In the heart of a beautiful forest in northern India, Six Senses Vana is an absolutely magical place for ayurvedic and wellness retreat enthusiasts. Everything is designed to help you relax and start on the path towards and spirituality. Pascal Languillon, CEO of Luxe Wellness Club, wanted to experience a retreat at Vana to understand why the Six Senses group chose this setting as its new flagship wellness hotel.
Note: It’s generally forbidden to take photos at Vana, as the hotel advocates total digital disconnection, which is a good thing. Pascal, because of his profession, has obtained a special dispensation for certain times of the day, and in certain areas only. The photos below give just a glimpse of the place.
An absolute temple to disconnection and letting go
From my first approach to the resort Six Senses Vananestled in a dense sal forest on the outskirts of Dehradun, with the Himalayan foothills of Mussoorie in the background, I immediately had a feeling of a sense of peace and connection with nature. The place exudes serenity that seems a world away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.. It’s architecture and design that provide this feeling, above all.
Spanish architecture firm Esteva i Esteva designed Vana in 2014. These brothers are also known for creating another hotel I love, Es Raco d’Arta in Mallorca . So, Vana reflects a perfect harmony between contemporary design and traditional touches. The soothing tones, panoramic views of the Sal forest and lush gardens offer a visual and spiritual escape. The attention paid to decoration is palpable, with each work of art merging gracefully into its own space. Every detail tells a story of respect and reconnection.
On my arrival, I was greeted with a traditional ritual: my forehead was delicately marked with a black tint, a sign of welcome and respect. I was then given a loose-fitting kurta pyjama, a traditional outfit that made me feel immediately at home in the resort’s peaceful surroundings.
I was impressed by theholistic approach to well-being that the resort offers its guests. I learned that the founder, Veer Singh, expressed this vision through his deep respect for sustainable agriculture, traditional wisdom and nature. The Six Senses group , taking over the resort in early 2023 , has preserved this philosophy, while adding its own essence.
A highly successful example of sustainable tourism
Quite simply, I don ‘t think I’ve ever seen a hotel so committed to sustainable development, and yet I was an expert on the subject before I became interested in wellness(see my book Ecochic)… I went on a sustainability tour with the hotel’s environmental policy manager, and I was impressed! Monkeys, snails and ants are recognized as an integral part of the natural habitat. There’s even a “snail crossing” sign on the paths so that the hotel buggies don’t run over the gastropods. To repel insects, the hotel uses essential oils rather than harmful repellents. The plant is maintained with paints and varnishes containing low levels of volatile organic compounds.
The hotel has been awarded LEED Platinum status, the highest environmental standard, making it the first establishment in India to achieve this standard. Interiors are designed to allow natural ventilation, while exteriors retain their organic, natural look.
In terms of energy consumption, LED lighting is favored, and a system detects presence in the rooms to optimize consumption. Exterior lighting at night is reduced to an absolute minimum. The hotel also collects rainwater and recycles it for irrigation. What’s more, with its own bottling plant, the hotel no longer uses any single-use plastic bottles.
Last but not least, as part of its “short circuit” approach, the hotel favors local and seasonal ingredients, and also produces certain products on site. Vegetable waste is composted, food scraps are donated to an animal shelter, and oil and electronic waste are recycled responsibly.
Rooms bathed in softness
The 66 hotel rooms and 16 suites at Dehradun are comfortably appointed to evoke a sense of harmony. Far removed from India’s typical hustle and bustle and its intense colors, the accommodations offer a sense of calm and gentleness. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto the slender trunks of the Sal forest, offering views conducive to meditation.
I was lucky enough to stay in a magnificent 96m² Forest Suite, which I’d recommend to anyone, especially as the price difference with the rooms isn’t huge (just 30% more). What comfort and beauty! I’d love my house to be designed that way. There’s something almost Japanese about it.
Thanks to the large windows, the rooms are very bright. I really liked the bathroom too, with its marble bathtub facing the view and its double washbasin. Naturally, all bath products are designed on site with organic ingredients. They smell so good that I bought several bottles on the way out.
The quality of the bed is beyond reproach. In fact, I can say that I have scientific proof of having spent some very restful nights there. I was equipped with a SleepOn electronic ring that measured my sleep. This is part of the Sleep with Six Senses program , designed to improve sleep. The hotel provides a surprise pouch with essential oils, massage oils and masks to help you fall asleep more easily. I’ve done a lot of Deep Sleep.
This test over several nights enabled me to see that I’m in a deep, recuperative sleep phase, twice as much as the average person. My sleep score was 92/100. On the other hand, I have had a few episodes of sleep apnea… In any case, it made me want to buy this kind of gadget to find out more.
Here, wellness is a must
Every stay at Six Senses Vana is an invitation to self-discovery. During my stay, I benefited from a personalized wellness consultation, guiding me towards treatments adapted to my needs, whether Ayurveda, yoga or Tibetan medicine. This first Ayurvedic consultation was an opportunity to discuss my lifestyle and take stock. Since Six Senses took over management of the establishment, this initial consultation is also accompanied by a “wellness screening”, as I did at Six Senses Ibiza, for example.
I was delighted to see that my score on this test was 91/100. But that’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement in my sense of well-being, and that a multitude of treatments wouldn’t do me good. Indeed, I’m someone who lives under constant pressure, and my number 1 need is to breathe.
The Ayurvedic doctor has therefore prescribed treatments to help you let go: abhyanga, shirodhara, sonotherapy, acupuncture, yogayam… Everything you need to reach a state of absolute relaxation.
I found the quality of care extraordinary. Among the best I’ve ever tried, and light years ahead of some of Europe’s 5-star spas! I’m thinking in particular of the Ayurvedic treatments, especially the shirodhara (unfortunately I don’t have any photos), with its liters of hot oil poured over the forehead, and the perfectly orchestrated four-handed abhyanga. These perfect treatments left me speechless. I also tested a Tibetan treatment, Hor Gyi Metsa, which was also very good, but just a step down in terms of pleasure.
The acupuncture session worked very well to calm my nervous system. One of my favorite treatments, however, was sonotherapy (gong baths and other instruments), so magical. To round things off, a watsu session made me float even more…
The program of group courses is very dense, with activities from morning to evening. I took all the morning yoga classes, with interesting teachers. Among my most memorable sessions was the “Om Chanting” session, where I was able to feel the vibrations of my voice for around forty minutes in “the grotto”, a basement room dedicated to meditation and chanting. Very soothing.
Another moment I didn’t want to miss every day was “Raag Therapy”. The principle? You lie back on a comfortable mattress and listen to an Indian flute player charm you. Delicious! Group courses also include discussions, pottery classes, soap making, cooking classes, yoga nidra, sports classes too… I didn’t get to test everything!
A word also about the service, which is exceptional. The staff are more than attentive, giving the impression of being everywhere, following your every move without being intrusive.
At the end of the week, I think I can say I’ve never been so relaxed in my life. I found myself walking with my head upright and very slowly, watching the rain fall in wonder. For someone with a naturally “speedy” nature, I felt Vana’s magic work its changes on me. It’s a place that can transform you profoundly and reset your perspective. Even if life has since returned to normal, there are still lessons to be learned…
Delicious Ayurvedic cuisine
The resort’s gastronomy is another highlight of the experience. Menus are influenced by the seasons. Nature and ecology are constantly present in the supply chain, with only local ingredients and responsibly sourced meat, fish and poultry.
I plunged into a world of delicate flavors, with fragrant but not too spicy curries, paneer (delicious cooked cheese), chicken, dahl, naan… These dishes can’t be easily explained, as they involve textures and flavors that we’re not familiar with in Europe. All I can say is that I was very happy to have lunch at Anaya every day. This restaurant is dedicated entirely to Ayurvedic food. Every day, I ate a “vata palette”, adapted to my vata dosha and my well-being goals.
The other restaurant, Salana, is less ayurvedic, offering a modern take on healthy food . It offers a wide range of dishes. The food at Salana is both tasty and nutritious. Portions are carefully adjusted with low levels of oil and salt. Refined grains, oils and sugars are not used, and we avoid processed foods and chillies. Nutritional values and other relevant information are clearly indicated on the menu.
As usual, I loved the breakfasts, which I carefully composed with fruit, vegetables, nuts, probiotics and a few sweets. It was possible to order many varieties of Indian dishes for breakfast too, or opt for eggs with smoked salmon if you preferred. To top it all off, the almond milk cappuccino was perfectly measured.
To sum up, my stay at Six Senses Vana was a true immersion in Indian tradition and well-being. A place supported by a dedicated team where body and mind can rejuvenate. An experience I’d recommend without hesitation to anyone looking to reconnect with themselves.
Six Senses Vana is a place out of time, a bubble of serenity and happiness in the midst of our hectic lives. With its extraordinary pampering, perfectly balanced cuisine and strong sense of spirituality, Vana takes its visitors to a whole new level. We love this hotel and would love to come back again and again.
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Rates: Rates: From around 470 euros per day for one person in a single room and 740 euros per day for a couple without a program. From around 640 euros per day per person in single occupancy with a detox or ayurveda program. Contact us to benefit from the best rates and exclusive benefits.
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