Detail to service should be of prime importance says Andreas Kraemer, general manager, Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa as he believes that there is more room for refined services to be offered by hotels. He further tells us what makes this property unique and his vision for the brand. By Kahini Chakraborty
Set across over 320 acres within a 3,500 acre private estate, the Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa near Pawana Nagar Taluka Maval, Pune, is a place to be for travellers who are looking for complete seclusion and serenity away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Lifestyle and spa components have been positioned as the property’s unique selling point. The design for the retreat began in 1997 with a vision to create a world-class development that will preserve the areas of the Western Ghats. This 99 villa retreat on a 70 acre area offers spa facilities including 17 treatment rooms, a meditation cave, three consultation rooms and a relaxation centre.
For Andreas Kraemer, general manager, Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, “It is very difficult to put on one page what we really are. But lifestyle and spa component is our USP. As detail to service is imperative for us, the spa concept at Hilton Shillim is inspired by the oldest healing system of Ayurveda and Yoga and also incorporates strong Reiki, Acupressure, Aromatherapy and Naturopathy traditions.” Since the opening of the property in January this year, the weekend stays have been increasing. In addition, the spa pool villas and presidential pool villas include private gardens and swimming pools. Each villa at the retreat also offers exclusive butler services, a private treatment space for guests. The air-conditioned villas, range in size from 100 to 550 square metres and feature between one and three bedrooms. The resort offers a variety of experiences including Pranic Healing, Chakra Cleansing, Hydro Therapy, Tai Chi and Watsu.
With an experience of over 10 years in the hospitality industry, Kraemer has held various positions with Infinity, Lifestyle Destination & Spa, Six Senses Hideaway & Spa, Koh Samui and White Sands Resort & Spa, Maldives. Ask him about how different is the India market and Shillim as a new destination, he opines, “It is not fair to compare your hotel with the others. As India is an emerging market, I think what the other hotels are doing so far with their services, a lot more can be done in that area. There is room for more refined services to be offered. It is attention to detail that really makes you stand out.” Talking about Shillim, he continues, “Shillim is a new destination waiting to be explored. Since our opening, we have been receiving a lot of expats from Mumbai and Pune. We also see a lot of families opting for spa therapies. About 30 per cent of the hotel’s revenue is from our spa facilities and the remaining from F&B options. We are working on our key markets UK, Germany and the Middle East. We are aiming for more inbound travellers, high networth individuals.” In order to engage guests to explore Shillim as a destination, the property also offers guests to participate in classes at the cooking school and the dance, music and pottery studios. Besides this, they can also explore the surroundings of the estate on nature walks and treks, do mountain biking or horse riding or fishing at Pavna Lake.
As part of its corporate social responsibility programme, the property is trying to engage the locals by contributing to their labour in the hotel. “We are trying to mould people who are interested in making a career in the hospitality space, hence we are giving them the product and the training,” he adds. When asked about his view on the younger generation these days who are in the hospitality segment, he replies, “I think people who are working with us are quite dynamic and in general youngsters are quickly grasping ways to work.” But he emphasis while saying, “It is very difficult to find a good spa therapist. There needs to be more education on the spa sector as the term has been misused. Hence we are trying to connect with an international spa association to get their label to start our own university to cater to spa education soon.”
For him, hospitality is a great sector to integrate all nationalities. “The biggest challenge is that when you travel and explore a new destination and its culture and values, you become more patient and humble to understand what drives the other person,” he opines.