The thought of having my very own private garden excited me the most about staying at the quaint Viveda Wellness Retreat. But throughout my four-hour drive from Mumbai to Beze, a small village on Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Road, where the retreat is, I kept thinking if the garden would be secluded and really private. Would it really be a space that no body can peep into, allowing me the freedom to meditate in peace or dance like no one’s watching? Yes, I do that while on a holiday.
To my delight, not just the garden of my spacious cottage, which was enclosed by a stone wall, but even the resort’s cosy restaurant serving healthy food, its swimming pool, meditation centre, therapy rooms, reflexology track and the beautifully landscaped outdoors were also to my liking.
Clean, well-designed, and intimate, a perfect set-up for a rejuvenating break.
But what I liked the most about the resort is its fun approach to wellness. They have yoga sessions and a freestyle workout. The massage menu has a mix of Ayurvedic, Reflexology and Western treatments, food is healthy yet delicious and there is enough space to play games, walk around or just be. At Viveda, you can draw your wellness plan the way you like with experts’ help.
Spread across 7.5 acres, the retreat has 16 cottages. Eleven cottages have private gardens, four have jacuzzis and one has a private swimming pool. The property also has a common swimming pool, a meditation centre, a Sattvic restaurant, a small library, massage centres, doctor’s consultation rooms and beautiful outdoors, complete with a bonfire space, an amphitheatre-like set-up and a big lawn.
The resort is flanked by hills on two sides and farms on the other two. So, all you hear here is the chirping of the birds, the rustling of leaves and your thoughts.
One of my favourite décor elements here is three long, black lamps that can be found in many temples in Maharashtra. It is placed right in the centre of the property, facing the expansive reception. At night, when the lights come on, this space exudes tranquillity.
At Viveda, you begin your stay with a consultation session with an Ayurvedic doctor. After asking you a couple of questions and doing a regular checkup, she suggests a wellness plan and therapies that are the best suited for you. She also gives you some lifestyle tips. I was told to drink more water and eat a handful of overnight soaked peanuts to boost the level of iron in my body.
For my nagging lower back pain, the doctor suggested a Balinese massage. In this hour-long session at the property’s dome-shaped therapy centre, a masseuse massages the body in, both, straight and circular strokes. She also gently pulls your fingers, toes, arms, and legs to stretch them out. The result, immediately after the treatment, my lower back felt a lot better. I also had an interrupted sleep that night.
I tried two more treatments over the course of my stay. The hot stone massage was perfect for the cold, rainy weather and one of the best massages I have ever had. The warm stones aligned on my backbone worked wonders for me. I could feel the stiffness and tension leave my body.
The all-fruit facial is a must, must try. When I got back home, my husband said that I was glowing. Now that’s something, isn’t it?
I attended two guided morning yoga sessions while I was at Viveda. These are usually held outdoors in the lawns, but as it was raining, the sessions were conducted in the meditation dome. The instructions were clear and precise. The sessions started with stretches, followed by Om and shloka chanting. Then came the asanas. A few were easy and some tough, but effective, nevertheless. And the sessions ended with a detox kadha – an overnight-soaked cumin drink. These are the best way to start your day and I would totally recommend them.
Next on Viveda’s roster is Netra Shuddhi and Jal Neeti (Ayurvedic techniques to clean one’s eyes and nose), followed by meditation or a pranayama session. I particularly enjoyed the 30-minute candle meditation in which the practitioners must focus on the flame of a lit candle. It was slightly challenging to not blink as instructed by our teacher, but with some efforts, I could manage to follow the instructions for the most part of the session. To my surprise, I felt the result instantly. I felt calmer for sure, but also felt my weak eyes open wider.
Post lunch, one can either choose to laze around or opt for a mud bath, colon therapy, aqua therapy and various other wellness routines offered at the retreat. I decided to sit on my bed and stare at the birds hop from one tree to another tree in my garden until I dozed off.
Evenings are reserved for fun but strenuous workout. You start with stretches, followed by jogging and hoping and strength training with TRX belts, followed by push-ups, frog jumps, core exercises and end with balancing and body coordination movements. While I managed to do quite well at the rest, the last phase was a big challenge. I now know what I need to work on.
Another highlight of the space is a reflexology track. You walk on different sized and shaped stones, activating your feet muscles, which in turn, heals your entire body. The track looks deceptively easy, but when you step inside, you must hold on to the railings to keep your balance. Some patches are slightly more uncomfortable than others, but only when you push through the pain, you see the results. I felt a gush of blood in my head immediately after my walk.
The retreat follows Sattvic food principles. It serves vegetarian fare without onion and garlic. They don’t use refined flour. The only sugar used is the healthier coconut sugar. They don’t serve caffeinated tea and coffee. Instead, you can try wheat coffee and green teas. It also doesn’t serve alcohol.
Yet, they serve a six-course meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And the food is delicious. So many guests asked the chef for the special recipes, which he shared willingly. I appreciated such transparency and willingness to share.
For breakfast, they served cucumber juice, fresh fruit juice, smoothie, dry fruits, salads, idli, dosa, paratha, waffles and more. For lunch and dinner, they had paneer and tofu starters and mains, roasted vegetables, millets and wheat phulkas, sabzi, dal, rice and homemade ice cream and kheer.
At Viveda, not just your taste buds, but even your mind, body and spirit feel great. I would surely like to go back for another round of wellness vacation soon.
Cost for two: Rs28,000 plus for two nights and two people, meals included