Measurable Actions for Positive Impact

A chat with Guy Heywood, Chief Operating Officer, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

In recent years, sustainability has seeped into everyday parlance, and the demand for socially and environmentally responsible travel experiences has soared. As a growing number of consumers would tell you, luxurious experiences that are bad for the planet and for people are no longer good enough. This is something the award-winning global luxury hotel, resort and spa brand Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas grasped at an early stage. Since its establishment in 1995, it appears to us that it has never lost its place as an authentic forerunner of sustainable luxury.

We sat down with Guy Heywood, Chief Operating Officer at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas to discuss the secrets behind their success. A competitive triathlete and exercise enthusiast, Guy joined Six Senses in 2019 after eight years as the Chief Operating Officer for Alila Hotels and Resorts.

Photograph from Guy Heywood

“At Six Senses, sustainability is embedded into our operations. It’s never an afterthought,” said Guy. “For us, being environmentally friendly and socially responsible can be successfully wedded to uncompromisingly gorgeous hideaways.”

It all begins with the design process. “Through a localised application of our brand standards and by aiming for LEED Silver certification for all new hotels, we drive sophisticated design without being formulaic,” Guy explained. Six Senses’ Standards for Design and Construction help to bring economic value to owners via key elements such as healthy rooms and ventilation, energy efficiency in lighting and equipment, renewable energy production, water efficiency and recycling, passive architecture, and building management systems.

The team is intentional in their choices of building material, prioritising local and sustainable materials such as certified wood, recycled and rapidly renewable materials as well as natural fibres, fabrics and flooring. In newer properties, air conditioning is programmed to automatically turn off when doors are opened to reduce energy consumption.

Six Senses Shaharut, tucked away in the Arava Valley south of the Negev Desert in Israel. Photograph from Guy Heywood

Six Senses Laamu, located in the pristine Laamu Atoll in the Maldives. Photograph from Guy Heywood

Additionally, every Six Senses property has an organic garden that provides fresh herbs, vegetables, fruits and eggs, and which gives back to the earth through composting and building healthy soil. Landscapes are made up of local and non-invasive plant varieties, many of which are fundamental ingredients for their restaurants and spa treatments. Guests will see the same plants being used in natural cleaning products when they visit Earth Lab – an interactive space dedicated to engagement and innovation where guests can participate in hands-on workshops and learn about the work that Six Senses has been doing.

Six Senses’ longstanding commitment to eliminating the use of disposable plastic is testament to their early sustainability pioneership. In the 1990’s, they introduced their signature water bottled in glass, and four years ago they eliminated the use of plastic straws and disposable F&B containers from every one of their properties. Today they have inventoried every plastic item used by their hotel and spa operations, and have set a bold goal: “We aim to be completely free of plastic from 2022,” said Guy. “We’ll do so by transitioning to natural compostable materials and to high quality reusable materials. We have also been working with our suppliers on delivering food and goods with safer packaging alternatives.”

Perhaps the secret sauce to Six Senses’ success is its respect for local communities. The team’s architecture and building practices are inspired by the works of local architects and designers. The business also supports clean water and sanitation by leveraging on its expertise in filtering and bottling its own high-quality drinking water as well as in educational programmes. “Our knowledge of the best fishing holes, diving spots, and underground events is founded on the local relationships we’ve built,” said Guy.

The spectacular Six Senses Punakha in Bhutan – a flying farmhouse amidst the rice fields. Photograph from Guy Heywood

An aerial view of the Six Senses Douro Valley, Portugal. Photograph from Guy Heywood

At Interface, having experienced firsthand from our Mission Zero journey the power of setting bold, audacious goals, we are fans of Six Senses’ approach to creating spaces that support well-being, productivity, and creativity, as well as the sustainability of the planet. We will be rooting for them as we continue on our new mission, Climate Take Back, which invites you to join us as we commit to operating in a way that is restorative to the planet and creates a climate fit for life.

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