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Wanderlust in wonderlands

April 18, 2024 - Travel is good for the soul, and it can do good too. It’s how you do it – consciously, not carelessly, and connected to local culture – that matters. Taoist walking, Fijian warrior dancing, and chocolate making: join in the fun.

Hospitality is never just about a place to stay but the opportunity to immerse into new cultures. Not just observing local ways but getting a sense of them and feeling part of them. Growing to avoid growing old. Allowing the feet to wander and the mind to wonder, to break down barriers and increase empathy, knowledge, and understanding.

“A lot of people travel to see things that they don’t have at home,” says Jeff Smith, Vice President of Sustainability at Six Senses. “Of course, there’s a carbon footprint involved. However, I see firsthand how this is offset by the positive impacts. Sustainable tourism at its core, I think, is celebrating what’s unique about that destination. Travel also brings vital funding, such as our Sustainability Fund, which makes a measurable difference. Often, local traditional knowledge leads us down a path to discovering a more sustainable way of doing things in our kitchens and spas.”

1. Celebrate a custom

For those who see health and happiness as a journey of discovery, not a destination, Six Senses Bhutan is a unique adventure with uplifting experiences at every turn. The 8-night Khamsa journey offers a mix of some of Bhutan’s not-to-be-missed sites, staying in our Thimphu, Punakha, and Paro lodges, and taking in some lesser-known places and customs along the way.

In a nation that is guided by the principles of Gross National Happiness, Claudine Triolo, our Country Director of Sales and Marketing explains that there are many ways to show gratitude in Bhutan, for example, lighting butter lamps and hanging prayer flags. “The lighting of butter lamps goes far beyond simply illuminating a monastery or temple; it is a Buddhist act that’s rich in symbolism. It is an offering of wisdom and light of knowledge to eradicate darkness or ignorance.” A lot of time is spent fostering kinship and community too: ”Whether enjoying a cup of butter tea around the bukhāri or wood burner or playing sports such as archery and kuru, nowhere is neighborliness more evident than in the annual tshechu festivals, which bring groups of friends and family together to celebrate their traditions and beliefs.”

Cultural highlights

  • Six Senses Thimphu “Palace in the Sky”

    • Walk between Changangkan the valley’s oldest monastery and the towering 52-meter Buddha Dordenma statue (there are 125,000 smaller Buddhas inside).
    • Stop in at Zorig Chusum (The National Institute of 13 Arts and Crafts) showcasing Bhutan’s numerous art forms before crossing the road to visit the Folk Heritage Museum to discover daily life in the past.
    • Meet the monks at Pangri Zampa Lhakhang, a 16th century monastic school of astrology where you can have a reading to peek into your future.
  • Six Senses Punakha “Flying Farmhouse Amidst Rice Fields”

    • Spin a prayer wheel for good luck before crossing over a dramatic suspension bridge hung with colorful Buddhist prayer flags and toast your arrival with pomegranate martinis served up with views to the impressive Punakha Dzong.
    • Hike through terraced rice fields to a 16th century hilltop temple for a humble breakfast of rice and eggs taken with the monks who live and study there.
    • Head to the spa for a restorative journey that incorporates the powerful energy of a carnelian crystal, footbath infused with local herbs, Bhutanese chanting, and singing bowls before your choice of stress-relieving massage. OHM!
  • Six Senses Paro “Stone Ruins”

    • Test your strength and skills with an archery session, Bhutan's colorful national sport.
    • Don traditional Bhutanese dress (a kira for a woman and a gho for a man) and enjoy farm-to-table dining under the stars in the shadows of a 15th-century stone dzong, with masked dance performances around the fire to transport you back to a time long past for an evening of magic and mysticism.
    • Hike up to Taktsang Goemba (monastery), more famously known as “Tiger's Nest”. Listen to the sound of prayer wheels turning and leave your good intentions by tying your own prayer-flag and letting the wind carry blessings and prayers across Bhutan.


“Joen pa Leg So”: we hope to welcome you soon! For more information about our 8-night Khamsa, please contact the reservations department at reservations-bhutan@sixsenses.com for more information.

2. Learn a craft

In many of our resorts, not only do we purchase local art and artifacts to promote entrepreneurship and empowerment, we also invite artisans to share their craft.

Sadu weaving in Saudi Arabia

Sadu weaving holds immense historical and economic significance in Saudi Arabia, as it is deeply rooted in the nomadic lifestyle of the Arabian Peninsula and still plays a vital role in the livelihoods of Bedouin communities. Join us in our Artisan Village at Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea to learn the techniques and traditions of the weavers as they craft rugs, garments, and homewares.

Artisanal adventures in the Douro Valley

Hand-painted tiles tell stories from Portuguese history and while staying at Six Senses Douro Valley, you can practice this traditional art form and take home your masterpiece as a souvenir. We have two beautiful 18th-century tile panels behind the hearth of Vale de Abraão Restaurant, which have inspired us to start a unique project: The Sustainability Wall of Fame. Just choose the design you like from our life-size catalog of 55 unique tile patterns, and our resident artist Helena Ferreira will create a perfect copy of one of these ancient tiles to add to the wall and sign your name in history, with the proceeds of each sale contributing to our Sustainability Fund. Can you help us make it to the end of the wall?

3. Dance like a warrior

No one lays on a better celebration than Fijians, who love to gather together to share good times. At Six Senses Fiji, join together on the beach to enjoy a customary feast with fresh fish cooked in a Fijian lovo with a bowl or two of kava, a local crop that has been used in traditional Pacific Island medicine and ceremonies for hundreds of years.

Expect to be royally entertained by warriors and performers who put on traditional dances and tell stories about life in Fiji while passing around the yaqona.

4. Walk the Taoist way

Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain is located at the picturesque gateway to the eponymous UNESCO World Heritage site in nearby Dujiangyan, China. Whether meeting the pandas or exploring ancient Chinese towns dating back to the Jin Dynasty, there’s something for everyone.

The mystical Qing Cheng Mountain is also the birthplace of Chinese Taoism, dubbed “the most peaceful and secluded mountain under heaven”. Explore nearby Taoist shrines and beautiful trails, including Jade Qing Palace and Lingyan Mountain, a revered site for Chinese masters. But before you set off, did you know about the Taoist walking method that arouses your internal energy? Taoism stresses the balance of Yin & Yang, with walking in nature as a way of engaging in Taoist meditation. As your body works, your mind calms, and an internal silence appears.

5. Pick up culinary tips

Turkish delights in Istanbul

In terms of culinary immersions, our Ottoman-era “Pearl of Bosphorus” Six Senses Kocataş Mansions is a perfect base for exploring Istanbul’s foodie scene. Located away from the downtown hubbub in the prestigious Sariyer district and with prime views overlooking the water, it serves as a peaceful urban resort, having been carefully restored and returned to the golden era of La Belle Époque. Enjoy Chef Erdal’s masterful selection of traditional Turkish delicacies and kebabs and satisfy a sweet tooth with sticky pastries in the Kahve lounge. But for a more sleeves-up, hands-on experience, join our cooking class experience and gain a better understanding of the locally grown and regional ingredients, as well as the cultural heritage and knowledge that makes the local cuisine so delicious. Of course, you'll have a chance to savor all the food you gathered back at our chef's table later that evening and enjoy a traditional gift to take away and remember the day.

Hike in Swiss style

As a year-round resort, Six Senses Crans-Montana takes you on a charming epicurean journey through the seasons, from snowy pistes to sunny vines. Embrace the enchanting Swiss winter and follow your guide on a 1.5-hour snowshoe hike to a picturesque hamlet and traditional ‘Mayen’ mountain hut for fondue and warm tea, followed by a spot of stargazing and sled ride back to the start. Once the snow melts, Valais stands as Switzerland’s primary wine-producing region. Explore a local winery near Sion, where you can enjoy a tasting of three different wines, learning about grape cultivation and winemaking before hiking to a traditional ‘guérite’ (guard house) for a classic Valaisan three-course meal.

The island of rum and chocolate

Six Senses La Sagesse opens its doors this month, offering a vast range of unique Caribbean-influenced gastronomic wonders. One such delight is a behind-the-scenes farming experience to meet Theresa Marryshow, Head of Grenada’s local women’s farming organization (Grenrop). She offers a unique insight into the workings of her two-acre organic farm and serves up a traditional brunch featuring handcrafted juices and fried moringa fritters reflecting the essence of Grenadian cuisine. Join Grenadian cocoa farmers and beekeepers to learn about the food, history, music and more, before creating your own one-of-a-kind cocoa ball that embodies the flavors of the tropics. For something truly romantic, set sail in an authentic Carriacou wooden sailing vessel, enjoying a tutored rum and chocolate pairing. The sun-drenched beauty of the Caribbean seascape is as extraordinary as the flavors themselves.

Long-term actions that are self-sustaining

When people think of sustainability, they often think of environmental credentials. But Six Senses also targets social responsibility and local socio-economic development, starting with our local hiring policy and local sourcing of produce. We celebrate local food and influences and build our menus around them. We purchase local art and artifacts and invite artisans into our resorts to respectfully highlight local culture. To increase the financial impact, Six Senses also partners with local NGOs, schools, or hospitals to ensure local services are developed and access to life’s essentials such as clean water or education is improved. Local skills training achieves lasting benefits as part of a ripple effect.

Thanks to the commitment of our hosts, their families, local community partners, and guests, here are just some of our social impacts reported for 2023:  

  • 28,960 people gained access to clean drinking water and sanitation.
  • 4,336 hours of teaching or hosting around our sustainability topics.
  • Improved access to education and skill training to 3,989 students and 778 hours of teaching.
  • 25,412 people gained improved access to healthcare.
  • 9,254 people gained improved public waste management in their community.
  • 730 people have an improved livelihood as a result of our Sustainability Fund projects.

Read more about our sustainable actions and impacts.

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