Who: Rajeev Kohli (Joint Managing Director) & Dimple Singh (Chief Operating Officer)
When: August 2023
In the heart of the Himalayas, where the mountains reach for the sky and the air is crisp and pure, lies the enchanting land of Nepal.
Our Nepal office had been asking us to come up to see the changes in the destination over the past few years, especially since the pandemic. So early September we decided to take a few days and go exploring.
Creative Travel has been delivering experiences in Nepal for over 40 years. We have an amazing team in the destination that never fails to surprise. Our objective of the trip was to understand how the destination fared in the pandemic and what’s new.
We were so pleasantly surprised. Kathmandu which has always been a bustling chaotic little city, has spruced up. They have a new young Rapper-turned-Politician as a mayor who has made a very visible difference. Roads have been widened, cleanliness is visible and most interestingly, they don’t seem to honk their horns as incessantly as we Indians do (see this funny video).
Nepal has mostly been treated as a secondary destination to India. It has been a traditional add-on to India programs, but a smaller percentage going there alone. We feel this does an injustice to the uniqueness of what Nepal is. In this edition’s “Story of the Month’ you will read more of what Nepal has to offer.
What we were surprised by were the changes in the hotel space. Very positive we will say. The Dwarika’s remains the grand old dame of experiential stays in the destination, in Kathmandu and Dhulikhel. The Shrestha family has kept the legacy strong.
In Kathmandu, The Soaltee (formerly the Soaltee Crowne Plaza) has gone through extensive refurbishments and has been upgraded in all ways. One wing still has work to be done, but what we saw was very well done.
Also in the city is a super boutique little property called The Nanee, Small, with only 18 rooms, this is in the middle of busy Bhaktapur. It is highly experiential in its location and look & feel. For a traveller who wants to be in an immersive environment, this works.
Up in the Pokhara region, we visited the hill village of Sarangkot and saw the small Sarangkot Mountain Lodge. We do find that luxury in Nepal may not be so much in the physical, as it is in the experience. This is a small lodge-type property with great views. Ver charming and relaxing.
Outside Kathmandu town, we went to the village area of Nagarkot. There were two surprises here. The luxury Kavya Resort & Spa takes Nepal accommodation to a different level. Spacious, design-focused, and elegant, the Kavya allows us to showcase Nepal at the level close to luxury that India has become a favourite for. Also, in Nagarkot is a 4-start product called Tayo Eco Resort. Again, its simplicity and luxury works for a traveller who is nature-focused and has a more modest budget.
Dhulikhel also has the new Dusit Thani Himalayan Resort. Very true to the Dusit quality that comes from Thailand.
In our 4 days, we visited 24 hotels and resorts between Kathmandu, Pokhara, Sarangkot, Nagarkot and Dhulikhel. Our focus in the destination will be heavy on experiences, much like we do in India. We left with a lot of enthusiasm and tons of new ideas. Rajeev and Dimple knew they had witnessed the dawning of a new era for Nepal, an era that beckons travellers to unravel its hidden gems and embrace its unique essence. Nepal is ready to take its place in the spotlight, and we are eager to share this story with the world.