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Nestled in the wilderness of a small, unexplored village (located somewhere between the outskirts of Lonavala and inroads of Pune) lies the Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa. A massive property of 320 acres, it makes for a perfect weekend abode for the tired and frazzled city dweller. I visited the resort a week ago and was welcomed with a cool breeze a pleasant change from the sweltering Mumbai heat. The first thing that I noticed and perhaps you will notice too, is the raw and earthy facade which instantly gives you the feel that you are well in the midst of nature without missing out on all the amenities we've so gotten used to.
Upon further exploration, I noticed the variety of fauna the place has to offer right from mango trees to lemongrass, from jamuns to exotic Ayurvedic herbs. The resort has everything that you look for on a relaxing, peaceful vacation. Not just that, if you are on a health retreat, this is one place you shouldn't miss as you can well manage to get your intake of healthy and nutritious food, not to forget fresh and pure, straight from their organic gardens located within the resort itself. So much so, that even their signature cocktails have a hint of healthy quotient in them with the local, fresh ingredients making their way into your glass of Bloody Mary or Mojito (perhaps lessening your guilt of enjoying the spirit).
Being a spa resort, Hilton has made sure that a sizeable chunk of the property is dedicated to well, a spa, but it is the addition of a meditation cave, an open-air yoga space, activity centre (called the Shillim Institute where one can learn pottery, dance, cooking, horse riding, etc) that enhance its value. The resort prohibits children from entering the spa zone, giving it a tranquil feel, where all you can hear are birds chirping, the rustle of leaves under your feet and a man playing a sweet melody on his flute. This truly took my spa experience a notch higher as I tried one of their signature massages from an extensive range of options. Since the list is quite elaborate, you first have a consultation with the spa director and in-house doctor Dr Rajneesh Kumar. He not only suggests a treatment based on your health (whether you wish to energise yourself, relax or get rid of some joint pain), but also a meal plan which will suit your body based on Ayurveda's dosha system.
After a relaxing treatment, I headed back to my villa which had a sprawling balcony with trees lined right outside it, making it ideal for a quiet and indulgent breakfast date with nature next morn. Over lunch, I learnt more about the property from Andreas Kraemer, the GM of the resort. Since it is in the middle of nowhere, there are various things one can do whilst here. If trekking is something that excites you, you can start your day with a guided trek to the top of Shillim peak with a wholesome breakfast waiting for you at the other end. And if you are a tea connoisseur, head straight to their tea house to sample several varieties of not just teas but even honey. And if all you need is some mental peace, pay a visit to their meditation cave where an instructor will help you channel your inner Zen.
After a two-day stay at the resort, what I experienced at this health and wellness retreat was the sheer bliss of living in a remote yet luxurious surrounding which leaves you more connected with nature and yourself. Overall, Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa is a perfect place to detox and drive your stress away.
Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa is 2.5-hour drive from Mumbai and 1.5 hours away from Pune. The property has villa style accommodation and several eateries as well as room service. It is a luxury resort and the price range reflects the same. For more information, visit their website.
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