Tucked away in the Western Ghats, Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, boasts of being one of India’s premier eco wellness retreats, paving the way for detox and wellness programs premised on Ayurveda and science.
Over the last few years, we have loved exploring everything that India has to offer. From an adventurous road trip in the North to the gorgeous backwaters in the South, we have had some great experiences. However, this summer we sampled something we have never tried before – a Hilton Honors experience that can only be described as a unique culinary and wellness journey. We flew from Delhi to Pune and kickstarted our time in Maharashtra by spending a couple of nights at the lavish Conrad Pune. The hotel prides itself on its dining options, so we just had to try a couple of restaurants out for ourselves. First on the list – Koji, the Japanese restaurant at Conrad Pune. Sushi is my undoing, so I might have gone overboard. As a result of that, I couldn’t try much else. But Savi testified to the fact that the pumpkin curry at Koji was exceptional – it’s creamy and hits just the right spot. Our day-long culinary feast continued with Conrad’s signature breakfast at The Coriander Kitchen. So many of our readers messaged us about the breakfast spread here and it sure lived up to the hype. There is a large array of continental and Indian specialities, but we really enjoyed the fresh breads that were doing the rounds, straight out of the oven. It’s a small touch but a special one!
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No feast like an Indian feast 😋😋 Same time last month we wrapped up our @hiltonhonors experience in Maharashtra with the yummiest al-fresco meal. Also yes, I went for the desert even before I tasted the food coz… kheer 😅😋 Seriously food isn’t just food in India – it’s an experience that lingers on and on…. ✨ ✨ #bruisedpassports #hiltonhonorsexperiences #alwaysexceptional #travel #love #indianfood
Even though we weren’t planning on spending too long in Pune, we went out for a couple of hours to check out the gorgeous Aga Khan Palace and Shaniwar Wada (free wifi here so don’t be surprised if you see LOTS of young kids sat outside ;-)). These places can get crowded so we recommend being there as soon as the gates open. As soon as you get back to the hotel, you have all the leisure time in the world – read a book by the pool, snooze in your room, or go for a relaxing massage at the luxurious spa. No prizes for guessing what we chose 🙂 We enjoyed a languorous Balinese massage and ended the day with some refreshing cocktails at Masu. Now if everyday could be as relaxed as this one!
This gluttony in Pune was followed by something completely unique (and much-needed) – a strict detox program. Tucked away in the Western Ghats, 3 hours away from Pune, Hilton Shillim Estate Resort & Spa, boasts of being one of India’s premier wellness retreats, paving the way for detox and wellness programs premised on Ayurveda and science. As we drove past the entrance, we were greeted by the cheerful staff, who would then go on to welcome us with a soothing foot ritual while the flutist serenaded us with calming tunes. We looked around at the lush green rolling hills and could not believe that this peaceful haven is just a few hours from the busy metropolis. Here’s a little video:
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Just got to India 🇮🇳 I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – India is the land of the WARMEST of welcomes! 💙💙 ✨ ✨ For our second @hiltonhonors experience, we wanted to showcase something unique to India – an Ayurvedic wellness retreat. We drove from Pune and Day 1 was spent sipping on herbal teas, hiking to the most scenic spot in the Western Ghats, and indulging in a spot of Yoga at the very top 😊 But the highlight would have to be that ICONIC welcome – They don’t call it incredible India for nothing 💙💙 ✨ ✨ #bruisedpassports #hiltonhonorstravel #travel #love #india #alwaysexceptional #incredibleindia
We’ve been to our fair share of trendy wellness retreats where the concept of wellness is limited to instagrammable smoothie bowls or a scenic session of morning yoga. But this was our first time at a wellness retreat that prides itself on a scientific and result-driven approach. There are plenty of programs to choose from – ranging from easy detoxes to 28 day detoxes with results that range from weight loss and increased metabolism to lowered cholesterol and stress. No wonder it is a favourite with celebrities and film stars in India!
We were at Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa only for 3 nights but we decided to dive into the deep end and sample their holistic Dharana program – a wellness program that starts with a detailed private consultation with a doctor. Expect to spend a couple of hours with the team who’ll run you through the concept of Ayurveda, ask you to answer a detailed questionnaire, and do a thorough physical check-up. This is followed by personalised diet charts, fitness rituals, and daily therapies, all based on the analysis from the detailed consultation. We’re healthy eaters and love exercising on the daily – so I have to admit I was excited at the prospect of devouring nutritious wholesome food and getting some exercise! However the thought of cutting out caffeine (no coffee here!) and sugar (no desserts!) completely seemed a bit daunting but I was willing to give it a go!
We spent our first afternoon walking around the sprawling retreat that spans 320 acres. Yes you heard that right – it is huge! There is a scenic yogshala, gorgeous wellness and healing spaces(more on that later!), a tasteful tea room that offers a range of herbal teas, and plenty of landscaped corners to help you feel like your miles away from the maddening crowds. Villas are dotted at a generous distance from each other. This guarantees complete privacy if you’re travelling as a couple, but it might be something to keep in mind if you are travelling as a family and book more than 1 villa. There are small electric cars to take you around the resort, but we suggest walking – it’s a good way to get some exercise snuck in!
My favourite part of the retreat was the calming restaurant dedicated to the wellness wing of the retreat, The Green Table. As the name suggests, the restaurant specialises in organic food made in compliance with the wellness programs at the hotel. All ingredients are sourced from local farms, and it shows! One bite and you can tell the food is top notch. We dined at The Green Table at every meal and really enjoyed our meals. The customised meal plan ensured we got different menus each day but most of our three-course meals comprised of healthy salads, nutritious soups, and wholesome main courses such as rotis (indian flatbread) and a vegetable curry, vegetable cutlets on a bed of quinoa, or a porridge and chickpea stew. I must admit I was still missing my coffee at the end of Day 2 but this simple food left me thoroughly satisfied and I didn’t miss dessert at all! In fact, we dropped by Terazzo Bar for its stunning views over the Western Ghats and while the other guests enjoyed coffee and desserts, we happily sipped on our green juices and turmeric lattes.
These carefully-planned meals were complimented by daily fitness rituals. There is a bunch of activities to choose from. But I would highly recommend waking up early and attending the morning Yoga sessions . Aqua aerobics is another option, specially alluring because of the hotel’s scenic infinity pool overlooking gorgeous mountain ranges bathing in glimmering rays of the rising sun. If you enjoy walks and hikes, then I would also recommend a stunning sunrise hike to the Shillim Peak. The hotel’s staff will take you on this guided hike and while the scheduled departure is 7 a.m., I’d strongly suggest starting much earlier so that you can witness one of the most spectacular sunrises from the top. It takes around 30 minutes to go up and the climb is quite steep in parts, but nothing too difficult. Once you’re at the top, walk around, take in the 360 degree view and just savour the experience. You could also spend some time doing Yoga at the top. This trekking experience was definitely one of the highlights for us on this trip. If you’re not into trekking or would like to take a morning off heavy exercise, there’s plenty of other experiences to choose from here. You could choose from different types of meditation, pottery, or just reading a book while sipping on some herbal tea at the gorgeous tea house overlooking the rolling hills.
Each day we relaxed those aching muscles with Ayurveda therapies and treatments curated for our individual body types. We sampled everything from leisurely body therapies to detoxifying treatments. But my favourite would have to be the traditional Ayurvedic shiro-dhara therapy. Excuse me for being a bit hyperbolic, but this experience was life changing. A steady stream of warm oil on my forehead, followed by a gentle head massage lasting well over an hour! It was my first time getting this treatment, but I will definitely be opting for it every time I see it on a spa menu in the future.
At the end of our three days at the Dharana program, both of us felt incredibly relaxed. Even though I wasn’t there for weight management, I lost 2 kilos. More importantly, I felt de-stressed, full of energy, and completely ready to take on the world. I remember meeting an American lady who enrolled herself for a 28 day holistic program on our first day at Hilton Shillim Estate Resort & Spa. At the time, I wondered why anyone would choose such a long program. But at the end of our 3 days there I could understand why! We’d love to go back and enrol on a longer program for sure 🙂
Here’s a video summing up our beautiful experience at Hilton Shillim:
Disclaimer: We have been Hilton Honors members for over 11 years now, much before we had a website or social media was even a thing! But this year we got the chance to work with them for the first time as digital ambassadors. We are so proud of this association with a program we’ve loved using so much during the last decade! You can read our detailed Disclaimer Policy here