The Negev Desert in Israel possesses an enchanting allure, drawing visitors in with its breathtaking sunsets, rugged plains, and imposing ridges of chalky limestone.
This remarkable place exudes a sense of beauty and tranquility that is truly indescribable. Nestled in the far south of this desert paradise lies Six Senses Shaharut, a luxurious eco-friendly resort located in the small desert community of Shaharut.
Designed by the renowned Tel Aviv-based firm Plesner Architects, this secluded retreat is perched dramatically on a cliff, offering sweeping vistas of the desert landscape. It beckons guests to escape from the chaos of the world and reconnect with their inner selves. Earlier this autumn, we embarked on a journey to Israel to personally experience this unforgettable oasis for the body and soul.
Our journey to Six Senses Shaharut commences in the late afternoon as we travel from Tel Aviv, embarking on a picturesque four-hour drive through the Negev Desert. While convenient flights to Ramon Airport connect the resort to the Israeli capital in less than an hour, reaching the resort by road is an integral part of the experience. Along this route, we pass through quaint settlements and timeless terrains steeped in history, witnessing breathtaking natural transformations. Piles of limestone gradually morph into rolling hills, while small valleys form in undulating patterns, leading us to expansive, rock-strewn plains.
Upon our arrival, we are warmly greeted by camels basking in the setting sun, their distinctive humps and long eyelashes vying for our attention. We are then transported up a steep road in electric dune buggies, a captivating fusion of golf carts and off-road vehicles. As we ascend, the desert landscape gradually unfolds before us. Perched atop the hill, immersed in the almost otherworldly scenery, is the resort itself, with its partially concealed sunken rooms and cliffside facilities. From this vantage point, the breathtaking backdrop of the Arava Valley below and the distant Edom Mountains of granite immediately capture our hearts and senses.
Carefully integrated into its 46-acre context, the resort stands as an engineering marvel that took over a decade to complete. Here, the past seamlessly blends with the present in a unique and extraordinary symbiosis. The architectural design draws inspiration from nomadic structures influenced by the Nabataeans—an ancient Arab Bedouin community renowned for carving their capital city, Petra, into the rocky cliffs of nearby Jordan more than 2,000 years ago. Constructed from local sandstone rocks and pigments reminiscent of those used by these ancient farmers and traders, the resort pays a captivating tribute to the geological history of the Negev Desert. The architecture cleverly embraces the site’s topography, utilizing local materials and regional craftsmanship, including limestone walls, ceramics, and pergolas. As we explore the complex before checking in for a light meal, we encounter inviting and serene spaces at every turn, from meandering pathways to contemplative courtyards and restaurants with expansive terraces. All of these elements harmonize with the natural colors and textures of the surrounding arid landscapes.
Crafted from rugged stone, timber, and plaster, the resort’s 60 suites and villas, all facing outward, seamlessly blend into the desert environment. Emerging from the rocky terrain, these accommodations are divided into suites, panorama suites, and pool suites—each offering 46 square meters of space, outdoor areas, and stunning views. Additionally, there are panorama pool villas spanning over 100 square meters. For larger groups, a three-bedroom private reserve measuring over 300 square meters, complete with an outdoor living and cooking area, a private pool, and a spa, represents the epitome of a natural retreat. We are fortunate to occupy a panorama suite, characterized by its refined simplicity and spaciousness. Every detail has been meticulously crafted to harmonize with the natural landscape outside.
The desert’s essence permeates the interior design, with sandy-inspired color palettes and carefully selected wooden furnishings. Subtle copper accents pay homage to the hues of the Edom Mountains, while rich Bedouin-inspired fabrics and bathroom fixtures resembling brass further enhance the aesthetic. The overall design exudes a nomadic spirit, with decorative plates, custom tapestries, and wall hangings created by local artists and ceramicists from nearby desert villages. The exception to this design approach is the bed, adorned with pristine white Hanse sheets and duvets that promise a restful night’s sleep.
Days at Six Senses Shaharut commence at the Midian, the resort’s primary restaurant, which offers both indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the expansive desert below. Here, the delectable breakfast spread, beautifully presented, exceeds our expectations. From classic Israeli dishes to a selection of eggs, cheeses, meats, breads, sweets, and locally sourced fruits and vegetables, all the food is crafted from organic ingredients found in the region, drawing inspiration from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern culinary traditions.
After a restful and invigorating morning, we spend our time in and around the striking panoramic pool, which overlooks the Jordan Mountains. Here, we lounge on sunbeds adorned with intricately designed pillows and towels, inviting us to indulge in endless moments of relaxation. Time seems to blend seamlessly, occasionally interrupted only by visits to the resort’s world-class spa, which is a true standout. Offering signature Six Senses treatments and a comprehensive wellness program, the spa experience includes saunas, hammam steam rooms, an indoor pool, treatment rooms, and an excellent gym with views of the Negev Desert.
At Six Senses Shaharut, it may feel as though the world has momentarily come to a standstill, but a diverse program of on-site activities designed to reconnect with nature awaits us in the afternoons. From camel care sessions at the Earth Lab to meditation sessions and the opportunity to create custom scrubs and masks at the Alchemy Bar, the days are filled with more than just the sights and sounds of the desert.
The resort’s staff also arrange off-property adventures, including jeep tours, dune boarding, mountain biking, camel rides, desert hikes, stargazing sessions led by an astrologer, and day trips to kibbutzim and Eilat—a resort town on the Red Sea, just an hour’s drive south from Shaharut.
It doesn’t require an expert to recognize that the resort seamlessly combines transformative wellness experiences and adventures with unwavering dedication to sustainability. Committed to the environment and the local community, the resort adheres to the highest sustainability standards. The team goes to great lengths to repurpose leftovers, conserve energy, minimize water waste, and inspire guests like us to reflect more mindfully on our impact on nature.
Much of this commitment is showcased during the sustainability tour of the resort’s organic vegetable and herb garden—a sight to behold that supports the resort’s goal of self-sustaining food production. This garden supplies the resort’s kitchen and contributes to the revitalization of traditional oasis agriculture.
If meticulous attention to detail and sustainability set this place apart, then the organic cuisine elevates the entire experience. Harvested whenever possible from the resort’s garden or sourced from local farmers and nearby kibbutzim, the fresh, seasonal produce is transformed into progressive ethnic cuisine with Mediterranean and Israeli influences that engage all the senses, keeping our appetites constantly intrigued. Our meals at the Midian, the main restaurant, are enjoyed in the company of white wine. The evolving degustation dinner menu showcases the best flavors of the region. Other dining options include light bites and Middle Eastern-style tapas at the relaxed outdoor mezze space, Edom View, or at the trendy Jamillah. After dinner, the music-filled bar at Jamillah becomes another sensory delight. Watching the granite peaks of the Jordan Mountains shift from pink to a deep red sheen in the evening sun, we are enveloped by a profound sense of peace, just as the custom-infused liquor gradually soothes our bodies and quiets our minds.
As the sun sets and the warm daytime sunshine yields to cool gusts of wind, we find ourselves seated in the resort’s amphitheater on bean bag-like chairs. The silence of the surroundings instantly captivates us. Gazing up at the endless star-filled sky, we cannot help but feel minuscule in the midst of such vast natural grandeur. Like many others, we came to Six Senses Shaharut to escape the hustle and bustle of city life in exchange for breathtaking scenery. However, what we experience here goes beyond a simple retreat; it is a place where our eyes and hearts can fully appreciate the magnificence and serenity of nature. As the day comes to a close and the desert disappears into the darkness of night, the only sound that breaks the silence is the approaching dune buggy, ready to transport us back to our room for a peaceful night’s rest.
SIX SENSES SAHARUT-NEGEV
Hevel-Eilot, Negev Desert, Israel 8886500, Shaharut, 8886500, Israël