A former coffee estate with 125 acres of pristine forest has been transformed into a luxury resort and spa that embraces nature at every turn. Located a five-hour drive west of Bangalore in the sparsely populated Indian district of Coorg, The Ibnii offers blissful respite to city-weary visitors in need of recharge and relaxation. A highlight at the resort is undoubtedly Manja, a spacious spa complex designed by PLAYGROUP Studio and Architects AHCPL.

koi pond with a tree trunk focal point

Exterior of the spa on a small hill

Manja, which means ‘turmeric’ in the local Kodagu vernacular, is a full-service spa set in one of the few clearings in the forest where the coffee estate workers’ quarters were once located. PLAYGROUP Studio and Architects AHCPL designed the spa as a series of fragmented cuboid blocks connected via elevated walkways over a central body of water. Guests enter the spa complex from the north, while massage rooms lie along the perimeter. The herbal bath, changing rooms, saunas and steam rooms are located toward the south.

artistic lighting

lean-to roofs

“The intention was to connect distinct architectural spaces, uniquely, to natural elements – central court to the sky above, massage rooms to the pond and corridors to the forest,” the architects wrote. “The most unique feature of the design is the steep 45-degree single lean-to roofs, the eaves of which almost touch the water below. They are designed on either side of the central courtyard converging into the water and opening the central space to the expanse of clear skies, which is a rare experience within the 110-acres, densely forested site that this resort is located in.”

elevated walkways around water

massage room interior

Related: These charming timber cabins in South India are a retreat for nature lovers

Clad in Himachal slate stone, the steeply angled roofs direct views from the massage rooms toward the water and preserve guests’ privacy. A natural materials palette lines the corridors and includes local stones such as Jaisalmer, Chocolate Andhra and Kadappa. Strategically placed windows let in natural light and offer select views of the forest.

+ PLAYGROUP Studio

Images by Ravindra Kanade