Chances are that you’re looking forward to a summer holiday and winter is far from your mind. You can’t quite remember what it feels like to wake up to a sky full of grey and to have to lumber to work with an icy wind at your ears, an inch of dirty snow on the ground.
But wouldn't it be wonderful to getaway in the middle of winter?
What if you took a wellness getaway that centered and right-tracked your body and mind? You would return with a clean brightness, a sense of calm, quiet poise…just what you need to get through the grey and dreary darkness of winter in the northern hemisphere. Interested? If yes, the first place we’d recommend you’d look is the land called Malabar – where Malavara and Ayurveda’s roots are sown.
Along The Backwaters…Kerala, in South India, is a land of tropical abundance. And from November to February, it’s utterly gorgeous. Palm trees sway along idyllic canals calls the backwaters that lead down to the sea. The sun gently kisses your skin and the sea spray throws up a gentle breeze that ruffles your hair. Head down to Kollam (the erstwhile Quilon) and enter a haven called Kalari Rasayana, and you will understand what it means to have arrived.
Spread over eight acres of a coconut grove, this retreat has only 22 rooms, as well as an extensive facility for your Ayurvedic treatments. The name means “Song of the Lake.” Kalari Rasayana is situated along the Paravur backwaters, amid floating islands and untold tranquility.
Birds, butterflies, boats...the beauty of the landscape falls into place and gives you a feeling of oneness with the environment. But more than anything else, Kalari Rasayana is a haven for Ayurveda, the science of natural medicine, that has been an Indian tradition for centuries.
The team here is steeped in deep training and the art of Ayurveda practiced here is one of the purest forms of Ayurveda in practice. A Vaidya (doctor) does a detailed check up on arrival and prescribes a series of treatments and massages suited to your individual needs. These are complimented by yoga and meditation.
Nutrition is integral to your well being and the kitchen is staffed by a team of excellent chefs who make it their mission to feed you healthy and holistic soul food, organically grown, that’s high in taste and medicinal value. Every meal is tailor-made, under the direction of the Vaidyas, to suit each guest’s health condition and body type.
At the Sea Shore…Head further up the coast to the northern tip of Kerala and the pristine beaches of Neeleshwar and Bekal. Towering fortresses overlook the Arabian Sea. A series of natural meditation caves carved into the rock add to the charm of the landscape. Beautiful white sandy beaches, a gently undulating ocean and a peaceful landscape make it a fabulous escape to restore your sense of well being.
Neeleshwar Hermitage is rustic charm at its best. A beautiful estate, right on the waterfront, with simple but comfortable cottages, are barefoot luxury.
What makes Neeleshwar Hermitage a true retreat for your senses, however, is its ethos of well being, rooted in Prana the ancient concept of life force: health is “the outward expression of the vitality arising from the bio-intelligence contained within all living cells.”
Neeleshwar practices sustainable wellbeing. They work closely with the Sahayadri Foundation that gathers organic herbs and plants from across the Sahayadri Mountain Range of the Western Ghats – the ancient mountains that run down the entire length of India’s west coast. These ingredients are completely natural and organic in nature. Neeleshwar also works closely with tribal communities to ensure that they do not have a negative footprint on the environment.
The Ayurvedic spa is situated around a central courtyard garden. Airy, light and well ventilated, the atmosphere is utterly serene. The accommodations are in 18 individual cottages each of which has been named to evoke a traditional yogic virtue e.g. Ayur (long life); Ananda (Bliss) etc. Our favorite is the Prema (love) cottage, with its acqua serenity and a private relaxation pool.
Beach & Rain forest
If you’re looking for an idyllic combination of forest and beach, then the Taj resorts in Bekal and Madikeri are a fabulous combination of nature and nurture. Vivanta by Taj Bekal is situated on Kappil Beach, the northernmost beaches of Kerala, right where the backwaters meet the sea.
A stone’s throw away from the beach, the highlight here is the magnificent Jiva Grande Spa that specialises in ancient Ayurvedic massage and treatments
By contrast, the Vivanta by Taj Madikeri is immersed within a 180 acre rainforest in the Nilgiri Biosphere, a short three hour drive away. Thickly forested and carpeted with wild ferns, flowers and tropical greenery, the charm of it’s décor is the wide-open space and bright airiness of the layout. Stunning infinity pools and a massive spa complex, are cushioned in utter serenity.
Both resorts offer Jiva Spa’s signature treatments such as Abhisheka – an ancient purifying ritual; Sushupti – which involves exfoliation and massage; Vishuddi – a stimulating massage that stimulates your energy, blood and lymph circulation throughout the body; and many more.
For those looking for something different, a more intense yet esoteric form of healing, the combination of CGH Earth’s wellness retreats in Gokarna in the state of Karnataka, is very high on our list of fantastic experiences.
Swaswara, can only be described as a cocoon with a deep wellness orientation. Ayurveda lies at the core of its philosophy, along with yoga and meditation. The property grows its own herbs and produce, which is entirely organic and natural. Nature is intrinsic here – the entire acreage is covered in greenery overlooking the seashore and the gently undulating waves along Om Beach – a setting unlike any other.
But Swaswara takes it to a different level by unleashing your creativity. It uses art as a means to revitalise your wellbeing and incorporates techniques from tribal art to pottery to origami to replenish your spirit.
Swaswara’s Ayurvedic programs are either 7 or 14 nights long and follow a full regimen of therapies, yoga, meditation and a Sattvik (vegetarian and organic) diet that nourishes the body, mind and soul inside and out. Swaswara offers Panchkarma treatments that purge your body of toxins and leave you feeling lighter, cleaner and healthier overall.
If you’re ready to unplug and detach completely, SwaSwara’s sister property in a mountainous rainforest near Gokarna is completely different – a delightful experiment in re-wilding and reconnecting to your inner self. In ancient Indian treatises, a period of silence was advocated as being healthy. Sometimes it’s necessary to detox oneself from the clamour and clutter of day to day life and get back in touch with yourself. Sequestering oneself in nature brings forth the promise of self-awakening through learning the art of re-wilding one’s innermost self. In other words, the quiet and sanctity of a forest abode hold the power to unleash our deepest and original potential.
VanaVasa is aimed at realigning us with the primordial rhythms of the self and universe. VanaVasa offers a different kind of luxury – the luxury of being unfettered by technology. There is no TV, no WiFi, and no electricity. The idea is to completely immerse yourself in the purest of nature to recalibrate. Three spacious cottages are made entirely from natural elements such as thatch, brick and stone. Natural light, fresh air and cross-ventilation make it a light and airy space that soothes your soul.
The Malabar Coast (as this region is known) and the Western Ghats are well known for their bounty of healing herbs, spices and natural ingredients, which evoke a natural state of wellness within us.
If you’d like to learn more or want to add this dream journey to your bucket list, drop us a line and we’ll help you make it a reality.