Next to na­ture in luxe lodges

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - MICHELLE ROWE

AMANKORA(a com­bi­na­tion of the San­skrit words for peace and cir­cu­lar pil­grim­age) is a se­ries of five na­ture-linked lux­ury lodges across Bhutan de­signed by Aus­tralian ar­chi­tect Kerry Hill.

A pro­gres­sive stay at all prop­er­ties will pro­vide the fullest ex­pe­ri­ence of the coun­try’s di­verse nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments, from plains, val­leys and rivers to high moun­tain passes stretch­ing from Paro in Bhutan’s far west to Bumthang in the east. The stone and rammedearth build­ings re­flect tra­di­tional Bhutanese ar­chi­tec­tural style, with few os­ten­ta­tious flour­ishes. Inside, no lux­ury de­tail has been spared. Suites (in­te­ri­ors are al­most iden­ti­cal across the prop­er­ties) fea­ture king­sized bed, win­dow seat and read­ing chairs, tra­di­tional wood-burn­ing stove and a large free­stand­ing bath flanked by twin van­i­ties. In keep­ing with the back-to-na­ture feel, there is no tele­vi­sion or in­ter­net ac­cess in gue­strooms, al­though WiFi is avail­able in some com­mon ar­eas.

Each Amankora lodge fea­tures an ex­pan­sive din­ing area and lounge. Menus run the gamut of Western­style of­fer­ings, in­clud­ing piz­zas, wraps and pas­tas, but try the ex­cel­lent Bhutanese or In­dian set menus when they’re on of­fer. And even if you are not stay­ing at Amankora Thim­phu, make a point of stop­ping in for lunch or din­ner — the food by Matthew Schae­fer, for­mer sous chef at New York’s Miche­lin-starred Le Bernardin, is ex­cep­tional.

For guests stay­ing seven nights or longer with Amankora, room rates from $US775 a per­son a night in­clude visa pro­cess­ing, all meals, house bev­er­ages, laun­dry, pri­vate trans­port with a driver and guide and a 60-minute mas­sage. The Bhutanese gov­ern­ment im­poses a 20 per cent tax and ser­vice charge; FIT sur­charge of $US30 plus roy­al­ties fee of $US65 a per­son a day, a Sus­tain­able Tourism Fund charge of $US10 and a one-time visa ap­pli­ca­tion fee of $US20, which will be added to your bill. More: aman­re­sorts.com.

Amankora Pu­nakha

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