Opening this summer, the all-inclusive Shinta Mani Mustang will provide access to Tibetan wellness experiences and financial support to local Nepalese women. Rose Dykins reports
Shinta Mani Mustang – a Bensley Collection luxury lodge is launching in August 2023 in Mustang, a “forbidden kindgom” in Nepal. (The unveiling was originally planned for this spring but is facing delays.)
Shinta Mani Hotels has partnered with Kathmandu-based Sherpa Hospitality Group to launch the first internationally flagged Shinta Mani Hotels property outside of Cambodia, which is also part of the Bensley Collection.
The 29-suite all-inclusive lodge will offer a holistic luxury experience in the Himalayas, where guests can stay in one of the most carefully protected and preserved regions of the world.”Mustang” in Tibetan translates as “plain of aspiration”. An isolated kingdom of Nepal, Mustang has been forbidden to outsiders for centuries, elevating it to a near-mythical status. It lies in one of the world’s deepest valleys, the Kali Gandaki valley, situated between the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri mountain ranges.
The Shinta Mani Mustang is located in Jomsom, in the Lower Mustang area which is a gateway to the Forbidden Kingdom in Upper Mustang. It is a deeply spiritual destination with a rich in Buddhist culture and many monasteries. It also has incredible dramatic landscapes and is home to some of the world’s highest snow-capped peaks, including Mount Nilgiri.Sustainable designer Bill Bensley is the creative mind behind the landmark luxury lodge. The interiors of Shinta Mani Mustang will incorporate warm-coloured fabrics and materials to reflect the rich tones of the surrounding landscape, which can be viewed from every window of the lodge.
Huge fire pits on the outdoor terrace will be set up to keep guests warm as they look up and admire millions of stars in the night sky. Inside, every area of the lodge will feature artwork by the late artist Robert Powell, a friend of Bensley’s who drew the region’s vernacular architecture in incredible detail. In Bensley’s typical upcycling style, with sustainability in mind, recycled materials have been repurposed into unique new pieces of furniture. Each of the lodge’s 29 suites are 45 sqm in size and are designed in the style of a traditional Tibetan home, They have open-plan bedrooms combined with living areas separate bathrooms, while floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the Nilgiri mountain. Bill Bensley says: “This is perhaps one of the most exciting projects we have ever had. I have never seen such wildly dramatic landscapes as the mountains and valleys of Mustang, and am thrilled that Shinta Mani can be the first to introduce this Forbidden Kingdom to international adventurers – and all the more so under the special wing of Bensley Collection.
“This will be their base camp for explorations all around these phenomenal mountains, as always guided by our kind and infinitely knowledgeable Bensley Adventure Guides, for the experience of a lifetime.”
Culinary options at Shinta Mani Mustang will include the 60-seat Nilgiri Restaurant, complete with a large outdoor patio where modern Nepalese cuisine and Western cuisine will be served, using locally sourced and foraged produce. Meanwhile, the Aara Bar is named after an exotic local Tibetan/Sherpa liquor. The lodge’s wellness centre has two treatment suites with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the mountains. Each has a hot plunge pool, a steam room, a sauna, a shower and two massage beds.
The lodge’s Tibetan wellness programme will be developed by a local 11th-generation Tibetan Amchi doctor, using traditional herbal medicine. The lodge also has an activity room which can be used for meetings, presentation or yoga and exercise classes.Shinta Mani Mustang guest experience programme is full of personalised and private guided activities that honour the traditions of local Sherpa hospitality. A series of excursions have been curated that enable guests to do a different trip every day for up to two weeks. Led by experienced Bensley adventure duides, options include trekking, horse riding, rock climbing, cycling, archery, helicopter tours, wellness experiences, as well as day trips such as hiking along rarely travelled trails and enjoying Shinta Mani gourmet picnics made with farm-to-fork ingredients.
In keeping with Shinta Mani’s philosophy of giving back to the communities in which they operate, the lodge will work closely with the Psang Lhamu Foundation which was founded by the owning family after Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, their mother, became the first Nepalese woman to blaze a trail to the summit of Mount Everest in 1993. The foundation was created to empower Nepalese women and develop the local mountaineering and tourism sector to support to the mountaineers and their families.
Sokoun Chanpreda, managing director of HMD Asia (which owns Shinta Mani Hotels), says: “We are delighted to be entering into this agreement with the Sherpa Hospitality Group and highly value our partnership with them. We have incredible synergies between our brands and look forward to a fruitful and successful alliance in this unique and very special destination.” Namgyal Sherpa, owner of Sherpa Hospitality Group, adds: “Our group has been promoting experiential travel in remote areas of Nepal for many years now. It was our dream to create world class, luxury hotel experiences in the Himalayas and we couldn’t find a better partner than Shinta Mani Hotels to collaborate with on this vision as we share similar values.
“We are very excited to be pushing the boundaries and creating a new and exciting project that will position Nepal as a quality, luxury destination and not just for budget traveller.”
Rates at the all-inclusive Shinta Mani Mustang start from US$1,700 per couple per night for a minimum five-night stay, plus applicable service charge and government taxes.
Rates include all food and beverage; private guided activities and excursions; unlimited spa treatments; personal Bensley Adventure Guide and transfers between Kathmandu and Jomsom (by air or air and road). Helicopter transfers and private chartered flights are additional. Scheduled flights operate via Kathmandu direct or via Pokhara to Jomson, from which it is a short drive to the Lodge.