Asia + The Middle East Bhutan CULTURE, RELIGION and ESCAPISM... BHUTAN IS YOUR DESTINATION FOR CLEARING THE MIND Enigmatic and unspoilt, exotic and timeless, this Buddhist mountain kingdom is truly magical and it delivers an experience like nowhere else on earth. The classic view of Bhutan is of its important dzongs and their spectacular mountain backdrops, but over the years we have worked very closely with our Bhutanese partner – a member of the Royal family – to develop something different, exclusive and very special for those who want to do more than scratch the surface. As well as the five-star splendour of Bhutan’s newer hotels, there are also some charming local-run lodges and you can use these as good bases from which to explore the main valleys and further afield. Trekking here is also becoming more sophisticated, allowing you to experience Bhutan’s pristine mountain wilderness in great comfort. Stories Places to Stay Highlights Location Stories As every one of the holidays we create is truly tailor-made, all of our clients come back with different and interesting stories. We love to hear from our clients on their return to find out about their most memorable moments. Our Destination Experts are also always travelling to our extraordinary destinations and every trip allows us to refine and add value to our clients' future experiences. Bhutan, The Kingdom of Happiness Bhutan is a country that is full of unexpected surprises, from unadvertised festivals to impromptu archery competitions. Two of our clients experienced just that when out walking with their guide. Find out more A 50th BIRTHDAY ADVENTURE James Warren wanted to celebrate his 50th Birthday somewhere special. He wanted to experience something unique and totally different to trips he had been on before... we knew the exact place for him...Bhutan. Find out more ENJOYING THE PEACE AND QUIET When Suzanne Mehmet landed in Bhutan, after an incredible flight over the spectacular Himalayas, she was overwhelmed by this wonderful country's peace and serenity. Find out more Unspoilt Nature of Bhutan When Laura Jeffrey ventured to Bhutan she was amazed by the unspoiled nature of this fascinating country. She fell in love with the friendly, calm and easy-going people and found a new favourite country to crown as her number one. Find out more A Royal Welcome When Alex Townsend, Head of Asia team at c+l, first mentioned Bhutan to Kat, she admitted she had no idea where it was. However, as soon as we arrived I knew I was about to have an experience to remember. The kingdom of Bhutan was truly mesmerising. Find out more So much to say about our Bhutan Holiday Viv Semmens travelled to Bhutan on an unforgettable holiday that she will cherish forever. She fell in love with the country, its blissfully happy people, the stunning scenery and beautiful architecture. Find out more Show All Places to Stay At cazenove+loyd, we have no vested interest in the hotels, lodges, boats, trains and tented camps which we select. We only choose what is right for a particular client. We visit each destination in our three regions on a regular basis and have detailed conversations with our clients on their return so our choices are continually refined. Here are just four c+l reviews. This is by no means a prescriptive list, but hints at what we look for and value in places to stay. Six Senses Bhutan The new collection of Six Senses lodges is sure to be an exciting addition to the hotel scene in Bhutan. Each of the country’s five valleys will play host to an intimate retreat, providing high quality food, luxurious accommodation and, of course, the world-renowned spas of this celebrated brand. Find out more Uma by COMO COMO’s Bhutanese offerings excel in their locations and breathtaking, almost fairy-tale views over their respective valleys. Both Uma Paro and Uma Punakha are relaxing havens presiding over lush green paddy fields and orchards, pine forests and mountain peaks. Find out more Amankora Aman have five lodges in Bhutan, located in the main valleys of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang. Although we can’t deny that the hotels are some of the most luxurious and stylish in the country (and by far the most expensive as well) we do think that some are slightly lacking in individuality and the warmth of the more traditional Bhutanese-style hotels and lodges. Find out more Gangtey Lodge Gangtey Lodge is by far the best place to stay in Gangtey if you are looking for a combination of character and comfort. Indeed, it is up there with our favourite luxury lodges in all of Bhutan. It is an independent lodge owned and run by Brett and Omar, a couple we have worked with for many years. Find out more Highlights For over 20 years we have been creating the best luxury tailor-made holidays, we know our countries inside and out and really know how to get under the skin of each one and the best way to experience them. Tiger’s Nest Monastery Why do you love Tiger’s Nest monastery? It is a surprisingly strenuous walk up to the monastery but the views from the top and the ingenuity of its builders make it well worth the effort. What is it? More properly called ‘Taktshang Goemba’, Bhutan’s most famous monastery clings to a cliff edge above the Paro… Find out more Punakha Punakha is one of our favourite valleys in Bhutan. At a mere 1200 metres above sea level the climate is sub-tropical, and when you arrive from Thimphu (or Gangtey if coming from the other direction) you will sense a noticeable rise in temperature and see a distinct change in vegetation. Find out more Gangtey The National Highway from Punakha to Gangtey may be a little empty but as you wind up through the mountains the air gets fresher, the views more immense and the land far less populated than its lower neighbouring district of Punakha. Find out more Paro Paro is a beautiful valley in Western Bhutan, and although it is home to the country's only international airport, it is still unspoilt and extremely peaceful. We usually like to leave it until the end of an itinerary, as logistically it works well with the early morning flights and with some of the real highlights of the country here it means all trips end on a high. Find out more Thimphu Thimphu is a short drive from Paro airport and the perfect way to start off an itinerary to put everything into perspective. Being the only capital city in the world to have no traffic lights (they were installed a few years back but had to be removed after complaints from the locals) Find out more BUMTHANG Bumthang is thought of as the centre of the country's Buddhist faith and also known to some as "little Switzerland". The district is made up of 4 valleys-Choekhor (known more commonly by the name of its main town, Jakar), Chumey,Tang and Ura. Find out more Lesser known festivals The smaller festivals in Bhutan are often not even advertised locally, and if we can tie in your dates with a local tsechu (festival) it is a real joy to experience. The unpredictability of local village tsechus and their inaccessibility means that we can give you an experience all to yourselves. Find out more Traditional Archery Contest Archery is as much a ritual and means of social expression as a sport in Bhutan. Join in if you want but with the interpretation of our guides there is a code of behaviour which is almost scripted and the insults traded in order to put off the or mock the opposing team usually needs to be censored in translation. Find out more Stay with a local family You're not going to rave about the comfort or the food but waking up in a local house in a remote village devoid of Western comforts and joining in morning prayer or meditation with the family with local monks is likely to stay with you for a long time. So if you are yearning for a spiritual and authentic experience this is for you. Find out more Show All Location We know Bhutan better than most. The possibilities are endless and ever-changing. On the map below, we have plotted some of our current favourite places to stay, some c+l highlights and a few pertinent client stories. And you can see if there is a team member travelling in that particular country and link through to them and what they are up to, so you can get them to call you on their return. Best time to visit Bhutan Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Best time to go Like most of the Himalayan kingdoms, Bhutan is best visited in February to May after the coldest months but before the rains, preferably when the rhododendrons and camellias are in bloom. Or after the rains in October, November, early December when the views of the higher peaks are clearest and before the coldest season. Accessed by air via India, Nepal, Singapore and Thailand many visitors break their journey on the way in or out with a stay in one of these countries. Meet the Team Asia + The Middle East Venetia Chris Penny Florence Auriole We'd love to hear from you Our well travelled Destination Experts have extensive first hand knowledge of their destinations and can open doors that others simply can’t.