Sometime during the day at SIX SENSES SHAHARUT, in Israel’s Negev Desert, you really should have your treatments – reservations essential. Do not miss a spell with the masseur, an Israeli who inherently communes with bones and muscles (Ms Orange Sari apparently wants to take him back to her ashram in Rishikesh to share with its thousands of devotees).
And don’t miss a session at Six Senses Shaharut’s Earth Lab, back at the resort’s Main Gate. Under the spellbinding tutelage of Sustainability Manager Liraz Amar, watched by her canine shadow, learn which are the year-round herbs, all picked here, that are dried and used as tea, or distilled to become essential oils. What herb does what to you? In an adjacent garden, with Bedouin tent used for birthday parties and weddings galore, a three-metre high metal sculpture of a flying camel reaches to the palm trees – see the image, above (as she took the photo, resort GM Alicia Graham’s jacket was simultaneously sprayed by a bird flying overhead). The sculpture is a maquette that Shahurut owner Ronny Douek made for a wooden shape that was star, later to be burned ceremoniously, at an Israeli version of Burning Man that he sponsored.
Ronny Douek’s camel adoration – one of many of his passions – is the reason the main bar is called Jamillah, female camel. Here you see more evidemce of the owner’s personality. There’s a Technics SL-1000R turntable, with a pair of giant JBL double-speakers, Japan, mid-1960s, hanging from the ceiling. At least 400 vinyls range from best of the Middle East through to Silk Road. An impressive library and a pretty good range of back-lit alcohols further help set the scene. You know the owner has had his hand in all this, as he has in the fitness centre, discreetly decorated with some miniature train sets.
Dinner that night was in the Wine Cellar, one of the additions that Ronny Douek had put in as construction progressed (another afterthought was excavating down into the hillside to construct a sunset-facing private dining nook, ideal for up to four). The Wine Cellar has decades-old political posters on some walls, while others bear inner-lit cabinets for Best of Israel labels. The group started dinner that night, however, with a homage to ‘tour leader’ Neil Jacobs, a bottle of his favourite Australian wine, Ten Minutes by Tractor, Mornington Peninsula Up The Hill 2019, Estate Pinot Noir. Next came Syrah Merlot 2016, Judean Hills. Food was sharing, plate after plate of appetizer mezze, and entré mains. And finally, back to the Six Senses bed that invariably seems to guarantee sleep. Helped, of course, by infectious Negev Desert happiness. Yes, that desert is unique. See below.