Hotel Review: Le Meridien Paro, Riverfront in Bhutan
In the month of August I was invited by Sanjay Sharma, Market Vice President, North India, Bhutan & Nepal, Marriott Hotels to visit and write about the two Le Meridien hotels in Bhutan. The first one I visited was the Le Meridien Paro Riverfront.
I travelled from Kolkata to Bhutan by Drukair Royal Bhutan Airlines and the pleasant journey lasted for about an hour. Le Meridien Paro is fortunately just ten minutes away from the airport and the drive from the airport to the hotel was interesting with Bhutanese music playing on the radio along with the beautiful Paro River flowing by!
The hotel is magnificently designed and reflects Bhutanese architecture at it’s best. On arrival I was accorded a warm welcome by General Manager Randal Whelpdale and his team and we spent a good fifteen minutes chatting in the beautifully designed lobby of the hotel also called the Hub.
I was ushered to my room by the hotel’s team and it was a pleasant surprise to see personalized welcome amenities created by the Executive Chef. The amenities consisted of local Bhutanese chocolate, a bottle of local peach wine, a Bhutanese jewelry box, a Bhutanese inspired notebook, a Bhutanese mask and locally grown organic fruits. What I noticed immediately after settling down in my room was the heavenly sight of the Paro River flowing by.
Nestled in a Himalayan valley on the banks of the Paro River, the resort is a 30-minute drive from the Paro Taktsang monastery-one of Bhutan’s most ancient icons. Just outside the entrance is a Buddhist chorten or stupa-symbolic of the ancient art of prayer. The resort also caters to international business travellers with 612 square metres of meeting space.
All 59 guest rooms, including seven suites are designed with a classic Bhutanese point of view and offer arresting Himalayan Valley and Paro River views, as well as a signature LM BED, a bathroom with a rainforest shower and a bathtub. The combination of contemporary style with a European influence and Bhutan’s exquisitely rich culture and age-old tradition is the most remarkable feature of the hotel.
Le Meridien Paro Riverfront is a destination in itself; the resort embodies the spirit, culture and ethos of Bhutan. While at the property you will be one with nature and the calm you experience will help you absorb the positivity from all around,” said Randal Whelpdale, General Manager Le Meridien Paro Riverfront.
It is a good idea to spend some time relaxing in the Explore Spa as I discovered during my stay at Le Meridien Paro Riverfront. I experienced a fabulous signature massage where two therapists massage you simultaneously in perfectly synchronized movements.
For lunch I visited Latest Recipe and was delighted by the sight of the Bhutanese platter created by Executive Chef Binay Singh. The platter consisted of red rice, the kewa datshi (potato cheese and chilli), the jasha maroo (local chicken stew), the ema datshi (local chilli with cheese), the buckwheat pancake, the shamu datshi (mushroom cheese and chilli), the nakey datshi (wild fern with cheese and chilli), the gondo datshi (Bhutanese fried eggs) and in the centre you can see momos along with ezzay (Bhutanese chilli pickle) and Hogay salad which is the local cucumber salad!
The Bhutanese eat a lot of chillies and cheese as it was obvious after eating the local food. During my stay the chef created interesting Bhutanese dishes such as thukpa, noodles, momos and the hotel’s signature breakfast preparations such as eggs benedict and omelet stuffed with cheese and spinach.
In the evening I was served tea in the alfresco area of Latest Recipe and the sight of the mountains and the river flowing by from there was breathtaking. The Executive Chef has created a delightful little kitchen garden there in the alfresco area and I spent a lot of time admiring rows and rows of tomatoes, beetroot, baby carrots, Thai chillies, parsley, celery, sage, chives and the beautiful scenery in the company of Pema Seldon, the hotel’s Assistant Manager, Marketing and Communications.
The alfresco area of the hotel is a major attraction with most guests and this is where I spent a lot of time eating breakfast, having tea and just gazing at the beauty of nature. One can also witness aeroplanes flying really low from here as the airport is pretty close by. This alfresco area is perfect for parties and can accommodate upto 500 people; it is perfect for a barbecue night complete with bonfire. This area is just ideal for those looking for a unique venue for their post or pre wedding celebrations.
The next morning we went sightseeing and visited the beautiful temple called Kyichu Lhakhang. This is one of Bhutan’s oldest and most attractive temples and in the rains it looked even more serene and breathtaking. It is believed that this temple was built by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet to pin down the left foot of a giant ogress who was causing problems for the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet.
It was a blessing to be allowed in the inner sanctum of this temple by the priests so that we could witness the beauty of the deity and spend some quiet time in prayer. I also spent some time in the outer area of the temple spinning its many colourful prayer wheels when Pema told me that it is auspicious to do so. The next day I went sightseeing with Pema to visit the National Museum of Bhutan and the Sangchen Choekhor monastery. I also went shopping to the local handicraft market and picked up some beautiful pieces of Bhutanese jewelry and souvenir magnets to take back home.
Bhutan is heavenly and full of gorgeous sights and soothing sounds! It was heartwarming to note that Bhutanese are happy people with a deeply religious and spiritual inclination. They are blessed with beautiful natural scenery owing to the location and their monasteries and temples are very well maintained. My interactions with Bhutanese locals were immensely pleasant and I learnt that one does need a lot of money and success to be content or at peace with life. Being in Bhutan was food for the soul and one of the best journeys of my life!
Address: Paro, Bhutan
Phone: +975 8 270 300