Marking the debut of Hilton Group’s first leisure property in India, Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa opened its doors in 2013. Nestled in the Sahyadri mountain range of Maharashtra, the resort reopened following the advent of the pandemic in July 2020. Adopting Hilton’s CleanStay program guidelines, its Shillim property welcomed guests with heightened safety and hygiene measures. Interesting to note that the hotel brand has partnered with RB, the makers of Lysol and Dettol for their elevated cleanliness protocols. Each accommodation once cleaned is sealed again with the CleanStay program sticker, ensuring a good amount of security during this world-crisis.
What’s it like?
Spanning 320 acres in the Sahyadri range of Maharashtra, Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa is a colossal resort that instantly cuts you off into the mountainous world of flora and fauna. The reception does temperature checks for guests and is divided into an outdoor and indoor area. The outside section is well-spaced out, with meditative music and mesmerising views of the surrounding hilltops. A fleet of Tata Nano cars that are meant to ply you around the property, owing to its vast expanse, instantly caught my eye. The resort is thoughtfully built to be a part of nature; and it ensures you are connected to the environment at every point. The architecture of the resort is minimal and luxurious, whilst nestled safely in the habitat of the wild . Almost all its designated areas have outdoor sections that offer panoramic vistas of the region around. At the core of the resort is the Dharana wellness philosophy that offers wellness programmes meant to uplift your physical and mental health. In fact, its Dharana facilities (including some of the accommodation) is built separately from the rest of the resort at the dedicated 70-acre wellness facility. This includes the Dharana spa and the separate spa pool which was under construction during my visit. Children are not allowed in the Dharana section of the spa hotel.
Where is it?
The resort is located close to Shillim village in Maharashtra, atop the Sahyadri mountain range. From Mumbai, it takes about three and a half hours to drive to the resort. Pune is closer and is at a two hour driving distance. Do make sure you ask the staff about a better road via Kamshet that also promises more scenic views as well. BLADE, the helicopter service, has recently begun chartering customers to the resort as Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa boasts a dedicated helipad.
Levelled on different elevations of the mountain range are its varied accommodation types. Starting from King Deluxe Valley villas, King Forest villas to King Dharana Pool villa (which I stayed in), there is an option for every kind of workation you’ve envisioned. The 205 sqm King Dharana Pool villa is huge enough to make you lose your way. With a separate living area, private pool and a “wellness zone” where you can enjoy spa therapies in the comfort of your villa, this category is meant for those who wish to up the luxury quotient during their stay.
The views from the lounging section by the pool are captivating, as they offer a sneak peek of the surrounding range. A separate bathtub and shower with Crabtree & Evelyn amenities, a workstation/dining section, an outdoor dining table, a 42-inch HDTV and a minibar are some of its exhaustive amenities. The in-room dining and spa menus along with a virtual resort map are available as QR codes on the television. The design and aesthetics of the room are subtle yet opulent, offering a front-row seat to observe nature in all its glory.
Thoughtful addition: the four poster bed comes with curtains to avoid insects. It’s important to note that since you are in the middle of nature, it’s normal for some of the creatures to enter the inside section of the villa.
Food & Drink
The food is organic and sustainably sourced; with a focus on farm to table, since the resort has its own farm that grows herbs and fruits. All the dining outlets were shut during my stay to avoid contact during the pandemic. Terrazzo, its all-day dining outlet, was however operational only for breakfast. Here, I chose to dine in the al fresco section of the restaurant, which overlooks a stunning hilly landscape. The menu is offered via a QR code and features a mix of local and international specialities such as poha (puffed rice breakfast dish), dosa (a South Indian flat savoury pancake dish), pancakes and waffles along with egg items and fresh juices. The rest of the meals – lunch and dinner – were eaten in the comfort of my villa. While I could pick from a variety of dishes from the in-room dining menu, Executive Chef Nitish Kumar was kind enough to offer me some of his specialities including vegetables in spinach gravy with ragi (millet) roti, ginger scented roasted carrot soup and grilled chicken breast marinated in herbs.
I also relished the spaghetti in marinara sauce that was perhaps my favourite meal of the stay — the addition of capers, olives and spices elevated the flavour of the pasta. I quite enjoyed the tomato and mozzarella panini for lunch as well. The resort’s F&B team can set up a lovely outdoor candle lit dining setup for you on request.
With three meeting rooms — Earth, Water and Wind — measuring 5 sqm, 4 sqm and 4 sqm respectively, the resort is meant for small-size meetings. General Manager Srikant Peri mentioned that they often host board meetings for corporates that gives them a chance to breakaway from city life for a scenic workation.
Leisure is more about wellness at this resort. As mentioned earlier, its Dharana facility offers various wellness programmes of different durations. The activity centre, led by Prahlad Bodke, offers all the information regarding the various activities you can participate in — including meditations, healing sessions, forest walks and treks.
The Shillim Peak trek that I took up was a challenging yet satisfying adventure which led me to the peak of the Shillim mountain to catch the sparkling sunrise. Starting the trek in the darkness was an exhilarating experience.
I chose to indulge myself in the 60-minute Vanaushadhi signature massage post the trek that healed my muscles, aches and pains. Noteworthy safety hack: the spa does rapid antibody tests for guests to ensure their safety before the treatment begins.
Cycles are also on offer on a one-hour basis that allow you to explore the resort at your own pace. Expect to come across monkeys, birds of different sizes and shapes, mountain lizards and garden snakes on your expedition.
Verdict: Ideal for a getaway from the bustle of the city for a fruitful workation in the midst of nature
Price: Upwards of ₹16,913 for a King Deluxe Valley villas
Contact: Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa; https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/pnqshhi-hilton-shillim-estate-retreat-and-spa/