Travel Blog - Six Senses Douro Valley - Portugal
Our Product Manager, Helen, visited the simply divine Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal recently and here's what she discovered:
What were your first impressions of the hotel?
Aside from the stunning journey from Porto (once off the motorway) which followed the River Douro, with its steep vineyard-terraced river banks and sleepy rural hamlets, my first impression was how pretty the hotel is, with its charming turrets. But what’s so clever is how Six Senses have recently transformed this elegant and historic large family villa into a sleek contemporary hotel, without compromising on style. Extensions have been thoughtfully done, be it into the forested area beside the hotel or deep below the ground (like the indoor swimming pool which sits below the main terrace area, with natural light from above and from one side, looking out across the valley). It’s an architectural feat for sure!
What do you think makes the hotel so special?
The extensive adults-only spa is most definitely at the heart of the hotel (after all, this is the Six Senses Spa ‘flagship’ European hotel), and the emphasis on wellness is integrated throughout the hotel, from the carefully chosen Organic Pharmacy toiletries in the hotel bedrooms (definitely no need to pack shampoo, conditioner or body lotion), to the healthy spa cuisine available and also to their own organic kitchen garden, plus the sheer variety of daily complimentary group classes, such as guided hikes, yoga and dance lessons. On top of this, there’s a feeling of balance too as this hotel also attracts non-wellness guests, so there is an impressive wine list, a knowledgeable sommelier on hand and plenty of gourmet options on the menu. It’s chic and stylish, with poured concrete and glass mixing well with historic charm, plus the setting is unique, nestling within the UNESCO protected Douro Valley, overlooking the winding river. Be sure to allow time for a walk amongst the vineyards (ask at reception as they provide maps for a 3-hour self-guided circular walk) or through their pretty forest, too.
What was your favourite treatment?
The extensive Six Senses spa menu is impressive, but it would have to be the signature full body massage, which took place in a bright treatment room with huge windows overlooking the peaceful gardens. The Six Senses Spa protocol was top notch as expected, as was the delivery, plus the cocooning relaxation chairs and warming ginger tea afterwards meant the feeling of blissful relaxation lingered for longer.
What was your favourite activity?
I loved sampling a yoga class, as the yoga teacher had trained in India and gave a very authentic, profound class. The dance lesson was a lot of fun and to sample three different dance techniques in one class – from salsa to meringue to Portuguese dance – meant a lot of laughter and letting go too!
How was the food?
This was a real highlight – their healthy spa cuisine is so well balanced, nutritious and delicious too, plus there is also a more gourmet option. There’s also the possibility of dining at the chef’s table (from Euro 40 to Euro 150 per person, when in resort), which is outstanding value for the quality of the food and the intimate experience. The presentation overall was first class, and most ingredients are seasonal, local and organic where possible. I love the fact that when developing the hotel, the management removed an old tennis court and replaced it with an organic vegetable and herb garden. You can see the gardeners pottering there during the day; it’s well worth having a look around. Also worth experiencing is a wine and port tasting with the hotel’s sommelier, where you can learn about the history and heritage of the Douro Valley, believed to be the oldest wine producing commercial region in the world. Oh and wine by the glass is sensibly priced too, which we know is important for our solo traveller guests.
Who would you recommend the hotel to?
Independent single travellers seeking a peaceful escape with a first class spa, plus couples or small groups of friends wanting an elegant, restful stay in a renowned wine region. Although families are welcomed, it is not particularly child-friendly (there isn’t a kids club for example, and the spa area has a minimum age of 14). All in all, it’s an ideal option for a sophisticated spa and wine-focused week or long weekend away from the hustle and bustle of city life.