Shillim Estate located at a two-hour drive from the choked city of Mumbai is an incubation in the western ghats of the Sahyadri mountain range. Shillim a UNESCO World Heritage site and among the world’s top 8 hotspots of biological diversity, by the name of it, is a breath of fresh air. Shillim Estate, owned by Writer Reality and operationally managed by Hilton is way ahead of being a hotel, resort, spa or all of them put together. It is a Retreat! If one has to experience serenity this is the gateway.
We had the opportunity to visit Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa over a rainy weekend, which enhanced our overall experience. With a massive land bank of over 2500 acres, Shillim estate has thoughtfully developed only 330 acres to create a 100 villa wellness retreat which is categorically different from any other property we know. Even in the process of creating a luxury wellness location the management has put the center of focus on maintaining and enhancing ecological balance and cultivating synergies between man and nature. They have transformed the once barren mountains to a lush green dense jungle that now boosts of two Sacred Groves whose health is improving by the day thanks to the conscious effort by the Writer Reality management. If we were to name a place close to paradise in Maharashtra it would be none other than Shillim.
The Shillim Spa is spread cross a whooping 70 acres and is strategically placed in a location that has crystal deposits underneath the surface of earth developing the zone in a positive energy cocoon. They use techniques like Reiki, Meditation, Pranic healing, Chakra cleansing, Ayurveda, Acupressure etc along with their range of rejuvenating treatments that aim towards cleansing ones body, mind and spirit. They have 17 treatment suites to avail the designed treatments if one hasn’t chosen to stay in the 18 Spa Villas or the 15 Spa pool villas where one can avail the treatment in the residential villa itself.
The wellness programs at Shillim Spa are custom designed to every individual physical and physiological need. One can choose from 3, 5, 7, 14 or 21 day packages as a part of the exclusive wellness programs that include guided treatments along with meals at the estate. There is a Spa pool, meditation cave, yoga pavilion etc. in the spa zone. After a thorough consultation session with an expert we were assigned a relaxing therapy at the spa and we completely enjoyed the treat.
The Stay Experience at Shillim Estate is in Villas that could be ideally described as an experience any five star hotel would offer with additional perks of having an extremely lavish space close to nature. The villas are placed in small clusters of 3-4 together while giving importance to privacy of each villa. All villas have some common amenities like king size four-poster beds, balcony or patio with seating, indoor sofa or armchair seating with coffee table, HD television, separate bath tub and shower area indoors, an open to sky bathroom, in room safe etc. While we were staying in a King Forest View Villa there were other villa options wherein you could wake up to the view of a mesmerising Shillim valley. There are some spa villas with private pool too and they have recently come up with Presidential villas with three bedrooms, kitchenette, private deck and a pool.
The Food at Shillim Estate is cooked majorly with the vegetables, fruits and greens grown organically at the estate itself. No usage of any kind of artificial fertilizers yet using modern farming methods yields good quality greens that naturally taste very well. They serve all kinds of global cuisines in a very simple way giving both taste and nutrition the required importance. To cherish their amazing food or drinks residents could choose from being serviced at
- The Valley Bar: Overlooking the western ghats you can choose to sit indoors or alfresco.
- The Tea House: Enjoy some organic teas after a Spa treatment or a meal in the soothing ambiance.
- The Reserve: They have a commendable wine collection and even hold wine tasting sessions here.
- The Green Table: Sports a farm to table concept and is ideal for nutritious meals, choose to sit indoors or alfresco overlooking a natural water conservation pond.
- Terrazo: Lets you make space for special occasions or intimate evenings while you cherish Indian and International cuisines.
- Library Lounge: Unwind with a book and an ideal cup of coffee.
- Mountain Bar & Bistro: Was our personal favourite with an spectacular view of the Sahyadris, flowing waterfalls, an infinity pool on the side and serving some amazing food and drinks. One can go for a dip in the pool surrounded by lush greenery on two sides the valley on one and the restaurant on the other only to come out and enjoy the light menu of the bistro.
- In-Villa Dining: for those who wish to stay lazy and yet enjoy a round the clock food service either inside the comfort of the villa or on the private balcony or patio that every villa hosts.
Cook-Along with Thai Master Chef Nooror: was a one of its kind cooking experience we had at the Shillim Cooking School. Chef Nooror Somany Steppe along with her daughter Chef Sandra from the famed Blue Elephant cooking school & restaurant who have their restaurants spread across eight countries, were at the Shillim cooking school to bestow us with their authentic Thai recipes.
We cooked two dishes namely Plaa Phaow Samoon Prai (Grilled Tofu/Paneer with Herbs in Banana Leaf) and Phad Phed Phak and Paneer (Stir–fried Noodles with Assorted Vegetables and Paneer). We personally loved the self cooked Phad Thai Noodles and managed to eat the entire portion we cooked. It was fun cooking with authentic Thai ingredients (some of them flown from Bangkok) like galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime fruit and leaf, pandanus leaves etc. and were also lucky to win the best presentation for the Phad Thai noodles.
Activities at Shillim encompasses a lot of fun and adventure. Guests could opt to go for Stream walk within the estate, trekking to the Shillim peak or even bird watching. They could also try their hand with pottery, umbrella painting or t-shirt painting if that interests them. Depending on the preference one could go for tea or wine tasting. There is something for just everyone!
The Management at Shillim estate takes personal interest in running the place. Our interaction with the Ms. Karen De Souza who spearheads the sustainability and conservation at Shillim not just gave us insights but we were awed by the extreme passion that she reflects towards every non-commercial aspect of the estate. Being grown up, interacting with the native residents of Shillim she emphasizes on the fact that the estate has grown only because of their contributions to be the hub of biological diversity that it is today. His vision of a holistic development of Shillim along with the people and bringing international expertise to further study and enhance the ecological balance is commendable.
Shillim for the Hawk’s eye!
One visit to Shillim Estate and we are in love with it! Rare are places that focus on holistic healing by natural methods and Shillim lets you take back to your city life a lot of positives from the short stay. We are waiting for our next visit!