The challenge in deciding where to build a new hotel in Pokhara has always been to combine a mountain view with a lakefront location.
Lakeside lodges don't have mountain scenery, while hotels like Shangrila and Fulbari that offer spectacular panoramas are situated a bit far from the lake. Fishtail Lodge is the classic example of a hotel that combines both: reflection of the Annapurnas and Machapuchre on the ripples of Phewa Lake.
Now comes Raniban Retreat, located next to the Peace Pagoda overlooking the city and lake, while offering a sweeping panorama from Dhaulagiri in the west to Himalchuli in the east. It is the ideal getaway for couples on honeymoon, a retreat for writers and artists in search of inspiration, or travellers who want to go where few other tourists go.
Located at nearly 1,500 m altitude, Raniban also offers unparalleled tranquillity more reminiscent of off-the-beaten-track properties like Tiger Mountain. No traffic, no disco music, no street peddlers.
Raniban Retreat was first set up by a British investor and bought up by Nepali owners three years ago who renovated and restructured the place. The upgraded resort welcomed its first guests in December and business has picked up steadily as news of its charms spread by word of mouth.
Raniban also gets brownie points for being an environmentally and socially conscious business with solar power and a biogas plant to turn waste into methane. Caretaker Himlal Baral explains, "We want to be a part of the landscape and not disturb nature."
Surrounding villages benefit from the 10 km water pipeline built by the retreat. Milk and spinach are bought from neighbouring farms and except for managers and chefs, the housekeeping staff, manual labourers and guides who take guests on tours of villages are all locals.
The resort has 12 unique tented camps and four cottages, each furnished with double beds, and private attached bathrooms. But you can't really get away from it all because the hotel has free wifi throughout.
Finally, a new airport?