Take a Wellness Vacation at these retreats

Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa - Meditation at The Peak
Picture courtesy: Hilton Shillim

Whether you want to take care of your body, soothe your mind, or just indulge in some rest and relaxation a wellness holiday is just right. Nivedita Jayaram Pawar lists the various benefits of a wellness getaway and lists the top three resorts for a mind and body recharge.

Wellness holidays have been picking up steam recently as an increasing number of people seek relief from daily stress and constant connectivity. Vacations with pampered indulgences have given way to vacations filled with nutritious food, yoga, massage and detox therapies. People no more want to sit on a beach sunning themselves for hours. They want to go somewhere beautiful where they can benefit from deeply therapeutic treatments, nourishing food, plenty of sleep and little if not no access to their digital devices. The trend is also fuelled by ageing baby boomers wanting to hold on to their looks and prolong their lifestyle.

Why take a Wellness vacation
It’s a known fact that sedentary daily lives often lead to health problems in later life. Staying active on a holiday and using that time to boost our health and well-being is the trend these days. At these tranquil retreats, travellers are encouraged to connect with local cultures through art and cooking classes, as well as reconnect with themselves. It’s holidaying at a gentler pace. “The idea is to take a mental detox. And give your mind the same attention as your body. There are many people who live fast-paced lives and experience overwhelming amounts of stress. They often treat themselves to a week of quiet time by attending a wellness retreat. Other clients are sufferers of chronic conditions who find relief after a retreat. The benefits are measurable even after a week and people return annually to make sure that they continue with their health improvement,” explains Abhilash KR, Director Kairali Ayurvedic Group.

Ayurvedic ingredients platter at Shreeyas
Ayurvedic ingredients platter at Shreyas

Active second innings
Many people reaching their fifties are waking up to the fact that their luxury lifestyle of “living it up” with alcohol, rich food and high stress levels is not sustainable as they enter the second half of their lives. With average life spans getting longer, people want an active retirement with a healthy mind and body. A wellbeing holiday provides an integrated approach to health coupled with tips on how to lead a healthy lifestyle and kick-start a change in habits through knowledge and practice.

Self development
For some people self development is a life long commitment and a wellness vacation helps them acquire new skills and dig deeper into something they already practise such as yoga, meditation or fitness. Health retreats understand this and have introduced programmes specifically for these advanced seekers. You can purify your system on a detox break, slim down on a weight-loss holiday, unwind with indulgent spa treatments, or strengthen your mind and body with yoga.

Whether you’re looking for a pampering getaway, want to make a significant life change, undertake a digital detox or challenge yourself to a serious boot camp, these hand-picked retreats will leave you feeling refreshed, revitalised and ready to take on the world.

Shreyas Retreat, Bangalore

If you’re looking for somewhere spectacular to de-stress, completely unwind and reconnect with nature, Shreyas a sprawling 25-acre verdant retreat on the outskirts of Bangalore is the perfect answer. The stunning landscaped gardens and the elegantly designed luxurious villas make it the perfect location to recharge your batteries with yoga and Ayurveda.

Machan at Shreeyas
Machan at Shreyas Retreat

Besides the regular asanas, Shreyas also offers simple posture classes for stress management, breathing exercises (Pranayama), visualization techniques (Sakshi bhava), deep relaxation classes (Yoga Nidra), Yogic kriyas (Jala neti, Vaman dhouti), chakra meditation, etc.

De-stress by picking vegetables, herbs and fruits from Shreyas’ Organic Farm or assist in preparing a meal and serving food to the children or elderly in the village school or the orphanage that Shreyas supports. There is also a cricket net with a professional bowling machine to hone your batting skills or to get rid of some aggression and machans and meditation huts in the lawns for quiet contemplation. There are also cooking demonstrations on healthy vegetarian dishes from around the world and trekking trips in the nearby hills to keep you gainfully engaged.

Accommodation comprises of tents and cottages spread across the expansive gardens. The spa offers Panchakarma treatment, western massages, mud therapy, thai massages, hydrotherapy, acupressure and acupuncture. It also includes a herb garden that provides fresh ingredients used in scrubs and masks.

The food is vegetarian and includes Indian, continental, Mexican and Oriental. Guests are encouraged to dine together. On warm nights dinner is often served al fresco in the garden.

Cost: Rs 69,000 for three days.
Address: Shreyas Retreat, Santoshima Farm, Gollahalli Gate, Nelamangala. Bangalore – 562 123. Call: +91 80 7737102, +91 99161 17773 / 6

 Atmantan Wellness Resort, Pune.

From time to time, we all need a retreat to relax, a sanctuary to unwind and a place to escape from the busy humdrum of daily life. Atmantan is one such sanctuary close to Mumbai. Located at a mere three hours drive from Mumbai, this sprawling and soothing luxury wellness resort is nestled in the lap of the majestic Sahyadri mountain range in the Western Ghats (only 48km from Pune) and overlooks the picturesque Mulshi lake. Treatment and recreational areas make the most of this beautiful setting with the yoga pavilion and spa facing the emerald green mountains and countless waterfalls in the monsoons.

Atmantan machanWellness is not taken lightly at this spectacularly located resort. The 50,000 sq. ft. spa is at the heart of the resort and includes traditional Ayurvedic treatments, western massages, oriental acupressure, aromatherapy treatments, anti-ageing facials, Chi Nei Tsang treatment, purifying body polishes, cocooning wraps and the Pranic chakra scan and cleanse.

Atmantan is seriously focused on improving guests’ health rather than just providing R&R. Each guest has a customized programme based on a detailed health checkup and nutritionists are on standby to develop special menus. If you thought that spa food resembled gruel, think again. At Atmantan you will be treated to delicious salads, Michelin star lookalike mains and gorgeous dessert that are worth doing another round of reps for. Not only does Atmantan have its own garden where the chef sources fruit, vegetable and herbs for its dishes, but they even have an apiary from which they source honey for breakfast. Himalayan and rock salts are used to add minerals as well as flavour while natural sweeteners such as fruit juice, honey, jaggery or coconut flower syrup replace white sugar. Liked what you just ate? You can even sign up for a cooking class and learn how to whip up healthier dishes. The food philosophy is of moderation and not deprivation. Second helpings are welcome but a third are frowned upon. There are three dining venues to choose from – Chantara the alfresco dining lounge with innovative grills, Vistara the all day dining with sweeping views of the lake and Te-Jus the juice lounge with healthy potions and smoothies.

Atmantan Villa Pool resized.jpg
The pool at Atmantan

There is not a dull moment at Atmantan. Your stay will be packed with bootcamp, salsa, swimming in chemical free salt water pools, dance classes, golf sessions, pilates, table tennis, foosball and more. The resort is dotted with beautiful sculptures. Meditation comes easy at the Buddha pond and the mellow lighting makes stargazing a reality. Mornings are filled with mesmerizing lake views, scented with frangipani and filled with birdsong. An early morning yoga session at the open amphitheater and a trek up the hills are both rewarding and revitalizing.

Price: Rs 75,000 for a three-night package. This includes all meals, three massages, one Chi Nei Tsang session and a postural integration session.
Address: Palse Vasti, Mulshi Taluka, Mulshi Road, Pune 412108. Call: 020 6676 66.

Kairali Ayurvedic Health Village, Kerala

There is so much to love about this beautiful, sustainable retreat centre amid scenery raw enough to let you feel you are getting back to nature. Nestled in 60 acres amidst lush greenery, gentle bodies and tropical palms in Palakad, Kairali is a scenic escape to the countryside. With a soothingly warm climate and the world’s most unflappable therapists, this resort remains a favourite escape for travellers in search of holistic solutions and relaxation.

Kairali's Abhyangam Massage 1
Abhyangam Massage at Kairali

All the cottages at Kairali are designed according to Vastu Shastra and come with Valambiri Conch to provide positive vibrations. Cosmetics like soaps, toothpaste and shampoos in the bathroom are all organic and come from their own gardens and factory. The meals at Kairali are not just vegetarian but also based on the principles of Ayurveda (read minus onions, spices and garlic). This is a serious health retreat specifically designed to treat maladies like stress, respiratory problems, eye ailments, insomnia, infertility and skin diseases.

Mornings at Kairali begin with yoga with misty views of paddy fields; days wind down with meditation. You can soak your cares away in the pool, or give yourself up to the therapists for a rejuvenating massage. The relaxing and detoxifying massages are the highlight at Kairali. Choose from Abhayangam (synchronized massage by two therapists), Shiro Dhara (in which warm herbal oil drops on your forehead) or Elakizhi (potli of herbs dipped in warm oil and massaged on the body). Don’t miss the wooden steam boxes with their own little doors that envelope you from neck to toe.

The resort also has a fully equipped gym, meditation room, library and an activity room with a pool table, chess board, carom board, dart games, etc. Cycles are also provided for you to enjoy riding in the serene surroundings.

Costs: Rs. 46000 for 3N/4D in Deluxe villa and can go up to Rs. 80,000 in the Maharaja Villa. The packages are inclusive of stay, all meals and therapy.

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