Thinking of having a spa retreat during the weekend? So did I, as my 40th birthday approached and I wanted to treat myself to a well-deserved spa staycation weekend – especially after much jet setting around the world for work over the past few months, I was worn out and simply wanted to stay put in the heart of the Lion City to enjoy some resplendent solitude and luxurious pampering. Instead of going to a typical five-star hotel, I looked for a reputable establishment that has environmentally responsible protocols set into place, and the word-of-mouth recommendations led me to the boutique Six Senses Singapore.
As an ultimate urban spa weekend staycation, Six Senses Singapore has become a household name for many good reasons. Primarily, they are way ahead of the hospitality industry in terms of their wellness facilities, as well as their numerous environmental sustainability measures that are visibly implanted across the board in all of their departments. The brand invests heavily in ensuring that its carbon footprint is drastically reduced, as well as in acquiring the latest state-of-the-art spa and wellness equipment.
Six Senses Duxton
Set along a row of restored shophouses in the charming and quaint Duxton Hill precinct, the Six Senses Duxton was designed and built under the astute supervision of acclaimed interior designer Anouska Hempel. Together with the newer Six Senses Maxwell, the two sister hotels showcase the Six Senses brand’s commitment to responsible restoration and conservation of our historical and cultural heritage. For its impressive conservation efforts, the Six Senses Duxton even received the Urban Redevelopment Authority Architectural Heritage Award.
Entering the glass doors leading into the main lobby entrance, you will immediately notice the striking and distinctive signature colour palette of black, gold, and yellow interiors that made one think of a gilded bumblebee. An aromatic and enigmatic scent of spices, flowers, and woods perfumed the air. Modern Chinese bamboo screens, yellow folded origami fans, and exquisite black lacquered wood furnishings harmoniously come together to create an eclectic environment that is further accentuated by Anouska’s personally hand-picked selections of luxurious upholstery fabrics, elegant bespoke furnishings, ambient lighting and designer ornaments such as intricate calligraphy brushes and well curated art and design books.
The Yellow Pot restaurant located on the other end of the lobby offers innovative modern Chinese cuisine and healthy tasting oriental dishes devoid of any sort of MSG, artificial flavourings, and harmful preservatives. The dishes savoured there all had a light crisp flavour that was easy on the palette, as well as on the digestive system.
The in-house TCM doctor with the Tibetan singing bowl (far right)
Every travel weary guest is being treated with a giant Tibetan singing bowl welcome ritual during check-in. Not content to just having one go, we made it a point to step into the singing bowl each time that we passed by to give ourselves a mini sound healing therapy session. Right next door to where the singing bowl is placed, the resident traditional Chinese medicine therapist gives all in-house guests a complimentary health screening and consultation. The experienced sinseh will examine your pulse and check your heart rate and tongue for any anomalies, before prescribing the appropriate remedies.
You will also be pleasantly surprised to discover that the mini-bar fridge is stocked up with two chilled 30ml glass bottles of complimentary herbal tinctures formulated by traditional Chinese medicine specialist Professor Zhang. One tincture is to be taken first thing in the morning, while the other just before going to bed at night. The delightfully sweet and tangy daytime tincture of hawthorn slices, rose buds and roselle is for improving appetite, as well as to aid detoxification, while the slightly astringent night concoction of snow chrysanthemum, marigold, and lavender helps to prevent insomnia, improve blood circulation, and also reduces hypertension and anxiety. Impressive that the hotel would even have these health elixirs replenished on a daily basis. A+!
Six Senses Maxwell
Interior of one of the guest bedrooms at Six Senses Maxwell
Situated in a prime central location and housed in a 19th century colonial-style heritage building within the eclectic heart of Singapore’s bustling downtown Chinatown district, the Six Senses Maxwell is merely a short stone’s throw away from it’s sister property over at the Duxton. Sitting on top of what used to be a nutmeg plantation, the iconic Murray Terrace at the junction of Tanjong Pagar and Maxwell Road has now been sustainably restored by celebrated French designer Jacques Garcia. The new Six Senses Maxwell exudes a timeless opulence blended with classical European sensibilities and features an outdoor rooftop lap pool, an herb garden, an Earth lab, spa pods, as well as a fitness centre. Intriguing sound healing tools and instruments are being prominently displayed at the reception area for all guests to enjoy and play with. My classically posh terrace balcony room was sprinkled with various thoughtful touches such as wellness themed books, Chinese hand exercise metal balls, sound healing bar chimes, brainteaser puzzles, as well as a cute wooden foot massage roller to soothe sore and tired feet.
Cook & Tras Social Library Restaurant & Bar
The Cook & Tras social library restaurant and bar menus are inspired and influenced by Straits heritage cuisine. Melding tradition and modernity, this elegant dining and popular drinking establishment is characterised by its extensive book collection which has been carefully selected by the UK’s “Ultimate Library”, which is highly reputed for their dedication to building curated book collections for various hotels around the world. The result is a whopping collection of more than 3,000 titles and volumes of books on subjects such as wellness, meditation, nutrition, herbology, natural history, climate change and environmental sustainability. Feel free to spend an entire afternoon away sipping on tasty homebrewed kombuchas and freshly squeezed juices while flipping through several books about holistic healing and healthy cooking. Parked right outside the five-foot way paved corridor is a retro-style mobile ice-cream stand that serves up complimentary scoops of deliciously refreshing homemade ice cream and sorbet that are all made from the finest local ingredients. Shh…don’t tell anyone but this greedy writer and spoiled himself by wolfing down three ping-pong ball-sized scoops. Happy belly!
Spa Pods at Six Senses Maxwell
With a philosophy rooted in helping guests feel better than when they first arrived, the Six Senses spares no expenses and goes the extra mile to acquire the latest cutting edge technology such as a soul sound lounge chair with a broad menu of relaxation music and vibrational feedback that is seldom encountered anywhere else in all of our travels. Located on the top floor of the Six Senses Maxwell, the hotel’s recently opened spa pods and relaxation rooms are furnished in line with the property’s 19th century aesthetics, but with an added modern twist. Designed to be an urban sanctuary amid Singapore’s hustle and bustle, the five heavenly spa pods and two relaxation rooms deliver a myriad of unsurpassed holistic experiences. Enjoy warm herbal teas and healthy snacks as you browse through an extensive spa menu of both traditional and innovative wellness experiences that are tailored to rejuvenate and revitalise the senses.
“Created in line with the Six Senses brand’s commitment to incorporating wellness into all guest experience, these spa pods bring globally celebrated Six Senses rituals to Singapore’s urban community. We have put together a menu of excellent treatments and activities which deliver positive and lasting benefits so that every guest finds harmony and balance from the inside out,” enthuses Mr Murray Aitken, the general manager of Six Senses Singapore. We could not get enough of being pampered and had to reluctantly peel ourselves off those chairs. Needless to say, we’ll definitely be back for more .
Admirably, the Six Senses hotels have been completely straw-free since 2011 and they aim to be 100% plastic-free by 2020. How cool is that? The Six Senses are leading the pack with revolutionary forward thinking, and this is certainly the way to go. They even have an in-house sustainability manager that ensures that other department staff members adopt sustainable practices such as learning to rear earthworms for composting. Little wonder that they were voted by “Travel & Leisure” readers as their favourite hotel brand for the past two years in a row.
To find out more about the spa retreats and room reservations at Six Senses, do visit their website at https://sixsenses.com.
Photography and text: Luke Elijah