The Big Six: Himalayan spa hotels
Holistic therapies, yoga, Abhyanga four-handed massage, traditional Dzong-style architecture and the King of Bhutan's top spot
Saturday 15 March 2014
Dwarika's Resort, Nepal
In the 1950s, conservationist Dwarika Das Shrestha took over a collection of heritage houses in Kathmandu and spent 30 years turning them into a five-star hotel. In October, the Shrestha family opened their second resort, only an hour's drive outside the Nepalese capital, but a world away from the urban bustle. Situated amid snow-dusted Himalayan peaks, the focus this time is on holistic spa therapies. Options range from classic Ayurvedic massages to the signature Pancha Kosha Newari treatment, which uses local herbs and firm pressure to realign the body. Healthy meals and daily yoga are also on offer, as well as a Trekkers Massage for those returning from the Annapurna Range.
Dwarika's Resort, Nepal (00 977 11 490 612; dwarikas.com). Doubles from US$461 (£307), half board. Treatments from NR3,000 (£18).
Vana Retreat India
This 21-acre estate opened in January outside Dehradun – the diminutive capital of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Set on a small plateau, with the hill station of Mussoorie to the north, it ties together the principles of Ayurveda, Tibetan healing, yoga and personal fitness, to offer guests a tailored wellness programme. Whether you're there for weight management, to de-stress or detox, the team of doctors, dieticians and therapists will devise a plan best suited to your needs.
Vana, Malsi Estate, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India (00 91 11 4060 0000; vanaretreats.com). Three nights from INR141,000 (£1,376), all inclusive.
Amanresorts has five interlinked lodges in Bhutan, which all operate under one Amankora banner. The idea is that guests can form a circuit around Bhutan's mountain passes, but you can also simply shack up in one place for the duration of your stay. Each is built to resemble the traditional Dzong-style architecture of the Bhutanese Himalayas, but the first outpost in Paro just nudges into the lead, thanks to its two-storey spa, scented with cedarwood and incense.
Amankora, Paro, Bhutan (00 975 8 272 333; amanresorts.com). Doubles from US$1,860 (£1,240), all inclusive. Treatments from US$108 (£72).
Routinely voted among the best spa hotels in the world, this resort stands between the cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh. Set up by Ashok Khanna and his wife Neelam more than 20 years ago, it has a reputation that has captured the attention of Oprah Winfrey, among other notable guests. Meals are designed to fit your body type and the expansive spa has 24 treatment rooms, with 80 therapies, including the 55-minute Abhyanga – a four-handed massage, using sesame oil.
Ananda, Narendranagar, Uttarakhand, India (00 91 124 4516650; anandaspa.com). Doubles from US$455 (£303), room only. Treatments from INR1,200 (£11).
Begnas Lake Resort, Nepal
For affordable luxury at lofty heights, seek out this tranquil lakeside retreat in the Pokhara Valley of western Nepal. It specialises in low-cost spa breaks with side orders of healthy vegetarian food, using ingredients from the surrounding mountains. Yoga takes place in the garden pavilion each morning and afternoon, while treatments are administered in elevated rooms above the lake shore. Day hikes, bird-watching and boating excursions complement the healing feeling.
Begnas Lake Resort, Pokhara, Nepal (00 977 61 56 0030; begnaslakeresort.com). Doubles from US$150 (£100), B&B. Treatments from US$10 (£6.60).
Uma by Como, Bhutan
When the King of Bhutan needs a break, he checks-in to this hotel. One of two Como properties in the mountain kingdom (the other is near Paro), this is the newest of the exclusive set. Opened in the Punakha Valley two years ago, it has nine rooms, two villas and a secluded Shambala spa. Hidden in a woodland glade you'll find two treatment rooms, hot-stone baths and Asian-inspired therapies such as a 60-minute Indian head massage.
Uma by Como, Punakha, Bhutan (00 975 8 271597; comohotels.com). Doubles from US$575 (£383), B&B. Treatments from US$45 (£30).
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