Part one of a review on Ananda Spa by the luxury online blog, Luxe in a City. Ananda is a multi-award winning Spa nestled in the heart of the Himalayas, part of the Shanti Hospitality Group and managed by IHHR with investment from C&C Alpha Group. Have a read of the review, below…
An uneventful flight, on a glorious June morning, took us to the cutesy Jolly Grant Airport, the nearest one to the destination spa we were headed to. Greeted by a chauffeur clad in pristine white with a vibrant red turban, we boarded the car which was to take us to our destination. After a good 40 minutes through the turns and twists of the beauties of Tehri Garhwal, we were there – Ananda Spa Dehradun. The palatial external façade revealed through the wondrous landscape.
A warm welcome awaited us, complete with aarti (a traditional Indian welcome). Once inside, we got a good glimpse of the Maharaja of Narendra Nagar’s Summer Palace. Exemplary of erstwhile architectural splendor, the palace is sure to impress every guest. A little rest at the Tea Lounge and a refreshing drink of ginger-lemon infusion, and we were ready to go to our room.
Ananda Spa sprawls over a 100-acre estate; and just an exploration of its grounds is sure to keep you occupied for hours. And what I loved most about the place was how they have created a sanctuary of serenity set amidst nature – the perfect juxtaposition of nature’s treasures and man’s efforts. Man and Nature can co-exist – and that is what this place proves, time and again.
Even the rooms, suites, and villas are constructed in such a manner so as to blend in with the naturescape. Our Valley View Room was a haven of luxury, equipped with every modern amenity you need for a lovely vacation. The closet was complete with sets of white kurta-pyajamas – ideal wear for the Indian weather. The en suite bathroom came with a set of signature Ananda Spa beauty products. But what caught our attention the most was the balcony – immediately after we could tear our eyes past the resident peacock in full plumage – the entire city of Rishikesh lay before us, as if painted on a canvas.
The concept of wellness at Ananda Spa is unique – it delves into the depths of Indian traditions to bring forth the tenets of Vedanta, the knowledge of Ayurveda and the discipline of Yoga into daily life. Ananda offers long haul wellness packages for serious spa goers along with short haul getaway packages for weekend escapes. The focus is on how to create the perfect balance between the individual and the world, as well as the three facets of an individual – the body (physical), the mind (emotion), and the intellect (thought). That is why a stay here starts with a Ayurvedic and wellness consultation.
What exactly does this consultation aim to do? Most importantly, it helps you to understand yourself better. Even if you are aware of your objective, this session helps you refine it. Ayurvedic treatises talk about Prakruti – the nature of your body – what makes you a unique individual. It also talks about the Tri-Dosha, which when in balance, can create the perfect harmony between your body, mind and intellect. After the consultation, you get a clear idea of what your needs are, and can focus on them.
Spa treatments at the Ananda are just an element of the core concept of wellness. Be it the Ayurvedic Shirodhara, the delightful Royal Facial, or the Swedish massage, the aim is to refresh the body, revitalize the mind, and rejuvenate the soul. But it’s not what wellness is all about; and so, the idea channelizes to every aspect of the destination, even the cuisine. Devoid of artificial colors, flavors, or aromas, every signature Ananda dish is a revelation – healthy can be so deliciously tasty too!
Elegant décor, live music (flute), a bright chandelier, people who wait on you with a smile – the setting of the restaurant at the Ananda is ideal for a stellar meal. But don’t miss sitting out on the deck. A divine candlelit dinner under a full moon with the Sal trees softly whispering sweet nothings – what more can you ask for! Also, make sure you indulge in the high-tea on Wednesday afternoons, with an array of delectable finger foods and choice of warm beverages, at the Tea Lounge; a nice reminder of the former glorious days of the Raj.
My wellness experience at the Ananda Spa started with a personalized yoga session. I was a little apprehensive about it, as I’m always averse to any kind of exercise. But this session opened my eyes – Yoga was not about expending energy, it was about conserving it, as my instructor told me. The asanas (Yoga postures) he taught were ideal for a beginner; you can easily imagine my surprise when instead of feeling tired, which I thought was the only outcome of exercise, it made me feel re-energized.