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“A whole lot of happy!”

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Prema Shanti Yoga & Meditation Retreat
Ranked #1 of 1 Diwan B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 6, 2015

As a solo person staying at Prema Shanti it was warm and welcoming. Clean healthy meals are dished up with love, the rooms are simple but all you need, and the meditation along with yoga everyday hits the spot. The retreat is surrounded by stunning rainforest and after a two day stay I drove away feeling so happy that I stayed at this retreat. Bliss!

  • Stayed: September 2015, traveled solo
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Hellomish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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42 - 46 of 131 reviews

Reviewed August 30, 2015

As I am someone who always checks negative TripAdvisor reviews before going to stay anywhere, I've decided to start with a list in response to the very few negative reviews below (nestled in between the many, many positive reviews), and will then go on to my general review of the Prema Shanti Yoga retreat.

1. Helping out: Prema Shanti is a yoga retreat, completely run by a lovely couple, Mara and Janardhan. They do everything - lead the yoga practices, prepare delicious meals, maintenance, cleaning, running the business side of things - everything. The fact that they don't employ any staff is reflected in the low prices guests pay (and these ARE low prices - many yoga retreats I've looked at charge up between $300 and $500 per person per night!). It is also reflected in the type of product that is offered. Prema Shanti is a wonderful, friendly, well-run yoga retreat. Prema Shanti does not pretend to be a resort. If you are expecting daily maid service, an a la carte menu from which to select your meal, televisions in your rooms, you will be disappointed. However, if you are expecting a serene, clean, friendly, stunningly beautiful place where you can enjoy the luxury of being treated as guests along with the gratification of doing a few minimal tasks to help out as part of the community of people staying at Prema Shanti at any given time, you will have a wonderful, rewarding experience. And in case I've scared you away with an idea that you are going to be buried in housework, the tasks with which guests are expected to help are:
a) wiping down your yoga mat once a day -(so they don't smell like other people's feet!)
b) washing up after breakfast (pretty much just rinsing out your bowl and spoon as it is not a cooked breakfast) and dinner (a communal, sociable, chatty task with others staying at the retreat).
c) halfway through our 9-night stay, Mara offered us clean bed linen but asked if we would be okay with changing the linen as she preferred not to come into the room while occupied.
That's it! Not too onerous, especially at the price we were paying.

2. The food: the food was absolutely delicious. Despite both of us generally being fairly heavy meat eaters, we hardly missed meat at all. For breakfast we had a plentiful fresh fruit salad, fresh yoghurt, muesli, bran cereal and a choice of dairy or soy milk. We had a different dinner each of the 9 nights we were there - very generous servings of a range of meals including risotto, dahl, stir-fry, salad, gado gado, soup, roast vegetables, biryani and pasta. For lunch, visitors are encouraged to go out - there are plenty of café and restaurant options within a short drive (oh, the ice-cream.....), and Mara and Janardhan will be happy to give you recommendations based on your preferences. If you do want to take along some daytime snacks (a misleading negative review which said you don't get enough fresh produce led me to buy some fruit on the way up there), please store them in your car - you are asked not to keep them in your room as there is plenty of local wildlife (you are in a world heritage listed rainforest, after all) and they don't want to encourage the local critters to come into the bedrooms.

3. The bathrooms: What you will find as soon as you cross the Daintree river is that the whole area is "off the utilities grid" - no power, no sewerage, no water. This is not nearly as dire as it sounds - however, it does mean that some creative solutions have had to be found, and that one does need to be extra conscious of conserving water and power. At Prema Shanti, the arrangements are as follows:
a) There are two composting toilets a short walk from the accommodation.
b) There is one flushing toilet in a unisex bathroom with piped water at the accommodation - actually on the veranda, which was a little weird for me for about the first 12 hours but quickly came to seem normal. Likewise, the kitchen, dining area, socialising areas and even Mara's office are sections of the veranda. Although the bathroom is on the veranda, your dignity will be preserved - showers and toilet are in cubicles.
c) There are two hot-water showers with good pressure. When we were there, one of the showers was reserved for our hosts' use, but as there were only between 2 and 6 people on any given night, this didn't create any problems. I think there was one night I had to wait for the shower, but not for long.
So three toilets and two showers between a maximum of ten guests (if they were fully booked) and two hosts, which really shouldn't create any major problems.
We weren't given any hard and fast rules about when you can flush and when not, and certainly no one is following you to check up on you, but there is a sign up asking you to "only flush when necessary" - which is completely understandable when you know that they are operating with rainwater only. Likewise, it is responsible to be sparing of water when washing dishes - there was generally a sink run for washing and a sink for rinsing.

4. The yoga: I have been doing yoga approximately once a week during a work lunch hour at a local gym for the last few years - while better than no practice at all, this is obviously not the timeslot or place for more than a very superficial practice. My partner has practiced yoga 3 or 4 times, over a single weekend, about two years ago. He enjoyed it but never took it further. So we are not qualified to respond to any reviews about the yoga except to find that we found the practices to be immensely useful. My partner's flexibility and my strength improved noticeably over the 9 nights we were there. I learnt a lot - including receiving some tips which I have been able to bring back to my gym yoga to improve my practice. We both suffer from insomnia, and my partner slept excellently for all 9 nights, while I slept very well for the first 8 of the 9 nights (even with some daytime naps as well!), and I am sure that this was in part due to the meditation (a first for both of us) and yoga nidras. Of the other ten people who came and/or went while we were there, a wide range of yoga abilities were represented, and I believe that all found the yoga practices rewarding.

5. The commissions: The custom seems to be that Mara will sit down with visitors on their first morning and talk about what they would like to experience while at the retreat, both from a yoga point of view and from a tourism point of view. She was extremely knowledgeable about the different experiences, attractions and eating options on offer, and was really good at eliciting our preferences and making recommendations. Yes, she gets a commission from the tour operators. No, this makes absolutely no difference to the price that you pay - it is a payment from the tour operators which is included in the advertised price. And no, I never felt that she was pushing me into something I wouldn't love doing just to get a cut - her recommendations were spot-on, and were made after an in-depth discussion about what kind of holiday we were looking for. Also her inside knowledge helped - we just told her what we wanted and she got on the phone and made all our enquiries, worked out the best dates with the best weather, etc. we didn't have to do a thing - just take our voucher and be at the collection point at the designated time.

6. The "noble silence": Guests are asked to maintain silence in all public areas from 9:30 pm till after meditation, i.e. approximately 7:30 am. Quiet talking in your bedroom is permitted. In fact, we found that most guests retired to their bedrooms by 9:30 pm anyway - the days have an early start, a physically strenuous yoga session in the evening and most of us were having quite active days (snorkelling, horseriding, ziplining, swimming, walking, massages) - a frequent dinnertime comment was that it felt much later than it was. So I don't think the noble silence is likely to be a problem for many people - and frankly, I would have found it very annoying if there was noisy socialising going on just when we were winding down to rest, so I think this is a very sensible practice which enhanced the experience.

7. value for money: really? beautiful, clean, unique accommodation in a stunning natural environment, two plentiful and delicious meals as well as unlimited tea and coffee throughout the day, daily yoga and meditation practices, personalised assistance for booking activities which suit your preferences exactly (no assembly line tourist experiences here!) - all for not much more than the price of a standard hotel room.

8. A few other helpful tips - these aren't in response to any reviews, but I do think it is good to know as much as possible when preparing for your trip:
a) towels and toiletries are not provided - bring your own
b) the solar power system cannot support hairdryers or hair straighteners, so don't bother packing these - nobody cares what your hair looks like, everyone is just chilling out (I think this applies to the whole Daintree area, not just the retreat!)
c) there is no mobile reception at the retreat - in fact there is not much mobile reception once you cross the Daintree ferry. we did find a spot near the croc boat tour gathering point for a call that we needed to make.
d) there is no television at the retreat (we really enjoyed the break from it). there is a small library, but these are books and magazines dealing with yoga and spiritual matters. if you prefer a whodunnit, you will need to bring your own.
e) it is worth keeping a bottle of water in your room. if the water runs out, Janardhan turns on the generator and you have more very quickly - this happened twice during our stay. but once was at night - if we hadn't had a bottle of water in the room, we would have been pretty thirsty!
f) there is PLENTY to do in the area between the Daintree ferry and Cape Tribulation. We bought a book of ten ferry tickets (equal to the price of two returns) as we thought we would be driving back and forth across the ferry frequently - turns out we didn't need to go across for anything we wanted to do.

I hope all of the above helps when planning, and especially that it counters any doubts you might have had when reading the odd negative review, even though they are overwhelmingly outnumbered by positive reviews.

Phew - having written all that, I've pretty much run out of steam, so just a few more general words below and then I'll sign off.

We discovered Prema Shanti online almost by accident. For years we had been talking about a trip to incorporate a snorkelling visit to the Great Barrier Reef. We have both been in extremely stressful work situations for the last two years, and something led me to type "Cairns Yoga" into Google - it brought up the Prema Shanti website which instantly just felt right!

Our primary goal when organising the trip, therefore, was simply to find affordable accommodation from which to base our standard holiday activities, particularly visiting the reef. However, neither of us lead particularly healthy lifestyles, and we really liked the idea of grounding our holiday in an exercise routine, as well as taking advantage of the vegetarian/no-alcohol catering at Prema Shanti (extending that to our lunchtimes away from the retreat) to have a bit of a detox while still having a fun holiday.

This was one of the best holiday experiences I have had in years. I have now had a full week back at work and I am still feeling a little bit zenned out! We slept better than we have for ages, we had the most awe-inspiring experiences snorkelling at the reef without another boat in sight, ziplining through the rainforest canopy, cantering on the beach (my horse was called Hellboy! - lovely boy, not sure how he got the name), swimming in the most beautiful natural (and croc-free) waterhole I have ever seen. We saw wild turtles - both at the reef and at the waterhole - and wild cassowaries, and wild crocodiles - we were so pleased that the croc boat tour was not of the "dangle a chicken" variety but deeply respectful of these beautiful creatures. We spent hours just reading in the hammock on the veranda. I couldn't believe that an area in Australia that had so much to offer tourists could still be so unspoilt - worlds apart from the mass-market-touristy Cairns and Port Douglas, even though they are quite a short drive away.

Thank you, Prema Shanti, for this wonderful experience.

Stayed: August 2015, traveled as a couple
12  Thank africamuse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 13, 2015 via mobile

This is a really wonderful place where you can make your own retreat and get whatever it is you need from the rainforest. Mara and Janardhan are caring and generous and will give you any help you need. You will meet other interesting people and have a very comfortable stay. Thank you again, this is a very special place and a great place to stay in the Daintree especially if you are interested in yoga/meditation.

Stayed: August 2015, traveled solo
Thank sgconnor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 9, 2015

I love Prema Shanti so much that I try to come here every year to escape the Sydney winter and reconnect with what's important in life. Since my last visit they have renovated the rooms which now offer zen-like spaces for unwinding. Mara and Janardhan are the perfect hosts and create an atmosphere where strangers quickly become friends. While you could easily spend all day relaxing in the stunning grounds of the retreat, there's a lot to do in the Daintree and this time I really enjoyed the hike up Mt Sorrow so bring your hiking shoes. As always, the yoga and meditation at the retreat are the real highlights and delivered in a way that's really genuine and accessible to all. For those of us with hectic lives it's bliss to slow down, reflect and just breathe in the clean rainforest air. I will be back next year!

  • Stayed: June 2015, traveled solo
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank Catriona B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 8, 2015

My mum and I stayed three nights at Prema Shanti as a mother/daughter weekend escape. We were warmly greeted by Janardhan and Marra upon our arrival and their beautiful hospitality continued throughout our stay.

Prema Shanti is a retreat within the rainforest which enables you to be surrounded by the beautiful daintree and really relax away from everything. Although the retreat is within close proximity to Marra & Janardhan's home and there may be other guests; it definitely feels as though it's your own space.

Each evening you're able to participate in yoga sessions and enjoy a hearty home-cooked vegetarian meal that is prepared by your hosts. Each morning you have the option of participating in meditation sessions; however this is not mandatory.

The vibe at Prema Shanti is beautiful and it's a great place to unwind and a fantastic base to explore the Daintree & Cape Tribulation. The facilities are a great mix of indoor and outdoor so that you're able to truly experience the rainforest - for example the kitchen and dining facilities are outdoors so that you're able to prepare your tea/coffee and enjoy your breakfast whilst enjoying the view.

We both agreed that we would love to come back to Prema Shanti at some point in the future and highly recommend it to anyone looking to relax and retreat.

  • Stayed: August 2015, traveled with family
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Chloe609
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Prema Shanti Yoga & Meditation Retreat

Address: 183 Turpentine Road, Diwan, Cape Tribulation, Queensland 4870, Australia
Location: Australia > Queensland > Daintree Region > Cape Tribulation > Diwan
Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 B&Bs / Inns in Diwan
Price Range: ₱3,514 - ₱4,547 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Prema Shanti Yoga & Meditation Retreat 3*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Prema Shanti Yoga and Meditation Retreat, is situated in the heart of the worlds oldest rainforest, the magnificent World heritage Daintree rainforest in far North Queensland, Australia, where our program of yoga and meditation runs everyday.At our yoga retreat centre you never miss out on your yoga and meditation practice, our yoga and meditation program runs 7 days a week, all year round.With our stunning secluded beaches, only 2hrs drive north of Cairns, our crystal clear fresh water swimming lagoons, native wildlife, surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, you awaken to the sounds of the rainforest birds calling you to meditation, you practice yoga on our polished timber floor in our purpose built yoga retreat temple.The Prema Shanti Yoga and Meditation Retreat provides you with the perfect ambience, for a unique rainforest yoga holiday. We offer you the complete holiday experience with a full range of spa treatments and massage available for you to enjoy and indulge.The Prema Shanti Yoga and Meditation Retreats purpose built facilities, boutique rooms & unique location provides the perfect venue for an unforgettable yoga holiday adventure.The Prema Shanti Yoga and Meditation Retreat facilities are ideal for yoga & meditation teachers looking for that special place to hold their next workshop or retreat.The program runs 7 days a week , all year round. ... more   less 

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