Indulging the senses

Six Senses Douro Valley successfully combines luxurious indulgence with wonderful wine experiences, writes Lara Brunt.

Six Senses may be best known for its ‘laidback luxe’ spa resorts in tropical locations, but this riverside retreat sets a new standard in luxury in the world’s oldest demarcated wine region.

Located 90 minutes from Porto, the converted 19th-century quinta (wine estate) overlooks the World Heritage-listed terraced vineyards of the Douro Valley. Famous for its ports and wines, the region is even more beautiful than anticipated. 

 

The room

New York-based Clodagh Design has created contemporary and inviting interiors throughout the 57-room hotel, using stone and wood finishes. 

Our fifth-floor Quinta River room features earthy tones and floor-to-ceiling windows, while the sleek bathroom has a huge walk-in rain shower and locally-made lemongrass toiletries.

There’s a bedside tablet to operate the lighting, blinds and air conditioning, while the king bed, topped with white cotton bedding and local wool throws, is the most comfortable I’ve ever encountered. We’re tempted to curl up on the sofa with the decanter of port and freshly picked plums from the organic garden, but the glorious outdoors beckon. 

 

Facilities and activities

The attention to detail is just as impressive outside, with the pool tiles selected so the water matches the colour of the river below. The poolside quickly fills up with couples and young families, although with its grown-up vibe I think the hotel would benefit from a kids’ pool.

A visit to the 2,200-square-metre spa is a must. I settle into one of ten treatment rooms for a deep tissue massage from the skilled and very sweet Portuguese therapist. The fantastic complex includes an indoor pool, thermal suite and gym with activities such as aerial yoga and outdoor circuit training.

Staff can organise visits to local wineries (we enjoyed Quinta do Crasto and Quinta do Vallado), historic monasteries and charming villages, as well as river cruises and helicopter tours.

 

Dining at Six Senses Douro Valley | Glen Pearson

 

Food and drink

At the heart of the hotel, the Wine Library houses a 700-reference Portuguese wine list curated by joint wine directors, Sandra Tavares da Silva and Francisca van Zeller. The self-service dispensers, meanwhile, allow us to sample pricier wines by the glass from the likes of Quinta do Vale Meao.

After wine tasting with sommelier Manuel, which takes place nightly at 7pm, we take a table on the terrace at Vale Abraao, the main restaurant which serves modern Mediterranean cuisine and fresh takes on signature Portuguese dishes such as bacalhau (salted cod). From the carpaccio and zingy gazpacho to monkfish skewers and grilled octopus spaghetti, every dish is a winner, as are the recommended Douro Valley whites. 

Six Senses Douro Valley is set to be a game-changer for this region and will appeal to oenophiles as well as those looking for a relaxing resort experience.

 

Glen Pearson

Rates

Room rates start at EUR 240 (about A$363) per night, excluding taxes and fees. sixsenses.com

 

Getting there

Emirates flies from Sydney to Porto via Dubai and Lisbon. Return economy fares are priced from A$2,372 and return business class fares from A$8,907. Flying time is approximately 30 hours, including stopovers. 

From Porto, Six Senses Douro Valley is about a 90-minute drive. Private airport transfers can be arranged at EUR 180 (about A$272) per car for two people, one way; or EUR 275 (about A$416) for a minivan for a maximum of six persons, one way. 

emirates.com

 

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Weather to go

With so much coastline, Portugal has a maritime climate of hot summers and wet winters, though winter temperatures stay around 16 degrees Celsius.  Summer days can see temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius and as many as 12 hours of sunshine.  In some regions, summer continues from May through October. However, peak season is June through August, specifically in August when Portugal has its holidays.

 

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