There’s no doubt that Six Senses Ibiza, overlooking crystalline Xarraca Bay in the far north of the island, is superlatively luxurious. However, for those of us who care about Ibiza’s environment and the island’s future, the most admirable thing about the resort is its commitment to sustainability.
I spoke to Jonathan Leitersdorf, the visionary behind this remarkable resort, about Six Senses Ibiza’s commitment to sustainability.
Tucked away on a rocky outcrop above Xaracca Bay and surrounded by pristine pine forest, Six Senses Ibiza, which opened in 2021, offers 137 guest accommodations across a 20-acre site. Of these, 116 are fully appointed suites. The most exclusive are a collection of 19 Residences and two Mansions which range from three to 10 bedrooms, perfect for families and groups.
When I spoke to Jonathan, in mid-April, he told me that occupancy was currently 98%.
Born in England in 1963, Jonathan is an architect, real estate developer and venture capitalist. For example, his portfolio includes retail, offices, residential homes and land in the US, Switzerland and Israel as well as Spain. He is currently involved in two new projects in different locations that adhere to the principles of Six Senses Ibiza.
In conversation, Jonathan’s dynamism and enthusiasm are contagious.
The standard definition of sustainability is ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. The concept spans three pillars: the economy, society and the environment.
Today, luxury brands of all kinds, whether they’re selling watches or holidays, have no choice but to be demonstrably sustainable. As an article on Forbes.com points out ‘The new generation of consumers…demands sustainable practices…often claiming to only associate with sustainable brands.’
But there’s a difference between paying lip service to sustainability and walking the talk, as Six Senses Ibiza does.
When Jonathan had the vision for what would become Six Senses Ibiza, back in 2014, ‘we were specifically thinking about how we were going to build in the least impactful manner. We decided that the best way was to create a BREEAM certified project, the first in Ibiza.’
According to its website, BREEAM is ‘The world’s leading science-based suite of validation and certification systems for a sustainable built environment.’
As Jonathan says, BREEAM construction ‘starts from visual impact. If you’re on the other side of Xarraca Bay from us, you don’t see the property. Only one of our nine buildings is white. The rest are the same colour as the rock. We took some of the powder from the rocks, gave it to our contractor and said “match that”.’
While this is impressive, Six Senses’ determination to keep visual impact to a minimum went even further.
‘If you look closely from the other side of the bay,’ Jonathan explained, ‘you’ll see that the colours change as the rocks rise up from the water. We painted our buildings three different colours to make sure they followed the horizontal contours of the rocks.’
This commitment to coexisting sustainably with the natural environment extends to Six Senses’ air conditioning. This is provided by cool air channelled from far underground by deep wells.
The upshot of this attention to detail was that Six Senses Ibiza received a prize for being one of the most sustainable projects in Spain. Afterwards, Nacho Muelas who suggested joining BREEAM in the first place, collected the award.
Nacho’s role, as he told me, was to ‘help with licenses, technical team management, planning, construction, and opening the development. This was probably the most complicated project I’ve ever managed so I’m extremely proud of what we achieved.’
Construction is only one of what Jonathan calls the ‘vectors’ of sustainability. The other is operating sustainably.
‘That’s why we chose Six Senses out of all the super-luxury, sustainable operating companies we could have gone with,’ Jonathan told me. ‘They appeared to be the only one with sustainability in their DNA. It’s not an afterthought.’
Six Senses loved the fact that just five or six months after Jonathan and his team began building their sustainable utopia, they created the Farm, located near the town of Santa Gertrudis.
The Farm provides produce for Six Senses Ibiza’s five restaurants and is integral to Jonathan’s vision and the resort’s aesthetic, right down to there being a tractor in the entrance to the resort. Israeli masterchef Eyal Shani even supplied some special tomato seeds for planting.
‘When people come, in addition to relaxing at the resort, they can also take their children to the Farm. We invite them to plant seeds, connect with the land of Ibiza itself and see where the food they eat at Six Senses comes from,’ Jonathan said.
Furthermore, Six Senses Ibiza also supports other local farmers and the island’s fishermen.
‘If you’d like the world your guests stay in to be truly sustainable,’ Jonathan said, ‘it’s really about attention to detail.’
Indeed, sustainability at Six Senses also covers activities such as focusing on renewable energy production, including geothermal and solar photovoltaic technologies that reduce Six Senses’ carbon emissions by almost 40%
By filtering and bottling its own still and sparkling water, the resort reduces the carbon footprint associated with the packaging and transporting of drinking water even further. It eliminates all plastic bottles from resort operations in favour of glass bottles, part of an effort to be completely plastic free.
This attention to detail extends to Six Senses’ Agora retail concept which only stocks sustainable brands.
In addition to growing organic produce, the resort has a full-time team administering the Six Senses Ibiza Sustainability Fund. This is devoted to supporting the island’s natural environment and sustainable development. Projects must meet at least one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Six Senses Ibiza recently announced the projects it will be supporting this year.
A percentage of 0.5% of total resort revenue goes into the Sustainability Fund along with guest donations. According to Jonathan, this adds up to ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars that go back into the local community.’
Six Senses was also one of the sponsors of the recent TEDxDaltVila event because, as Bobby Bazemore, Director of Sales and Marketing explained, ‘We proactively decided to help as part of our broader programme for community support and activation. It’s a great platform for the island.’
Ultimately, Jonathan’s vision is to create what he calls ‘live layers that are constantly being curated and re-curated.’
The layers are sustainability, spirituality, music, art, fitness and culinary. Experiencing them together creates ‘the alchemy of empowerment’.
‘It’s all part of sustainability and longevity,’ Jonathan said, ‘to empower people in a sustainable context and build Utopian communities.