The Six Senses, Douro Valley.
The hotel is an amazing building set into the side of rolling hills, with clever architecture and plenty of open space you often capture the sun rise over the hills, breaking into the valley and you can watch boats sail away along The Douro River in the afternoon sun. I spent a month working from here so I will share with you just a few of my favourite features.
The Spa which sits at the heart of the hotel and crosses several floors is one of Six Senses best. With a beautiful indoor pool,11 treatment rooms, a variety of saunas, speciality rooms and a nail bar you could pamper all day long and some do - credit the the Spa and their team a huge percentage of the hotels bookings are purely for this service. Maybe it helps that there is a wonderful gift shop that has lots of beautiful beauty products but also bags and shoes made in the region - sustainably made produce to!
Moving outside the hotel has another spectacular infinity pool that looks out into the valley and sits next to an extensive organic garden - it is from here the majority of the hotels food is grown. The menu is extensive and intriguing, at first I struggled to navigate what the best options were but taking advice from the wonderful team in the restaurant ensured you were left totally satisfied (especially if you opted for the chocolate dessert). Throughout dinner service the sommeliers entertained the tables as if they were magicians - priding them self on the knowledge of the regions wines - which are climbing up to sit along side some of the best from Calafornia and France so don't hang around to make your trip! The hotel has its own beautiful wine cellar to where you can browse and enjoy pairings prior to dinner every evening.
If your active its a great spot - there is a well equipped gym but also much more outside. Enjoy activities such as paddle boarding, biking, running, tree climbing, canyoning!
It goes without saying you can't visit the region without going to a vineyard - and whilst I don't myself drink wine when your fabulous friend visits all the way from Dubai it would be ride not to join her. It makes for a great afternoon trip, and to see and hear all about the process is really interesting - given they still stomp the grapes!
Near by Lamego has a small cathedral which certainly makes for a good way to build up an appetite for dinner.. the cathedral is knows for its many steps all beautifully tiled, and climbing to the top gives spectacular views. I personally didn't see much else in this area that caught my eye but travelling further out you could visit porto if you don't so much mind the drive.
Its a stunning spot and if you were looking for a weekend away as a mini retreat or spa break this would certainly be on my list - and as its only a 3 hour flight from the UK with no time change you can get straight into enjoying your holiday.
I will be back, if not before then to celebrate a very special someones wedding day Miss S...