Sustainable travel firmly on the mind of travellers

Speaking ahead of the Arabian Travel Market 2022, Andrew Spearman, general manager of Six Senses Zighy Bay, highlighted how an increasing number of guests are booking resorts that have green initiatives in place as part of their commitment towards sustainable travel


Rohma Sadaqat

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Published: Fri 6 May 2022, 6:09 PM

For resorts, looking at sustainability from top to bottom can be costly and resource-heavy when it comes to getting to a place of true understanding and implementation.

However, one thing is for sure, says Andrew Spearman, general manager of Six Senses Zighy Bay, there’s no hiding from sustainable travel and eco-tourism – it is no longer a trend or a marketing gimmick, it is now a necessity.

As a brand, the Six Senses is built on sustainability with memorable hospitality experiences developed around that, and the Zighy Bay property is no different.

“We are continuously growing and developing new initiatives as our relationship with the local community, climate, and environment aren’t new to us and are always front and centre of our minds,” Spearman said. “Our guests are always curious about the resort’s sustainability practices; thus, we have implemented tours to showcase our initiatives. Not only do our various initiatives benefit the environment, but they are also a tool to educate the new generation of guests, especially since the resort receives multi-generational travellers.”

This awareness around green initiatives is nothing new and has only been growing in recent years. An increasing number of guests are booking resorts that have green initiatives in place as part of their commitment towards sustainable travel. Spearman says that Six Senses sees a high number of repeat guests who are loyal to the brand because of its sustainable practices. “We have an impressive returning rate of 60 per cent and these guests are very much aware of our green initiatives.”

So, how exactly does a brand score true on its sustainability promise? The Six Senses Zighy Bay offers a range of crafted experiences based on the resort’s sustainability practices. Since its opening in late 2020, the property has involved hosts, villagers, the local municipality, and guests in numerous activities such as tree planting, enabling access to education for women, and regular ocean and beach clean-ups.

In total, 80 per cent of the site’s organic and glass waste is recycled or upcycled on site. The destination produces its own bottled water via reverse osmosis, and the salt water, which is filtered out during the process, is used in the hotel’s saltwater pool - the largest in the Middle East.

“Where possible, the resort sources as locally as possible so you will often see our chefs at the Dibba fish market at dawn, providing a living to locals and unparalleled freshness to what's on your plate,” Spearman said. “The resort is also surrounded by a variety of trees and plants and to date, we have counted more than 5,000 trees including date palms, fruit trees, native and ornamental trees, irrigated entirely with recycled grey water from the resort.”

The hotel’s food waste is used as compost, which fuels the property’s own organic garden that grows various types of herbs and vegetables. This means fresh farm-to-fork vegetables and fruits, organic cheese, and organic eggs. As a result, the hotel offers guests farm to fork dining experiences, which is quite unexpected from a desert destination, along with herbal organic mixology master classes, and Arabic cooking classes which use the organic varieties of local products.

Lastly, Zighy Bay’s own Earth Lab showcases how sustainable the resort actually is and offers incredible sessions - from glass and candle recycling through to making your own eco-shampoo and soap, which guests can also takeaway with them.

“Our guests arrive to the resort with curiosity, and always leave impressed, as our Earth Lab is where we can clearly communicate our sustainability initiatives, activities, innovations, and partnerships, and clearly display the resort’s consumption data,” said Spearman.

Looking ahead, he noted that educating the new generation is key. “We plan to educate the local community on managing waste and single used plastics, in line with Six Senses' plastic-free initiatives. Our association with the Zighy Village and local schools in the neighboring township of Dibba is fantastic as we support the community both in cash and in kind.”

Examples include teaching assistance, infrastructure funding and strategic aid to support the education of students at the local Girl’s School, Sakina Bent Al Hussein, and at the local Boy’s School, Amru Bin Al-Aas. Six Senses has also recently introduced the ‘Climate Warriors’ initiative, which is built on simple, tangible things children can do, and enjoy doing, to combat climate change. The aim is for little guests to see and understand the positive role they can already play in their environments and communities, effectively becoming climate warriors, all through simple actions and fun activities.

Diving hosts at Six Senses Zighy Bay are also trained to remove ghost nets left by fishermen and rescue sea creatures that have been caught in them thanks to an initiative first introduced and inspired by the Oliver Ridley Project in the Indian Ocean.

“In a recent partnership with the Ministry of the Environment, our team has successfully removed 1.4 tonnes of ghost nets,” Spearman said. “The resort team also organises beach clean-ups on a monthly basis. These are made more fun by arranging sand art days, with guests invited to attend during Earth Day. Clean-up activities are continuously organised on special days such as World Environment Day and International Coastal Clean-up Day.”

Six Senses Zighy Bay has also launched an industry-leading carbon-neutral rate, pledging to donate $10 per room night to wind turbine projects in Turkey to completely offset the amount of carbon produced during stays at the resort.

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