Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs on expansion and what's next for wellness travel

A brand synonymous with both luxury and wellness, Six Senses has been part of the IHG Hotels & Resorts fold since 2019, when IHG acquired the flag for $300 million. Six Senses has since steadily grown its pipeline, most recently with plans to open the Six Senses La Sagesse in Grenada, the Six Senses Amaala and Six Senses AlUla in Saudi Arabia and the Six Senses Xala on Mexico’s Pacific Coast over the next few years. Hotels editor Christina Jelski sat down with Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs at the International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes, France, this month to get an update on where the brand is headed and what’s next when it comes to wellness.

Neil Jacobs

Q: How has the Six Senses concept and footprint evolved over the years?

A: It’s been under my watch for about 11 years, and when [I came on], we had eight hotels, all but one of which were beach resorts in Asia. But we took a strategy back then to create a global brand and also create urban properties that were in gateway cities with a high leisure segment. We didn’t want to be in the business of business hotels. And we had always been strong in sustainability, which was a big part of the brand’s 30-year history, and we were also very good at spa.

Our goal became to keep the spa but expand further into wellness, of which spa is a piece. And we wanted to really evolve the design ethos, from being rustic and Robinson Crusoe-inspired to still using natural materials but designing them very differently. We’ve gone from eight properties to operating 24 with another 30 or so under development. We will be at 50 properties probably in the next few years.

Q: Next year’s opening of the Six Senses La Sagesse will mark the brand’s debut in the Americas, correct?

A: Yes, but we have about another 10 projects in the pipeline. And that’s very important to us, because right now, the U.S. [fluctuates] between being our first and second source of visitors. Eleven years ago, there was no focus on the Americas; our focus was predominantly Europe. But Americans go to all the places where we have properties, so it’s probably not too far away that the U.S. will become our No. 1.

Q: What’s on the horizon when it comes to wellness?

A: We already have a deep knowledge of ayurveda and Chinese medicine, and we’re expanding that with the latest properties we’ve added in India, where we might start integrating some Tibetan medicine. A few years ago, we also said we needed to take a deep dive into energy medicine. And we know a lot about the East, but we know less about wellness in South America, so we’re leaning into that; the legal part of that, at least.

Q: So no ayahuasca at a Six Senses anytime soon?

A: Obviously we can’t do ayahuasca, but the whole psychedelics thing, it will change. It will be legal. And we’re all looking at it. What we are doing a lot of right now, though, is the area of longevity. We don’t call it anti-aging anymore. We opened our first longevity clinic in Ibiza, RoseBar, and we’re probably going to do more in that area. We’ll also be launching something around spiritual wellness sometime next year. Like others, we’re looking at mental health and loneliness, which is a huge issue. 

One of our [wellness experts] has also introduced a “robotic massage table.” She said it was, without a doubt, technically one of the most amazing massages. And you can control it. The only thing that’s missing, obviously, is the emotional connection that often exists with a therapist. But if you’ve got, say, five or six treatment rooms, maybe you put it in one of the rooms. 

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