BY Lisa Lindblad
February 9, 2015
It was a long trip – 26 hours from my frozen door in New York, via Dubai, New Delhi, and Dehradun – that ended with a nighttime arrival at Vana, a year-old wellness retreat secreted on 21 acres of sal forest and planted fruit trees in the Himalayan foothills.
What a remarkable place! Built by the Singh family, it became the private passion of young Veer Singh who heads a team of more than 250 staff and therapy specialists. With its holistic approach to wellness and his sensitivity to the ecological balance of the project, Vana exhibits an extraordinary thoughtfulness in design, detail and finish. No expense has been spared on this 80-room sanctuary, and yet there is nothing superfluous, nothing jarring, nothing that you would wish to do without. From the spare design providing the backdrop and the volumes for a wonderfully eclectic collection of art and craft to the exquisite plating of really delicious food, there is no detail out of place. The staff is just as perfectly turned out in sober, chic uniforms enlivened by smiles and greetings that are always warm and welcoming. And their anticipation of guests’ needs is something remarkable.
Daily included activities are yoga and meditation, but there is also dance, aqua moves in the indoor pool and nutritional cooking. The core of ones stay, however, are the therapies that range from Western massage to Ayurveda, authentic Tibetan treatments and Natural therapies that includes Raag therapy (relaxation in the presence of a wonderful flutist), as well as Acupuncture. There are also full on detox programs. All are scheduled after an initial hour-long meeting with a doctor and are held in large, comfortable treatment rooms. Yoga and Meditation can also be privatized as can off-property excursions into the hills. Finally, there is a salon for hair, manis and pedis to get you ready for reentry into the hustle and bustle of home.
A standout at Vana is the food. Both Western and local menus are available, much of it organic and locally sourced, plated with a fine, creative hand and served on exquisite dishes in the lovely, open Salana dining room. Twice a week an Ayurvedic menu is offered at lunch at Anayu, an indoor/ outdoor restaurant set with gorgeous brass place settings and equally as beautiful. Breakfasts are served a la carte in addition to a small buffet of freshly baked breads, yoghurts, smoothies, fruits and fresh pressed juices of all kinds.
The whole experience is utterly delicious.