Head to Six Senses Vana in Dehradun for some much required healing, in the hills!
This ultra-luxury spa resort tucked away in the outskirts of Dehradun promises to rejuvenate, in opulence, minus the hedonism…
As our car emerged from a thickly forested patch, we were almost immediately transported into a scenery right out of the painter’s imagination — fresh brooks, green pastures, tall sals and that unmistakable mountain range sunlight that makes everything shine shimmery silver. We were in Dehradun and that thought was enough to lift our spirits. This enchanting spa resort tucked away in the Himalayan foothills was on our must-visit list for a very long time and so when the opportunity presented itself, we wasted no time in heading to the hills — our hearts pregnant with expectation. We were warned. This wasn’t going to be a holiday in the usual sense of that word. This wasn’t going to be about indulgences, rather, it was going to be about curbing them. Six Senses Vana is a refuge.
It is luxurious, no doubt, but it isn’t built around hedonism. Instead, the resort is a place for healing and finding the real you. Set amid dense forests, the property is a leisurely 30-minute ride away from the Jolly Grant Airport and is just outside Dehradun city, on the beautiful and verdant Mussoorie Road. The approach to Vana is as calming as the property in itself and as you drive downhill into the reception from the main road, you feel like the healing has already begun.
The noise disappears, time seems to start ticking slower and a sense of peace envelops you as you unload your luggage at the reception and shift to the transport approved for the rest of the resort — noiseless buggies. Surrounded by zen and Buddhist décor, the welcome drink, a concoction that is almost indicative of what is to come — it is herbal, all-natural, sweet, refreshing and invigorates you, almost immediately. The buggy ride to our accommodation was a treat in itself too.
Landscaped to look like a pleasant halfway between a forest and a manicured Japanese garden, the idea to not allow patrons to shoot pictures inside the property struck us as bizarre, till we noticed the serenity it brought to the space. No tourists clicking selfies and groups clamouring for pictures here… it’s a silence that gets on your nerves initially, till you let yourself be immersed in it. By the time we reached our residence, we were on an unconscious self-imposed vow of silence.
The Bodhi Suite, with a separate living room and bedroom, two balconies and an extra space to meditate or have a private treatment, was assigned to us and the sheer space seemed very overwhelming at first. That, by the second day, we felt like this was our very own home — is another tale that requires another telling. We unpacked in no time and set out to discover this large property on foot. Buggies, after all, are for the weak! Forgetting that we’d just arrived from the relatively flat Bengaluru and were now going to climb up and down the hill, quite a bit, was a thought that crossed our mind only when the first droplet of sweat appeared on our forehead. We toured the rest of the property on a buggy, like normal people do, after that.
Divided between a large central structure that houses the library, the restaurants, a few consultation rooms and activity rooms; a structure that houses a massage centre and an overhead heated swimming pool; a separate structure for ayurvedic massages; another structure for aqua therapies and a separate structure with yoga studios — the property also houses several different massive housing structures with rooms spread across several categories. We were left wondering if the property truly ever does get fully booked! It could accommodate a small village, to be honest.
The first thing planned for us that evening was Tibetan massage therapy, so, we showered and prepped ourselves for it. Now, we’re absolute suckers for good massage therapies and we’ve had our fill of Balinese, Swedish, Thai and ayurvedic experiences. A Tibetan massage, however, is a rarity and as we discovered, a thing of absolute beauty. We were told that this would just be a relaxing experience as our consultation was slotted for the next day. The excitement was palpable in the air and we were wowed from first touch. The massage begins with a prayer, followed by healing vibrations from an activated meditation bowl placed on strategic locations across your body. This was a brand new experience and the massage that followed was one of the best we’ve ever had, so far!
The sense of happiness that we were left with after that massage was incomparable and we literally floated into Salana for dinner that night. Now Salana, the main restaurant on the property focuses on contemporary wellness cuisine. The menus change with the seasons and at lunch and dinner each day. We played it safe and chose a local Garhwali thaali for dinner and we must say, we weren’t left disappointed. The food was flavourful, filling and rich, yet left us feeling light even after such a heavy meal. We ended our day with a few cups of black tea and headed back to our room for a long soak in the tub, before finally calling it a night.
As it usually is with the hills, that crisp air and those picturesque surroundings, sleep refuses to stick around for quite long after sunrise. For late risers like us, waking up at 6 am seemed outwardly, but was sure worth the effort. A slow walk around the property, a cold breeze and birdsong as our only company made way for the perfect morning meal paired with several cups of herbal tea. We decided to sit outdoors this time and watch the world go by before we were finally woken up from a reverie as it was time for our consultation. The consultation was very fast but surprisingly thorough.
Basic readings, several measurements and a chat with the ayurvedic specialist doctor later, our diet, massage plan and other related therapies were charted and our comprehensive healing package was put into place. We would be lunching at Anayu that afternoon, where a daily menu is crafted to serve each of the three body types (according to ayurveda) — vata, pitta and kapha.
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Much like dinner the night before, lunch didn’t seem like we were making any cuts or exemptions in our diet. We were served delicious foods, yes, in very proportioned quantities, but delicious all the same. A small break after lunch led us to our second round of massage therapies. Based on the arrival consultation and wellness screening, the doctors and specialists will plan treatments from leading ayurveda, yoga, Tibetan medicine and natural healing therapies during the stay. They also offer more intention-based wellness programs that require a minimum duration at the retreat. These include sleep, detox and yoga for five nights, weight management and ayurveda for 14 nights and panchakarma for 21 nights.
Over and above these treatments and therapies, the resort also offers a watsu pool, steam rooms, a fitness centre, tennis courts, badminton courts and a meditation cave while also organising several interesting classes and workshops throughout the day — including ones on alchemy, chemistry, cooking, gardening and star gazing, among others. If you are accompanied by the restless at heart, while you seek your much-needed rest and healing — the property looks after that too, thanks to these activities.
Also Read: The call of the Himalayas
The rest of our stay at the property, till we bid farewell, was a heady buzz of great food, wholesome therapies and leisurely walks — and by the end of the whole experience, we felt like brand new beings: replenished, refreshed and restored. Dehradun is teeming with tourist destinations, food and shopping and while everything is just a few minutes away from the resort; we suggest you, instead, cocoon yourself at the property for the full experience that Six Senses Vana can provide. Believe us, you will not regret it.
INR 52,000 onwards. Nearest airport and railhead: Dehradun.