Six Senses Douro Valley - two nights in February

100   Recommended

May 10, 2016 by
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Introduction

Stayed at the Six Senses Douro Valley for two nights in the off-season of February as part of a weeklong girl’s trip to Portugal.

Check In

We were greeted outside the entrance after driving through the gates and down the long driveway.  Our car and luggage were promptly whisked away and we were escorted into the reception area. The main lobby is very stylish with a rustic modern vibe. The staff is very warm and friendly if a bit on the young side. After a quick check-in, we were quickly shown to our room.

Room

We were upgraded to a lovely River View Terrace room.  The room was quite large and stylishly appointed. In addition to the large king size bed - there was a couch, coffee table and two daybeds inside the room. The terrace had table and chairs as well as some loungers – unfortunately it was rainy for most of our stay so we did not get to use.  Coffee and tea making facilities and a well stocked mini bar were in one of the large closets. There was a very large flat screen tv mounted on the wall and the windows had automated shades. The room was well lit and very comfortable and relaxing.

The bathroom vanity area has two sinks and is open to the room - with the enclosed shower to the right and the toilet/bidet room across to the left. In our room there was no tub.  I don’t prefer this style of open bathroom because if someone needs to get up in the middle of the night the light can wake the other sleeping guest(s). 

BedDay bed & TVBed & Seating AreaBathroom VanityView into bathroom from bed areaShowerWe also had the opportunity to visit four additional types of rooms on our stay and they were all lovely with varying shapes and sizes.  The biggest room had a corner location with very large windows and a balcony running the length of the room.  However this did look directly over the outdoor dining area – so not as private.  Even the entry-level rooms were quite nice without the views or as much space but perfectly adequate.

Dining

Sauteed Pork - Alentejana StyleBreakfast and lunch are served in the open dining room and when the weather is nicer on the outside patio.  Dinner is served in an adjoining room accessible through a pair of doors.   There is no discernible style difference between the rooms except that they light the fireplace in the dining room at night. 

 

At the time of my stay, the same menu was offered at both lunch and dinner.  We had menu fatigue and we were only there for two nights.  I would prefer to see a different and more casual menu offered at lunch. Given how remote the property is, it is likely you will have most of your meals here and it is just too repetitive to have the same menu at both meals.  I hope this is something the hotel will address as they move out of their slow winter season.

Breakfast is a large buffet spread of both hot and cold selections.  They offer a good selection including lots of fresh fruit, smoothies and juices. 

The food was all very good but a bit on the pricey side for Portugal. Wine list has extensive selections and the staff was helpful and attentive.

Breakfast buffet areaBeet SaladSquash soupGreen SaladOmlette with mushroom ragoutSirloin & Asparagus

Service

My sense is that the team is still getting its feet on the ground here – they are very eager to please but don’t always have the answers immediately at hand.  Housekeeping was excellent, the room was very clean and turned down nicely every night.

We had difficulties reaching the hotel in advance of our stay to organize wine tours.  The links on the hotel’s website apparently did not work and despite sending two e-mails, I received no responses.  In person, the concierge was very friendly and responsive in helping us to organize a day of outings. Unfortunately this late in the process we were unable to get into the wineries we most wanted to visit.  I hope the hotel has been able to address the problems with their website and ability to reach out to the concierge in advance.

 

 

Location

My sense is that the team is still getting its feet on the ground here – they are very eager to please but don’t always have the answers immediately at hand.  Housekeeping was excellent, the room was very clean and turned down nicely every night.

We had difficulties reaching the hotel in advance of our stay to organize wine tours.  The links on the hotel’s website apparently did not work and despite sending two e-mails, I received no responses.  In person, the concierge was very friendly and responsive in helping us to organize a day of outings. Unfortunately this late in the process we were unable to get into the wineries we most wanted to visit.  I hope the hotel has been able to address the problems with their website and ability to reach out to the concierge in advance.

Spa

The spa area has a large shop selling various beauty products, clothes and jewelry. My friend had a massage at the spa and was very pleased with the service she received.  Appointments should be booked in advance if possible to ensure availability.  Despite being very empty it was difficult to find an available slot during our stay.

Grounds & Pool

The grounds and common areas of the hotel are beautiful and very well maintained. The setting in the Douro Valley with views out over the river and the terraced vineyards are very relaxing.  It was too cold during our stay to avail ourselves of the gorgeous pool area- but imagine it is a great place to hang out in the summer.

The hotel has lovely interior areas for hanging out and lounging around as well.  There is a great bar area with a pool table and multiple seating areas with couches and coffee tables.  They have a well-stocked games chest.  There are also fireplaces in a number of areas for cooler evenings. 

The exterior grounds also appear to have a number of seating areas although none were in use during our stay.

Pool tableLounge area in barBar & Lounge areaGroundsGroundsPool with view of riverPool with view up to hotelOutdoor dining patio

Activities

The hotel offers a daily evening tasting event for 20 euros per person - tasting one white, one red and two ports from the region. This is accompanied with a small plate of cheese and cured meats. I recommend the tasting for people who are new to wine, but serious enthusiasts may find this to be a bit less interesting.  The information provided was somewhat limited as the tasting was conducted by one of the younger servers rather than the sommelier.  Our tasting had a mixed group of English and Portuguese speakers, so the server had to say everything twice and perhaps answer the same questions twice.  Would have preferred if the tastings were geared to groups by language.

 

Alternatively they offer a large selection of wines by the glass that can be sampled on your own. The bottles are kept in a locked case and you simply use the card key issues to you and order the glass you want - the proper amount is then pumped into your glass.

The hotel can arrange a boat tour on the Douro river which is highly recommended.  These can be done either privately or on the regularly scheduled departures.  Given the slow season, we ended up having a private tour for the cost of a public one (10 euros per person).  The scenery was spectacular and a must do if you are in this region.

Wine tours are another must do if your are here in the Douro but it is really important to make plans in advance of the stay as it can be difficult to arrange at the last moment. The car and driver organized by the hotel was excellent and reasonably priced.

Wine Tasting

Overall

In summary I would say this is a great luxury property if you are considering a stay in the Douro Valley.  And I believe the Douro Valley is a destination worth visiting due to its unique beauty and world-class vineyards.  The hard product is really nice – well designed and stylish but still cozy and comfortable.  The soft product is still a work in progress - they may still be in a training phase with some of the staff, but what is lacking in knowledge is made up for in enthusiasm. The biggest concern for me is that they need to address the diversity of menu offerings in the restaurants.  The quality of the food is good, but they need to change up the menus for lunch/dinner. 

 

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