I need a break! This is what my heart, brain and almost all organs of my body were crying after enduring a strenuous one year while I was studying for a MBA degree. It was a year of sleeping only 5 hours a day, reading volumes of pages, dealing with multiple project deadlines, and of course facing exams. All this stress had taken a toll on my body and I had to recover.
I am in love with mountains and any place above sea level is a stress buster for me. But this time I also needed some pampering, good food, and a luxurious stay. The idea of being one with nature while enjoying the luxuries of civilization became almost a paradox. This is when I found the answer in Hilton Shillim.
My mom, who loves anything related to wellness, joined in and we two set out for Shillim the very next week. The property, just 3 hours’ drive from Mumbai, is spread across 300 acres of pristine nature. Nestled within the Sahyadri range (also known as Western Ghats), Hilton Shillim helped me escape the city hustle-bustle in a surprisingly short time.
On arrival, I saw just the reception area surrounded by trees and wondered where was the rest of the property? We were taken to our rooms by a Tata Nano car and that’s when I realised that the isolated reception area was part of the unique architectural style of the entire retreat in which every room and the different facilities were separated from each other by hills and trees. There were cobbled single lane pathways which connected the entire retreat. You can either walk, cycle or take a Nano ride across these pathways.
The property is divided into two zones – wellness and lifestyle. The former offers customised wellness programmes as per one’s health goals whereas the latter offers a relaxing holiday experience. Every guest room is a separate villa property with exciting options such as a private pool, forest view, or valley view.
Our first stop was the dharana wellness centre. The resident doctor and dietician consulted us and accordingly our diet plan and treatment routine were customised. We had a sumptuous and hearty lunch at the green table, the retreat’s wellness themed restaurant. The chef in a jiffy prepared a 3 course meal that was fresh, fun, creative and the best part, very healthy.
We were staying in the spa pool villa, a very spacious 205 sq m villa that came with separate living room area, private pool and lawn. All villa and other facilities’ interiors and overall retreat design and operations are in line with what in my opinion is the upcoming trend in luxury – minimalist, sustainable, and discreet. The humble Kota stone flooring, clean furniture lines of villa interiors, and earthy colour scheme give a sense of calmness and purity. The toiletries though needed an upgrade. Every room in the villa had one wall side of ceiling to floor glass panes that gave an uninterrupted view of the mini lawn and pool outside.
While I was soaking in the serenity of my villa, my butler handed over our treatment schedule for the day. Vanaushadi massage was scheduled for both of us in the evening. My masseuse guided me through a bamboo forest trail to my private spa room. It was 60 minutes of pure relaxation and I could feel my sore muscles recovering.
Later, we walked our way amongst the forest hills listening to bird songs to the valley lounge where a Shillim evening experience was scheduled next. As the name says, the lounge is built on a valley from where we watched the sun set behind the hills while enjoying a specially curated detox snack meal. This experience is a must do at Hilton Shillim. The valley lounge, part of the lifestyle zone, has 3 dining options, the all-day dining Terrazzo restaurant, the Library Lounge, and the Reserve which has one of largest wine cellars in the country. The wellness theme also transcends to the lifestyle zone side as most of the food served in the property comes from its very own organic farm and refined flour or refined sugar are not used at all.
For dinner, we had green table’s signature Ayurvedic thali and after the blissful massage and light home-style dinner we slept like a baby.
Next day, we woke up to the sounds of birds feeling refreshed and calm. For once, after long time, I didn’t have to push myself to get out of bed. Listening to the chirping of birds all around strangely made me feel more positive and energised and I was looking forward for an eventful day ahead.
Just as I wished, the day’s schedule planned was to keep me and mom busy. I began my day with a 1 hour forest walk. The forest guide showed me many birds that had played the alarm clock role for me in the morning. Sahyadri houses many endangered birds and animals and if lucky, you can spot some while on a forest walk or treks that are organised by the retreat. The walk had built up my appetite and I headed straight to terrazzo for breakfast.
The breakfast spread was large with options of healthy dishes as well. There were subtle changes made to the dishes that didn’t compromise on taste but enhanced the health quotient. Like the use of whole wheat flour in the bakery items, or having homemade butter and jams as accompaniments.
After breakfast, it was time for some pampering again. I was in for Ku Nu Ye massage. The masseuse used different massage techniques to relax my muscles and placed hot stones on my body that left me feeling energised.
Apart from outdoor activities and spa, the retreat also organises indoor fun events and two of such scheduled for me where cooking and pottery class. The main idea behind cooking class is to teach the healthy versions of specially curated recipes of Hilton Shillim that the guests can take back and add to their daily lifestyle. We learnt to cook an easy and healthy 3 course meal and the chef shared many ideas to help us add more nutrition in food at home. The pottery class again a lot of fun and a must try activity with kids.
Another must try is the Tibetan bowl meditation session. Rather than meditating in complete silence, we meditated to the rhythmic sound vibrations that emanated by striking metal bowls in a particular sequence. By meditating to humming sound vibrations echoing within the meditation cave, I felt that my mind was freed from some clutter and noise within.
In evening we had an interesting gemmology skin care treatment. Our dinner was scheduled at the mountain bar located at probably one of the highest point of the property. It was an open restaurant with an expansive view of the forest hills. The place also has the retreat’s large infinity swimming pool that extended to the very end of the hill top.
Next day, I was happy to wake up again by birds’ chirping and went for a yoga session at the valley lounge. Practicing yoga in a mountain valley with pure air and no noise around was a wonderful experience. The last experience scheduled for us was none other than a Shirodhara, the 90 minute treatment made all my stress put to rest.
As mom and I walked through the forest to our villa to pack our bags, I realised that my stress levels are in control and I was in much better state of mind than when I arrived. I knew I am going to miss those forest walks, bird songs, and the pampering by the amazing staff and it is only a matter of time before I visit Hilton Shillim again.
Where: Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa
Pawana Nagar, Taluka Maval,
Shilimb, Maharashtra 410406
Phone: 02114 712 468
Note: The critic was invited by the Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa but all the opinions expressed herewith are her own