ZIGHY BAY, OMAN: From having its own reverse osmosis water plant and refillable glass bottles to its new organic farm, Six Senses Zighy Bay is leading the way in environmentally-sustainable tourism in Oman.
The luxury resort and spa, located near Dibba, Musandam, has put concern for the environment at the core of its business practices since it opened in 2008. With the addition of a larger space to grow fresh produce, it's taking that philosophy a step further.
"Our owner company has just donated a 26,000-square metre organic farm in Dibba to us.
We're going to 'Six-Sense-ify' it, which means we're going to add it as a destination dining experience, so guests can visit the farm and dine there. We're also getting our own goats, so that we can make goat cheese," explained Monica Majors, press relations and media manager at the resort.
Currently, the resort has a 2,500-square metre organic garden that produces fresh vegetables and herbs all year long.
They also have numerous fruit trees, including dates, stone apples, pomegranates, and figs, which provide ingredients for the culinary delights of the chefs. This summer a horticulturalist will start developing the new farm, which will not only provide food, but will also reduce the resort's carbon footprint, since it will reduce the amount of transportation required to supply fruits and vegetables to the kitchens.
"Organic is deeply ingrained in our philosophy. We have decided to go organic and we will align our business practices and operations to fall in line with that. The best practice for Six Senses is to be as local as possible," added Majors.
The resort gets beef and lamb from small-scale organic farmers in the United Kingdom and Australia. Fish and seafood is either caught locally or bought from companies that only do hand-line fishing. The chefs only use fish and seafood that is in season and hasn't been overfished. So varieties like Sultan Ibrahim, Shari, Khoffer, and tuna are available, whereas hamour and lobster aren't.
"When it comes to meat and food, we always order organic. However, we will choose local and natural over imported and organic," said Majors.
Environmental practices are also implemented in the villas, the spa, and the restaurants, with the use of organic linens and as many locally-sourced materials as possible. Even the drinking water is taken right from the bay, purified in the resort's own reverse osmosis plant, and served in refillable glass bottles.
Sustainability is truly engrained in the practices at Six Senses, said Majors. From donating 2 per cent of the room rate to Social and Environmental Responsibility Fund (SERF), with the intention of de-carbonising the sites, to donating 50 per cent of the sales of drinking water in the restaurants to environmental charities supporting clean water initiatives.
The resorts and spas also put 0.5 per cent of their monthly revenues into a fund, out of which 80 per cent is used for local environmental programmes or organisations, such as the Environment Society of Oman and the Choose Wisely campaign in the United Arab Emirates, which focuses on sustainable fishing practices. The remaining 20 per cent is given to global sustainability causes.
"There are all these initiatives that are built in, so the money is already there," noted Majors.
Six Senses, which is based in Bangkok, recently hired Amber Beard as vice-president for Sustainability. Beard, who is an expert in green sustainable LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, has been hired to make sure everything used is sustainable.
According to Majors, sustainability isn't just important for the environment; it's a quality their guests look for.
"They're still looking to understand that their dollar is going to the right place, which is why sustainability helps. It's good to have such a fundamental basis on giving back to the community