Israeli Resort With Stunning Desert Views Ranked Among 100 Best New Hotels

Eight months after opening, Six Senses Shaharut, a luxury resort in the Arava desert, makes it on to Travel and Leisure’s prestigious global list

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Guests enjoy the pool and desert views at the Six Senses Hotel in Shaharut in the Arava.
Guests enjoy the pool and desert views at the Six Senses Hotel in Shaharut in the Arava.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Moshe Gilad
Moshe Gilad
Moshe Gilad
Moshe Gilad

Israel’s Six Senses Hotel in Shaharut in the Arava was chosen this week by the international tourism magazine Travel and Leisure as one of the 100 best new hotels in the world.

Eight months after opening, the hotel has already joined one of the most prestigious and highly regarded lists in the hotel business. The achievement could bring a significant boost to tourism in the Arava, located in southeast Israel.

The Six Senses Hotel in Shaharut in the Arava desert in Israel's south.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik

The article, published in the April 2022 issue of the magazine, catalogs the hotels and resorts that left the strongest impression on the magazine’s editors and contributors. Travel and Leisure is considered one of the most important and influential tourism magazines in the world. Over the past year, their staff surveyed hundreds of new and renovated resorts the world over.

In explaining their choice to include Six Senses Shaharut, the magazine wrote: “Visitors must veer way off the beaten path to get to this oasis in southern Israel—it lies in the near-empty desert expanse along the ancient Incense Route. But when guests arrive, they’re rewarded with refreshing iced tea and date cookies, along with uninterrupted vistas of golden sand dunes and the dramatic red Edom Mountains.

A man swims at the Six Senses Hotel in Shaharut in the Arava.

Instead of rising above its sandy surroundings, the property’s low-slung, rough-hewn buildings (made with limestone excavated on site) are seamlessly integrated into the terrain.

The 60 suites and pool villas are decorated with locally made ceramics and wall hangings that cover the TV (you can roll them up via remote control). Like all Six Senses properties, sustainability is at the forefront—most notable in the preservation of dark-sky conditions for optimal stargazing and a garden whose produce you’ll find at the property’s four restaurants.

“At Travel and Leisure we know that in recent years the world has changed substantially and has posited unprecedented challenges to the tourism industry, which makes this win even more special and exceptional.”

Guests enjoy the pool and desert views at the Six Senses Hotel in Shaharut in the Arava.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik

The Six Senses Shaharut Hotel first opened to the public in August 2021, after a long planning and construction process that lasted for several years. It is located 45 minutes north of Eilat and about half an hour from the Ramon International Airport. At the time of it’s opening, CNN rated it as one of the 20 best new hotels in the world to visit.

A night at Six Senses Shaharut usually costs about 4,000 shekels ($1,200) in a standard 58 square meter (624 square foot) suite. Some suites and villas have an interior patio or a balcony overlooking the landscape. Others have a private swimming pool.

The hotel’s policy regarding hosting children is unclear. At first, they were warmly welcomed, but now children under the age of 12 are not permitted.

The hotel is not kosher, but the kitchen does not serve seafood or pork. They cook on Shabbat and don’t separate the meat and milk kitchens.

The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, a covered pool, a spa complex, a fitness room, a holistic center and a yoga studio that overlooks the desert. The hotel sprawls across a property of 188 dunams (46 acres), and was designed by architects Daniela and Mia Plesner, with interior design by Dana Oberson Architects, which took into account environmental elements and made use of local raw materials.

The developer who built the hotel is Roni Duek. At the start of the construction process there was certain opposition from the residents of Shaharut to building the luxury hotel near their modest community, but, for the time being, it has died down.

The chain advertises its connection to nature and the local community, highlighting its choice of design and construction partners, the purchase of raw materials from local producers, and the recruitment of local tour guides and local workers.

The builders of Six Senses Shaharut hope to place the Israeli Arava desert as an attractive destination on the world tourism map. This recent honor is a big step in the right direction.

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