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May 13, 2008

Sustainable Travel Meets Luxury (and Yoga) in India

by Ondine Cohane

India is high on my wish list; I can't believe I still haven't made the trip. The colors, the landscape, and the people have really come to life in literature that uses the country as its backdrop, and now I need to see it myself. Also, a yoga fan for years, I'm dying to visit its birthplace; I actually got certified as a teacher so I could keep myself limber in the Italian countryside (when I can't get to my beloved studio in Manhattan, the Shala, that is). My teachers Barbara Verrochi and Kristin Leigh make frequent pilgrimages to see Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the guru for Ashtanga practitioners, in Mysore, India. (FYI: He will lead a series of classes on Islamorada in the Keys on May 23.)

Now yet another temptation to go: My friend Tom Marchant, who runs the maverick and always-ahead-of-the-curve Black Tomato, is just back from the southern Himalayas and Hot List property 360 Leti, a gorgeous four-tent camp that merges sustainability with luxury. Shakti, a responsible tourism group that stresses cultural immersion, organized his trip. Village walks high in mountains near Almora, home stays in renovated traditional homes--Tom says it was the best way to see local life and the spectacular countryside that winds through gorgeous terraces under the peaks.

Even though I am more attracted to the countryside, I want to see modern India, too. As one of the fastest growing countries in the world--it is changing more now than ever before. Case in point: The Four Seasons just launched a new property in Mumbai's Worli neighborhood. With a two-storey spa, a limousine fleet of 20 BMWs, and huge guest rooms, I imagine it will attract a big business market, as well as those looking for respite in one of the most chaotic cities in the world.

More Reading:
* 10 Perfect Days in Northern India


It's good to hear your thoughts on yoga and India. I would love to go to Mysore some day and take a class there - though I might have to perfect some moves first! I think India could do more to promote its 'yoga heritage', while being careful not put out an overly commercialised message.

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