Two hours by flight and another hour and a half by car trans ported me from Delhi to an unspoiled part of Pune district, Mulshi. Situated in the lap of the Sahyadri mountains, Atmantan Resort is in its maiden year of operation, and has won two awards in the 2016 Wellness Travel Awards at the World Travel Market in London. I was curious to see what the fuss was all about.
The rooms here are modern, luxurious and comfortable. But the first thing I did after a warm reception, which included an aarti, was to grab some lunch. Fresh mountain air makes you ravenously hungry.
I enjoyed a delicious meal at the Vistara restaurant, that began with a carrot and ginger soup, a salad with vine-ripened tomato and bocconcini, followed by a wholesome Indian thali with small portions of yellow lentil, beetroot subs with Indian spices, lemon-rice pulao and spinach roti, and ended with raisin cake—all washed down with ginger-lemon-honey tea.
One meal and I knew their food philosophy resonated with mine. They set-ire what they call spa cuisine, which has its roots in the belief that locavorian food best maintains and restores health. But that doesn’t translate to boring food. It looks and tastes fabulous, and is a fusion of international culinary styles, from macrobiotic to Ayurveda, Mediterranean to Asian.
Atmantan is a retreat-only destination with a minimum three-night stay, comprising meals, spa and wellness therapies, consultations and fitness activities. After lunch, I underwent a body composition analysis and a consultation with the inhouse doctor, Dr Manoj Kutteri, who is also the wellness director at Atmantan.
There are eight packages: Atmantan Living, SpaLife, Master Cleanse, Weight Balance, Journey Through Yoga, Ayurveda Panchakarma, Holistic Health, and Fitness Challenge. I decided on a combination of two, with sessions customised to my needs.
My first therapy was an invigorating massage, a variation of the Swedish version. For the hour that I was being kneaded with energizing oil by Deki, a soft-spoken girl from Butham, I left Delhi far behind. Dusk was reserved for Omkara meditation.
Chanting in unison with various people from different parts of the country and beyond, I realised that we were all perhaps looking for the same thing— some moments of peace away from the maddening lives we create for ourselves.
Dinner comprised lime and mushroom soup, okra subzi, chickpea ,asa;a, beetroot roti and brown rice, with delish pongal to top it all — accompanied by lemongrass and ginger tea. It’s amazing what a single day of eating right, massage therapy and meditation can do to cleanse your body and mind.
By the time I was back in the room, the bath I had ordered from their bath menu —sleep ritual aromatherapy salt infused bath — was ready and waiting. True to its name, it ensured I slept like a baby that night.
Next morning I was up at 5am, before my alarm could go off. The day begins early in a wellness retreat, with yogic kriyas at 6am. Eternally worried about my arthritic genes, I reached the class before time and performed hatha yoga with Dr Kaithikesh; I have no shame in admitting that I was the stiffest person in the group.
The breakfast was most welcome, with a view of the Sahyadris to behold. An hour later, I headed to the spa for a moxibustion and cupping session, followed by a soothing head massage, done the Ayurvedic way.
Just a stroll in the resort is enough to rejuvenate spirits. Spread over 40 acres of a lush valley, Atmantan has 72 rooms including a1,500 sq ft single bed room villa, reportedly a favourite of celebrities.
The Wellness Pavilion is spread over a remarkable 50,000 sq ft and houses the spa, fitness as well as consultation and wellness facilities. There are 23 customised therapy rooms including a hammam room, afitness and physiotherapy wing, an indoor salt pool, a salon and a wellness retail outlet.
There is also a recreation zone where one can play croquet, mini golf, table tennis, pool, foosball, etc. Treks are also organised.
My evening was spent getting a lymphatic drainage massage, sipping reinvigorating juices at Bistro Tejus and meditating. The resort holds yoga classes at their amphitheatre called Prana, that overlooks a serene horizon.
On my second yoga outing, I fared far better. I’d earned myself some pampering and a luxury facial at the salon was just what the proverbial doctor ordered. After another hearty lunch, I got a taste of piece de resistance—their signature massage, which incorporates the best elements of multiple therapies.
As my time there neared its end, I underwent departure counselling that included some lifestyle measures as takeaways. My last meal was at their open-air restaurant Chantara, which opens just two nights a week. As I sat eating innovative grills under the starlit sky of the Sandayris, I breathed in lungfuls of silence. I would need it back in the city.
LOCATION: Mulshi, Pune. Atmantan Resort is 58 km from Pune airport, and a 3.5-hour drive from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.
ACCOMMODATION: 72 rooms; one suite
TARIFF: For three nights, singles: ₹175,000 (Asoka &Arjuna rooms), ₹93,000 (Acacia rooms), ₹165,000 (Mango Tree Villa); valid till March 2017