Insider's Guide to Spas
Six Senses Douro Valley; photography by John Athimaritis


Six Senses Douro Valley Integrates Wellness & Style 

Bernard Burt

Beyond massive doors reminiscent of Portuguese quintas (country estates), stunning contemporary design meets wellness at Six Senses Douro Valley. Bringing celebrated Six Senses style to a European resort for the first time, this wine country retreat by Clodagh Design combines a sense of place with fresh approaches to wellness.

Opened in 2017, the wellness experience can be integrated into every aspect of your stay. Or simply enjoy Six Senses Spa, over 24,000 square feet with 10 treatment rooms. Foodies curious about Eat with Six Senses discover healthy options in the chateau’s vast open kitchen, taste vintage port in the Wine Library, and hang out at the pool bar.

This wine country retreat by Clodagh Design combines a sense of place with fresh approaches to wellness.

Opt for the full Integrated Wellness program, from fitness plan to Sleep with Six Senses. Start with a personalized wellness screening, then schedule treatments. Check out aromatherapy selections made with local fruit, grapes, and olive oil at the Alchemy Bar. The spa menu offers treatments by The Organic Pharmacy in London, Subtle Energies facial from Australia, massage oil by Castillo de Tabernas from Spain.

The original chateau, a romantic 19th century retreat, sits amid terraced vineyards that extend down to the river Douro flowing to Porto and the Atlantic. Awe-inspiring panoramas surround the mansion’s 57 guest rooms and suites. Hiking and biking trails lead to picnic spots where you can enjoy a picnic prepared by the resort chefs. Weekly activities included Ayurvedic workshops, Pilates, yoga, movie night, and cocktails hosted by the manager.

Previous owner Aquapura installed a huge indoor swimming pool and exercise suite with amazing views of the valley. Clodagh’s design concept started the moment her team arrived in the valley. She was like a force of nature, commented the resort manager, swooping into antique shops and farms to purchase decorative items with local connections. The renovation by Clodagh Design maintains the property’s history, adding organic signature details for which her New York design studio is noted.

Integrating modalities like feng shui, Wabi sabi, chromotherapy, and BioGeometry into the design and architecture gives Six Senses Douro Valley special appeal. Reiki Master and Intuitive Energy Healer Alberto Amura cleared the negative energy of the property, which had endured a tragic fire. Crystals and symbols for wellbeing and prosperity were added. An immediate sense of wellbeing envelopes you.

Ensuring the historic integrity of the building, Clodagh’s team met with previous owners of the property. One lived here as a child and shared images that revealed the spirit of the place. Now, a corridor leading to the dining room is lined with recycled wooden wine boxes filled with vineyard memorabilia. Entering the baronial dining hall, a huge fireplace is flanked by walls of 18th-century blue and white tiles, many broken, forming a giant mosaic.

Guest quarters reveal the Clodagh touch: local textiles, stone floors, and wooden furniture. From the registration hall, a glass elevator takes you down to rooms in the main building. Light patterns project on walls, like ancient echoes. Inside are giant wash basins and walk-in shower. The bed by Naturalmat, handmade in England with organic material, is a masterpiece of comfort.

Exploring the 19-acre property revealed new vistas at every turn. Dining on a fountain terrace, we viewed vineyards, vegetable garden, swimming pool, and cafe. Below the chateau are new suites in a former winery, spacious but requiring a long trek to the spa and indoor pool. Six Senses Spa represents another pillar of the Six Senses Integrated Wellness philosophy. Focusing on food and drink, it is based on the guiding principles of natural ingredients, local and sustainable, and less is more, helping guests to reconnect with food safe in the knowledge that it’s good for them, and good for the world around them.

As deep as people want to go
Guests who typically vacation at Six Senses tend to eat healthier by default. For guests who are curious about Eat with Six Senses and want to discover more about the food and beverage offerings, fitness and wellness activities, they will have the basics for making life changes. While guests who opt for the full Integrated Wellness, including a personalized wellness screening, will reap the total immersion benefits: from fitness plans to Sleep with Six Senses, the wellness experience can be integrated into every aspect of your stay.

Six Senses Integrated Wellness was developed in collaboration with Dr. Steven Gundry, Dr. Michael Breus, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Patrick Wahlberg, members of Six Senses Wellness Board. Cooking and preparing food in the Open Kitchen stimulates all the senses. Homemade breads, pickles, preserves, yogurts, cheeses, butter, olive oils all help to define the experience as uniquely Douro.

Getting to Douro Valley

By air: Porto airport is about a 90-minute drive from Douro Valley. Travelers headed to Europe or Africa on TAP, the Air Portugal carrier partnered with JetBlue, can take advantage of a free Stopover tab on TAP’s website which lets you layover when you purchase your flight. Plus: free ticket between Lisbon and Porto on TAP shuttle. Stay up to five nights, on either end of your trip. Flights from/to the U.S. at JFK and Newark.

More on Clodagh and Six Senses

To read more about Clodagh’s new book, Clodagh on Life-Enhancing Design, click here.

For a taste of Six Senses Douro Valley, click here.

To learn more about Clodagh and the Seven Spa Truths, click here.




Bernard Burt

Bernard Burt

Health challenges led spa historian Bernard Burt to Canyon Ranch in Arizona, inspiring his 1986 book "Fodor's Healthy Escapes" for Random House. The co-author of "100 Best Spas of the World" (Globe Pequot), his byline has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, American Health, Spa Management Journal, and on Based in Washington, DC, Burt is chairman emeritus of the Washington Spa Alliance and founding director of the International Spa Association.