Anyone who has ever been to the Himalayas knows that its beauty is in its simplicity.
Far from modern civilization, the Himalayas are a simpler world of Tibetan monks, monasteries, farming
villages, prayer flags, rope bridges and hardly a speck of concrete anywhere. Visitors have to work hard to get
there and live hard once they’ve arrived, as very few comforts and amenities exist at such high altitudes.
This is beginning to change, however. The wealthy, who have monopolized certain parts of our planet but have
traditionally been excluded from the Himalayas due to the hardships one might encounter there, can now claim their
little piece of the holiest mountains on this planet.
In 2001, the Chinese government opened up a Himalayan-endowed section of the Yunnan Province for tourism
development and renamed it, somewhat cheesily, Shangri-La. Singapore based Banyan Tree Resorts thought it a wise
investment opportunity and proceeded to build a
luxury hotel located 11,000 feet up in the Himalayas that includes oxygen canisters in the minibar.
Their aim is to capitalize on the “soft adventure” market—people who desire to gaze upon an
exotic landscape that used claim the lives of many who dared venture there, while at the same time, enjoying facials,
fireplaces, wooden hot tubs and internet access. Banyan Tree
Ringha has all of this and more. At $400 a night ($395 more than I paid for accommodations in the Himalayas)
guests are pampered, coddled, and protected from the wilds outside their mahogany carved hotel doors.
While it certainly disappointments me to hear of such luxurious inroads to such remote and exotic places, I have to
admit a little jealousy as well. Life was tough traveling through the Himalayas. When I gaze upon the photos
of Banyan Tree Ringha, I soften and relax; it sure is beautiful. They’ve done a phenomenal job with the
place. Damn the rich!