Life: Five-star Environmentalism

The Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay is exactly that. Hidden behind a mountain range in Oman, when you turn off the tarmac road and rattle over rocky desert you can’t see the gatehouse. It looks like a dead end, then, like a trick of the light, it appears and you’re off, twisting up and over the mountain. The resort is made up of 60 odd private villas, which each have their own infinity pool, deck and either have beach access, or are a mere 10 metres from the shore. Zighy Bay is a retreat for the recluse in you.

By Georgina Wilson-powell

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Published: Fri 7 Aug 2009, 9:01 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:17 AM

Nestled between the stark Musandam landscape and the azure sea, the self-contained five-star resort is paradise for those wishing to spend some quality time with family or friends. Your stay can be as simple as sitting in your completely secluded flint pool with a personal butler and chef on call, available for everything from simple room service to bespoke barbeques or champagne breakfasts. Or, if want to leave your villa, you can sample the luxurious treats your hosts can whip up for you, which include private dining on top of a mountain for a romantic tete-a-tete, paragliding, wine tasting in the extensive cellar. You can also spend an hour or a day in the relaxing spa or take part in a yoga class or two.

It would be easy to write off Zighy Bay as an indulgent treat for the rich and famous, but Six Senses doesn’t just look after its guests, it also looks after the environment, and this ethos is evident in everything the resort does. For example, it does not buy bottled water, instead it uses purified local well water served in reusable glass bottles, while food waste is composted or fed to the local herd of goats.

With a full time environmental officer in residence, there are plenty of green projects underway. These vary in size from giving monthly environmental training to staff, to long-term goals such as collaborating with the Environmental Society of Oman and the British Biosphere Expedition to help protect the local coral reef. The resort is even investing in a South Indian wind farm to help offset its carbon emissions.

At a more local level, the resort puts a percentage of its revenue into a social and environmental fund, which has seen it build new homes for villagers who live nearby, and until the summer paid for their children to be schooled in English and healthcare.

Zighy Bay is also aiming to become fully self sufficient. It has an organic garden to service its restaurants, which all staff help maintain, and is currently planning a bamboo garden. Bamboo is one of the most efficient plants for absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produces 35 per cent more oxygen than other plants. Until recently, guests could work in the garden or help to build walls, which has popular with people who expect luxury, but who also like to get their hands dirty.

A hotel’s green credentials are often far more evident on its website propaganda than in the real world, and becoming environmentally friendly can be a convenient excuse for a hotel to tighten its luxury belt.

However, Zighy Bay proves it is possible to offer a five-star break without having to wreck environmental havoc in the process.

The resort was a winner of the Gold Award for Best Environmental Hotel at this year’s MENA Travel Awards and also scooped the first ever Estidama Sustainability Award from the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council.

Not only does Zighy Bay prove it’s cool to care about the effects our lifestyles have on the environment, it’s also reassuring to know that with its help, we can be part of the solution, even when we’re relaxing!

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