IHCL’s first hotel in Sikkim has a lot to offer the seeker of luxury amidst adventure. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store when you check in.
Only an hour’s drive away from the bustle of Gangtok, the Vivanta Sikkim, Pakyong, the Taj group’s first property in Sikkim (and the fourth in the northeast, with four more coming up), is a welcome gateway to this beautiful state, rich in nature and culture. Picturesque Pakyong lies in the Himalayan foothills, just under 1200 metres above sea level.
Well below the snowline, and accessible all year round by road or air, you’ll enjoy the cool weather in this resort set amidst lush paddies and bamboo forests. In fact, the bamboo thickets here have lent their name to the place, as Pakyong is from the Lepcha term for ‘bamboo of a bow’. About 7.5 kms away is the newish Pakyong airport, which will make this spot easily accessible from the rest of the country once regular commercial flights recommence.
What to expect
Design: The rooms and suites boast an understated elegance and incorporate the local Sikkimese crafts in the décor. They feature king-sized beds, luxurious bath amenities, and a chance to luxuriate in the only heated outdoor swimming pool in Sikkim.
Stunning vistas of the Eastern Himalayan peaks from these as well as the common areas are a given. But the hotel has been designed in a way that its cascading courtyards and corridors allow for uninterrupted views, while the landscaped gardens and lawns are reminiscent of the surrounding terraced paddy fields. With over 300 square metres of indoor banqueting spaces and al fresco lawns, we think it has potential for weddings as well as corporate events.
Nature: Following the undulations of the mountains, the 50-key property is built in tune with nature. There’s a sense of openness that embraces the rocks and trees throughout the premises, and two mountain-fed brooks gurgle happily around it all 12 months of the year. Rich and varied Himalayan biodiversity abounds, including rare orchids and other mountain blooms. A centrally located Zen garden is the focal point for serenity.
Dining: The stylish space that is Mynt serves up international fare, including a selection of local Sikkimese specialties. For eclectic cocktails, local brews and a global bar vibe, Wink beckons.
Pleasures: Vivanta Sikkim also has the award-winning Jiva Spa along with the temperature-controlled open-air swimming pool. From a traditional champi or head massage to pedi-pampering called pad mardana, they have you covered from head to toe. Literally! And whuile we’d recommend training outdoors in this great location, their fitness centre, with top-of-the-line cardio and resistance-training equipment coupled with the breathtaking views of the valley and mountain peaks will certainly make for a pleasant workout.
Experiences: This is a hotel that gives guests as much of the local as they want. You’re encouraged to explore the numerous mountain trails around, visit quaint hill markets with local crafts, sample delicious fare, take a day trip to ancient Buddhist monasteries, and more.
Even when you decide to stay put, there’s a lot to do. One of the trails right within the property leads to an undisturbed Shiva shrine. The team also organises a session of Soft Archery for kids using a movable fibre board target and bows and arrows, which helps to improve their concentration and marksmanship skills, even as they stay safe.
Adventures: You can plan a picnic to one of the natural streams within the Vivanta acreage, earning the goodies as you have a mini adventure through the mysterious bamboo forest. If you’re game for something even more challenging, try the Survival Course for adults or get the kids to learn bush craft, which will introduce the family to the idea of survival skills such as managing food, water and shelter in the wilderness, reading a map, using a compass and making a fire in the traditional way.