With booming demand for adventurous and eco-conscious travel, northern Norway is one of the last frontiers for a self-sustainable, off-grid destination. The 94-room Six Senses Svart combines a futuristic design and technological innovation with earthy, organic materials that use the least embedded energy. The name Svart, which means black and blue in old Norse, is a reference to the natural heritage of the ancient Svartisen glacier, which lies just within the Arctic Circle, where summer days last forever and winter nights are lit by the breathtaking Northern Lights. To minimize the on-site impact, Six Senses Svart is poised on poles above the crystal-clear waters of the Holandsfjorden fjord, at the base of the glacier itself.
Six Senses Svart aims to inspire guests to “take a beat” and raise awareness of the possibilities of regenerative travel and the importance of the polar region, in partnership with the local community. Inherent in the project is the commitment not to compromise the fragile and pristine glacial surroundings or the property’s beauty and quality. The major pillars of the design concept – environment and nature, sustainability, technological innovation, wellness, and mindfulness – are integrated in tandem because they all directly impact each other. The project has been a long time in the planning to make sure all parts of the operation support the vision from the start rather than being bolted on as an afterthought. The result will set a new standard in carbon-neutral travel.
Commenting on the brand’s first project in Scandinavia, CEO of Six Senses Neil Jacobs said, “Sustainable properties call for extraordinary creativity, and Six Senses Svart takes us to a whole new level in terms of pushing boundaries. The concept has become bigger than the project itself, as it will provide a futuristic showcase for what can be achieved in terms of sustainability and energy solutions, and therefore a blueprint within our hospitality industry and the development sector in general.”
Visionary and optimistic design
Taking its cue from the “fiskehjell” (an A-shaped wooden structure for drying fish) and the “rorbu” (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, artifacts, and landscape follies, charting local heritage and creativity to bring a smile to the face.
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 well-being.
“Building a unique environment through cutting-edge design and superior craftsmanship comes with clear obligations. Creating a sustainable destination through an optimized resort operation requires us to collaborate with the right partner,” said Ivaylo Lefterov, Svart Development Director. “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.”
Off-grid and carbon neutral come full circle in the Arctic Circle
Six Senses Svart 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 percent of the 45 percent 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 taking to market the technology created by us in a joint effort with Six Senses to reach the common goal for net-zero travel. 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 the resort and the industry at large,” said Jan-Gunnar Mathisen, CEO of the project’s owner and developer.
A state, a trait, a practice, to encourage awareness
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 center 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 (whatever isn’t eaten fresh from the farm may well get pickled). 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 exploration inspired by nature
Wellness at Six Senses is not confined to the four walls of the spa or fitness center. 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 summarizing 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.”
Six Senses Svart is set to open in 2024.