Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


IDEAS: Six Senses Aims to Blend Heritage and Innovation at Southern Dunes, The Red Sea

2 days ago

Six Senses Southern Dunes, the Red Sea has officially opened in Saudi Arabia.

The Foster + Partners designed resort features 36 guest rooms and 40 pool villas that have been strategically placed to embrace the expansive views of the surrounding Arabian Desert.

Credit: Six Senses

According to Six Senses, the architecture and landscaping of the resort has been designed to ‘reflect the harmonious coexistence between Nabataean cultural roots and contemporary amenities,’ with the interiors reflecting the ‘tones and textures of the sandy dunes and soft furnishings drawing from the rich colors and patterns of traditional Bedouin tribal dress.’

Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea also aims to be the first LEED Platinum resort in Saudi Arabia, through a number of initiatives including electricity produced at a dedicated solar farm, a plastic-free policy, and chef’s garden for growing produce.

“Everything we’re doing here reflects our unwavering commitment to sustainability and cultural preservation, while also pushing the boundaries of adventure and wellness. This part of the world holds much intrigue for visitors and immense potential for regenerative tourism. We aim to showcase the unique beauty and cultural richness of this region, while promoting sustainable tourism practices that contribute to economic growth and heritage conservation,” said Fredrik Blomqvist, general manager of Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea in a press release.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


Marriott’s Giga-Resort in Saudi Arabia Banking on Cash-Rich Locals

3 months ago

The next generation of Saudi Arabian hotels is coming, marked by the opening of the Kingdom’s multi-billion-dollar giga-projects. Marriott is showing what is possible at these spare-no-expense properties: Asking for the highest room rates in the country.

Skift’s Josh Corder reports:

Just two hotel operators are entrusted to introduce Saudi Arabia’s “untouched” Maldives-rivaling Red Sea to international guests: Marriott and IHG. Three of the planned 50 hotels at the $50 billion giga-project open this year, a St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton Reserve from Marriott and a Six Senses from IHG.

For Marriott, it’s familiar territory. The group operates the ultra-exclusive and somewhat secretive Bulgari Resort in Dubai, a vast St. Regis Resort on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, and another St. Regis on Qatar’s Marsa Arabia island.

Much like these fellow five-star island properties, Marriott’s St. Regis Red Sea Resort appears to be positioning itself a cut above other hotels in the country. Currently, the property is bookable for stays from February 1, 2024 (the official word is that it will open before the end of 2023). Priced at about $1,600 a night (6,037 Saudi Arabian riyals) a night, it is comfortably one of the country’s most expensive hotels — comparable only to IHG’s Six Senses nearby.

Six Senses The Southern Dunes, The Red Sea takes bookings from November 1, and, with an imposed two-night minimum stay, rates start from about $1,700 a night (6,618 riyals) a night.

Bookings for the ‘Nujuma’ Ritz-Carlton Reserve resort have not yet opened.

The St. Regis will have just 90 keys, all of which will be villas.

While the hotels are said to open this year, they won’t see international guests until 2024. The project’s Red Sea International Airport — also developed by the same company, Red Sea Global — will operate domestic flights this year and international next year. Dubai will be the first overseas destination connected to the new airport.

Made For Mocktails

For this domestic crowd, which will fly in from Jeddah and Riyadh, pricing remains a barrier. In Knight Frank’s Saudi Report 2023, cost was a reason why respondent Saudi travelers would not stay in a hotel in their own country. The survey found that 28% of 25–35-year-olds put it as their biggest barrier, 41% of those up to 45 years old said the same, and 54% of those over 45.

For young Saudis, the thing that put them off most from staying at domestic hotels was restrictions. Alcohol, for example, remains prohibited.

Speaking with the FII Institute earlier this year, Red Sea Global group CEO John Pagano assured that his post-card tourism project “doesn’t need alcohol.”

“Alcohol is not on the agenda,” Pagano said. “I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary. There’s a new industry evolving. The no/low alcohol industry, it’s booming.”

The St. Regis Red Sea Resort will have its own St. Regis Bar, complete with oysters and caviar, live music, and mocktails.

More broadly, Pagano said visitors will discover a changing Saudi Arabia.

“I’ve seen so much change in the five years I’ve been here — it’s incredible,” Pagano said. “Western attire will be perfectly acceptable within the destination. Obviously, if you wander into some of the local towns, we expect people to respect the customs and cultures. Within the resorts, you can wear bikinis without any issue.”

Story by Josh Corder


Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Global Mulls 2026 Public Market Offering

7 months ago

Red Sea Global, a company fully owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, is exploring the possibility of a public market offering, with plans to launch as early as 2026.

The company is currently examining various options for a public market event, including an initial public offering or the establishment of a real estate investment trust (REIT), CEO of Red Sea Global, John Pagano, stated in an interview with Bloomberg.

Even as he did not provide specifics on advisers, banks, or valuation, Pagano said the company is currently holding preliminary discussions with banks and stakeholders.

He said the company plans to go public by 2026 or 2027, after the hotels have been in operation for around two years, with a proven record of occupancy, cash flow, and profitability. The priority for the company now is to create a revenue stream that supports its value.

Pagano said the concept of public real estate companies has mostly disappeared from a property markets standpoint on a global scale. Instead, real estate investment funds are becoming increasingly popular because of their tax efficiency and accessibility to a wider range of investors.

Flagship Projects for Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030

Red Sea Global was formed by merging two state-controlled developers by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund in 2021, where Amaala was taken over by the Red Sea Development Company.

Formerly known as The Red Sea Development Company, Saudi Arabia’s flagship tourism project developer rebranded to Red Sea Global last year.

Speaking to Skift earlier, Pagano had called the Red Sea Project and Amaala, the flagship projects for Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. He said the developments would be instrumental in opening the country up to global visitors.

By 2030, the two projects are expected to create 120,000 jobs — 70,000 direct and 50,000 indirect.

Amaala is expected to span over 4,000 square kilometers and house 25 hotels and around 900 luxury residential villas, apartments, and estate homes upon its completion in 2027.

The first phase of development is anticipated to conclude in mid-2024 and offer over 1,300 hotel rooms across eight resorts.

During the Skift Global Forum East in Dubai last year, Nicholas King, the group chief development officer of Red Sea Global, had revealed that the first three hotels at the Red Sea Project would open in 2023, followed by the next 13 in 2024.


Saudi Top Tourism Developer Rebrands to Red Sea Global and Plans 16 New Resorts

1 year ago

Saudi Arabia’s flagship tourism project developer has rebranded to Red Sea Global (RSG) and said it would open three resorts in 2023 and 13 more in 2024, reported Al Arabiya on Tuesday.

Formerly known as The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), Red Sea Global has long been working on a project along the Red Sea and Amaala, a resort being constructed on Saudi Arabia’s northwest coast. Both efforts are part of the country’s efforts to diversify its economy by boosting new sectors such as tourism while using renewable energy.

On Tuesday, the developer said its mandate had expanded to oversee up to a dozen projects stretching the length of the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia, with the potential to expand beyond the kingdom. It plans to open 16 resorts between now and 2024.

Red Sea Global is a closed joint-stock company owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund.




Clear Filters