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National Happiness in the Kingdom of Bhutan

by Sandra Ramani

Tucked between India and China along the Eastern Himalayas, the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan is famous for its system of measuring Gross National Happiness, which takes into account its citizens’ health, education and quality of life, as well as the preservation of nature, wildlife and cultural traditions.

With such an emphasis on overall well-being, it is only natural that the country offers a spa to match: Le Meridien, which this spring launched the Explore Spa at its new Le Meridien Paro, Riverfront resort. Crafted with natural elements including wood, stone and live botanicals, along with a locally influenced decor, the spa features perks like an indoor heated saltwater pool and well-stocked fitness room—both enclosed in glass to showcase views of the river and nearby apple orchards. (The same views can be enjoyed from the three treatment rooms.) Because most visitors spend their days being active—from climbing up to historic monasteries to hiking in the Himalayan foothills—many of the services focus on muscle relaxation; the 90-minute Chakra Art, for example, slathers guests in colored therapeutic muds to activate the seven chakras of the body and ease sore muscles, followed with a moisturizing massage.

As Bhutan’s altitude also can also dry out skin, body scrubs done with Himalayan salt or turmeric help gently exfoliate and cleanse, allowing the skin to breathe. Afterward, head to the tucked-away meditation room, decorated with traditional Buddhist mandalas and scrolls, to contemplate your own gross personal happiness. starwoodhotels.com

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