Surrounded by 8,000 acres of the eco-rich Siswan forest, abundant with the Indian Catechu tree and resounding with the call of peacocks, parakeets and bee-eaters, where the stunningly beautiful giant Indian porcupine roams wild, lies the Oberoi Sukhvilas. It’s a property different from every other Oberoi in that it is essentially a wellness Spa; but, because of that very difference, it takes the already fabled Oberoi hospitality to stratospheric heights.
Designed to blend in with its natural habitat, this sprawling property knits together multiple waterbodies - pools, fountains and baths - which are home to a run of tame geese, guinea fowl, ducks and gorgeous peacocks, who literally pose for selfies with the guests: all part of the healing process! Uber-luxe tents fringe the forest, giving the impression you’re living in a Merchant Ivory film. With a soak tub en suite (and even better - a private swimming pool!) the pleasure of bathing with views of virgin forest truly marries luxury with the wild. This is Glamping at a whole new level! Of course, if you want less of the wild (really?!) you could choose to live within beautifully painted brick and mortar.
Forget about Turkey, Spain or Bali, everything you find there is here for you, with bells on. Your daily body age is measured with a dinky little machine and a clever therapist. A doctor plans your time so its well spent soaking in the treatment customised for you. Your diet plan is communicated to the very efficient and creative artist who runs the F&B and voila, you’re suddenly healthy and pampered - and you haven’t travelled more than a couple of hours from home! With the largest Spa area anywhere in the vicinity and beyond, Sukhvilas has managed to make wellness an uber-luxe experience. Aroma oils are imported from Spain. Your own particular oil also seems to choose you, apparently scenting your healing energies. Oiled and massaged, you can actually spend a while on the Roman tepidarium. Heat soaks in and all that’s missing from the decadence of this Roman method of relaxation are the bunches of grapes and dancing girls! The cherry on the cake is the hydrotherapy, a conversation between your body and a deep blue pool of churning water that presses, massages and cajoles the tension out of you.
More healing, this time of the mind, is provided by the forest. This probably explains why men in search of the truth took to the jungle to find the light. The Japanese adjectivised this to call it shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. Forest bathing is all about letting nature bathe your body inside and out. To feel one with it. Every sound of the forest, the light, the atmosphere permeates inward. Silence filters in and calm spreads within and without. Soon, the call of the birds is speaking to you, they too are calmed by the stillness you exude, and many a peacock will unfurl its glorious tail in a dance just for you. You are one with the sky, the trees, the sunset and the breeze. Your mind is finally rid of the hamsters that constantly run in circles within, and you are at peace.
There is a reason the soul is often linked to food. The Sukhvilas finds reasons for you to believe this with two restaurants that are constantly reinventing their menus to take advantage of local produce, fresh from their own gardens. Innovation seems to be their catchphrase - you’ll find your palette endlessly surprised, and delightfully so.
The Oberoi Sukhvilas is an hour’s drive from Chandigarh airport; Call 0160-2720000 or 011- 23890606
Cost: From Rs 26,000 to Rs 5 lakh / night
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