Indian Escape

Debrah Dhugga

Luxe columnist

Ananda In The Himalayas

This is a resort I have always wanted to visit and as I was heading to India I made it happen. Yes, this is luxury, indulgence and wellbeing at its finest. Just what I needed.

It’s not cheap but I promise, it is worth every single penny and definitely worth saving for! It was one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Don’t worry about packing your makeup and fancy clothes. On arrival you are given a pair of white KJs (white PJs) and you wear these throughout the stay, replacing them as many times as you like during the day. These are worn from breakfast to bedtime. As I said, this place is all about wellbeing, not glamour or dressing up.

Ananda is not a new hotel; it opened its doors in 2001 and has since received numerous awards and worldwide recognition. It remains at the forefront of innovation in health and wellness and strives to constantly improve.

Perched on the side of a hill that slopes down to the valley, flanked by natural forest on one side and the exquisite Spa building on the other, this is the ultimate in relaxation. Sip a fresh juice by the pool under clear Himalayan skies, enjoy a snack of garden-fresh vegetables and organic greens. Does it get any better?

The weather was not kind to me – thunder storms and rain – but it really didn’t matter.In fact it felt very tranquil.


Ananda’s healthy cuisine incorporates key principles from Ayurveda, which takes into consideration not just taste, but body type. Think fresh natural foods, low in fat and calories using wholegrains, fresh fruits
and vegetables, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products.

You get a body type (dosha) assessment with a food served accordingly. I was diagnosed as ‘pitta’ and for certain dietary restrictions like gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free etc. You are recommended to stick to the programme during your stay and the chef cooks you individual meals to support this. You rarely see anyone drinking any alcohol, but it is available if you wish.

A beautiful healthy afternoon tea is offered every day to all guests in the Palace.


The Yoga Programme at Ananda is as good as it gets, aimed at helping you cultivate yogic practices to recharge yourself.

Every aspect of your mind, body and soul achieves a heightened sense of balance though yoga and comprehensive programmes of seven and 14 nights are available. As my stay was brief, I had a three-day programme which included a private yoga session with Sammy (head of yoga for the resort) and meditation lesson, as well as a spiritual session. They have special speakers as guests to the resort and Depak Chopra was in-house during my stay.

A great way to start the morning

Mornings start with a fresh juice served in the spa lounge, which is followed by a stroll along the trail with a guide, enjoying the beauty and tranquility of nature. It takes about three hours and is so calming. At a certain point we had the opportunity to be guided to a deep meditative experience. The walk ended with a ginger/lemon tea and a relaxed soak in the pool and a sauna.


You can spend an evening in the town of Rishikesh and watch the evening Aarti performed every evening on the banks of the river Ganga. The hotel offers a return to and from Ananda by car.

The Spa

With 24 treatment rooms, state-of-the-art gym, outdoor temperature-controlled swimming pool and luxurious hydrotherapy facilities, this is the heartbeat of Ananda. The spa features more than 80 body and beauty experiences, blending traditional Indian wellness practices of Ayurveda and Yoga with the best of international wellness experiences. The claim being the best destination spa in India certainly holds true. Whatever you’re looking for, I can’t think of a better retreat, in the true sense of the word, than this Himalayan spa and wellness retreat. I enjoyed a full-body salt scrub, followed by a hot steam and, the next day, a beautiful Ila massage.


Ananda’s 78 rooms, suites and villas blend seamlessly with the lush surrounding landscapes. My room was overlooking the valley. One morning I woke up to find we were above the clouds – all I could see were big fluffy clouds, it was surreal.

The rooms are so serene and in tune with their surroundings that it’s impossible not to feel completely rested. Each room is a haven with luxurious beds and bathrooms, gorgeous landscaped gardens or valley views and private balconies with picture perfect views.

One afternoon I headed back to my room for an afternoon nap, only to find a monkey sitting on my balcony! Oh, and I don’t know if I will spoil a surprise here, but a little touch I enjoyed was a hot water bottle placed in your bed with a mantra every evening. Now that’s what I call luxury!

Getting There

If you need escape make it happen! Fly to Heathrow or Amsterdam for plenty of choice to Delhi and from there frequent flights from Delhi International Airport to Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun. Flight time is 45 minutes followed by a 40 minute picturesque drive to Ananda in the Himalayas, the airport arranges pick up for you.

Jet Airways, Spice Jet, Air India and Indigo operate daily flights from Delhi to Dehradun.

By train: If you wanted to explore India enroute daily trains operate from Delhi. The train journey takes 4.5 hours from Delhi to Haridwar followed by a 90-minute drive to Ananda in the Himalayas.