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It scares us sometimes when it turns out hotels we thought we talked about just a few months ago were actually on our radar closer to a few years ago. How time flies. Such is the case with Six Senses hotels, which we looked at in late 2013 for its expansion plans in all sorts of places: far from its usual Southeast Asia habitat in the French Alps near Mont Blanc, in the remote kingdom of Bhutan, and the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.
Opening dates in 2015 and 2016 seemed so far away at the time, and yet here we are, with the first two resorts scheduled to open on July 1: Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain, a half hour outside Chengdu in China. Chengdu is one of the largest cities in China and the capital of the Sichuan province, home to 80% of the world’s panda population. The resort will have 113 suites and villas (above a rendering, which shows an interesting mix of contemporary and traditional design), and not surprisingly, a serious spa with locally-inspired treatments and “sensory journeys”. Scheduled for July 1 as it may be (the May date on the website we've been told will be July), we can’t seem to make reservations yet.
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Six Senses Bhutan
If you are familiar with Six Senses hotels, you're probably thinking "spa" and locations like Thailand and Vietnam. While the focus on spa and wellness isn't going anywhere, you’ll likely find Six Senses closer to home in the future, with planned openings in places like the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and the French Alps near Mont Blanc.
Six Senses is also pulling an Aman, if we can say there is such a thing, in the remote kingdom of Bhutan in 2016. Its resort here will be split across five lodges in Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, Bumthang and Paro, allowing you to travel through Bhutan much like Aman Resorts’ Amankora. Did we mention that there is Taiwan, China, Bali, and Tunisia too?
If you want a vacation that's good for your body and soul (and probably doesn't involve too many fancy cocktails), the yoga packages that the COMO Hotels are putting on might be the thing. With four more week-long retreats scheduled for 2009, it's just a matter of picking which corner of the world you want to jet to in order to practice yoga for five hours a day with experts, of course, in a romantically relaxing setting.
The exact details of the yoga retreats depend on which destination you choose, but they all include six nights' accommodation, the yoga training, various meals and airport transfers, plus several include some cultural excursions as well. You can choose from the Parrot Cay on Turks and Caicos (an October course), Uma Paro in Bhutan (July 12-18) or COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali (mid-December).
Package prices range from $3,515 in Bali to $5, 681 at Parrot Cay. And while the yoga idea does sound like a great getaway vacation, we are a little concerned that there may be a bit too much emphasis on the whole health thing they even want you to eat healthy organic food the whole time. That's fine for some, but we still think a proper beachside vacation should include a few indulgences.
The majority of travelers to Bhutan do so through organized tour operators, thus hotels are, for the most part chosen for you. However, even if you go the tour operator route you can go ahead and ask for certain hotels during your stay.
Hotel Jumolhari in the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu is one hotel you might want to consider asking for. Why? For starters they have a well designed website, always a plus in our book. Second, the recently renovated hotel comes equipped with satellite tv, a hair dryer, views of the valley, and they even claim to have WiFi "coming soon". For now you will have to get by on tethered high speed Internet access, which isn't a bad compromise.
Jumolhari is located in the middle of the city center near plenty of essential shops, and from here you can easily coordinate a trip to Taktshang Goemba (Tiger's Nest Monastery) high above the Paro Valley.
[Photo: Thimphu skyline idea_hamster insert Hotel Jumolhari]