditionally low season. For December and January we’ve done double what we projected to do,” said Jacobs.
The company is looking at opportunities in Lisbon and elsewhere in Portugal. In December, they opened Six Senses Residences Courchevel, a residential project in the French Alps.
“I’d like to be in London. We’re also looking at Italy. We think we can bring the values of the brand into a number of destinations. We’ve very excited about the future,” said Jacobs.
Linda Silver shares the enthusiasm for Europe at the moment. Known as The Travel Stylist, Silver is a Virtuoso agent based in Los Angeles.
“Everyone wants to go back to Europe right now. People stopped for a while because the dollar was so weak compared to the Euro. It was ridiculous. So I sent clients to Southeast Asia and the exotic destinations. But now clients are eager to get back. It’s like a homecoming,” Silver tells Travel Agent.
She cautions not to expect fire sale prices now that the dollar and Euro are almost at parity.
“Clients are still going to pay thousands of dollars for the top hotels. What is changed is that meals won’t cost as much. You can buy that designer handbag without having to multiply the price tag,” said Silver.
As for security concerns, they haven’t affected Silver’s well-heeled, well-traveled clientele.
"We’ve had a terrible tragedy in Paris, but people still want to go. They want to stay at places like the Bristol or the Peninsula, which is really the rage now. There’s a certain safety element emotionally when you’re staying at those properties,” she noted.
Not that Silver encourages clients to spend all their time in the hotel.
“My clients are walkers. They want to know about hiking trails. They want to do something educational. But they also want to eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant, get a beauty treatment or a massage. If there’s a trend in Europe right now, it’s that clients want to do more. I think it’s great. My feeling is that if you’re going all the way over there you should try a little of everything,” said Silver.