oooooh! for a good treatment......

Sunday, 15 July 2012




I recently did another Inner Silence programme in Amankora, Bhutan.  Their five "lodges" are located around Bhutan but together they are considered to be one hotel. Kora meaning circumambulation, sits well with our Inner Silence meditation pilgrimage .

First stop was Thimpu.
Entrance to the Amankora spa in Thimpu
Tendel, Spa coordinator

Bhutanese bowls, scrolls and bells in the spa
 Miki Kamimura, the Spa Director, has really improved the spa facilities since I was there four years ago. Amankora spas are simple and to the point. Usually they have three or four treatment rooms in each lodge, except Paro, and a very standard menu throughout all the lodges. This is understandable as their guests are continuously on the move from lodge to lodge. They also understand that the guests here are constantly trekking and need a good rubdown at the end of the day. Tendel, the spa coordinator was in charge of making sure that we had everything we needed to make us comfortable. He travelled with us all the through the kora. Our meditations were held in the spa area plus of course, we all wanted to experience some of the traditional massages.

I opted for one of their signature rejuvenation and refreshing massage called Amankora Zu Kenyam and asked for hard pressure. A soft-spoken Bhutanese therapist worked my body using a mixture of grapefruit, rosemary and patchouli oils with pressure exactly as I liked it. I would say it was a fusion of Swedish and Acupressure. Pleasant and soothing.

Second stop Gangte Valley

Amankora in Gangtey Valley is my favourite of the lodges. It overlooks this vast valley where the black-necked cranes visit during season. I love the silence of the valley.
Valley view from the hotel
My spa experience here was something unusual yet spectacular. The hot stone bath that I opted for, called Dho Tsho, was not located in the Spa area. I had to walk down across a stile and potato fields to reach a local hut made of stone in a village called Tokha ten minutes away from the Aman Lodge. This was Amans latest addition to their spa treatments. Brilliant idea and totally exotic.
Walk down the potato fields to the spa hut!!
So here I was, never before have I had to take a nature walk to my spa treatment room! It was a bit chilly so the spa therapist greeted me with a bonfire overlooking the valley and a cup of piping hot homemade apple cider.
Waiting for my spa drink, homemade apple cider!

Meanwhile the owner of the hut and the spa therapist began preparing my treatment. The owner was a local lady who arranged everything exactly as the locals do it. This is part of Aman's CSR. They really know how to integrate the local culture into their services. Superb!

Owner of spa hut, spa personnel,  me and my guide!
So she piled on these big boulders into an open fire until they were red hot and with huge tongs delivered them into my wooden tub with the water.

 The water takes only a few minutes to heat and the temperature is controlled by the insertion of more or less stones. These mountain stones exude minerals that are then absorbed by our bodies. Local khempa herbs strewn in the water also have their own healing properties. Across the valley, you can often come across these hot stone baths that are used by the farmers and their families.
The hut inside as totally done up in true Aman style with fresh white gowns, towels, iced spring water, candlelight and anything else you might need during your bath. Its pretty paradoxical, but extremely exotic. Now comes the best part. When you get into the bath and you are ready, the therapist opens up the sliding doors of the hut and Voila!!! You have the great vista of the Phobjikha Valley before you while you are enjoying the soak and the sunset!
See my toes sticking out of the tub!
This treatment requires four hours notice for preparation and has got to be one of the most innovative and creative spa experiences ever!!! John, I heard it was your idea. Congrats!

Third stop Punakha
Punakha Dzong

Guru Rinpoche
We approach Amankora Punakha through a cantalever bridge where we are given prayer flags to tie to the bridge, say our prayer or make a wish, and allow the flags to blow the wish into the universe for manifestation. A beautiful concept.

The Spa in Aman Punakha
The hotel in Punakha includes an original farmhouse converted into the hotel reception and dining area. The spa is located in the annex of this original farmhouse. Its small but adequate as treatment rooms, since the lodge only has a few rooms anyway. Shube Puni Kenyam or the Deep Tissue Massage is what I chose to have to reduce chronic tension and sore and aching muscles!
My young Bhutanese therapist obviously understands the trekkers body because by then I had traversed enough mountains and valleys to require a good rub down.
At the spa we also had one night of Laughter Yoga where all the staff and our Inner Silence Group shared an evening  of fun and laughter.

And in case you are wondering what the picture below is all about, This is sacred. The legendary Divine Madman, Lama Drukpa Kunley, to whom the Chimi Lakhang monastery is dedicated, was known to have driven evil spirits from homes through bizarre methods. He advised the villagers to paint phalluses on the walls of their homes to remain protected. The original wooden phallus that he brought from Tibet is still used by the monks to bless mothers who desire to have children! This has got nothing to do with the Amankora spa but I thought I would share this interesting legend of Punakha with you!!!

Fourth and Final stop Paro
No I didnt cheat on a horse. It just kept us company!

And finally we arrive in Paro.

Tigers Nest 
The most exciting thing about Paro is doing the pilgrimage to Tigers Nest. Its a two hour climb if you are fit and one hour down. Its stunning and spectacular. This was my fourth climb and it certainly gave my body a workout. I was so so tired when I returned I went straight to the spa.

 The Amankora spa in Paro is the largest of the ones I'd been to in Bhutan.

The spa in Paro
Spa interior
The hot stone bath
Tendel taking care of me in the Spa
By now I knew the spa menu quite well although each lodge had some signature variations. I thought it best to go for another extended 90 minute Amankora Zu Khenyam but this time a relaxation one with a combination of lavender, bergamot and cedarwood. The menu said  it would be an aromatherapy style treatment to soothe the skin and muscles. Absolutely right. It was PERFECT!!

Thank you Miki for all your support and hope to see you next year!

No comments:

Post a Comment