Frequently Asked Questions | Vana

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where is Vana?

    Although Vana is inseparable from the dialogue that shapes contemporary India, it often feels like a refuge from its frenzied pace of development, thanks in part, to the lush Sal forest that surrounds it.

    Vana is located on Mussoorie Road, Dehradun, India. It is a one hour drive from Dehradun’s Jolly Grant airport and approximately  45 minutes by car from Dehradun railway station.

  • How do I get to Vana?

    We recommend flying to Dehradun airport, from where we can organise personal transfers that are included in your retreat price.

    There are multiple daily flights to Dehradun from Delhi and at least one flight from Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Amritsar, and Ahmedabad.

  • What is it like to be there?

    Everyone will have a different answer to this question. In the past, some of the more profound attempts to describe Vana have included a Zen university-like campus, spiritual oasis, and what we call ourselves – a retreat and institute. Though these descriptions are distinct, there are some consistencies that underpin these highly personal experiences: Vana is peaceful, serene, lush, a place to think and be, and a place that slowly aids self-transformation. It is not a highly regimented, restrictive, or pedantic place.

    It is also, definitely, transforming itself. Many who come to our retreat in Dehradun on a frequent basis, find a palpable sense of change. To some extent, we are drivers of this transformation, as our goal is to become more inclusive over time.

  • Why should I go?

    This is a good question to ask, from our perspective, as it indicates self-reflection, which we believe is a core characteristic of wellbeing. Initial reasons for coming to Vana vary amongst our visitors – they range from simply trying to get in a few nights of good rest to a full body detox, when deemed necessary by our medical experts. Often however, the ‘reason’ for coming to Vana is quite different at check-out than it was pre-arrival: Vanavasis may have come for a detox, for example, but left with new ideas about their emotional health, or if lucky, the beginnings of an unexpected lifelong friendship. We can also safely say that anyone coming here for a quick fix is likely to leave disappointed.

  • When should I go?

    Vana is a wonderful place, year round. The winter is cool and draws many visitors; the Spring is when our retreat is in full bloom, and the summer is when we feel most blessed to be away from the soaring temperatures that char most of North India. Monsoon is a fantastic time as well, both visually and for wellness purposes. To determine the time you should come, we suggest first looking at what you want to achieve, and the amount of time you have. We urge you not to worry too much about the ‘crowd’ or ‘season’ –we never allow more bookings than we can manage, and can assure you that there is something special about each season.

  • What happens once I’m a Vanavasi?

    Once a Vanavasi, always a Vanavasi. We are a community of like-minded thinkers who are linked by a common spirit, philosophy, and goal that extends over a lifetime. This is part and parcel of our definition of wellness: it is work in progress, and achieved in tandem with others, rather than something that happens ‘somewhere else,’ as an exclusive stint amongst a small group of very wealthy people.

  • What is the philosophy behind Vana?

    We have four major pillars that underpin our philosophy: wisdom, wellness, learning, and seva. We established Vana to show how these pillars – whether experienced in the form of Ayurveda therapies or Buddhist teachings — are for us, the keys to living a more evolved mental, physical and spiritual life.

  • How “difficult” or “serious” is the retreat?

    This is also a difficult question to answer, because sometimes, confronting your inner-self – which we really encourage you to do here – can be quite difficult. However, whatever it is that comes your way, we do our best to make living and being here a nourishing and comfortable experience.

    In terms of seriousness, yes – we are absolutely dedicated to our goals and committed to our philosophy, but this certainly does not mean that you won’t hear laughter in our halls and casual banter over dinner. People become Vanavasis, but Vanavasis don’t become people: this is what allows people to take the insights they learn here back home.

  • How much does it cost?

    Costs vary depending on the retreat type and room you choose; we do our best to keep prices as fair as possible. Profit is a word we avoid here, even when we are urged to use it, say, in a business context.  We encourage our guests to choose their retreat type not based on cost, but on what they would like to accomplish while at Vana – i.e. their intent.  It is not necessary that the more you spend, the better you will feel.

  • How does it compare to other retreats around the world?

    Although many places may claim that they are like nowhere else, we have truly found it hard to find a similar place in the world. Sometimes, people compare us to a luxury spa before they come; thankfully, when they leave, they usually find this definition both inaccurate and inadequate. Our mission is large, and ambitious, and we are doing our best to achieve the unprecedented in wellbeing.

  • May I bring younger members of my family?

    Guests at the retreat must be 16 years of age and above.

  • Is alcohol and smoking permitted at Vana?

    Our selection of alcohol is limited to wine and champagne, available at our restaurant, Salana, on a chargeable basis at dinner time. Guests on specific detoxes or panchakarma, or if advised by their wellness consultant, must refrain from drinking alcohol at the retreat. Smoking is restricted to a single designated outdoor space and is not permitted in guest rooms, guest balconies, shared spaces or any other outdoor space.

  • Are electronic devices allowed at the retreat?

    Mobile phones, iPads, tablets, smart phones and personal computers may be used in guest rooms but are not permitted in any shared or outdoor spaces. Photography is not allowed at the retreat. Our endeavour is to protect guest privacy and personal space, and create an environment conducive to wellbeing.

  • Is There Mobile Connectivity And WiFi In Guest Rooms?

    Yes. We do not charge our guests for WiFi.

  • What Are Your Check-In And Check-Out Times?

    Check-in is at 2:00 pm and check-out at 12 noon. For early arrival or late departure requests, guests may contact the retreat directly at [email protected] or at (+91) 135 3911114.

  • How Do I Make A Reservation?

    You may send us a reservation request online, via phone or by e-mail. To send us a request online, please click here. You may e-mail us at [email protected] or call us at (+91) 135 3911114 to request a retreat. Should you have any special preferences such as non-allergenic pillows, special dietary considerations and so on, please inform our reservations team while booking your retreat.

  • Please Tell Me More About The E-Tourist Visa. Can I Apply For One From My Home Country?

    The Indian Government recently introduced the e-Tourist Visa for certain countries including USA, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Singapore. This facility allows individuals to apply online for visa on arrival in India. To apply, please click here and select ‘Online Visa Application’. It is essential to carry a print out of your electronic tourist visa at the time of travel.

  • Does Vana Offer Airport Assistance To Guests?

    We realise that airports can be tedious, tiring and at times intimidating. Airport assistance is offered as an optional service through a reputed global service provider, operating at the New Delhi Airport at an additional charge. This assistance can be availed by guests, requesting the same while booking their retreat and sharing flight details well in advance. To learn more, please click here.

  • Where Do You Recommend I Stay In Delhi?

    Vana has a special relationship with The Lodhi hotel in New Delhi. For guests transiting via Delhi before or after their retreat at Vana, we recommend this independent hotel for its location, design and spa. For guests wishing to stay near Delhi airport, we recommend the J W Marriott New Delhi Aerocity. To read more, please click here.

  • All Enter As Equals.

    Vana is a space for all beings. It is our endeavour to provide harmony, nourishment and wellbeing for those on the Vana journey. While we all play our roles in life as well as on the Retreat and are designated by labels, these are only relative truths. Perhaps one gets closer to the ultimate truth if all beings, people, plants and animals alike, are perceived equally.

    From this notion arises Vana’s belief that it is a leveller for its guests, where material differences are left outside and people connect to each other and nature equally.

    It is also our hope that everyone who enters Vana does so with a generosity of spirit, faith in what we do and an ability to forgive us for our mistakes.

  • Due To The Nature Of My Profession, I May Require To Bring A Member Of My Staff When I Come On Retreat To Vana. Is This Permitted?

    At Vana, each guest is important to us. We do not conform to political, cultural or social benchmarks where certain people are designated as VIPs. The Retreat is therefore unable to welcome any guests that require personal security, pre-arrival inspections or other security protocols that disturb our guests, team or life at Vana.

    We are also unable to allow any personal attendants or staff accompanying guests.

    Our guidelines and restrictions apply equally to all and our vision, mission and values take precedence over individual beliefs. We encourage potential guests with public lives to leave their skin outside Vana. The Retreat is for those who seek it as a refuge of wellbeing.

    We humbly request all guests to be conscious of the privacy and peace of those around them.

  • What Is The Best Time Of The Year To Come On Retreat To Vana?

    Dehradun enjoys good weather throughout the year except a few days in the Grishma/Summer, Varsha/Monsoon and Shishira/Winter. Our summers are short and comparatively more pleasant than Rajasthan and most of North India.

    • Shishira/Winter: 1st January to 28th February
    • Vasanta/Spring: 1st March to 30th April
    • Grishma/Summer: 1st May to 30th June
    • Varsha/Monsoon: 1st July to 31st August
    • Sharad/Autumn: 1st September to 31st October
    • Hemanta/Pre-winter: 1st November to 31st December

    All seasons bring with them their unique characteristics and benefits. At Vana, our cuisine menus include the freshest ingredients of the season. The aromas, essential oils, Vanaveda personal care products, linen and attire at the Retreat also change with each season.

  • What Is The Best Way To Reach Vana From Delhi?

    We recommend that guests fly to Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun. From here, we can organise personal transfers to Vana, included in your retreat price. For details, please click here.

  • Do You Offer Any Discounts?

    Vana does not offer discounts. Our prices remain fixed for the season.

  • What Is Included In My Retreat?

    Your retreat at Vana includes:

    • Treatments/consultations/private sessions based on two wellness weights per night per guest
    • Arrival and departure wellness consultations
    • Retreat wellbeing activities focused on wellness, cuisine, music etc.
    • All Vana wellness cuisine including breakfast, lunch, dinner and beverages (except wine and residence dining delivery)
    • Airport transfers
    • All taxes. No service charge or gratuities are added and our team members do not expect tips as appreciation for their work.

    We provide all our guests with comfortable kurta pajamas to wear at the retreat as well as footwear. This includes woollen capes during winter months.

  • What Is The Difference Between Ayurveda And Panchakarma?

    Ayurveda is India’s traditional form of medicine, a science, philosophy and an art form. With the basic premise that understanding oneself and a balanced lifestyle are the key ingredients to a healthy life, it aims to restore equilibrium using basic principles, treatments, supplements and nutritional advice. Ayurveda looks at a person holistically, considering their physical, mental and spiritual self, as well as their environment. It uses nature and learning gathered over centuries to understand each individual separately, determine their ‘dosha’ and work towards what they need, thus achieve their highest state of wellbeing.

    Panchakarma refers to a set of purification treatments within ayurveda. It allows one to reach the root cause of imbalance in the body and cleanse, repair and revitalise, thus restoring equilibrium. This is done through a series of ayurveda therapies, supplements, cuisine that suits your body type and program, gentle yoga and meditation where appropriate, a prescribed daily routine and regular consultations with our ayurveda specialists. At Vana, panchakarma requires a minimum of 21 nights.

  • Is The Entire Vana Wellness Offering Ready?

    The repertoire of wellness treatments, consults and activities available is extensive and ranges across all parts of our wellness offering. However, these will continue to develop and increase for the foreseeable future as our team of practitioners and experts grows and the wellness spaces continue to develop.

  • Is Vana More For Sickness Or Wellbeing?

    Our starting point, our way and our end goal is to enhance the wellbeing of all those that cross paths with Vana in their journey. This is what drives us in each moment and led us to create the most comprehensive, sincere and authentic offering of wellness available, perhaps unparalleled to anything else in the world.

    Vana is not a medical center or a hospital. However, an improved state of wellbeing can certainly help reduce the effects of illness and can also equip one with practices and nutritional guidance to deal with or manage health concerns. We can address certain health and lifestyle concerns but we are not a replacement for conventional allopathic medical care.

  • Do I Need To Take À La Carte Treatments?

    Only if you wish to do more than what is included in your retreat. Our team only makes recommendations for your benefit and to derive better results from your retreat; they are never encouraged to do so for Vana’s financial benefit.

  • Could You Tell Us More About Your Wellness Team?

    Each wellness offering at Vana has a qualified specialist as its head. In the case of ayurveda, sowa rigpa and traditional chinese medicine, Vana has qualified specialists trained in these respective fields. Our wellness consultants are also doctors in various forms of traditional or alternate medicine. We have senior practitioners and therapists working under our specialists in each offering.

  • Please Tell Me A Little More About The Cuisine And Restaurants At Vana.

    The cuisine at Vana is mindfully put together to complement your wellness itinerary. We offer guests two restaurants to choose from – salana, that is inspired by a variety of cuisines and is based on our wellness principles, and ańayu, that brings together Indian recipes with ayurvedic principles.

    We believe in using local, seasonal, fresh and organic produce as much as possible and try to source indigenous varieties. On our menus, you will find nutritional information in place of prices. In keeping with our values, we do not use air-freighted food. Our wellness team works closely with the cuisine team to ensure that the retreat objectives of each guest, as well as their palate, are satisfied. If you have any dietary restrictions or preferences, please inform us prior to arrival and we will be glad to help.

    Our nutritionist offers consultations for nutritional advice. Those guests wishing to determine their body type and eat accordingly, can book consultations with our ayurveda doctor during their arrival consult.

  • Is The Cuisine At Vana Vegetarian?

    The cuisine at Vana caters to most palates, preferences and retreat objectives and is therefore not vegetarian. We do, however, make it easy for you to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet at Vana with our creative and elaborate menus. For those guests that do eat meat and fish, we pay careful attention to where we source from. We do not airfreight food and are mindful of food miles.

    Our portions are calibrated with lower salt and careful use of oil. We do not use refined flours, grains, oils or sugar. Most of our produce is local and seasonal and a substantial selection of our ingredients is certified organic.

  • Can I Order Food To My Room?

    We encourage guests to have their meals at the retreat’s restaurants. Our kitchens can deliver food to your room at a nominal charge of Rs 1,000. We do not serve alcohol to guest rooms.

  • Can Vana Accommodate Food Allergies?

    Yes, our wellness consultants work closely with our cuisine team to ensure that your needs and preferences are taken care of. We request that you inform our reservations team of your dietary restrictions in advance.

  • Is The Water At Vana Safe To Drink?

    Yes. Vana bottles its own still and sparkling water. Our water comes from a local reservoir fed by the neighbouring hills, goes through two stages of reverse osmosis and finally a crystal purification system.

  • Is Vana In A Forest?

    We are not in a forest; however, clusters of reserve sal forest are immediately adjacent to more than half of the retreat and most guest rooms and suites look onto it. Over the years, development has occurred around us, and yet, the retreat offers privacy, nature and its own peaceful energy and environment.

  • Do Monkeys Visit The Retreat?

    Monkeys are part of the natural environment and occasionally do visit the retreat. While we do our best to discourage them, guests are requested to keep their balcony doors closed. We have installed equipment on our perimeter that uses sounds at special frequencies and deters monkeys from entering.

  • Is Vana In The Himalayas?

    We project ourselves as honestly as we can and therefore do not claim to be in the Himalayas. Our region is surrounded by the Shivalik foothills which are often incorrectly called the Himalayas.

  • What Is The Climate Like In Dehradun?

    Summers in Dehradun have a maximum temperature of ~38°C/100°F and a minimum of ~20°C/68°F, while winters have a maximum of ~22°C/72°F and a minimum of ~5°C/41°F. During the monsoons, Dehradun experiences medium to high rainfall each day.

  • What Should I Carry With Me?
    • We provide all our guests with comfortable kurta pajamas to wear at the retreat. These are made from organic cotton in southern India and are laundered each day without charge.
    • Rubber slippers in the summer and crocs sandals in the winter will be found in your room. As well as a cloth bag for you to use at the retreat and take back home.
    • To enjoy our aqua therapies and pools, we recommend that you carry your swimsuit.
    • Please bring shoes for sport and hiking if you wish to play tennis, use our gymnasium or experience one of our weekly hikes.
    • Between October and February, we provide guests with woollen capes. Shawls are available in shared spaces. Guests may also bring additional warm clothing.
    • Yoga mats, meditation cushions and tennis racquets are available at the retreat. Tennis and swimming accessories are available in our boutique, dukan.
    • We have a professional in-house laundry.
  • Do I Need To Speak With A Doctor Before My Retreat At Vana?

    This is not a pre-requisite unless you choose panchakarma or have a very specific query about a particular health concern/issue that requires attention.

  • Are TVs Provided In Guest Rooms?

    Yes, we offer a small selection of channels featuring our videos, teachings and movies.

  • Is Vana Conducive To Guests Traveling Alone?

    Yes, Vana provides a comfortable and safe refuge for guests traveling alone. A good proportion of our guests come to Vana on their own. The community table in our restaurant, Salana, allows one to interact with other guests on retreat, and the Retreat’s orchards and reflection pond offer guests the opportunity to meditate with the elements and to ponder. A library in the Kila gives guests another space to spend time reading or conversing with each other.

  • What Is The Electricity Voltage In India? Should I Carry An Adaptor?

    The electricity voltage in India is 220 volts. However, all the sockets in our rooms are universal and the standard two/three pin adaptors will work.

  • What Is Around Vana?

    Like many Indian towns, Dehradun too is slowly expanding and developing. Though this is sometimes apparent, we are fortunate to have a 21-acre retreat with tremendous natural wealth that gives our guests an opportunity to unwind and disconnect.

  • What Is There To Do And See Around Vana?

    We recommend that guests stay at the retreat while on retreat. There is little to see and do in the town of Dehradun. Vana offers two hikes that help build endurance and give guests a chance to experience the outdoors. Guests can also observe the Rishikesh aarti and various pujas. The excursions we offer are special and unique to our sense of place. In addition, special spiritual and seasonal retreats will be available at Vana at pre-defined periods each year.

  • Does Vana Offer Private Workshop Spaces?

    For small groups that wish to combine a bespoke wellness experience with a private workshop, Vana offers three studios in Sketchbook that are meeting spaces for 16, 8 and 6 guests respectively. Also available is the bodhi tree, a sublime space where guests gather for raag therapy, meditation, interactions and more.

  • Does Vana Offer Excursions?

    Vana is a retreat for guests who wish to be ‘on retreat’ and see it as a world in itself. We seek to create an environment that looks within, that seeks to nurture and nourish each person individually and therefore do not offer planned individual excursions. However, our retreat vehicles are available for hire at a per hour charge with a driver, accompanying team member and refreshments. We offer two hikes and group excursions to observe the Rishikesh aarti and various pujas.

    Though we are in the process of crafting additional activities that take guests outside Vana and enrich wellbeing, both physical and spiritual, it is life within the retreat that draws guests to Vana. Read more about our wellbeing activities.

  • Does Vana Offer Tennis?

    Our state-of-the-art tennis courts are available in daylight hours to all guests. Tennis rackets and tennis balls can be provided.

  • Are Non-Resident Guests Allowed At Vana?

    Vana is strictly for resident guests only. Resident guests wishing to meet with someone not staying at the retreat may do so outside the premises, or briefly at the arrival pavilion.

  • I Am Not A Resident Guest At Vana. Can I Still Take A Tour Of The Retreat?

    As Vana is for resident guests only, we do not offer tours or show-arounds of the Retreat.

  • Is There Any Additional Information That Expectant Mothers Should Be Aware Of?

    We recommend that you see your obstetrician before your retreat at Vana. We would appreciate if any details regarding your pregnancy could be shared with us in advance. Please note that not all treatments can be offered to guests during their pregnancy.

  • What Facilities Do You Have For Guests With Special Needs?

    Vana has specific guest rooms that have been designed for guests with special needs.