How a Pune couple set up a wellness resort from scratch

Sharmilee and Nikhil Kapoor started the Atmantan wellness resort with an aim to serve people.

pune Updated: Jul 16, 2017 15:44 IST
Namita Shibad
Namita Shibad
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Wellness resort,Startup
Sharmilee Agarwal Kapur and Nikhil Kapur at their office in Pune on Thursday, July 13, 2017. (HT PHOTO)

Passion, logic and hard work are a great combination to launch a business and that is what Sharmilee and Nikhil are about. She is passionate about health and wellness and he is the Iron Man. Together they are a great team. And together they made their dream, Atmantan, a wellness resort come true.

“Right from the very beginning I was very interested in wellness,” says Sharmilee. “I would go to the gyms and see that people would be put down very subtly for not having the perfect body. That used to upset me. I felt that the fact that you are at the gym should be good enough. It means that you care about being healthy.”

Sharmilee married Nikhil Kapoor, who was also very focused about health and fitness. Together they would dream of setting up a wellness centre where people could come to be well. To gain some experience in the corporate world Nikhil worked with Wipro and Reuters for six years. “That grilled professionalism in me,” says Nikhil.

Armed with some experience and a lot of passion to set up a wellness centre that ‘celebrates health’ the couple approached Sharmilee’s dad who owns a prominent real estate company. However, rather than plan on a one acre plot that was offered to them, they scouted and selected a 42 acre parcel of land near Mulshi. This land was in small parcels and it took them two to three years to consolidate the entire 42 acres, in 2005.

The couple raised money for the land through seed money from their savings, friends and family. For the balance amount, they did the rounds of banks for a long time. “Most banks were willing to fund a hotel or a spa but did not understand the concept of a wellness centre. Finally, a PSU bank agreed to give us 70% of our investment,” Sharmilee said without revealing the amount.

Hunting an architect who would understand the needs of a wellness centre was the first task and the architecture at Auroville and the world famous Shwasom were quite inspiring. Finally, an architecture firm from Thailand was selected for the job.

Getting labour was a big challenge that had to be negotiated, especially with the festival season like Diwali, Dusshera and Holi and heavy rains during the four months of the monsoon.

Getting the permissions was another big challenge and for this, a liasoning agent was appointed who sorted things out.

After the structure was ready in 2016, came the issue of providing the service, says Sharmilee. We were very clear in our heads that we wanted the best. We scouted all over the country and chose the best doctors, trainers, masseuse, and chefs and so on. We wanted this place to be a result oriented place. We have seven to eight retreats. Our guests can pick and choose any one of them. For e.g. there’s yoga, detox, weight balance, ayurveda panchkarma and so on.

“But even if they choose any one retreat we don’t tie them down to that. Our charges for all the packages are the same. So when a guest walks in he will first be examined by our doctor. Depending on his condition he will be recommended a particular treatment. If it does not match the package or exceeds it, the guest can change,” she adds.

The couple focused on word-of-mouth publicity, PR and digital marketing for promotions which worked well.

They are thinking of inviting world famous healers in different fields to offer their services whether it is energy freedom techniques, hypnosis acupuncture. “Wellness is the new mantra. It’s just plain luck that what started out as pure passion for us is now poised to be the fastest growing segment in the hospitality industry,” says Sharmilee.

First Published: Jul 15, 2017 15:15 IST