First Six Senses property in India to open doors for guests on October 15
Fourteenth century Rajasthan fort restored and converted into Fort Barwara Resort
Come October 15 and the Thailand-based Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas will make its debut in India in the culturally rich state of Rajasthan where a 14th century fort has been restored and converted into Six Senses Fort Barwara Resort. The resort includes two palaces, two original temples, and 48 suites within the fort walls. There are 48 one-bedroom suites, including five specialty suites, housed within the historic fort’s walls. Each suite is designed in a contemporary Rajasthani style to complement the historic backdrop of the fort while subtly incorporating state-of-the-art in-room technology. Three restaurants offer innovative menus emphasising locally sourced ingredients, while the Six Senses Spa provides a peaceful sanctuary for the mind, body and soul. Outside the fort, the property faces the village of Barwara to the west and a forested expanse to the east. The famous tigers of Ranthambore National Park are a short drive away.
The fort was constructed by the Chauhans and conquered by the Rajawat dynasty from the Hadas in 1734. During World War II, Raja Man Singh from the noble family of Barwara along with Jaipur State Armed Forces fought alongside the British. In appreciation of his services, he was bestowed with the title of Rao Bahadur. His grandson, Prithviraj Singh, has now restored the fort to its previous glory in tandem with Amit Rai of Espire Group and converted it into a resort.
Six Senses Fort Barwara General Manager Sangjay Choegyal shares more about the expectations from Fort Barwara in these challenging times and the changes the pandemic has brought to the hospitality sector.
Given the challenging times we are living in, what are the expectations from Fort Barwara?
The year has been challenging and guests are choosing to unwind at secluded locations. Quiet getaways are what one wants to experience. Six Senses Fort Barwara combines and curates activities to suit guests and those who prefer to sit back and relax, taking in all that the destination has to offer. At Fort Barwara, the experiences include alchemy bar workshops, earth lab and sustainability workshops, heritage and horticulture walk around the fort, cultural walks to nearby villages, astronomy and stargazing, mountain biking, daily yoga and meditation with an in-house expert, daily fitness classes, group activities and wellness talk with experts along with cooking classes, organic garden and local market tours with chefs, destination dining safari to Ranthambore National Park, picnic at Banas River, horseback safari and much more.
With the easing of lockdown restrictions and steady drop in Covid-19 cases, the recent weeks have witnessed unexpected hotel occupancy levels. How do you witness these developments?
The destination resorts tend to gain with people increasingly looking for out of the city experiences. With adequate Covid-19 precautions in place, clients are looking for small drivable getaways. The trend to collect a small group of family and friends and having an outing is on an upswing and here to stay. Domestic segment is seeing a surge, irrespective of the price bracket.
What is your take on the role of technology in market revival?
With the industry hitting the lowest slab of occupancies for months together, the growth will be painfully slow in the first phase. The hotels will be outing across their best offers which will help infuse confidence for the traveller. Customer will be the king and will have a buffet laid out in terms of deals and unbelievable offerings. All of this will make the online channels buzzing with opportunities. Portals will be used to amplify the offers from all brands across the country. The interim period will also be used by the hotels to ramp up their technology quotient and upgrade where necessary.
Leisure demand is returning quicker than business and group demand. How will you attract these two market segments?
Individuality and exclusivity are the essentials to offer to a guest staying with a property. When a guest stays with us, be it for leisure vacation we make sure the care, warmth and holistic curated experience offered welcomes the guest again to live with us. Our values which provide a foundation for all brand locations including Six Senses Fort Barwara are:
Local sensitivity, global sensibility Part of local fabric and culture yet in tune with the wider world.
Responsible and caring Caring for hosts and local communities. Committed to preserving environment and sustainable operations.
Crafted experiences An all-encompassing and unique range of experiences to stimulate, energise and restore.
Pioneering wellness Delivering latest and most effective wellness programmes and experiences in partnership with leading experts.
Emotional hospitality An emotionally intelligent approach to service that begins with empathy.
Fun and quirky Aesthetics and experiences which are always unique, often unexpected and sometimes unusual.
Which segments are going to drive the performance of hotels in the coming times?
The domestic segment is exploring the beauty the country has to offer, not to mention hotels and destinations that were not concerned hip enough are all seeing an upswing in occupancies. And this is not limited to a holiday season anymore, concepts like WFH, drivecations and weekend getaways are here to stay. Hopefully, the discerning Indian audience who was in search of one or two international trips will realise the ease of travel within their own country and the various offerings these destination resorts have to offer.
What changes has the pandemic brought to the hospitality sector in terms of doing business?
Apart from guest handling, compliance to post-Covid protocols and without diluting the guest’s in-house experience, the industry itself is attuning to the demands of the Indian traveller. Fine-tuning the menus and the wine list to ensuring tailor-made experiences at their respective properties to suit the need and adapt to the taste of Indian couples/ families and friends is a given in the post-Covid era. Packages full of inclusions to allure the domestic audience are being devised and put out to play.
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