Wellness in the land of happy.
Bhutan, the landlocked, Himalayan land with teetering cliffside monasteries brings more than just heart-stopping landscapes and the world’s highest GNH (Gross National Happiness): It’s also one of the world’s hottest spots for a new breed of wellness experiences that go beyond skin deep: Forest bathing, cave meditating, stone baths and more take the spa concept to new heights.
Bhutan’s national flower, the blue poppy, makes for an illusive bloom that comes to life during June and July’s monsoon season (white, pink and red poppies can also be found). Book your poppy trek at Amankora’s Punakha lodge.
The multi-lodge concept Six Senses reveals five hotels throughout the country from February to May in 2019. Spanning the spectrum of the Bhutan’s photo-ready settings, each retreat has its own architectural identity: Rooms at Six Senses Punakha jut dramatically over garden terraces; the Paro appears to rise from stone ruins; the Gangtey melds new and traditional design. Site-specific experiences offer a menu of moving meditations: Archery, hiking, biking, foot bathing, crane watching and yak tracking are all interspersed with more traditional treatments such as hot rocks and massage.
“This landlocked, Himalayan land with the teetering cliffside monasteries brings more than just heart-stopping landscapes and the world’s highest GNH (Gross National Happiness): It’s also one of the world’s hottest spots for a new breed of wellness experiences.”
Score your own Wellbeing Guide at the newly opened Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary. In-house Bhutanese traditional medicine doctors help guests craft personalized health plans, complete with herbs, dietary advice and traditional treatments such as numtsug, hot oil compression. Designed to echo local architecture with its fortress-like design, the hotel makes healing and contemplation almost impossible to avoid: Sweeping valley and hillside views set the perfect tone, while meditation gardens, personal spa rooms and a striking indoor pool encourage a new generation of wellness warriors.
Overlooking the Thimphu Valley, the gilded meditation hall Buddha Dordenma reaches 169 feet tall and houses more than 100,000 smaller Buddha statues within.
Clinging to a cliff, Paro Taktsang (or “Tiger’s Nest”) is the much photographed, gravity-defying temple perched more than 9,000 feet in the air. Just be ready for a two-hour climb from the valley floor to enjoy the stunning site.
Walk through thick forests of pine and birch trees to get to Drolung Goemba, a hilltop, less-touristed temple that appears to float in the clouds.
Visiting all five Amankora luxury lodges — each nestled within Bhutan’s most awe-inspiring valleys — offers a journey in itself. Some of the hotels are accessed via suspension bridges, others by buggy ride, while all of them are intimate, contemplative and completely quiet in opulence. There’s yoga, meditation, discussion, silence or therapeutic work at each lodge, along with more unusual treatments like Himalayan Forest and Prayer Flag “bathing.” Both are unique ways to calm monkey mind: Take a solitary walk through the forest or pass through lines of rippling prayer flags to focus the mind and expand the senses. New this June, Aman’s first pool in the Kingdom opens in Amankora Punakha, surrounded by rice paddies, fruit plantations and wrap-round mountain views.
LAUNCH PAD: @Six Senses
THE BRAG: @Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary
INN CROWD: @Amankora