Zen retreat in the Himalayas

Dwarika view

I’d recently met several people who had been to Ananda spa resort in Rishikesh, India, a well-known wellness retreat in the Himalayas. When researching Ananda, I came across Dwarika’s Dhulikhel Resort, which looked equally nice and more straightforward to get to. (One direct flight from Dubai and a 45 min cab ride.)

They call it a holistic lifestyle resort, and it was just what I was looking for. The hotel is part of a small Nepalese chain and the resort is still managed by family of the man who opened the first Dwarika’s hotel. Similar to Ananda, they offer packages which include meals and activities. We booked for mid-March, during high season.

View

When we arrived we were presented with a map of the grounds and the daily schedule of activities. There are set times for certain activities, and plenty to keep you busy over the course of several days. There’s a Himalayan pink salt therapy room, individual meditation rooms, a lovely lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows and a rooftop area for relaxing where you can enjoy tea and biscuits, a stunning (but freezing) infinity pool, an ayurvedic doctor, massage therapy rooms, areas for yoga and meditation classes, an atelier for painting, a separate area to do pottery, and a building for cooking classes.

Meditating

Plus many areas to lounge around and get your zen on, including your own private roof terrace and many day bed swings dotted around the grounds, in case you want a change of scenery. Nearly everything is included in the rate except the cooking classes and the massages.

Day bed swing

The grounds are set over 20 acres of land on the side of a hill. It is serene and spiritual: dotted around you’ll find Hindu and Buddhist symbols and shrines, alongside placards with inspirational quotes. You do have to be fairly fit to get around, however, as there are lots of steps to climb. Or you can call someone to shuttle you in a golf buggy.

Placard

We stayed 3 nights and were upgraded to an Executive Suite, which had a massive 150 square metres of space. The main floor had a king-sized bed, separate day bed, a large desk and seating area, along with plenty of space should you want to do your sun salutations in the privacy of your room.

Executive Suite

There was a spiral staircase to a huge roof terrace which had a covered seating area and another day bed overlooking the resort and the mountains in the distance.

Executive Suite Roof Terrace

Inside the room, there were so many lovely touches, including the most impressive amenities basket I’d ever seen.

Amenities

Next to the bed, there were souvenir packets of crystals and Himalayan pink rock salt and a locally-made notebook to capture your thoughts. Each night we were left soaked almonds in a copper bowl, plus a scarf to wear with the colours of the following day.

There are two restaurants – a main restaurant serving Nepalese thalis and Western dishes, and a vegetarian Japanese restaurant.

Nepalese thali

They source much of their food from their own organic farm which you can visit if you wish, and they have a small herb garden on the terrace where they’ll pluck fresh mint and lemongrass for your tea. I never remember enjoying my veggies quite so much, to the extent that I was ordering a full plate of sautéed veg for breakfast. Check out those colours!

Breakfast

Though it was high season, we had the hotel to ourselves – on at least one of the nights we were two of only three guests, which made the experience even more special. The staff looked after us like we were family and we hope to return again soon!

Dwarika's staff

Dwarika’s Dhulikhel Resort is a 45-minute drive from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.
US$430++ for a Junior Suite on half-board basis in high season

Updated 1 May 2015: Following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal last week, I’ve had confirmation that the staff at Dwarika’s are all safe, though the buildings suffered some damage. Sadly, this beautiful country will take awhile to recover from the devastation. Should you wish to contribute to the relief efforts, you can find more information about vetted charities responding to this disaster on Charity Navigator.

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