Over the past year a new hotel brand has made an appearance in Bhutan with the introduction of five new hotels strategically placed into some of the most amazing locations in the popular destinations.
Six Senses has been voted as being the World’s No. 1 Hotel brand and visiting the currently opened properties in Bhutan, it is easy to see why this designation has been applied!
There are currently 3 properties opened in Paro, Punakha and Thimphu. After visiting the properties, however I am going to start with a review of the amazing offering from Punakha. Don’t misinterpret me, the properties in Paro and Thimphu are absolutely amazing and I will provide a review of these properties in the coming months but the Flying Farmhouse Amidst the Rive Terraces was so spectacular that I am starting with this hotel and I am adding a special offer that includes 2 nights at this spectacular location.
I’ll place the photo gallery here, but please do continue reading my review below.
Reaching the Destination
The hotel property is located north of Punakha very close to the beautiful Khamsum Yuelly temple that can be seen from the hotel’s “Living Room”. The roads in Bhutan can at times be a challenge but condition of the road from Punakha to the hotel is in exceptionally good shape and even the steep drive up to the hotel is smooth. The final elevation of the hotel is 1400 meters above sea level.
At the top of the road you will reach a stone paved parking area (even the parking area is enjoyable) where one of the hotel staff will certainly be waiting to greet you on your arrival. For those guests who travel frequently to “regular five0star properties” in Europe and North America, you can forget about trying to take your own luggage, somebody will be there to do this for you. You just need to walk up the steps where you will find the main gate to the property and beyond you will be offered a hot/cold towel service and then moved into what the hotel calls the “living room” for tea and an absolutely stunning view of the rice terraces, the hotel’s heated swimming pool, the mountains, and in the distance Khamsum Yuelley.
The living room is a large room mostly comprised of full glass walls that appear to be kept spotless. There is a small library and a collection of games that could be used in case the weather was not cooperating. The most amazing part of the living is the fantastic idea of the design that is visible from the outside near the pool area. While is clear from inside the building that the living room appears to be somehow floating over top of the pool (easy to tell from the glass floor that some people are frightened to stand on), the real beauty of the structure is the fact that they designed this exactly the same way as half of the famous cantilever bridges that you will find in various places around Bhutan. When you visit Punakha Dzong look closely at the design of the pedestrian bridge and then compare this to the design of the Six Senses Living Room in Punakha. It is an absolutely fitting design for this country.
While sitting in the Living Room and talking to the hotel representative, I asked about the theme of the hotel. Each Six Senses property has a theme and the promote the theme in all of the design. The theme for this hotel is “The Flying Farmhouse amidst the Rice Fields”. Looking down at the rice fields from the Living proves that they have done an excellent job at matching their target.
Reception and Gift Room
Beside the Living Room is the official hotel reception that doubles as a gift shop. The selection of items in the gift shop is sort of limited. The property in Paro has a bit more selection because most people will use Paro as their final destination before moving on.
The temperatures in Punakha valley tend to be warmer than most other places in Bhutan with the exception of the southern border area. As a result, the property developer elected to install a massive outdoor heated swimming pool at this property allowing the pool to be used year-round. The pool has its own changing and shower facility neatly hidden from view like many of the other features at the hotel.
There are 19 accommodations in total at the property. There are 16 lodge suites, one 1-bedroom villa, one 2-bedroom villa, and one 3-bedroom villas available.
From the reception area, I’m led to one of the lodge suites. The property owns a couple of electric golf carts that could be used to transport guests to and from their rooms but I’m told that most guests are very happy with making the walk and it is likely the case that you have been sitting in the car since either Gangtey or Thimphu and are likely ready to stretch your legs. There is a bit of a small hill to climb but it is not unreasonable.
The lodge suites are configured as 4 units per building in a 2×2 configuration (two up, two down). The suites have a total indoor space of 67 sq. m. and a 37 sq. m. outdoor balcony. The room is configured with one king sized bed for two adults. It is possible to include one extra child or adult in the room. If you are looking for an accommodation that supports a family of two adults and two children, you would need to consider using the 2-bedroom villa instead.
Reaching the door of the suite, I found the same “do not disturb” indication as in Paro. The doors have a Yak in which you can either make the head visible or hidden. When the yak’s head is hidden, this is an indication to “Do Not Disturb”. When I was in in Paro I didn’t ask about the animal used on the door and later assumed that it was a takin. I was told here in Punakha that it was in fact a yak; they initially wanted a takin but then decided out of respect for the national animal that it should be a yak instead.
Inside the suite, we immediately notice that the unit contains a small seating area with a day bed (converted into a single if there is a third person in the room) near the large windows complete with a wood stove ready to keep you warm during the winter. A couple of steps up and you will enter the bedroom area that contains the king-sized bed with very high quality linens.
The hotel representative tells me to check out a program called “Sleep with Six Senses”. Any holiday will be sort of stressful to begin with and Six Senses knows that sleep is an important part of your stay (try staying in Paro in the town amongst the stray dogs to find out how not getting a good sleep can be detrimental to your enjoyment). Six Senses has installed hand-made mattresses by Nutralmat with organic pillows, high quality organic cotton sheets. In fact, you can even upgrade your sleeping arrangements by filling out an online questionnaire before arriving and a Sleep Ambassador will fine-tune the room. They can even provide a sleep tracker to monitor your sleeping pattern and equip your room with high-definition sounds of nature, specialty pillows and a humidifier/dehumidifier to optimize the air to sleep your sleeping.
There is so much available just in terms of sleeping that I can’t possibly fit into this review. The full details of the services and the description can be found at:
Looking around the room, the hotel representative asked me if I had spotted the television. I had already been in the Six Senses in Paro and knew that they kept the televisions out of sight. He pressed a button on a remote and the television elevated itself from its hiding position in the mini wall between the seating and bedroom area. The hotel debated about even putting televisions in the room knowing that people usually don’t travel in places like Bhutan to watch television. But they decided that some people may want to keep up with news or perhaps just need a simple distraction and providing the television but keeping it out of sight was the direction they wanted to go.
There is a small mini-bar to the side. All items in the mini-bar (with the exception of alcohol) are of course complimentary.
There are bottles of water provided in the room, but it is not the typical Evian water that you might expect in a 5-star hotel but instead it is a glass bottle with the Six Senses logo. The hotel has a policy of not using any plastic bottles on the property. The water comes from a source up in the mountain and the hotel has their own filtration system they use to filter the water.
Behind the bed, there are two large sliding doors which lead to the bathroom area. The doors can be slid in a few different ways allowing full natural light from the windows into the bath area if you want giving an open concept. The toilet itself and the shower are hidden behind frosted glass doors.
On the side of the bathing area I spotted the towels, a pair of bathrobes and two pair of slippers. I was told that the slippers were made of some leaves from a tree in Japan that helped people with diabetes and hypertension. I did some searching online but I wasn’t able to find the type of tree.
There are 3 villas available with either one, two, or three bedrooms. The configuration and amenities provided for each of these accommodations is the same except that there are either more or fewer bedrooms.
The sizes of the villas is huge. The one bedroom unit is 122 sq. m. inside and 32 sq. m. outside. The two bedroom unit has 228 sq. m. inside and 90 sq. m. outside. Finally the three bedroom unit has a 274 sq. m. inside and 90 sq. m. outside.
I’m taken into the two bedroom unit as the one bedroom unit was occupied and the three bedroom unit was undergoing some maintenance.
The first thing that is quite noticeable is that they have followed the tradition of many older houses in Bhutan where there is a wall surrounding the property that you enter first before entering the actual building.
Inside the walled enclosure is a small private and heated swimming pool. This is obviously considerably smaller than the main swimming pool, but you only need to share it with the people staying in your villa.
Behind the pool is the private spa treatment room that people from the villa could order spa services without having to go to the main spa area.
Entering the villa, we end up in a very large living and dining room area. While I don’t have the measurements of the living and dining room it is clear that you could easily seat all four occupants of the villa on the sofa set and the dining room table could probably accommodate 8 people if some extra chairs were moved in. The guests can order room service here if they would like to dine in private or a bar-b-queue could be arrange in the outdoor area of the villa.
Like the lodge suites, there is a fireplace available in the living room area and there is a considerably large balcony where guests can sit outside. The villas also come with a small pantry area where the mini-bar items are kept and this area is also where food will be prepared if the guest orders room service.
Heading down to the main spa building where I am introduced to the spa manager for a tour of this part.
The use of the fitness center and yoga studio is complimentary but there are far more services available in this part of the hotel such as massages. There are also two meditation huts that are available to the guests.
The guests begin their spa treatment in the spa reception area where a choice of items is available and are then moved into one of the spa treatment rooms. The rooms are built like a set of traditional farm houses with both single and couple rooms available.
There is a complimentary yoga session held each morning between 7:40 and 8:20. The session is either held outdoor or in the small exercise room if the weather is not suitable.
The hotel provides aerial or flying yoga. I honestly had never heard of this type of yoga, but it is relatively new (2014) and makes certain yoga poses easier
The spa menu when I visited contained the following treatments:
- Advanced Blissful Marma Massage (60/90 minutes)
- Head Massage (30/60 minutes)
- Relaxed Fee (30/60 minutes)
- Tension Soother Massage (30/60 minutes)
- Abhyanga (60 minutes)
- Shirodhara (60 minutes)
- Detox Body Buff (60 minutes)
- Detox Body Wrap (75 minutes)
- Yoga (60 minutes)
- Yoga Nidra (45 minutes)
- Six Senses Meditation (45 minutes)
- Pranyama (45 minutes)
- Sleep Well Journey (120 minutes)
- Sleep Well Journey with Shirodhara (135 minutes)
- 24K Gold Age-Defying Facial (60/90 minutes)
- Soothe and Enrich Advanced Antioxidant (60/90 minutes)
Each of the spa services include a 7 minute complimentary foot treatment that is performed before the start of the actual treatment.
My final stop of my tour is the dining room with the name “Ari” which means rice field. There is seating inside for 38 people and seating outside for 16. I didn’t request to see the menu at this property, but I assume that the dining options are going to be as incredible as the property itself.
Most hotels that I visit in Bhutan for inspection purposes are nice to visit but after 10 to 15 minutes I have my photos and I am on my way to the next property. This was the first hotel that I’ve visited and felt sad to leave without actually getting to experience the hotel as guest.
I think from my statement above it is quite clear that this hotel comes highly recommended from my point of view. In fact, we will be trying to promote spending a couple of nights in this property so that you can see things in Punakha like the Dzong, Chimi Lhakhang, and Kahmsum Yuelley but still get to spend enough time at this property to enjoy it. Look for this deal on our website or send us an email.
As of the time of my writing this review, I had not visited the Thimphu property, but I can tell you that they have a lot to live up to in comparison to what I experienced here in Punakha. Compared to the Paro property that I will review at a later time this property is something that I have not seen in other places.