Standing ‘weightlessly’ at the foot of a striking glacier – and with its aim to become the world’s first energy-positive hotel and in the process setting new standards in carbon-neutral transformative travel experiences – it’s unsurprising that much has already been written about the highly anticipated opening of Svart, which until now we were under the impression would be stand as an independent hotel. Well, dropping somewhat of a plot twist, Six Senses Hotels & Resorts has confirmed that it will be the official operator of the hotel – and rightly so, considering the brand’s unapologetic stance on sustainable tourism and conscious hospitality.
“Building a unique environment through cutting-edge design and superior craftsmanship comes with clear obligations,” Ivaylo Lefterov, Svart Development Director, told Hotel Designs. “Creating a sustainable destination through an optimised resort operation requires us to collaborate with the right partner. “Six Senses shares the same ethos and ambition, to redefine bespoke travel through technological innovation, carbon-neutral approach, ground-breaking design, and an exceptional guest journey.”
Designed structurally by Snøhetta, the 94-key Six Senses Svart will combine a futuristic design, led by interior design studio, Space Copenhagen, and technological innovation with earthy, organic materials that will use the latest embedded energy.
The hotel, which will be poised on poles above the crystal-clear waters of the Holandsfjorden fjord, at the base of a glacier, aims to raise awareness of the possibilities of regenerative travel and the importance of the polar region, in partnership with the local community. Innate to this project, and an integral part of its DNA, is the commitment not to compromise the fragile and pristine glacial surroundings or the property’s beauty and quality. The major design pillars of Six Senses Svart are environment and nature, sustainability, technological innovation, wellness and mindfulness, which have been integrated in tandem because they all directly impact each other.
Taking its cue from the ‘fiskehjell’ (an A-shaped wooden structure for drying fish) and the ‘rorbue’ (a coastal fisherman’s cabin), Six Senses Svart will be constructed on poles, dissolving the boundary between land and fjord, ensuring minimal land impact and seabed disruption. The circular form is tactile, creating a feeling of openness and perpetual consciousness of nature as it gives the building a transparent appearance. The happy side effect is its ability to collect energy from the roof and offer panoramic views and privacy with the expanded distance between rooms.
Superior craftsmanship will bring nature inside to form the modern and sustainable Scandic interiors, with corridor space filled with fun and quirky artwork, artefacts, and landscape follies, charting local heritage and creativity to bring a smile to the face.
> Since you’re here, why not read our recent review of Six Senses Douro Valley?
Pioneering wellness is central to the Six Senses DNA, and this is an opportunity to innovate further, with each guest room becoming a wellness concierge through the Svart Touch concept. Non-invasive, touchless technology will adapt the room to the guest’s state of mind and health, providing intuitive options to evoke a deeper sense of wellbeing.
The hotel is the first building to be designed and built after the highest energy efficiency standard in the northern hemisphere. It will harvest enough solar energy to go back into the system, covering the hotel, adjacent operations, boat shuttle, and the energy needed to construct the building – rendering it independent from the power grid. Such energy-positive buildings could deliver 89 per cent of the 45 per cent decrease in emissions required to reach the scenario where global warming is limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. As such, Six Senses Svart is the northernmost implementation of the Paris Agreement, demonstrating that carbon neutrality can be not only feasible in a sophisticated development at an eco-sensitive site, but can also be profitable.
It will also be self-sustaining, complete with its own waste and water management, recycling, and renewable infrastructure. The team will work with existing sustainable fishing and farming operations and engage local like-minded suppliers for the restaurants and bars.
“To enhance the vision of Svart, we have established a Net Zero Lab, a vehicle for developing and take to market the technology created by us in joint effort with Six Senses to reach the common goal for net-zero travel,” added Jan-Gunnar Mathisen, CEO of the project’s owner and developer. “This means the guest journey will have zero environmental impact from start to end. The mission is to achieve common ground for all stakeholders pushing the technology to the next level to benefit Svart and the industry at large.”
The concept of a ‘stay’ will be redefined from a passive or static experience to an immersive and purpose-driven journey. There is a two-way expectation as truly reciprocal wellness and sustainability cut both ways. Guests are welcomed into breathtaking nature to enjoy unplugged exploration and signature standards such as Eat With Six Senses, Sleep With Six Senses and Grow With Six Senses, the brand’s edutainment program for younger guests created around the six dimensions of wellness.
Guests can lounge in the Experience Center, where materials will be light and raw, with local fabrics to tie ”the space to the place”. The Alchemy Bar will highlight the rich history of regional healing techniques by turning local flora and fauna into pampering scents and scrubs. As a centre for engagement and innovation, the Earth Lab will serve as the sustainability outreach space, showcasing “lifecycle living” initiatives on and off the property. There will also be a Svart Design Lab, which will act as an incubator for innovation and education, for guests to understand how new technologies can bring the sector closer to carbon neutrality as part of a cradle-to-cradle hospitality offering.
The Marketplace will be the anchor, zero-waste dining venue, where the lines between food storage, prep, and dining are blurred to create an inviting and active environment. No one will bat an eye at anyone catching and cooking their own fish. Six Senses filters and bottles its own drinking water throughout its properties, and Six Senses Svart will offer water and more to the door to reach its plastic-free goals.
Wellness at Six Senses is not confined to the four walls of the spa or fitness centre. It is part of an integrated experience. It is something that is always present, and nothing that guests have to engage in, if they choose not to. Instead, experts will guide guests on the path to well-being, however far they want to go. From effective fixes from compression boots to vitamin IVs in the biohacking lounge to all-round fitness in the sensory treatment suites. Six Senses Svart will cover the full gambit of integrated wellness, with state-of-the-art equipment and wearable technology assimilation, integrating a specially developed “Svart Touch” concept that will further elevate the brand’s pioneering wellness approach.
On summarising the project’s mission, Ivaylo Lefterov said: “Six Senses Svart is redefining the travel experience through technological innovation, ground-breaking design, and exceptional guest wellness journey by creating a carbon-neutral visionary destination where we can showcase the core pillars of what modern hospitality design and operation can achieve.”
While we have to wait a little longer than expected for Svart to finally open its doors – having given the industry a lesson is teasers over the last few years – the power of collaboration and meaningful hospitality development – from operation to design and architecture – is what is fuelling this project to go down in the history books as a timeless example of exemplary hotel design, and we will continue to follow progress eagerly as Six Senses Svart emerges from its drawings and flourishes into a unique fixture on the international hotel design scene.
Main image credit: Svart Development/Six Senses Hotels & Resorts