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Paradise Found
A passion for sustainability, conservation of art and wellbeing

A passion for sustainability, conservation of art and wellbeing makes the Dune Eco Village & Spa in Pondicherry a unique sanctuary for any enlightened wellness seeker.

Just a few miles north of Pondicherry, a 35 acre beachfront property overlooking theBay of Bengal, is home to The Dune Eco Village & Spa, my destination. The drive from Chennai to Pondicherry on the picturesque East Coast Road is a delightful experience. The road is bordered by paddy fields on one side and salt pans or the sea on the other, as far as the eye can see. Definitely a sight for my sore eyes, accustomed to a frenetic urban landscape.

 The brainchild of the owners, French couple Emilie and Dimitri Klein, Dune was born out of their passion for eco-conservation, preservation of art and wellbeing, which finally evolved into a destination attracting global and Indian travellers alike.
It is dusk by the time I reach Dune and I am directed down a curving flagstone path bordered by flowering plants and trees to my ‘home’ named Artists Residence 1. The entrance of the villa, reminiscent of a colonial bungalow is wrapped by a deep verandah with a huge antique door obviously refurbished from an old traditional Indian home. This contradiction remains as I step inside a very modern minimalistic living room with a king size double bed and an ornate three piece sofa. Featured walls are covered with a classic black and white landscape picture and paintings that adorn not only the walls, but even the sliding doors of the washroom, living up to the name of the villa!
Large plate glass windows and door look out onto a private outdoor garden with frangipani trees, a swimming pool and a comfy sit out. Certainly a space one can call ‘home’ by anyone seeking privacy and tranquillity.

The Beginning

Sunil Varghese, Director Dune Eco Village & Spa tells me that Dune was never planned as a resort at all but eventually became one. “The land was untouched upto seven years ago, and evolved from an artistes’ village where writers, painters, sculptors etc. could stay for free to complete their projects, on the condition that they contributed in some way to the property” he exhorts. Today it is a thoughtfully planned resort with 50 independent villas spread across the 35 acre property alive with indigenous flora and fauna. It still has artistes in residence whose contributions are seen
everywhere on the property.
Modernity and ancient architecture surprise you at every turn. So if the reception looks like a small temple, be prepared to enter the beach through the Noart Gate, a metallic doorway with portholes which looks like a part of a boat! Beautiful arched gateways carved of wood and stone lead to different areas of the resort, and at the same time you can see discarded plastic water tanks painted over with modern art and made into fun houses in the children’s park.
Art lives everywhere on Dune.

360° Sustainablility

Klein’s deep commitment to preserving the legacy of the land and building a sustainable venture is evident throughout Dune.

“To the extent of my possibilities, I defend biodiversity within the environment, as well as human diversity, variety in food, multiple approaches towards, well-being and cultural richness”
Dimitri Klein
CEO, Dune Eco Resort & Spa

The 35 acre property has been planted with flowering plants like frangipani, hibiscus, cannas, and orchids, as well as casuarinas along its 800 metre sea-front. Coconut trees commonly found along the sea coast are plentiful here, but especially planted are vanishing tree varieties of Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest, which once adorned the Coramandel coast of India. This bountiful plantation comprising 15000 trees and 20,000 shrubs attracts a myriad of butterflies and birds such as kingfishers, parrots and cuckoos. 
Villas and other structures that have been built through locally available materials or have been restored from demolished heritage homes and temples. All walk-ways are made from laterite stone while flagstone is used indoors. Roofs of villas are made of Mangalore tiles or are beautifully thatched with woven palm leaves, a dying craft that Dune nurtures.
Dune produces most of its food in-house, nearly 30 varieties of vegetables and grains. Paddy fields dot the property and the grain is grown without submerging the fields in the water as it is traditionally done, saving tons of water. Moreover, milk, butter and cottage cheese are generated from the organically fed cows reared on the property. Similarly, farm fresh organic eggs come from the hens on the property and fresh catch from the sea on Dune’s doorstep!

“From the chic, rustic cabin to the upscale modern villa with its private pool, that special atmosphere of a holiday home is always appreciated, while at the same time benefiting from the full panoply of hotel services, thanks to our professional and friendly staff.”
Sunil Varghese
Director, Dune Eco Resort & Spa

The focus of water saving has resulted in setting up a reverse osmosis and water demineralising plant to bottle water in glass bottles, reducing 25,000 plastic bottles a year. Similarly energy savings are effected by using natural ventilation, energy saving LED lights, and generation of solar and wind energy. All waste water is recycled for use in the garden, and vermiculture plants use up the kitchen and other organic waste to create manure.
Going beyond food and energy, all things that touch your body such as toiletries too are made of organic materials, and are fully biodegradable. Similarly sheets and towels are made of natural fabrics, washed in detergent free products.
Dune’s goal is to reduce its energy consumption by 75% and it is evident that sustainability is central to the resorts philosophy.

Wellbeing @ Paradise

The Paradise Spa & Healing Centre is headed by Dr. Indira Priyadarshini, who is the Ayurvedic Consultant. It occupies nearly one acre of space and is housed in a series of rooms with thatched roofs, connected by covered pathways, lending simple rustic charm to the Spa. A large Yoga hall, a Gymnasium, the Watsu Pool and 10 treatment rooms offer complete wellness solutions to the clients.
Treatment Rooms are spacious and have a high thatched roof. Walls are also made from panels of woven palm leaves. Pendant lights with aluminium shades and a silver painted fan give an interestingly modern and industrial look to a traditional space. Each treatment room has an open to sky shower area, giving the client a feeling of being outdoors with privacy, while Ayurveda rooms are equipped with the traditional steam chamber.

Dr. Priyadarshini looks after all client needs along with her team of eight therapists. “Treatments we offer include Ayurvedic, Western including Deep Tissue, Swedish and Reflexology and a unique treatment called Watsu which is an old Japanese technique of applying acupressure called Shiatsu done on warm water,” she explains.

“Our Spa proposes a wide array of therapies, originating from the world over, with a choice of ancient and traditional methods, but also makes available more recent therapies developed in alternative medicine.”
Dr. Indira Priyadarshini
Head of Paradise Spa & Wellness Centre and Ayurvedic Consultant

Ayurvedic packages extend from seven to 48 days depending on what the package is, and the clients are holistically treated to include diet and internal medicine too.
Packages include Detox, Weight Loss etc., but the centre gets many clients who come with ailments such as arthritis or high BP etc. It is obvious that the treatments are effective because the spa regularly gets repeat customers who come back for some or the other programme every year.
“Watsu is a specialised treatment which can be delivered only by certified therapists, hence we have a therapist from Auroville on call as appointments are made,” Dr. Priyardarshini tells me. But it is evident that it is a treatment much in demand as Dune has built a very beautiful covered Watsu pool with a soaring Mangalore tiled roof and wind chimes called ‘Magic Water’.


Paradise Spa gets its therapists from academies in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. “Therapists from Kerala are well trained in Ayurveda, but we have to train them again in western philosophies and reflexology,” says Dr. Priyadarshini. She finds it difficult to get therapists from Tamil Nadu as there is low awareness of spa training there. However Tamil Nadu has good training facilities in alternative systems of medicine like Yoga, Naturapathy, and Homeopathy etc.These therapists are then retrained in Ayurveda and westerntreatments by Dune.
Trainings are conducted for three months and only then are therapists allowed to work on guests under supervision. Independent handling of clients comes once the trainer is satisfied with the trainees’ abilities.
Dune offers food and accommodation to all therapists since most of them are from outside Pondicherry.


All Ayurvedic products used at Paradise such as oils and herbal powders are especially made for them from a place near Ernakulam in Kerala. Ayurvedic traditional medicine comes from an old vaidya’s pharmacy ‘Shree Verma’ in Pondicherry, and while some essential oils come from France, some come from Auroville too. For beauty treatments, all herbal plants and fruits are from Dune’s own herbal garden.

For the Love of Art

Art certainly thrives at Dune. Its spaces give you different vistas at every turn; its wondrous collection of artifacts; paintings and stained glass on walls of villas and even complete houses it has rescued and restored.
But, there is an interesting touch of whimsical design that you see everywhere in the resort. Seemingly traditional structures are supported by stone pillars painted silver, and the lamp shades are made of the slats of discarded aluminium blinds bent into different shapes; bathroom doors could be paintings, and walls could be murals!
All 35 acres of the property are strewn with contributions of resident artistes who have left their creations behind to delight the guests.

A Getaway to Wellness

Dune touches one in many different ways. Through its art, it’s commitment to sustainable living, its community support programmes and its tranquil spaces. Certainly, a place where today’s traveller will find peace and quiet!

Name of the Property: Dune Eco Village & Spa
Name of the Spa: Paradise Spa
Awards & Accolades: 10 Best Spa on Earth by a leading magazine, Best Destination Spa by TripAdvisor, 5 Best Eco Resort in the World by GEO
Director: Sunil Varghese
Spa manager: Dr. Indira Priyadarshini
No. of Spa Staff/ Team: 12
Spa Facilities: Watsu, Ayurveda, Swedish, Thai among others 
Recreational Activities: Yoga, Farm Visit, Pottery, Coir Making, Milking the cow, Beach Games, cycles to move around the property, jogging track, tennis, badminton, table tennis, village visit
Best time of the year to visit: August to April
Best Treatment offered: Saundarya
Treatment price range: INR 1750 to INR 4250
Contact: The Dune Eco Village & Spa, Pudhukuppam, Keelputhupet, Pondicherry University (via), Pudhucherry -14,
Ph: 00 91 413 3244040 / 2655456 / 2655457,
Mob: 09364455440. Website:

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