Kalari Kovilakom is the Palace for Ayurveda, perhaps the first and only one of its kind. Its face is the face of the warrior-king, elegant and expansive. But its heart is that of a sage, offering a deep healing, a doorway to the union of the mind, body and spirit. If the old legends are to be believed, healing is part of Kalari's very soul. Stories are told of a Prince who came to the foothills of Kerala's Annamalai Hills around the 10th century. It seems he was afflicted with a particularly troublesome skin ailment. So he came to cure himself in the healing spring waters of this land. Possibly, he also sought the medicinal Venga tree that grew here in profusion. Dharmavarman stayed on to found a kingdom, Vengunad, 'The Land of the Venga Tree'. And for all the days to come, his descendants held sway over these silent and green foothills.
India: The Dune
The Dune is made up of 24 Villas and 15 Rooms, all unique and individually designed combining traditional local materials with quirky colours and layouts. Set amongst 30 acres, each Villa comes with a private garden or terrace perfect for couples or families. There are two restaurants serving healthy fusion food with vegetables sourced from their organic farm and fish from the nearby fishing villages. There is also a raised swimming pool with views over the Indian Ocean, the Veda Spa offering Ayurvedic treatments with yoga and meditation, a tennis court and a 700 metre beach. Dune is ideal for both couples and families at the end of a tour of South India or as a single-centre destination where you can base yourself for day trips to the surrounding area. To the south lies the charming ex French colony of Pondicherry with its beautiful colonial houses, colourful bazaars and numerous restaurants. To the north, on the way to Chennai, you can visit the ancient Pallava port of Mahabalipuram, famous for its magnificent shore temple and its rathas (stone chariots). To the west lies the ancient fort of Gingee, set amongst a landscape of granite chaos and the town of Thiruvannamalai, famed for its ancient temple and the sacred hill of Arunachala.
Japan : kaichoro
One of the newest of Japan's top ryokan, Ikaho Onsen's Kaichoro is perhaps the most luxurious: flawless rooms meld the best of Japanese and Western architecture, secluded open-air onsen baths are ensuite to all suites, and exquisite French Kaiseki dinners are unparalleled at all but a handful of the world's best restaurants. The Kaichoro's recent opening belies a rich history - the Fukuda family has been running ryokan in Ikaho Onsen for 17 generations. The modern Kaichoro - cradled by the larger and longer running Fukuichi ryokan - is a luxury incarnation of an inn run by the Fukuda family 14 generations ago. This incarnation is modern indeed, and rooms reflect the best of luxury ryokan in a Zen like simplicity as well as all that is best in a luxury hotel, with futuristically high-tech lighting and music controls, numerous flat-screen televisions, and sliding screens which stylishly hide this all from sight. While the rooms are simply exceptional, the food is breathtaking. Six months before the Kaichoro opened its doors, Chef Shigeru Arai searched Japan - and much of Europe - for the very best ingredients. Those not grown in the ryokan's organic kitchen gardens are sourced directly from exclusive suppliers, many of whom also supply the Emperor's kitchens. Dinners are a fusion of traditional French and Japanese techniques and seasonal luxury ingredients, and are served with exceptional sommelier-chosen complimentary wines and sakes. Ikaho Onsen is nestled in the misty hills of Gunma Prefecture, about an hour by car from the Shinkansen Station at Takasaki and two from Tokyo.
Indonesia : Como Shambhala
COMO Shambhala Estate is a private estate located amidst the serenity of Bali's stunning landscape, close to Ubud, Bali's creative and cultural centre. Accommodations are a mix of contemporary design and indigenous detailing, with houses dramatically inset into the forest, in jade-green clearings and above the River Ayung. You can take a whole Residence if traveling with family or a group of friends; alternatively, take a suite or room in a Residence and share pools and select living areas with other guests. Private and Retreat Villas allow for couples and single travelers to be entirely private; some include their own spa facilities. All guests are assigned a Personal Assistant to help ensure a seamless stay. The concept is, simply, Life Style.
NEW *Inde : Vana
Within the lush grounds of Vana Malsi Estate, you will discover everything you need for a holistically healthy holiday. These flexible retreats offer a personalised selection of soothing therapeutic treatments, such as aromatherapy and acupuncture, and stimulating activities, like meditation and yoga, which is designed to help you achieve your wellness objective. So, whether you improve your health with Abhyanga in the Ayurveda centre, work on physical fitness with a personal trainer, or soak up the peaceful atmosphere with a few laps in the outdoor pool, you can be sure that you are headed in the right direction. During your stay, you can also nourish your system with delicious Indian and international cuisine featuring organic locally-sourced ingredients.
A beautifully calm retreat with a fabulous spa and houseboat on the undeveloped North Keralan coast. Over 4 years in the making, this place finally opened in late 2008 and by all accounts it's been well worth the wait. A blend of health retreat and hotel on the unspoilt and tourist-free northern coast of Kerala, it's serene and stylish; a place to rejuvenate your body and spirit and feel 'still'. The ethos? 'To start the rest of your life anew'. Just 16 thatched cottages sit amongst 12 acres of lush gardens filled with frangipani and banana trees, coconut groves and glorious hibiscus flowers. Built according to traditional Keralan Vastu principles, the whole site faces east and the rising sun. Endangered sea turtles hatch their eggs on the beach and rare birds flit overhead; everything is in harmony with nature and Neeleshwar's eco principles are spot on. Spend your days in the Ayurvedic spa, doing yoga or learning to meditate, or exploring untrammelled backwaters on their gorgeous 2-bedroom houseboat, The Lotus. In the evening watch the sun sink over the horizon and, who knows, you might begin to feel the workings of Neeleshwar, God of Transformation.