Joana van Zeller
The Communications Manager at Six Senses Douro Valley.
Six Senses Douro Valley is a luxury spa hotel in the north of Portugal, set amongst eight-hectares of wonderful woodland, centred around a beautifully renovated 19th-century manor house with 41 guest bedrooms, nine suites and seven villas, some with private pools and gardens with sweeping panoramas.
The hotel offers guests therapeutic spa treatments, wine tastings and a mirror-effect outdoor infinity pool. Not to mention a range of fun and quirky workshops such as learning how to make natural beauty products, tile painting, pickles, yoghurt & tea.
There is a good reason why Six Senses selected the Unesco-heritage-listed Douro Valley region in Portugal for their first European venture.
Sweeping views of the vine covered rolling hills.
The decadent breakfast.
Ljubomir Stanisic, one of the most creative chefs in Portugal is a consulting chef for the hotel.
Terroir offers vegetarian fare harvested from the hotel’s organic garden.
Our sommelier was very knowledgeable, and we discovered fabulous wines.
A jacuzzi in the spa would be welcome.
Views from the rooms vary considerably.
We found the decor in some of the rooms a bit bland but all rooms seemed very spacious and the beds are wonderful.
There’s not much within walking distance, hiring a car is recommended.
Private guided tours
After a busy day exploring, enjoy a swim in the spa pool followed by the relaxing aromatic saunas, or retire to the library and peruse a book whilst enjoying a fine wine or a cocktail.
Wine-influenced activities (including being a wine-maker for the day) and local dining are offered throughout the year as are biking and picnics and a range of interesting workshops such as learning how to make natural beauty products, tile painting, pickles, yoghurt & tea.
There’s also a gym, a yoga studio and a nail bar.
Foodies will be spoilt for choice, there are some excellent restaurants in Douro. We highly recommend DOC Restaurant (14km), from one of Portugal’s most renowned chefs Rui Paula, and Castas & Pratos in Régua (6km).
The Communications Manager at Six Senses Douro Valley.
As a child, Christmas is always the golden season, and I vividly remember spending some white Christmas days in the Douro staying at my grandparent’s house. But next in line comes the harvest time and harvest meant for me and my sister (3 years younger than me) very different activities: I would get up early morning and I would follow my grandfather to the winery and sometimes to other properties that my family owned to overview the grape picking.
My family has been producing Port wine in the Douro for many centuries, but it was only when I married my husband that I came across the commercial side of the Douro, because his family owned Van Zellers and Co and Quinta do Noval for many generations.
I started working for Aquapura (the previous hotel where Six Senses now lives) just before it opened its doors in February 2007, and kept on working in this magical place when it became Six Senses Douro Valley.
Back then Aquapura was a pioneer project and together with the Vintage House, they were the only hotel offer in the Douro that had quality and international standards.
Six Senses has put together a range of very interesting workshops such as the “Pickles, Yogurts and Teas” a hands-on workshop where food and sustainability go hand in hand. Guests will learn how to pickle the organic produce from the garden, how yoghurts can be produced without using electricity and how herbs can be dehydrated to make tea infusions.
(Photo © TUREL)
“A breath-taking sanctuary built in the 16th century, where one can feel the atmosphere that led the monks in ancient times to reclusion.”
This magical setting, these fairytale buildings, which helps our guests to better understand the Douro, its landscape and traditions in layers of endless discoveries.
Six Senses offers its guests a sense of place and an interior design that feels like home, whilst providing a five-star service.
Then on top of that, we have put together a range of fun and quirky experiences like tree climbing, various workshops and of course, we also offer the more expected activities, including winery tours and cultural visits to local monasteries or palaces.
We are the only vegetarian restaurant in the whole Douro Valley and this has to do with the fact that we would like our guests to leave us in better health shape than when they arrived. Wellness and spa are important but to take this goal to another level we believe that we have also to show that healthy food can look and taste delicious!
For sure I would bring them to Six Senses and to S. Salvador do Mundo, a breath-taking sanctuary built in the 16th century, where one can feel the atmosphere that led the monks in ancient times to reclusion.
“I really have a soft spot for all the lighting fixtures – the chandelier in the Wine library that is made out of empty wine bottles and the lighting fixture in the lobby that represents the vines curling around the wires in the vineyards. “
I love walking through the vineyards and discovering new and always beautiful spots. The fact that the Douro terraces were sculpted for centuries with human hands makes me believe that men are truly capable of achieving overwhelming almost heroic things.
A perfect day also involved a spa treatment at Six Senses or a delicious meal at the DOC Restaurant.
Difficult to choose but I really have a soft spot for all the lighting fixtures – the chandelier in the Wine library that is made out of empty wine bottles and the lighting fixture in the lobby that representes the vines curling around the wires in the vineyards.
Six Senses Douro Valley nestles into its beautiful UNESCO World Heritage setting fronting onto the River Douro as it winds through the oldest demarcated wine region in the world.
The closest airport is Porto Airport. From there you can hire a car – or the hotel can arrange a transfer for you.
Porto (OPO) – 124km
Lisbon (LIS) – 352km
Faro (FAO) – 599km
Hiring a car is recommended if you want to explore the region. Otherwise Six Senses Douro Valley can arrange a transfer from the airport.
The train from Porto takes around 2 hours (exit in Regua).
For a super scenic route, take a cruising boat from Porto to Regua.