Six Senses opened its first resort in Europe during the summer, located in the Portuguese UNESCO World Heritage area of the Douro Valley.
Set on 22 acres, the 57 bedroom, 19th century Six Senses Douro Valley was designed by New York-based Clodagh Design.
“We flew to Portugal and were blown away by the light, colours and endless fields of grape vines,” said Clodagh, speaking to CLADmag. “Drawing on these colours and this already existing, unimaginably beautiful place we dreamt up a scheme that tipped a hat to the past while still being totally contemporary and designed to bring joy to every single visitor.”
The resort is surrounded by sloping vineyards, and the spa’s signature treatments are inspired by the region’s wine culture.
The resort also includes five hectares of surrounding forest that can be used for forest bathing, a Japanese term used to describe a gentle and quiet walk in the woods with senses open to sounds, smells, colours and feel of the forest designed to have a therapeutic effect on the body and mind.
The resort also features an outdoor swimming pool, an activities hut and gym and on-site personal trainers.
A wine library pairs a selection of regional wines with tapas, cheese, smoked hams and local sausages, while the 24,000sq ft (2,230sq m) Six Senses spa features 10 treatment rooms, an indoor swimming pool, laconium, herbal bath, experience showers, forest bathing and a nail bar.
“As Portugal was on the silk route, we wanted to embody a sense of history in all our material choices,” said Clodagh. “We used burnished metals in the rooms behind the beds. The carpets through the corridors had green tones inspired by the water of the Douro river, where the play of light and shadow became like a welcome mat inviting visitors.
“We utilised old wine cases, raw steel and empty wine bottles to create the massive lighting fixtures.The dining room features a collage of ancient Portuguese tiles and we used reclaimed wood as much as possible throughout the project.”
In order to preserve the historic feel of the building, the designers met the previous owners of the property, including Julia Serpa Pimentel, who lived on the Quinta as a child. “She showed us images of her childhood community and really revealed to us the spirit of this place,” said Clodagh.