This time of the year, when the rest of the world is recovering from Christmas frenzy, there is tremendous anticipation and excitement across Japan for Fukubukuro or ‘lucky bags’.
The Japanese are known for their ingenuity and this unique tradition, originally started by Japanese department stores in the early 1900s, has now turned into a major retail trend with many premium global brands following it.
Although not quite the same but keeping with the festive spirit, I have selected some offers for the Indian subcontinent for two of my favourite places, properties that would make an amazing new year treat for you, and I am very pleased to share these with you.
At the time of writing:
Bloomberg recently listed Madhya Pradesh in India as one of their hot safari destinations for 2019. With highly effective wildlife and social welfare projects and some of the finest lodges in the country, Madhya Pradesh offers an unparalleled nature and wilderness experience.
I am a firm believer that India’s wildlife isn’t just about tigers and over the years, I have enjoyed a more varied and comprehensive safari experience that is more in line with how the great safaris are conducted in Africa.
One property that excels in this endeavour is Reni Pani Jungle Lodge in Satpura National Park. One of the finest parks in the country with a unique and undulating terrain filled with waterways, lush teak forests and steep ravines, the park is home to a huge variety of animals and birds including tiger, leopard, sloth bear, gaur, sambar, nilgai, munjac, wild boar, crested serpent eagle, stream slory, stream jewel and grey hornbill just to name a few.
It is also an ideal country for walking and cycling adventures and one of the only national parks in the country where walking safaris are conducted.
The lodge offers excellent mobile camping, trekking and cycling programmes in the forest that are amazing for those seeking a real adventure and wanting to go off-the-beaten-track!
The lodge’s core focus is on protecting the national park and one of the key areas of work has been empowering and educating the local communities. They have recently officially adopted the local school in the village with about 40 students.
The conditions at the school have been very challenging and the lodge has now acquired proper desks and benches for each and every classroom; sweaters, shoes, socks and handtowels are being distributed, and they are now looking into supplying clean drinking water from the lodge.
A small kitchen is also going to be constructed, which will be operated by the lodge and future projects include construction of toilets and a compound wall.
At the time of writing, Reni Pani Jungle Lodge are offering a special three-night programme with two nights at the Reni Pani Jungle Lodge and one night camping in the forest. There are a range of activities available including a canoe safari on the river, jeep safaris, walking safari and cycling.
My second recommendation is one of Sri Lanka’s newest and finest wellness retreats – Santani near Kandy. For centuries, travellers from across the globe have been drawn to Sri Lanka. Marco Polo described it as the finest island of its size in the world!
The tiny island is blessed with some of the most pristine beaches, stunning flora and fauna, a very rich culture, impressive historical sights and extremely friendly and hospitable people. Although majority of travellers choose to focus on the country’s wildlife, culture and beaches, it is slowly coming up as a wellness destination and Santani has certainly raised the bar.
Since opening in 2016, the retreat has received international acclaim from renowned publications including Time, Tatler, Forbes and Travel + Leisure to name but a few.
Located on a 48-acre former tea plantation within a lush forest, about an hour’s drive from Kandy, Santani is an ideal base to explore the remote Knuckles Mountain Range area. This is one of the most off-the-beaten-track parts in the country offering incredible opportunities for walking, trekking and bird-watching.
Santani means “in harmony with” and this core belief is deeply imbibed in all aspects of the property including accommodations featuring minimalist luxury, simple yet refined cuisine (mastered by a veteran chef with a 16-year career in France) and extensive wellness programmes.
The programmes are based on Ayurveda and Yoga and are designed and overseen by the head therapist Anil Parakulangara. Anil’s was previously the head therapist at Ananda in the Himalayas in India, one of the finest Ayurveda and Wellness retreats in Asia.
There are twenty contemporary villas with floor-to-ceiling windows offering breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains. There is no air-conditioning, so that you can enjoy the most refreshing breeze and at this elevation, it never gets too hot.
The resort offers multiple-day yoga and wellness programmes but it is equally good for those simply wanting to relax for a few days.
If you would like any more information about Madhya Pradesh, Sri Lanka, or these fantastic offers, please feel free to get in touch.
Images kindly supplied courtesy of Reni Pani Jungle Lodge and Santani.