Eco escapes: spiritual spa

Our Contributing Travel Editor, green girl and SPA.Kitchen founder, Daisy Finer, rounds up the world's best ethical holidays. This time, it's all about the spiritual spa...


Eco escapes: spiritual spa

The focus with this escape is organic living, hippy chic and pure relaxation.

Spiritual spa: Dune Eco Village and Spa, India

A French-run beach hotel set in 35 acres of landscaped wilderness, a short drive from the town of Pondicherry, on the Bay of Bengal, the emphasis here is on organic living. There are 55 individually designed bungalows, many made using materials reclaimed from colonial houses, and each has a solar water system, low-consumption lightbulbs and organic bed linen. Not all have air conditioning; instead, they rely on the gentle sea breeze that blows through the private gardens and terraces to cool the rooms naturally. Even the landscaping has been done with the environment in mind, and, since 2002, the hotel has planted more than 50,000 trees.

The vibe here is hippy chic, which is carried through to the Ayurvedic Paradise Spa and Yoga Centre. Book a pampering massage or meditation, or benefit from a three-day detox, a focus on rejuvenation or anti-stress, or Ayurveda disease management. The partly covered pool overlooks the sands of the Bay of Bengal, is chlorine-free, solar heated and set in a large garden. Not just for swimming, it’s also used for hydrotherapy and Watsu sessions, where the therapeutic properties of water benefit psychological wellbeing.

The healthy-living ethos continues at the two restaurants, which use local products wherever possible. At the seafood café, the catch of the day is sourced from local fishermen, and at the Fun restaurant, recipes feature vegetables picked from the organic garden, rice grown using a non-water submerged technique, and dairy and poultry from the hotel’s own farm.

Explore the quaint colonial buildings in the French quarter of Pondicherry, or visit Auroville, a township founded in 1968 with a community that follows the teachings of The Mother, Mirra Alfassa. The highlight is Matrimandir, a huge golden globe used as a meditation centre that seems a fitting spiritual link to a place so connected to the earth.

Bungalows from £62 per night. For more information, visit