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Ananda the worlds best spa

Worlds best Spa

Ananda in the Himalayas is a destination spa fit for a king. “Spoil you silly” is how Ananda’s general manager describes his staff’s mandate. He’s not kidding: The treatments at this indian destination spa are indulgent a popular one is the Ayurvedic abhyanga massage, in which two therapists coat your hair and body in oil and knead you toward nirvana, but the coddling goes much deeper.

Worlds best Spa

Attendants outside the guests rooms enquire after your happiness every time you come or go and rush to rectify things if anything is amiss. A trekking guide all but carried one of my companions up a mountain. My waiter the same one took care of me no matter where or when I ate paid so much attention to my preferences that by my last lunch, when I ordered wrong, he suspected I wouldn’t like my salad and quickly showed up to offer me something else.

Worlds best Spa

It’s an astonishing level of personalization for a 77-room property, and one of the reasons Ananda has won a high place on just about every “world’s best spas” list since it opened ten years ago. (Also a reason it comes with such a high price tag, with rooms starting at $690 a night, double occupancy.)

Worlds best Spa

Another reason for all those plaudits is Ananda’s wellness bona fides. The place isn’t just about pampering; there’s a real rigor and depth behind the spa treatments, yoga, Ayurveda, and insightful philosophy talks (given by scholars at a spiritual academy). That’s because it’s located in the birthplace of all that. In Hindu cosmology, this is the area where Shiva first set foot on earth, where the Ganges River begins. I could see Rishikesh where the Beatles famously met the maharishi and still a pilgrimage site from my bathtub. (I stayed as guest of the hotel.) Whether you believe it’s because of the millions of prayers that have been said here over the millennia or just because of the beauty of the mountains, there’s a palpably peaceful energy here.

Worlds best Spa

But an ashram, it’s not. In fact, it’s centered on a century-old viceregal palace, which is stunning to behold if you don’t get one of the valley view rooms. You’re showered with rose petals when you check in and served tea in a royal drawing room. And you’re fed like a king throughout your stay, ordering from a thick menu that includes many Indian regional cuisines, Southeast Asian, Mediterranean, and Continental choices, and pairing meals with “wellness wines” that are lower in sugar and alcohol. (The food seems indulgent but somehow never weighs you down.) Add in the gorgeous venues that can be booked for private dinners the terrace of the palace’s Viceregal Suite, a candlelit pavilion in front of a pool where floating musicians play and it’s far more glamorous than any American destination spa.

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