I woke up to some great news today. Hello Travel has featured Deliciously Directionless in their list of Top Food & Travel Blogs of 2016! And I’m in some great company here with some fabulous blogs on the list. Check out the list here.While I float on cloud nine, the list has also given me a much-needed kick in the pants. I know that the blog has been a bit ignored lately since I was travelling extensively and also more focussed on my feature writing. But 2017 is going to be the year of the blog! So expect more frequent updates here. And though the New Year is a few weeks away, there’s no time like the present to start. So, here’s my recent wellness experience at Atmantan Wellness Centre in neighbouring Pune.
It was August and peak rainy days of what has been a very wet monsoon this year. But it is the best time to drive from Mumbai to Pune, zigzagging down the Western Ghats, admiring the Sahyadris awash with rains and gleaming fifty shades of green. I had signed up for a three-day retreat at Atmantan and I was looking forward to spending time away from my laptop (my first trip this year without my trusty Mac!). As I drove past villages, farms, grazing cows, and sugarcane and paddy fields, I could already feel the calm that comes from leaving the city behind. Now if only the roads were better; each bump jolted me out of my reverie…
From the outskirts of Pune, I took a detour towards Mulshi Lake, and 3.5 hours after I had hit the road from Mumbai, the lake suddenly loomed up on my right. And a few minutes later I was making my way up the driveway of Atmantan Wellness Centre.
Nestled in the lap of the Sahyadris, and overlooking the Mulshi Lake, Atmantan is the perfect place for a wellness retreat. It’s far away from the noise and pollution of the city, and the natural beauty surrounding it – the hills, the lake, the waterfalls – all add to a sense of tranquillity.
After downing a warm spinach welcome drink (wellness begins right at the entrance), I was whisked to my room in the Arjuna Grove. The big comfy bed beckoned as did the sunken bath next to the window. I loved the floor to ceiling windows that bathed the room in natural light. I stepped outside to the attached balcony and spent some time lounging in the chair watching the rain fall softly. My favourite part of the room was the big purple chair and ottoman inside the room – the perfect perch for a cup of herbal tea and a book.My retreat began with a consultation with Dr. Namitha, who helped me identify my Ayurveda dosha and advised me on which foods to eat and which to avoid. She also drew up a schedule for the treatments and exercises to follow during the retreat.
All my meals at the resort were from their spa cuisine menu, and each meal was portion-controlled and calorie-counted. But that didn’t mean they weren’t delicious! Just take a look at the pictures below and you’ll know what I mean. All the vegetables used in the Atmantan kitchen are grown at their own organic farm about 3km from the property. The farm grows brown rice as well. Atmantan also has their own poultry and cattle, so the milk and eggs are free range.
Breakfast was light with an egg white frittata one morning, sweet potato pancakes with curry the next, along with juices, smoothies etc. The only thing I missed was my morning cup of coffee! The restaurant doesn’t serve any caffeinated beverages 🙁
Lunch and dinner had a salad / starter, soup and main, all of which were healthy and flavourful. I had some lovely, light soups – thyme roasted squash soup one day, a minestrone the next. Salads were fresh and artistically presented – the Atmantan salad with steamed fish was a particular favourite as was the vine ripened tomato salad. Mains were delish as well – loved the fish pollichathu, pasta giardiniera, and the brown rice & moong khichdi.
Even dessert was not off-limits. My favourite was the Atmantan Cocoa Wellness, which was a light mousse made with just three ingredients – raw cocoa powder, avocado, and honey.
The spa at Atmantan was another fabulous experience. I indulged in different types of massages during my stay, including an aromatherapy massage, an invigorating massage followed by steam and sauna, and an Ayurvedic Abhyanga massage. The therapists were well-trained and did a really good job. One of the therapists even managed to loosen the knots in my shoulders acquired by long hours spent at the computer. I also had a posture consultation, which made me realise how counter-productive my work desk was. Soon after returning from the retreat, I invested in a laptop riser, an external keyboard and mouse to raise the laptop screen to eye-level and to prevent stress in my neck and shoulders.
One of the services that I really enjoyed was the sleep ritual aromatherapy bath that the housekeeping staff drew up for me on my last night at the retreat. The rose and geranium essential oils in the bath created a sense of calm and the aromatherapy salts left me feeling cleansed.
Atmantan Wellness Centre is spread over 40 acres and there are many lovely walks around the property, lots of greenery, and a serene Buddha statue overlooking the lake – I spent my free time outdoors, soaking in the sunshine, of course when the rains allowed me to!
So if you’re looking for a bit of rest and relaxation, head over to Atmantan Wellness Centre. The wellness resort has recently won two awards at the Spafinder 2016 Wellness Travel Awards for ‘Best for Wow Factor’ and ‘Best for Fitness’. Having spent some time at Atmantan recently, I can certainly vouch for both!