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Into The Wilderness

Friday, January 30, 2015

Disconnect from the chaos of city life and rejuvenate amidst nature at Hilton Shillim Retreat & Spa. Iqra Samad tells you why it is the perfect place for a weekend break

The stress of living in a city can really drive you up the wall sometimes, and so it’s imperative to indulge in a quiet, relaxing weekend every once in a while. Luckily for us, there are several places to escape to outside city limits, but they’re all slowly getting crowded because of the constant influx of people who need a break just as much as you do. And, this is why I’m so glad that I found this little jewel, nestled in the mountains. Hilton Shillim is the perfect weekend getaway spot for people who want to abandon the hustle-bustle of their busy lives and treat themselves to the beauty and calm of nature, far removed from the pandemonium of city life... if only for a short while.

Surrounded by the Sahyadri mountain range, Hilton Shillim is a 350-acre property that is untouched by any jarring sounds of traffic, choke of pollution and chaos that surrounds civilisation. The retreat offers you a luxurious vacation, without spoiling it with too many commercial additions. From restaurants such as Terrazo, which is a fine-dining, multi-cuisine restaurant, to Green Table (for those who like organic food), they have good, delicious food on offer.

For me, the highlight of this retreat were the luxurious spa villas — replete with a temperature-controlled swimming pool, garden and a porch where you can spend your time lounging aimlessly.

If lounging in your spa villa isn’t relaxing enough for you, visiting the Shillim Spa is a good idea. The spa has over

17 treatments on offer, including acupressure, chakra cleansing, music therapy, hydro therapy and meditation. With a refreshing cup of herbal tea for company, my travel companion and I lost ourselves in a customised full-body massage.

After returning to our rooms, we couldn’t wait to dive into our private, heated pools, which was just what we needed to beat 16°c air that enveloped us. Surrounded by wilderness, under a blanket of stars, a dip in the pool was the most memorable experience of our stay. We ordered dinner in our villa, which was set up just right. Our meal included Grilled Basa, Caesar Salad, steak and plenty of wine! While the fish and steak were ho-hum, the Caesar salad was fresh and definitely one of the best that I’ve ever tasted, so make sure you try it on your trip there. We ended our meal with a delicious Blueberry Cheesecake before we retired to bed.

The next morning, we were set up for a private session of Watsu in our villa. If you’re wondering, Watsu is an aquatic bodywork which is a combination of massages, stretching and breathing exercises — all under water. Not being much of a swimmer, I was a bit nervous and got out of the water pretty quickly. But, my friend completed the session and thoroughly enjoyed his unique, de-stressing treatment.

If you’re looking for a sanctuary to calm your mind and body, a visit to the Meditation Cave is a must. The concrete ‘cave’ has comfortable mattresses laid out for guests to meditate and relax on. The ceiling of the cave is covered with LED lights, which are made to look like stars. If I had to  describe the Meditation Cave in one word, I’d say that it was calming.

You can’t expect an experience like this to be light on your wallet, so it’s no surprise that it’s steeply priced. Although Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa does have a few teething problems, we’re hoping they get ironed out soon, because this place has so much to offer. From soothing surroundings to untouched nature, charming villas, impeccable service and extremely warm staff, it’s definitely a place that I would love to go back to. Whether you want to celebrate a special occasion, a romantic rendezvous or a quick getaway, Hilton Shillim Retreat is a great option.

Contact 02114712468

Getting There
Hilton Shillim is located in Pune, and is a three-hour drive from Mumbai via the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. You can also take a bus or a train there, and a 30-minute seaplane flight from Mumbai to Pawana Dam is available as well, which is a personal favourite!

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