The new Dharana Lifesciences Program at Hilton Shillim ensures that you won’t just have a great stay at a retreat – you’ll also come away a changed person.
Nestled in the Western Ghats, a short drive from Mumbai, the Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa is spread over an area of 320-odd acres. But it’s not just the peace and solitude that set this property apart.
To coincide with its fifth anniversary this year, the Hilton Shillim has launched a series of wellness-focussed itineraries under the Dharana Lifesciences Wellness Program. Pick from three to 28-night experiences that are tailored to suit your requirements, down to the smallest details.
My experience of the program begins by checking into a well-appointed spa pool villa – modern and spartan in design, to echo the subtly luxurious feel of the retreat. Tree-lined walkways across the property and leading up to each villa ensure that every balcony and pool is afforded privacy.
At the spa, Dr Arun Pillai, director of Spa and Wellness, meets me for a body composition analysis that will determine my schedule for the next two days. Oligoscans, ayurvedic and dietary consultations and more follow. “We designed ‘dharana’ as a way of life – so at the end of your program, we want you to take back education that will help you sustain the lifestyle that we feel is best suited in order to attain your wellness goals,” Dr Pillai tells me.
A relaxing spa treatment is the first item on the agenda, and sets the tone for a great evening. Immediately after, I’m escorted to a beautiful underground meditation room, for a session of Tibetan bowl meditation. The very first meal, at specialty restaurant Green Table, is an ayurvedic thali cooked by Chef Rituraj, keeping in mind my dietary requirements, likes and dislikes. The analysis earlier had revealed that my body required more alkaline food, and that I was deficient in iron and zinc. The thali is exacting when it comes to the ratio of macros, and the freshness of ingredients is a hat-tip to the gardeners at Hilton Shillim’s own organic farm, where over 60 per cent of the produce is grown.
There’s no gym at the property – natural workouts are the way to go. So, the next morning, a sunrise session of yoga is the perfect way to kick-start the day. A superfood-inspired breakfast is followed by another spa session (can one ever have enough?). A cooking lesson is next on the agenda at the Shillim Institute. Chef Rituraj whips up the easiest salad, soup, zucchini noodles and raw cacao-banana mousse – all in under an hour. I’m given the recipes to take home. After another session of meditation that evening, the chef decides to change things up at dinner and serves a Mediterranean meal instead. Predictably, it is a fresh, filling and nutritious grilled chicken with bell pepper sauce, quinoa and an abundance of veggies.
My last day at the property begins with another ‘natural’ workout – a 25-minute trek up to Shillim Peak, which offers a spectacular view of Pawna Lake. In-house guide Pratik – extremely knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the area – carries up a breakfast of freshly squeezed juice, fruits and a crumbly, sticky Danish that you can savour while enjoying the view. This is probably my favourite part of the trip, and just the right rush of adrenalin before checking out.
There’s lots to do at Hilton Shillim, with other activities including aqua aerobics, pottery, naturopathy, reiki, star gazing and more.
To coincide with the monsoon, there’s also a special Elixir of Shillim package, with three- or five-night options that offer the best of the retreat’s facilities to those with less time on their hands.
For the fact that you’ll return home a healthier person without feeling like you’ve had to work too hard for it, the Dharana Lifesciences Program is definitely worth checking out.