These days India is abuzz with its growing urban landscapes and thriving cities, but tucked away near the border of Nepal is a little piece of quiet. Far, far away and over the mountains lies Vana, Malsi Estate a spa and wellness retreat in Dehradun, Uttarakhand province. The idyllic estate sits in the foothills of the Himalayas, sprawls across 21 acres and is surrounded by lychee and mango orchards. It boasts two restaurants, 69 rooms, 17 suites and 55 treatment rooms. The offerings include yoga, traditional Ayurvedic treatments, detoxes and Tibetan healing.
The Vana, Malsi Estate has a specialist team of nutritionists, Ayurvedic doctors and fitness experts to help create your custom itinerary based around your needs. A world away from the tour guides beaten track and gap year explorers intending to find themselves, this is an authentic experience of traditional Indian healing. Travel is changing, and people want more like a deeper cultural experience with something tangible, and Vana meets that.
I recently got the chance to sit with Veer Singh, founder of the retreat over lunch at London’s Nopi restaurant ahead of Vana‘s opening on the 4th January 2014.
Where did the idea for Vana come from? Destiny beckoned! On my return from Spain where I had spent time working to become an organic farmer. On returning to India and not finding my feet in farming, I took over a family project to create a resort on this land. My past experiences and the land itself led me to then transform the vision to make it a place of wellness. This is how the idea for the retreat was born.
What was your vision for Vana been from inception? And what have you done to ensure you meet it? The vision statement of Vana Retreats, ‘our lives will be an expression of our core belief to be of service and enhance wellbeing’ is a reflection of my commitment. We are the only retreat of its kind in the region, perhaps in the world if you take all the elements that make it into account. The sheer breadth of our wellness offering, and the obsession for quality are truly unique. Our sincerity towards every nuance of wellness, our commitment to ensure pure, holistic wellness makes us unique. Our design is a departure from anything in India. We have stayed away from the usual Indian clichés. And yet, we have showcased elements of India in a contemporary format that nobody else has done. Our USP is that we are a place of wellbeing, in every sense of the word, and all aspects of the experience at Vana matter to us.
One of the things that Vana is centred around is Ayurveda. How important is Ayurveda to Vana and why? At Vana we offer Ayurveda in its most complete and pure form under the guidance of our Ayurvedic doctors and therapists. Our treatments are completely authentic, and all products used are selected for their therapeutic value.
Ayurveda treatments and consults are offered in Vana, Malsi Estate’s spacious Ayurveda Centre, which has two consultation rooms with 12 treatment suites. The services offered include the full spectrum of Ayurveda, including consultations, therapies and supplements and the team of Ayurvedic practitioners and therapists are led by Dr Avilochan Singh. Dr Singh is a fourth generation Ayurvedic physician with 15 years’ experience.
What kind of treatments can we expect to see in Vana? The treatments offered encompass each of the seven modalities – Ayurveda, Tibetan healing, natural healing, fitness, aqua therapies and spa treatments including aromatherapy, classic Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, Vana signature massage, Lomi Lomi, scrubs, wraps, facials and a salon service.
Who is the ideal visitor to the retreat? Discerning travellers with a keen interest in wellness and wellbeing – anyone over the age of 16.