I have to admit that I’ve punished myself with hard-core detoxes and grueling assault challenges. But when I saw a spa program that is prescribing total immersion in a far more joyful adventure, I had to go for it. My destination Dharana Wellness at Hilton Shillim’ is just a 3 hours breezy drive from the city.
My efficient chauffeur whisks me to the property ensuring I enjoy my drive and am at ease throughout. Before I know it, I’m greeted by lush greenery as far as the eyes can see. Soothing music, smiling staff, refreshing towels and a welcome drink that soothes my frayed nerves add to the backdrop and set the stage for some plush pampering.
My favourite part of being here are the gorgeous villas which are cocoons of indulgences. I love all the pool villas but a special mention to the 550 sq. m. Presidential Villa which is located at the highest point of the retreat and offers a panoramic view of the Western Ghats. The luxurious three-bedroom villa features sweeping views, 3 bedrooms, private pool, separate living area, private deck to chill at, a kitchenette and personal butler service.
While the accommodation is ravishing, the real deal here is realms of mindfulness that the Dharana Wellness Programme offers. The Dharana Life Science Program by Hilton Shillim offers a comprehensive healing regime with deliberate attention to conflict resolution, stress management, anti-aging and weight management.
Post check-in, a customised consultation under the able guidance of Dr. Arun Pillai awaits wherein he talks me through my concern areas, my dosha, weight, lifestyle, stress, etc and curates a three-day itinerary just for me.
The retreat has a plethora of Dharana tradition activities like Acupressure – Acupuncture – Reiki – Pranic Healing – Ayurveda – Yoga – Chakra Cleansing – Shamanism – Meditation – Naturopathy – HydroTherapy – Ozone Therapy – Fire Healing – Music – Dance to – Body Work. Encapsulated from two core aspects of Panchkarma and Minbos (Mind-Body -Soul).
My days begin with sunrise yoga at Yogashala followed by a nutritious breakfast of ragi dosas, chilas, fresh fruits and juices. This is followed by a spa therapy each day at the stunning award-winning spa that remains one of the best I’ve tried. Evenings are about meditation at the serene beauty of the meditation cave, some soul-searching walk-throughs and sipping on eclectic tea variants that the retreat houses alongside superb beetroot hummus.
My meals at the wellness restaurant- The Green Table are about devouring fresh, well-plated and sumptuous salads, soups, thalis that are well-portioned and make healthy eating blissful.
The curated menus imbibe the five elements of Ayurveda (Water, Air, Fire, Ether and Wind) with special emphasis on organic ingredients. Designed by the Executive Chef Shubhendu Kadam, I’m told that the menu introduces the forest-to-table concept with all ingredients sourced from the Shillim forest.
Meanwhile the The Shillim Spa encompasses 70 acres, 17 treatment rooms, a relaxation center, as well as a salon and yoga pavilion. I spend my days inside these sweet-smelling spa rooms, my muscles being kneaded into mush by my nimble-fingered therapists. My favourite of the spa therapies here is the Sahyadri Signature Experience-105 minutes of pure bliss which transports me to visions of tropical wellness and frees me of all aches and pains. And I have to say that I haven’t slept so well in years. I attribute a lot of this to the great spa treatments I had a chance to try here.
Each day, I would return to my villa to surprise rose petal bath set-ups in my room or healthy desserts to munch on to add to the indulgence. Before I depart the final touch is a Gemology Facial wherein the sweetness and richness of Sapphire soothes my skin. My complexion is brighter and a glow emanates within me. As I watch the birds and sip on refreshing herbal tea, in that moment I once again ask myself, ‘Can a wellness retreat help me?’ And this time, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes!”
Note– The critic was hosted by the property but all the opinions expressed herewith are her own.
Where: Pavana Nagar, Maval,
Shilimb, Maharashtra 410406