Himalaya Sustainable Luxury Escape

Nestled in a jungle on the hills that surround Pokhara’s picturesque Fewa Lake, captured in nature’s scents and sounds, a spot of luxury emerges. Hannah Cremona starts the new decade with a sustainable luxury experience, and speaks to GM Rajiv Desraj Shrestha from The Pavilions Himalayas on how sustainable luxury is shaping responsible tourism and hospitality.

The travel bug has undeniably hit the global tourism market. The traveller, now becoming more aware of climate change issues, seeks sustainable luxury solutions, which has preferably a minimum impact on the very community and natural surroundings they seek to enjoy.

Commonly known as the home of the tallest mountain peaks – Nepal has an abundant of experiences to offer. Its rich natural resources span from jungles in the lowlands, its foothills and mountains, a unique experience in the world in which all forms of flora and fauna exist. From Saal trees and Bengal tigers in the South, to pine trees and snow leopards in the mountain regions, it is something that of course needs to be cherished and sustained.

The culture is so diverse too with over 100 ethnic groups and languages, which can be experienced in different parts of the country, often integrated and living alongside each other in the same towns and villages. Many have pilgrimaged to this spot in the world in search of spiritual awakening, to conquer the highest peaks, or to learn from the varied craftsmen. But this is not all, “as more and more luxury properties pop-up in the key tourism destination in Nepal, it also provides an additional pull-factor to a market of wellness and spiritual retreats.”

Mr Desraj Shrestha continues to explain, “High-end tourism provides a unique opportunity to provide sophisticated travellers who have the money to spend, to go away with life long memories that influence their lives going forward. It also provides a huge boost to move away from what Nepal was known for – a cheap backpacker destination from which local operators and the people they employ do not benefit.”

“Sustainable luxury provides badly needed job opportunities for those that need it most and wish to remain in their beautiful country rather than being forced to leave in order to seek employment in Gulf countries where they are frequently exploited.”

The concept of this property was born from the lack of “luxury glamping” available in Nepal. The owners of Pavilions Himalayas – The Farm wanted to provide guests an opportunity to combine trekking with a luxury stay in a tented lodge “where nature, wellness, and blissful peace stand central.” 

What is unique about the Pavilions Himalayas Lake View?

Tourism development in an around Nepal has changed the place so dramatically due to the promotion of cheap and quantity tourism. We want to bring something very different like nothing done before. There are no roads – you arrival is either on foot trekking over the hill from The Farm, or by paddleboat across Fewa Lake. This is just one aspect that makes it unique.”

“Like at Pavilions Himalayas – The Farm, we grow our own food, our team is recruited from the village, so the hospitality is with a pure and grateful smile. The views over the lake and in the shadow of the Annapurna Himalayan range complete the experience of life in an authentic village.”

What are the main materials used to construct the tented villas?

“The shells of the tented villas are made from wood and glass panels with 3 layers of tented roof, octagon in shape. The clubhouse and pathways are made from local rock, carved into rough brick side masonry. Local village people to provide local employment were used to create the resort and they have been building their houses like this for centuries.” 

What is the concept behind the architecture and interior design from the external perspective down to the interior and accessories found inside the rooms?

“In order to have views over the entire Himalayan range, and to feel in the midst of nature, we wanted to have glass panels surrounding you except 3 wooden panels behind the bathroom to create the necessary privacy. As we are in paddy fields and jungle areas, we wanted the feel to be totally natural so for this we used wood where we could or other interior elements such as the washbasins from local copper masons. All the furniture was made on site rather than imported from a factory and was all made to measure.”

What eco-systems are implemented to ensure the lodge is respecting the natural habitat? 

“The lodge makes use of solar heat pumps, local produce, plastic free, natural amenities, biodegradable shampoo, shower gel, paper soaps, bamboo toothbrushes, etc. – all have been incorporated to preserve our natural habitat. Our energy supply comes from the main grid, which is supplied through hydro-electricity and is in itself a non-pollutant resource.” 

Can you tell us more about the social initiatives and why these are important elements in sustainable luxury tourism? 

“At Pavilions Himalayas – The Farm and Lake View – we believe strongly in our philosophy – the core of our business – WWW.Give–Back. The 3 ‘ Ws’ which form the 3 ways we and our guests can benefit from: W = wisdom (our environmental credentials); W = providing sustainable work and livelihoods to the very people from the community in which our guests stay; W = Wealth – to give back to the social projects that help lift Nepal’s people and its economy.

Guests highly appreciate if they can leave something behind after they’ve returned home. Up to 70% of our net profits support the social projects our founders have been implementing for the last 25 years. Through these initiatives guests feel they are part of the positive change Pavilions Himalayas – The Farm and Lake View are trying to bring.

The FAB Hotel Vocational Training School is a prime example of what our guests are supporting in terms of their money being spent at Pavilions Himalayas and then is ploughed back to train up the most disadvantaged young people to get skilled training and guaranteed jobs after graduation.

We strongly believe that the more you as a person can give, whether you are an individual or a company, rich or poor, wherever in the world, the more that will return to you; and the more you try to take, the more that eventually will be taken away from you.

So as a social enterprise, we are presenting a sustainable model to support a change of how people work in tourism and how they operate the businesses. Ultimately, if we don’t take care of the very place we are trying to earn our living from, we will be soon out of business.

Our nature, our community and culture are the most important ingredients we must cherish and preserve and which our guests value the most when visiting Nepal!”

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