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I have just returned from my 4th retreat at Vana in India’s northern hills less than an hours direct flight from Delhi, close to the source of the Ganges River, the Greater Himalayan mountain range and the small bustling town of Dehradun.


In January 2014 Vana Retreat, after many years of thought, dedication, creativity and building, quietly and humbly opened its doors to those seeking a meaningful and authentic retreat for wellness. It is a stunning modern architectural and interior design masterpiece where attention to detail and meaning is paramount. Comfort levels are sublime and practitioners in the fields of Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, Yoga, Fitness, Spa, Tibetan Healing and Natural Therapies are of an exceptional calibre.

Vana believes that everything contributes to one’s wellbeing – architecture, nature, design, music, art, aromas, sense of service and flavours. Simply being at Vana brings about a sense of wellbeing.

I visited Vana as a guest in its first year of operation and what I experienced was a concept of wellness that reached far beyond what I had experienced anywhere else. The focus of Vana is not profit making or competing to establish itself through marketing as the best in the wellness business but rather to offer guests a place for achieving genuine wellbeing, restoration and rejuvenation. A place to explore the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of wellbeing.

Thanks to this opportunity, Vana has become a regular part of my life. Whenever I can play truant from the busy life of running a small travel business, I retreat to Vana to explore and absorb more of its approach to achieving a rich, meaningful and healthy life. I try to schedule a visit once a year and each year my commitment and love for this beautiful place grows.

Vana is very conscientious and conscious about what it wishes to be and what it is not. They aspire to do their best in every facet of their work, but they are not a place that always follows expected conventions. They are above all a place for wellbeing, rather than a hotel that offers wellbeing treatments. They have strong operational guidelines around ethics and equality. For example, they do not conform to political, cultural or social benchmarks where certain people are designated as VIPs. The Retreat is therefore unwilling to welcome any guests that require personal security, pre-arrival inspections or other security protocols that disturb guests, the team or life at Vana. They encourage potential guests with public lives to leave their public persona outside Vana. I have always admired this brave and honourable position particularly in a country like India where protocol for VIPs can be totally over the top.

The team at Vana embraces sound ecological practices and strives to manage its energy, water and waste carefully in all operations. Vana Malsi Estate would be one of the few properties globally to use certified organic bed and bath linen. Its bottling plant will help save nearly 100,000 plastic bottles a year. Their commitment to the environment is further demonstrated by their focus on food that is local, seasonal and organic. The Retreat recently achieved LEED Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council, a standard not yet achieved in India by any other property of its size, scale and quality.

Vana can be a stand alone experience in India or incorporated into a tailor-made itinerary of North India or the South. It is best experienced at the end of your time in India rather than the beginning.

Call me if you’d like to chat about Vana and the best options for designing a trip to Vana and India.


Jennifer Wilkinson


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