The Kingdom of Bhutan (as it’s officially known) had been cloaked in mystery for many years. Living in relative isolation from the rest of the world until the mid-20th century, the country has kept their extensive heritage intact even through modernising in the last half century making it a wonderfully unique destination tourists have coveted in recent years. With transport links improving all the time, it’s becoming easier and easier to visit the happiest country on the planet – they measure the country’s wealth in GNH (Gross National Happiness) – and in November one of the world’s most luxury hotel brands will be calling Bhutan home. Six Senses are set to open their brand new lodge experience at the end of this year. We learn more about the five valley lodges for those looking to visit Bhutan…
Spanning the western and central valleys of Bhutan, the Six Senses Resort will be formed by a collection of five lodges each in a unique area of the country. The first three, Thimphu, Punakha and Paro, are set to open in November 2018. Whilst the last two, Gangtey and Bumthang, will be completed in early 2019. Each property will have its own character, environment and experiences and the five locations will create a Six Senses Journey across the valleys of Bhutan.
The lead room type in the lodges will be one bedroom suites and villas ranging from one to three bedrooms and there will be 82 suites in total between all five. Each offering incredible views, the lodges blend local design styles with modern luxuries and all have been inspired by the colourful Kingdom’s reputation as the happiest place on earth.
The Thrimphu lodge will be found in the country’s capital which is the starting point of most journeys through Bhutan. This lodge is inspired by the grand architectural elements of a traditional Bhutanese fortress (dzong). Named the ‘Palace in the Sky’ it will be the largest lodge and sits amongst a tranquil apple orchard and young pine forests. Perched on the valley hillside at an altitude of 2,730m is views stretch the across the Thimphu Valley to a 52m high Buddha in the distance.
A sanctuary away from the capital’s busyness, it’s still close to the city’s attractions. The best of both worlds. The interior of the lodge will juxtapose tradition with modern clean lines, incorporating wood panelling, whitewashing and natural stone throughout.
Nearby is the low-lying valley of Punakha where the second Six Senses lodge resides. With a more rustic feel than the main lodge, Punakha replicates the feel of a rural farmhouse representing the valley’s position as the market garden of the country where fresh produce is grown year-round. The lodge’s design is inspired by the local farms and vegetable terraces of the region. The cantilever bridges of Bhutan have also been a key inspiration for this lodge which has been created as a ‘Flying Farmhouse’ amidst the Punakha rice fields. This is the warmest of the Six Senses locations with temperature reaching a balmy 32°C in the summer.
The third lodge opening in November is Paro which is in a stunning elevation overlooking the Paro Valley. Next to ancient dzong ruins, the lodge has been affectionately named ‘Stone Ruins’. Nestled amongst forested mountain peaks, it is one of the most picturesque areas within the journey and the valley has an altitude of 2,250m. A mixture of small villages, historic buildings, monuments and terraced fields of rice, barley and wheat, the valley also has the Paro Chhu river running through it and it is one of the best places to experience provincial Bhutanese life. Overlooking the National Museum of Bhutan, the lodge has been designed to optimise the surroundings’ history and the breathtaking views.
The final two lodges will be located between the Punakha and Paro valleys. Gangtey is in the glacial valley of Phobjikha which is the famed winter residence of the country’s black-necked cranes. Last but not least, Six Senses Bumthang will be at the heart of an evergreen pine forest amongst a rich landscape scattered with ancient monasteries. Each lodge will have its own spa and wellness centre, along with an extensive list of facilities and treatments reflecting the valleys in which they are set.
From hot stone baths at Thimphu and Bumthang, to a dip in the heated pool in Punakha or a treatment in the spa room overlooking the ruins of Paro, the Six Senses Bhutan lodges let you experience all the country has to offer from the most luxurious of settings. The first three lodges are now taking reservations, so plan your journey through Bhutan now.