A world-class destination spa resort in the Himalayan foothills
Activity adventure | Mountains | Natural world | Relaxation | Spa
It’s only fitting that Rishikesh – the birthplace of Ayurveda, yoga and meditation – enjoys only the most peaceful of locations, on the banks of the Ganges in the Himalayan foothills. The resort itself enjoys an even quieter seclusion; a few miles north of the town, it’s set in 100 acres of virgin forest and built around a Maharaja’s estate. And, as the retreat is dedicated to restoring balance and harmonising energy through a holistic approach, you’ll find much more than yogic meditation here. There’s mountain trekking, white-water rafting, nature walks and wild elephant viewing in nearby Rajaji and Chilla National Parks.
While the main building constitutes a restored Viceroy’s Palace, 78 rooms, suites and villas dot the resort’s landscaped gardens with panoramic vistas down into the Ganges valley or onto the palace. All – thanks to their colonial hill architectural – blend seamlessly into the grounds while private balconies and baths under private windows make the most of commanding views. For an extra slice of seclusion, some come with their own private garden while suites feature separate sitting, dining and garden areas resplendent in antique furnishings. Or, two-bedroom villas come with a private sauna, swimming pool and even a pantry for the butler. Every part of your stay has been thought through from the cotton kurta pyjamas and pillow menu to the aromatic baths and ginger honey lemon tea on offer. For something a touch more modern, there’s WiFi and LCD TVs in all rooms.
With an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products, it’s fair to say that there’s something of a focus on healthy eating. After a consultation with the in-house Ayurvedic doctor, you’ll even be recommended a menu tailored to you. Meals are prepared at an open kitchen as chefs instruct in how you can create these delicacies back home. They’re then served on a treetop deck, in an intimate pavilion or in one of the private venues dotted abut the estate. As the resort lends itself to long stays, menus are changed constantly with the seasons to ensure only the freshest produce is used. There’s also the palace’s tea lounge or the poolside juice bar where a range of light snacks is also available.
With a focus on holistic wellbeing, it won’t surprise to find that the 25,000 square foot spa is the resort’s centrepiece. Combing the healing principles of East and West, it features 24 treatment rooms, luxurious hydrotherapy facilities, a beauty institute, heated outdoor pool, sauna and steam rooms, and a fully equipped gym. Personalised programmes are drawn up by qualified nutritionists, Western and Ayurvedic physicians and spa therapists as treatments, visiting masters, yoga workshops and meditation sessions guide you towards a healthier lifestyle. Our favourite is the abhyanga ‘four-handed massage’, a rejuvenating synchronised massage given by two Ayurvedic therapists using herb-infused sesame oil.
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