Ultratravel U.S.

Spring 2014

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14 ultratravel "This is not a resort—it's a retreat," stresses Veer Singh, the owner and creative force behind Vana, Malsi Estate, a hotly anticipated, state-of-the-art spa and wellness facility opened in January in Dehradun, India, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Given that Singh and his team have meticulously planned every aspect of Vana with style and comfort in mind—from the bespoke furnishings to the room scents in the public areas, which change from season to season—guests can be forgiven for feeling like they are at a five-star hotel, instead of a place that serves only wine at dinner. From the moment they are met at the airport by a uniformed driver and a car stocked with neck pillows and herb-infused water, it's clear that the Vana experience is truly about well-being, not deprivation. Six years in the making, Vana is set on 21 acres of mango and lychee orchards and lush forest, just outside the center of town. (The charming, hillside Dehradun is a 45-minute flight plus 75-minute car ride from New Delhi.) Dotted around the grounds are residential buildings housing the 90 rooms, suites and villas, a high-ceilinged main building—home to two restaurants, as well as reception and gathering spaces—and separate structures for Ayurveda, Tibetan healing, spa rituals and traditional Chinese therapies. Indoor and outdoor pools, a gym, tennis courts, yoga studios, wet areas and even a Watsu pool round out the facilities. Spanish design studio Esteva i Esteva Arquitectura worked with Singh to create spaces that represent modern India, so instead of nods to the colonial or Maharaja past, you'll find clean-lined interiors of natural woods, chic white ceramics and pieces by contemporary artists like Siraj Saxena. Everything is top-of-the-line and sustainable- minded, from the organic linens and towels sourced in southern India to the fashion- forward uniforms—different for each department—created by contemporary designers, such as Spanish firm Cortana. Rooms have flat-screen TVs, healthy mini-bars and complimentary Wi-Fi, but using your phone or laptop is off limits in public areas. Vana's all-inclusive retreats start at three nights, with itineraries tailored to each guest's needs and goals, whether weight loss, fitness, stress management or just relaxation. Wellness concierges work with guests prior to and upon arrival to create a targeted program that might include fitness classes and lifestyle experiences—cooking and tennis lessons, lectures, visits to nearby Tibetan monasteries—along with acupuncture, yoga and therapeutic spa services performed in one of the 50-odd treatment rooms. Loose pajama-style outfits, slippers and tote bags are provided for use during the stay, and in-room bath products are customized for guests based on their wellness consultations and ayurvedic diagnosis. Of course, cuisine is a big part of wellness, and at Vana you'll find plenty of flavor packed into healthy-size portions. The main restaurant serves international fare all day (including a stellar buffet lunch, complete with decadent desserts), all made with organic regional ingredients—and no white flours or sugars. A separate ayurvedic dining room serves menus based on the concepts of doshas, or body types, while evening drinks with live music, afternoon "wellness teas" and other community activities happen each week—for those who feel like joining. "We asked ourselves what people need and have aimed to be of service in wellness, but the level of involvement or immersion is up to each guest," says Singh. 'We just won't compromise on our goal to make Vana a beacon of well-being—which means integrating spa services with ecology, sustainability, community and design." Contact your travel agent today to experience wellness at Vana. IMPERIAL WELLNESS A new Indian sanctuary combines personalized spa services and therapies, a sustainability ethos and serene, design-forward accommodations for a truly rejuvenating experience. BY SANDRA RAMANI Clockwise from top: Vana, Malsi Estate opened this year in the foothills of the Himalayas in India; healthy dishes are prepared for guests based on their dosha (body type); spa rituals and traditional Chinese therapies are at the centerpiece of Vana's wellness programs. C y d ( t p

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