Overland Traveller



Ananda In The Himalayas: the world’s greatest destination spa

Ananda SpaAnanda In the Himalayas has an impressive list of accolades. Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards 2005 ranked it the number two destination in the world. Number one was New Zealand. India ranked number 45, meaning this destination spa in the foothills of the Himalayas offers a better experience than the country it is in - no mean feat when that country is India. In 2009, Ananda was yet again voted in the magazine’s top three world destination spas.

More than just a luxurious place to have a few treatments and be waited on hand and foot, Ananda’s fluid, highly personalised programmes cater for every aspect of your wellbeing, from your physical to your spiritual health. What follows is an outline of Ananda’s philosophy, spa, accommodation, facilities and food.

The Philosophy
Ananda is “dedicated to providing guests with a total immersion in discovering a well-being oriented lifestyle and a holistic therapy approach”. As well as providing the ultimate retreat, Ananda aims to put you on the spiritual pathway to redefining your lifestyle. In other words, it has more than your immediate happiness at stake.

Your Ananda experience begins with a detailed consultation with an Ayurvedic physician to create a specific daily routine, tailor-made diet and programme of wellness activities. This programme is then minutely adjusted, if necessary, depending on your progress and changing preferences throughout your stay. All this attention doesn’t end when you fly home; your own aftercare programme is planned by your physician so you can continue to receive the full benefits of the Ayurvedic approach at home.

The Spa
People come to Ananda for its incredible array of carefully prescribed holistic treatments; Ayurveda, yoga, Vedanta [http://www.vedantaworld.org/] and international wellness therapies are carefully blended to provide tailor-made programmes designed to purify your body and soothe your senses. The spa contains 24 treatment rooms, 4 consultation rooms, hydrotherapy facilities, a Beauty Institute, outdoor swimming pool, sauna, steam rooms, fully equipped gymnasium and, its most unique feature, a Couple’s Suite, complete with a romantic double Jacuzzi and kama suite for couples therapy.

Room at Ananda SpaTreatments available include kundalini back massage, reflexology, aromatherapy, Swedish, Thai and unique Tibetan massages, body masks, cocoons and wraps, hydrotherapy, various salt scrubs, reiki and crystal healing, skin and beauty care and a number of multi-treatment packages that focus on specific problems such as cellulite and stress. The spa’s greatest strength though, is it’s range of Ayurvedic treatments. These include a two-person full body massage (Abhyanga), a deep, dry massage with herbal powders (Udwarthana), and the application of cool, medicated buttermilk to the forehead (Takradhara).

The Accommodation
Ananda’s accommodation is split into three parts that are set amongst 100 acres of virgin forest. Most impressive is the Maharajah’s Palace, dating from 1910, with one of the oldest billiards tables in India, two conference rooms and a library lined with portraits of past maharajahs and the current maharajah’s books. The jewel in the palace’s crown is the Viceregal Suite, an impressive 220sq m that includes a wrap-around private terrace with Jacuzzi and panoramic views of the Himalayas, Ganges river and Ananda’s gardens, and nicely finished off with a period four-poster bed, working antique telescope and private butler.

A ten-minute walk away is a sympathetic modern building with three garden suites and 70 deluxe rooms. All of the beautifully appointed rooms have a king-size bed, pillow menu and sunken bathtub with views of the Ganges Valley or the palace.

In between the hotel and the palace are three private villas (two with two-bedrooms and one with one-bedroom). In addition to the usual luxurious touches for which Ananda is rightly renowned, each villa has a personal butler and decked area with rocking chairs thoughtfully positioned behind an infinity pool complete with peacock fountains and views across the Ganges Valley.

The Facilities
You can take part in a wide variety of non-spa activities during your stay at Ananda. Outdoor adventure options including trekking, white-water rafting, angling, trips to Chilla National Park and to see the wild elephants at Rajaji National Park, nature walks, and a round of golf on Ananda’s 6-hole golf course with turf imported from the United States.

The daily activity schedule is open to all guests; you can join yoga sessions, fitness and toning exercise classes, traditional Indian music classes, learn to do Full Moon Stretches, attend guided meditation and take part in talks on Vedanta.

Business guests can take advantage of exclusive management retreats and conferences facilities for up to 150 people, as well as rooftop boardrooms.

The Food
As Head Chef Sumit Kumar points out, “Food at Ananda is like public transport versus a chauffeur-driven car: complete unique customisation for you.”

The approach to food and dining fits in perfectly with Ananda’s holistic attitude. Ayurvedic, Asian and Western dishes are all on offer, and if you treat yourself to desert or French fries it doesn’t mean spoiling all that good work you’ve done in the swimming pool or annihilating the cleansing and purifying effects of spa treatments. The restaurant has worked hard to produce healthy versions of your favourite foods without compromising on taste. If you’re determined to be as healthy as you can be, though, the chefs provide a special menu, which changes daily, based on Ayurvedic principles – simply choose your dish according to your Ayurvedic consultation.

A number of restaurants and cafes are scattered throughout Ananda’s grounds. The Restaurant serves Ayurvedic, Asian and Western cuisine and its outer deck area sits amongst the Himalayan tree tops. The Pavillion dishes up casual drinks and snacks next to the pool. The Winter Garden overlooks the Ganges Valley from the Maharaja’s Palace (open according to the season) whilst The Hill Theatre puts on shows and dinner every Saturday night (weather allowing). The Palace Tea Lounge is the place to go for high tea and The Poolside serves healthy snacks and fresh juices on the ridge of the Himalayan foothills.

Read related features and reviews
Ananda: My Experience 


Top ten pages on OT
1. Five alternatives to South America's top destinations

2. Hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro

3. Responsible travel on the Inca Trail

4. The Ten Commandments for night bus travellers

5. Touring the Pantanal with the world's most hardcore guide

6. The two month slump: Colca Canyon, Peru

7. Images: South America roundup

8. Images: Panama - San Blas Islands (Kuna Ayala)

9. Video: giant otter eating a caiman

10. Traveller Fishbowl: England

Overland Traveller copyright © Emma Field 2010