Couples seeking seclusion and the authentic spirit of Bali venture northeast to Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali where age-old healing awaits
ut of the chaotic Ngurah Rai International Airport, I am whisked into a private car by a friendly driver, shielded from the crowd and afternoon heat and welcomed with a cold towel, refreshing salad and much-needed drink of water. It’s the kind of hospitality that is so typically Balinese and sets the tone for the rest of the journey.
What separates me from my destination is a 2.5-hour drive, every minute of the course taking me further away from the tourist-laden south, and indeed all the cares of a harried life, and closer to a tranquil paradise that is perhaps what first put the Island of the Gods on the radar of holidaymakers. Stepping into the open-concept lobby at Spa Village Resort Tembok, the flagship resort of YTL Hotels’ Spa Village brand that marks its 10th anniversary in 2017, I am ushered into a plush chair where I partake of another welcome ritual: a soothing foot bath and shoulder massage. I later learn that this represents the start of the purification, renewal and relaxation to transpire during my stay.
There are 31 rooms at this intimate adults-only property fringed by volcanic black sand beaches and swaying palms, set against a backdrop of majestic peaks. It’s all about understated luxury, with just one shop, one restaurant that serves pretty decent-tasting spa food, no loud bars or children’s wading pools, no TV in the rooms and wi-fi access restricted to the lobby. The emphasis here is on renewal, relaxation and self-discovery through an experience that honours Bali’s deep-held traditions.
The spa menu features an array of Balinese-inspired treatments. A must-try for newlyweds: the pengantin melukat, reminiscent of a purification ceremony for brides and grooms traditionally carried out in villages here. It begins with a steam bath pre-treatment where the feet are covered in mineral-rich volcanic black sand. A Balinese massage is followed by a boreh body scrub to render skin a luminous glow before it is slathered with moisturising milk. The finale: a luxurious floral bath.
To help you find balance, there are a number of other couple spa experiences, private yoga, ocean-side massage under the stars and even starlight-gazing meditation while floating in the pool (very little light pollution in these parts means you’ll see hundreds of stars on a clear night, and it won’t be hard to spot a shooting star!), but don’t ignore other discovery paths: creativity and vigour. For the creative path, catch the Balinese dance performances as you imbibe pre-dinner drinks, or try your hand at lontar drawing (traditional palm leaf drawing) or weaving your own love birds; and for something more exciting, there are day trips to Les Waterfall, a sunrise hike up the still active volcano Mount Batur, and a sunrise cruise where you might spot dolphins! This is the real Bali. It’s no wonder celebrities continue to be lured here by the promise of privacy, a considered pace and pure bliss.
As the staff bid farewell with a good luck hard-boiled egg in a woven basket and my car sets off for the airport, I can’t help but yearn to return to the serenity and gentle spirituality of the real Bali and feel thankful for experiencing what’s left of it. YTL Hotels’ new direct booking portal offers exciting deals and packages just for the Singapore market, including complimentary massage and stay-more-book-less deals.