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Review: A wellness retreat where you feel good amidst nature and nurture

Homespun charm and cutting-edge wellness offerings make our stay at Niraamaya Retreats Suryavilas in Solan, Himachal Pradesh, memorable.
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Perched on a mountain top, it’s a top-of-the-line wellness retreat with a heart. Image: Courtesy Niraamaya Retreats.

The Niraamaya Wellness Retreats have recently taken over the popular Suryavilas Solan and are bringing it up to speed with a spruce up of facilities and their quality wellness offerings. The clientele will soon move from large (and sometimes loud!) families on weekend trips to typical spa enthusiasts and those seeking a serene retreat for rejuvenation, detoxing, and longer-term functional medical treatments. Right now, it’s a bit of both worlds.     

The Greet: About two hours’ drive from Chandigarh airport and I am in the blissful weather of Solan. Although it’s still in the foothills, it’s a thrill to be enveloped by clouds and feel the slight nip in the air. Check-in at the retreat is smooth and the team brimming with warmth and smiles.    

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A refreshingly natural chia-seed drink sets the right tone of pleasurable wellness right at the get-go. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

The Stay: My premium room is all of 550 sq feet with a gorgeous four-poster bed and floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the mountains. I love the styling on the cushions and upholstery with a traditional Indian kurta motif in orange shades juxtaposed against solid purple. The bed linen and mattress are perfect and give me great sleep quality throughout my time here.

Niraamaya retreats, suryavilas, solan, himachal pradesh, india travel, wellness, wellness travel, spa, functional medicine, ayurveda, yoga
It’s a spacious, well-lit and well-appointed room. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

The bathroom not only has a view and a beautiful blue mosaic shower area but also some delicious bath products that are natural and sustainably made. The bath towels are fluffy, and fragrant, just how I like them. My only quibble so far is that a few of the faucet fittings in this room need an update.

Niraamaya retreats, suryavilas, solan, himachal pradesh, india travel, wellness, wellness travel, spa, functional medicine, ayurveda, yoga
His and hers basins and enough room in the shower for two too! Image: Courtesy Niraamaya Retreats.

Later, I check out the other room categories across 36 keys – the luxury suites spread over 1200 sq feet have a private, temperature-regulated swimming pool, the superior deluxe ones give you access to a lush lawn, and the deluxe ones feature a balcony and a sit-out space. They also have 18 luxury glamping cottages with a cute loft. Tariffs start at Rs 7,700 plus taxes.

Niraamaya retreats, suryavilas, solan, himachal pradesh, india travel, wellness, wellness travel, spa, functional medicine, ayurveda, yoga
Loads of natural delights throughout the resort. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

The Space: It’s a 15-acre property with lots of sylvan nooks to discover. Expect flowers, conifers, and plenty of unbridled greenery that is simply stunning at every step. General Manager Varun Sharma tells me that the owners and he are on the same page where allowing nature to flourish is concerned. A large team of horticulturists helps to keep the lawns neat and the rest of the greens in fine fettle.

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I believe in letting the natural beauty shine through. As we are all about wellness, it means making sure we are in harmony with the environment.

Varun Sharma, General Manager

I ramble up and down picturesque paths and stairways, see the staff canteen which boasts a brilliant view of the valley. Sharma proudly points out various works in progress on one side of the property – a state-of-the-art yoga platform, greenhouses, and lots more coming up. Throughout my stay, the infinity pool is a beautiful focal point, with sophisticated gazebos that come to life when the lights come on at dusk.

Niraamaya retreats, suryavilas, solan, himachal pradesh, india travel, wellness, wellness travel, spa, functional medicine, ayurveda, yoga
Sunset by the poolside is truly magical. Image: Courtesy Niraamaya Retreats,
Niraamaya retreats, suryavilas, solan, himachal pradesh, india travel, wellness, wellness travel, spa, functional medicine, ayurveda, yoga
The gazebos are lovely in the sunshine as well, especially in winter. Image: Courtesy Niraamaya Retreats.

The Flavour: The Samsara restaurant is at an elevation. Divided across several different areas that boast a different mood in each: Indoors, an elegant space with a modern light cluster and interesting wall art, a lively bar, and outdoors, a cheery lounge, and a really pleasant terrace, where you can enjoy a nice cup of perfectly made coffee as you take in the undulations of the valley vista.

Niraamaya retreats, suryavilas, solan, himachal pradesh, india travel, wellness, wellness travel, spa, functional medicine, ayurveda, yoga
A stylish bar that is usually full of life. Image: Courtesy Niraamaya Retreats,
Niraamaya retreats, suryavilas, solan, himachal pradesh, india travel, wellness, wellness travel, spa, functional medicine, ayurveda, yoga
Great for gregarious gatherings right now, but the lounge can transition into a place for classy conversations and solo contemplation too. Image: Courtesy Niraamaya Retreats,

The seating is comfortable, and the service is friendly and efficient. I enjoy every meal here, right from a well laid-out buffet breakfast, to reliably good Western and Asian fare and elaborate desserts. The high point though is a special thaali of homey Himachali and mountain specialties created for me by Executive Chef Gajendra Singh Bisht. I especially love the sweet-sour pumpkin, the aloo-channa madra, chha ghosht that is meat cooked in buttermilk, and tasty stuffed puris and a slightly sweet dry-fruit pulao to go with.

Niraamaya retreats, suryavilas, solan, himachal pradesh, india travel, wellness, wellness travel, spa, functional medicine, ayurveda, yoga
Review: A wellness retreat where you feel good amidst nature and nurture 20

There are so many wonderful foods that are great for health and wellbeing which are known to home cooks. I like to bring those onto my menu for our guests.

Executive Chef Gajendra Singh Bisht

The in-room dining is spectacular as well, and on a day that I decide to have breakfast in bed, I’m floored by the juiciest chicken sausages I’ve had anywhere in the world. All the meals are well crafted and presented throughout my stay.  

The Care: At Niraamaya Wellness Retreats, the principles of wellness programmes are geared towards health transformation with a 360-degree approach and returning you to good health. I start my day with sunrise yoga in the loveliest location. Suryanamaskar never felt so good!

Niraamaya retreats, suryavilas, solan, himachal pradesh, india travel, wellness, wellness travel, spa, functional medicine, ayurveda, yoga
The fabulous lawn where I greeted the dawn with sunrise yoga. Image: Priya Pathiyan.
Niraamaya retreats, suryavilas, solan, himachal pradesh, india travel, wellness, wellness travel, spa, functional medicine, ayurveda, yoga
The doctor from the wellness team demonstrates several asanas and pranayamas to get the uninitiated started on yoga. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

Since I’m here only for a short stay, I experience the bliss of their relaxing and rejuvenating spa treatments, with an Ayurvedic Abhyanga Snana on one day and an aromatherapy massage on the next. But these, as wonderfully executed as they are, are just the tip of the iceberg of facilities available at their spa and the separate wellness centre dedicated to functional medicine, which is an integrative, science-based approach to health that focuses on detecting and addressing the root cause of symptoms.

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My Abhyanga Snana takes place in this room that has a traditional wooden Ayurveda massage bed. Image: Priya Pathiyan.
Niraamaya retreats, suryavilas, solan, himachal pradesh, india travel, wellness, wellness travel, spa, functional medicine, ayurveda, yoga
Traditional therapies meet global techniques here. Image: Courtesy Niraamaya Retreats,

Functional medicine is the combination of both progressive and traditional medicine and emphasises the importance of diet and lifestyle in helping you achieve your wellness goal. Through functional medicine, they say they are able to promote optimal systematic function, repair cell damage, and greatly improve the overall quality of life. Dr Vivek Chandel, who heads the wellness facilities talks me through the various programmes they offer – everything from Immunity Rejuvenation to post-Covid care, to the management of Diabetes, Metabolic Obesity, and Stress, to Mindfulness, Gut Restoration, and Deep Detox! And on a day when I’m a bit under the weather, they bring me a glorious Ayurvedic kaadha that works wonders to restore my energy and sense of wellbeing.

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There are no shortcuts to good health but we create a systematic plan to help people improve the quality of their life.

Dr Vivek Chandel, Head of Wellness

The Gear: They have quite a lot of innovative machinery to aid them in their work. The Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) machine makes you breathe pure oxygen in a pressurised environment, which is a well-established treatment for a lot of ailments, including dealing with anxiety, insomnia, stubborn wounds, getting rid of skin aging and skin imperfections, improving complexion, as well as faster recovery from plastic surgeries. The team tells me HBOT is a hot favourite with film stars, sports celebs, and rock stars – many of whom have machines in their homes!

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Left: The HBOT machine. Right: The Colon Hydrotherapy room.

Their Colon Hydrotherapy helps to keep your gut healthy by removing accumulated toxins, while the Far Infrared helps to improve blood circulation, reduce muscle tension, lower blood pressure, and boost immunity.

Their Ozone gas therapy strengthens the immune system, stimulating white blood cells, preventing infections and immune system deficiencies by destroying fungi, bacteria, and viruses. They say just three sessions of ozone breathing will cleanse your lungs and keep them fortified for at least a month. And then they have the Biowell, developed by Dr Konstantin Korotkov, which can conduct an analysis via your fingers, through a high-intensity electromagnetic field on the device lens which analyses electro-photonic emissions and determine the best way to balance your energies in a safe and effective way, so you don’t feel drained.

They can conduct a Body Composition Analysis (BCA), which is far superior to the usual Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation that measures body fat based on height. BCA goes deeper, to check your levels of fat, protein, minerals, and body water composition, which gives a better understanding of fat mass, muscle mass, and body fat percentage, which can be helpful for those interested in efficient weight loss. An Oligo Scan identifies mineral imbalances and the presence of heavy metals which may be harmful to your health using spectrophotometry, which passes light through the tissue to screen the body.

A cosy IV room offers people the chance to get energised with Nutritional IV, which is an intravenous infusion of medicine, vitamins, electrolytes, antioxidants, and amino acids, that work together as a catalyst for the body, and are extremely efficient when you need to boost your health in a short time. Dr Chandel recommends this if you’re battling jet lag or fatigue, or fighting off illness. They can also be customised to combat aging, boost brain power, control stress, or even treat medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain.

I am fascinated to learn about the science of strengthening cellular activity using a Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF), which is an innovative regenerative therapy that regulates cell signalling mechanisms involved in the inflammatory and immune response pathways. Apparently, research shows that PEMF can permeate both the plasma and nuclear membranes of cells, thereby affecting a variety of cell functions and tissue types. In its most simple form, it helps relieve muscle pain and tension. And then there’s Thyroflex, a non-invasive state-of-the-art system to test, diagnose, titrate, and manage thyroid conditions, that can cause fatigue, weight gain, and interfere with menstrual cycles.

Niraamaya retreats, suryavilas, solan, himachal pradesh, india travel, wellness, wellness travel, spa, functional medicine, ayurveda, yoga
The pot of comforting kaadha that they brought to my room, which gave me a sense of wellbeing right away.

The Verdict: As with other Niraamaya retreats, this one too takes the world of wellness quite seriously. Even besides that, the pampering is superlative and I come away from the experience feeling rejuvenated. I also find myself missing the warmth, caring, and helpfulness shown by the team, who made me feel like I was saying goodbye to friends when I left for home.

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