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SANTANI, KANDY SRI LANKA

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At the forefront of health and wellness in Sri Lanka, Santani Wellness Resort and Spa is a tranquil haven set among 48 acres of tea plantations, rice padis and lush vegetation. Founded by Sri Lankan Vickum Nawagamuwage, who was educated at Harvard before being snapped up by Deloitte, Santani is Sri Lanka’s first serious luxury health retreat.

Located just one hour outside of Kandy, the property has 20-standalone villas perched on the mountainside providing stunning location, unique design and amazing cuisine. Situated close to the town of Digana, the property also gives guests the opportunity to traverse around undiscovered mountain regions, and even hike to the Knuckles Mountain range.

Named for the Sanskrit word meaning “in harmony with,” Santani realises the sincere belief that sustainable wellness begins by bringing oneself into balance with nature and by allowing yourself to nurture ourselves as well as others. With eco-living close to their hearts, natural ventilation in rooms saves more than 70 per cent of energy used. As well as recycling, Santani runs a replanting program and has grown more than 1,000 plants on-site so far. The hotel sources 80 per cent of its produce locally; organic fruit, veg, coffee, tea and herbs and spices are grown in a greenhouse in the grounds.

The 20 architecturally savvy villas are slotted seamlessly into the landscape and finished with cement walls and timber flooring. Simple and inspired by the country’s Buddhist meditation caves, the best things about these rooms are the views, complimented by floor-to-ceiling windows, showcasing the Knuckles mountain range. Fresh breeze replaces air-conditioning, there’s no Wi-Fi (don’t panic, they can arrange a router in the room) and believe me – you will relish the peace and quiet. Designed to free the mind, the private sanctuaries blur the distinction between indoors and out and truly encourage rest, relaxation and meditation.

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Food is definitely one of the main highlights of Santani. Whether you like juicing, vegetarian, vegan and raw foods or you prefer heartier wholesome fare, Santani is about taking pleasure in the locally sourced, organic food you eat. Their healthy, nutritious and naturally delicious personalised dishes are thoughtfully prepared by Santani’s experienced, internationally trained chefs – and trust me, they all taste delicious. Forget set menus: at Santani you’ll have your very own customised meal-plan, specially designed by chef Wajira Gamage and Santani’s very own Ayurvedic doctor, Dr Sreekanth Nair. Yes there are lots of grain and greens, but also expect grass-fed Australian tenderloin, duck confit and ginger cake. Breakfast is also fantastic – we especially loved the local egg hoppers which we devoured daily. The only thing rivalling the food in wow-factor is the view: the four external walls are made of glass, and offer breathtaking views of the valley and forest.

There are two stunning pools at the hotel, including a thermal salt pool in the spa, which, although covered, has a daylight opening so you can gaze across the beautiful landscape while you soak your worries away. Perched on the side of a hill, overlooking the forests below and mountains beyond, the main infinity pool has some of the best panoramas at the hotel and dips at dawn and dusk are truly spectacular.

At the spa, Santani offers a thoughtful, sustainable approach to wellness by pampering your body and educating your mind so that you leave with healthy habits which allow you to enjoy greater mental, spiritual and physical well-being for years to come. Tucked into the hillside, this well-equipped space offers programmes in weight loss, anti-ageing, joint pain, exhaustion, trauma and depression. Following an assessment by Dr Sreekanth to determine your aliments, gear up for a tailored itinerary. The full-body massage, Choorna Swedana, and the tension-alleviating Udwarthanam are scrumptiously soothing, and we loved the range of massages they offered in the al fresco treatment rooms. The perfect escape, Santani is truly a breath of fresh air and a vacation that will leave you feeling acutely rested and relaxed!

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