When my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, I said some peace and solitude. So, we opted for a three-day getaway to Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, near Pawana Lake, a 45-minute drive from Lonavala. Set amidst the breathtaking landscape of the Sahyadri mountain range in the Western Ghats, the 320 acre property offers undisturbed natural beauty, topped with complete seclusion and serenity.
Since it was a warm summer’s day, it was nice being greeted with a cold, fragrant towel, a glass of fresh juice and some homemade energy bars that instantly helped us regain all the vitality we had lost during the five-hour road journey from Mumbai to Pawana Lake, courtesy the traffic jam at Mumbai-Pune expressway. Yes, our stomachs were growling with hunger and we headed straight for breakfast, obviously a healthy one.
Post a hearty breakfast, we were escorted to our discreet King Spa Pool Villa – a 205 sq m villa, with a private pool and lawn area as the name suggests – and we were more than delighted to make it our home.
Apart from offering breathtaking views of the valley from the private deck, the villa featured a sun bed to spend some relaxing time outdoors, a beautiful stone bathtub with candles to amp up the romance factor, outdoor and indoor shower with indulgent bath amenities and, not-to-forget, a royal four poster bed. Clean, contemporary and elegant.
Villas are smartly spaced out, ensuring utmost privacy.
A King Spa Pool Villa comes with a complimentary cycle to move around the property. If your package doesn’t provide you one, you can always hire a cycle from the Shillim Institute for a deposit of Rs 500.
Once you’re there and all settled, it’s upon you to decide whether you wish to take it slow and curl up with a novel in your villa or opt for one of their fitness and wellness packages to feel the buzz. They have some comprehensive and integrated health programmes spanning from the duration of 3 to 21 nights and you can choose the one that suits you best. They all begin with a personalised wellness consultation where the experts check your dosha and suggest tailor-made treatments like massages and facials (for your skin type), yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, naturopathy, hydrotherapy, chakra cleansing and more for dealing with specific health issues.
We had a comprehensive consultation with Dr Mane about our lifestyles, nature and eating habits and were amazed with the brilliant suggestions he gave us about the simple changes we could make in our daily routines.
While the property is huge, they have tried to make use of every corner in a very creative way. Each spa room is at a reasonable distance from the other which makes sure you walk a bit to soak in the vista. Moreover, they are isolated, silent and surrounded by natural greenery which pretty much serves the purpose.
Not much into meditation and massages? The Shillim Institute is your hub for everything fun and exciting. Here, you’re bound to find something that interests you. Play a game of carom or table tennis or register for a pottery workshop.
Fascinated by the idea of farming? An expert in the field will readily take you on a trip to their little in-house farm where they grow all kinds of organic vegetables and fruits. Take a lesson in farming and the medicinal uses of each plant for a deeper understanding. There’s so much to keep yourself occupied. Go for a star-gazing session, try Pilates or simply go cycling around the property with a handy map.
Quieter pursuits include bird watching, trekking and forest walks.
For the water baby in you, the Shillim guides can arrange for rowing, paddle boating or sailing on Pawana Lake on chargeable basis. The primary focus of the Shillim Institute is eco-tourism – working together to conserve the natural environment and improve the well-being of local inhabitants.
You can sample around three to four different kinds of teas during a tea tasting session. With every sample, your server gives you little bits of information on the blend and how to brew it just right.
Tea sounds boring? They’ve got wine tasting sessions too. We had an elaborate wine tasting session at the wine cellar where we learnt all about wine and some delicious food and wine combos
Hilton Shillim offers a wide variety of settings where you can sit and savour a delicious meal with your loved one. Unwind over a cup of coffee at the quaint library lounge furnished with interesting books or relish fresh stone-baked pizzas at the Mountain Bar & Bistro overlooking the pool, and offering spectacular views of the Sahyadris.
For a filling meal, you can ditch the multi-cuisine Terrazzo all-day dining restaurant and enjoy a nutritious meals at The Green Table instead. The fine dining restaurant boasts of both outdoor and indoor seating area and a farm-to-table concept, serving low-cal version of contemporary cuisine.
(Above) Mushroom-stuffed chicken was melt-in-mouth. While it’s an off-the-menu item, Chef Abhijeet at the Green Table will readily make it for you. Finger-licking good! Orange iced tea and Raw mango salad with fresh fruits and goat cheese are also worth a try!
We thoroughly enjoyed all our meals at The Green Table, courtesy server Jayanto’s flawless service!
WHAT I LOVED ABOUT THIS PLACE
> Of course, its smartly-designed spacious villas; they truly define modern luxury.
> The well-trained and extremely polite staff members who don’t leave a single stone unturned to make your stay a memorable one.
> While this all-villa resort was 80 per cent full, we almost felt like we were the only people there, being pampered by the smiling staff.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The slightly-noisy ambiance of their all-day dining restaurant – Terrazzo. It is the only place in the entire property where you come across noisy little brats running around, disturbing the tranquility.
WILL I RECOMMEND IT?
Absolutely. For newcomers to the luxury health retreat world – a stay at Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa can feel as if you’ve stepped into the world of the rich, famous and thoroughly pampered.