Como Hotels and Resorts is to open its new five-star spa resort in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan on 15 November.
The Uma Paro development represents an agreement between Como and the sovereign of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who wanted to spearhead a new wave of upmarket tourism.
The government wants to discourage the hordes of backpackers and trekkers seen in nearby Nepal, instead targeting a more affluent tourist with restricted, ecologically sound development.
The resort was originally expected to open in the summer and be the first of the Uma brand family, but delays on site saw the opening pushed back to the autumn and Como’s Uma Ubud became the first Uma spa, opening in Bali in June.
Uma Paro is perched on a 38-acre hilltop and is Como’s first inland retreat. It will offer just 20 rooms in the main building and then nine individual villas spread around the site, ensuring there are no more than 60 guests at a time.
The development also includes four luxury satellite lodges – each with a capacity of up to 10 people – located between four and eight hours’ drive from the main site, where Como guests can stay during tailor-made excursions.
The spa will be operated by Como’s Shambhala concept and offer a variety of treatments exclusive to Bhutan.
“This is far and away the most challenging project I have ever been involved with,” said general manager Stuart Campbell. “There is no history of high-end resorts in Bhutan so we educate and are educated every day.
“The resort is styled after a Bhutanese Dzong (a fortress monastery) and we have a local Bhutanese architect who has assisted us with every aspect of the exterior design, so the resort looks like it belongs in Bhutan.”
For more information on the Uma Paro resort, see Spa Business, Q3 2004. Call +44(0)1462 471913 to subscribe, or visit www.leisuresubs.com