The Kingdom of Bhutan begins and ends in the mountains, with 23,000-foot peaks marking the country’s northern border with Tibet. But in the former capital of Punakha, which sits at a relatively low 5,000 feet in central Bhutan, a tropical climate contributes to a landscape of green hillsides, rice paddies, banana trees, and poinsettia-lined roads. The city and the mountain town of Paro are two of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, and they are now linked by two of Bhutan’s best hotels.
Uma by Como, Punakha, which joins Como Hotels and Resorts’ 9-year-old property in Paro, debuted in September on a hillside overlooking the Mo river. The 11-room lodge welcomes guests in a wood-framed lounge outfitted with low-slung white sofas and serviced by staff dressed in traditional gho and kira robes. Nine valley-view guest rooms line an adjacent courtyard, while two private villas sit in seclusion in a nearby glade.
After excursions to the Punakha Dzong monastery or to a fertility temple dedicated to a saint known as the Divine Madman, Uma by Como guests can escape to the resort’s Como Shambhala Retreat. The two-room spa offers an upscale take on the Bhutanese tradition of soaking in riverside bathing pools warmed by fire-heated rocks. In the Como version, bathers relax in a wooden bath filled with marigolds, and they ring a prayer bowl to order additional rocks. Uma by Como, Punakha, +975.8.584.688, www.comohotels.com