Hotel Review: Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, Maharashtra in India
The Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat and Spa houses probably the world’s largest spa, ecologically designed luxurious villas, a restaurant that serves Ayurvedic food, all of which is focused towards environment sustainability and holistic rejuvenation of the mind, body and soul.
Away from the hustle and bustle of cities, Hilton hotel’s first resort in India is set in the heart of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra, an unexplored location which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. In fact, Shillim village was unheard of until this resort came up here. The hour and half drive from Pune to Shillim took us past villages, magnificent views of the picturesque expanse of Shillim valley and peaks of the Sahyadri mountain ranges.
Spread across 320 acres and embedded in lush fields, surrounded by water and nested in a rich, fertile valley, the retreat is the largest and most comprehensive spa facilities in Asia with 17 treatment rooms offering holistic and Ayurvedic practices in a unique and magical environment that helps you establish healthy habits for life. As we stepped into the resort all that was visible was a lot of greenery and vast open spaces, a refreshing change from the concrete jungle that Pune has become. A warm welcome by the friendly staff was accompanied with a refreshing drink and a muesli bar. A car transported us from the reception to a luxurious villa, which seemed to blend in harmoniously with the surroundings. Our villa came with a magnificent view of the Shillim valley, a garden and a private heated pool equipped with an outdoor shower. This stylishly designed villa featured a 47 inch HD TV in the living room and large glass doors with sheer curtains in both the living room as well as the bedroom. The mini bar was equipped with an espresso coffee maker.
We were given a tour of the property by our butler Sumit which consisted of a visit to The Shillim Institute, the spa, the four types of villas, the restaurants and the Meditation Cave. All the 99 villas with living spaces of between 100 and 150 square meters have been constructed using local and natural materials. The Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat and Spa houses four categories of villas, starting from the valley view villa, the deluxe valley view villa, the spa villa and the spa pool villa, all of which offer secluded and sheltered privacy. We were informed that the spa villas and the spa pool villas fall into the spa zone and we could avail of the conventional sauna, infrared sauna, outdoor hot tubs, hydrotherapy tubs as well as meditation sessions and yoga sessions.
Fifteen spa pool villas come with a private pool as well as a garden. Even when the resort was being constructed, the objective was to avoid disrupting the natural surroundings as much as possible. The Shillim institute offers guests a chance to gain insight into the indigenous culture and way of life by means of workshops, courses and excursions. The idea is to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the Western Ghats and to promote discussions on sustainability in the region. The Meditation Cave is a perfect spot to go within as it has absolute stillness all around. On offer are sessions for beginners too. During my stay I went for one of these sessions at 7 in the morning and came back feeling relaxed. I was guided by Dr. Kushal for an enlightening yoga session on day two of my stay in the retreat.
General Manager Abhijit Ghosh said: “The Dharana Lifesciences Programs at Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat and Spa offers a range of rejuvenating treatments as well as holistic programs. The Eco-wellness retreat will not only leave you breathless with its picturesque wilderness but aids in redefining lifestyles through ancient healing practices with the best of international sojourn experiences.”
Shillim Spa integrates the ancient philosophic, spiritual and artistic wisdom of South Asia with modern international practices to re-fresh and re-inspire the body, mind and spirit. I spent a considerable amount in the Shillim Spa which is managed by an extremely efficient team of doctors and therapists who spend a lot of time consulting with a guest before suggesting treatments. Dr. Arun Pillai – Director of Spa & Wellness, has more than fifteen years of professional expertise in Health, Spa and Wellness Sciences. He is experienced in directing and operating world-class spas across South East Asia, India, Middle East, Africa, India, and Caribbean and has implemented traditional holistic knowledge into globally renowned brands. He specializes in following an integrative holistic approach by correcting lifestyle and preventing disease with the use of advanced diagnostics and exhaustive patient assessment.
Spread out into seventy acres of land and has seventeen individual treatment rooms that offer a variety of therapies such as Ayurvedic massages, acupuncture and acupressure, Reiki, Shamanic therapies, hydrotherapy and color therapy, the spa is definitely the highlight of this retreat. The treatment rooms are scattered throughout the valley such as the Ayurvedic treatment rooms with the traditional wooden table for Shirodhara, a Thai Therapy Room with a teak mattress stand, two beauty rooms complete with the latest hydraulic tables; a hydrotherapy room with a chromo-therapy couple’s Jacuzzi, bodywork rooms and massage therapy villas. After a consultation with Dr. Kushal-The Spa Doctor, we were escorted to the treatment room, an individually built structure, located about 10 minutes walking distance from the spa reception.
The Terrazo is inspired by the element of “Earth”, ‘it offers both indoor and outdoor casual dining options with breath-taking views of the mountain terrain. The menu features organic, seasonal, natural produce with an emphasis on Indian regional, Mediterranean and Asian cuisines together with personalized guest dietary requirements. The Green Table complements the holistic approach to food and beverage at Shillim and the menu is designed around Western Spa cuisine with Indian influences. Body type menus and tasting menus with presentations that tell a story form an essential part of The Green Table experience. The Mountain Bar and Bistro offers spectacular views of the Sahyadris, a view of the stunning pool, and a light menu, with delicious dishes ranging from pasta to fresh stone-baked pizzas. The Valley Bar is the ideal place to relax with a drink as you settle down indoors or soak-in the inspiring ambience and stunning views of the valley.
The Green Table is an impressive and well thought of dining space where an interesting set menu for dinner was presented. Chef Shubhendu Kadam – Executive Chef, has developed an expertise in Wellness Cuisines and Spa Menus with his experience spanning over twenty years. At Shillim he implements the science of nutrition with super foods that detoxify and cleanse the body, quashing the notion that Wellness Cuisine is tasteless and uninteresting. Chef Shubhendu has a profound understanding of the overall sensory experience that “Farm to Table” cuisine offers for preventing chronic disease, healthy weight loss and eating for energy.
He told me: “Our food philosophy has its firm roots in age old Ayurvedic traditions which restores and maintains health, vitality and wellbeing. An in-house nutritionist liaisons between you and the kitchens which helps to provide transformational culinary experiences. The menu is inspired by fresh, seasonal produce and the slow cooking technique stresses on preserving natural flavors of the food, working with ingredients known for their curative and nourishing benefits. It encourages you to enjoy your food, relish its creation and adopt a lifelong discipline and attitude to wholesome nutrition. Our emphasis is on whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables rich in enzymes, lean proteins with usage of millets, honey, stevia and whole milk produced from local dairies. What this means is that you get fresh, flavorful, wholesome food. You get to choose from artfully created menu featuring Macrobiotic, Ayurvedic, European, Mediterranean and Asian elements that redefines wellness and a holistic healthy lifestyle. At Hilton Shillim, we recognize the healing power of plant based ingredients including aromatic herbs and spices and hence only use farm fresh, nutrient rich produce, that is grown organically using sustainable farming practices, within the property.”
The natural beauty of this retreat, interesting cuisine dished up by expert chefs complemented by efficient service ensured that we had a fabulous stay at Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat and Spa! This retreat is the quintessence of everything that luxury seeking travellers expect when it comes to rejuvenation amidst natural surroundings!
Address: Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat and Spa, Pawana Nagar, Taluka Maval, District Pune-410406, India
Phone: +91 2114 712 468