Just opened in September, Pemako Punakha in Bhutan’s spectacular Punakha Valley has quickly established itself as one of the most luxurious properties in the country
Inspired by the legendary Himalayan sanctuary of Pemako, the Pemako Punakha resort rises up the valley on the east bank of the Mo Chhu river and is only accessible by walking across a bridge adorned with traditional Bhutanese prayer flags.
The 21 luxurious tented pool villas are well spaced out across the wooded hillside and each has a private heated pool and a spacious deck area. The interior decorations are purely Bhutanese, with fabrics in traditional colours and designs. The bathroom has a separate shower and a deep copper tub that is perfect for relaxing in.
Authentic Bhutanese cuisine is served at the Alchemy House, a restored building that long pre-dates the hotel and retains all its local character and time-honoured features. Soma serves local dishes as well as a range of Indian and Western-style dishes, all of which make good use of locally-grown ingredients. This all-day dining venue takes advantage of a broad deck overlooking the river.
The Five Nectars Bar is within an elevated pagoda-style building overlooking the river, with an extensive wine cellar and private dining below. The Lotus Realm Spa applies sowa-rigpa Bhutanese medicinal therapies, based on the principles of restoring balance and harmony to mind and body. As well as infrared and steam rooms, the spa enjoys a traditional hot stone bath. The front desk is also able to arrange guided excursions to local attractions, including to villages where little has changed in millennia, Buddhist festivals, nearby religious sites and the stunning Punakha Dzong, or fortress.
The service here is impeccable – a private butler was on hand 24 hours a day and no request was too much trouble. Restaurant and front desk staff were swift and happy to share local insight.
Bhutan is relatively early in its journey to deliver five-star tourist accommodation and experiences, but Pemako Punakha is a home-grown brand that is setting a high standard for others to follow.