Bliss in Bali
KATE LALLY CHILLS OUT AT A WOMEN- ONLY SPA RETREAT IN INDONESIA
YOU deserve a break. I repeat these four words to myself in the taxi, at check- in and at 35,000 feet.
Flying across the world to go on a self- care retreat seemed a little disorientating. Women especially are not good on that front – we have to fill so many roles, perform so many tasks.
And while great joy can be found in nurturing others, it can be all too easy to forget to look after number one.
But it’s like the flight attendants say: put your own mask on first before helping others.
You’re no good to anyone else if you’re running on empty, and sometimes you need to step out of your daily life to gain a sense of perspective.
The mere mention of Bali evokes images of paradise and, as our plane touches down, I am enveloped in a sense of calm.
Ketut, my personal driver, is waiting for me at the airport, and our journey whirls us through endless waves of people. They fly by on scooters with helmet- less kids sleeping at the front and mounds of food, clothes and other items wobbling precariously on the back.
There are chickens in the road, women balancing baskets on their heads as they walk, students wearing traditional dress, and brightly coloured offerings litter the streets.
Once we leave the city, though, it’s a different world. Ketut and I float through lush green rice paddies and watch cows graze in fields, before we arrive at Bliss Sanctuary.
The villa is quite the oasis – no kids or men are allowed.
There’s a jade- coloured swimming pool, a rooftop massage and yoga studio and just six luxurious rooms. Inside, people greet you with a smile, feed you heavenly meals, and give you hours of pampering every day, plus yoga and meditation.
My room at the sanctuary in Canggu, southern Bali – sister to another Balinese Bliss women’s retreat at Seminyak – is a vast marble- floored space, with a huge four- poster bed and standalone bath tub.
But my favourite part? There are no itineraries and no rules. Your stay is all about you doing whatever you want.
Whether that’s spending your entire stay doing nothing but being pampered, living at the beach, or taking trips to temples and culturally rich towns, it’s entirely up to you.
I arrive at around 5pm Indonesian time and my hostess Anna, who becomes both my PA and BFF over the next week, has already booked me in for a full- body massage.
Next up is what is probably the most arduous task of my trip – deciding what to do tomorrow.
From day trips to yoga classes and meditation, every other aspect of your holiday is included, and with every wondrous corner of Bali at my disposal it’s tough to narrow down.
My days roll into an easy mix of morning spa treatments and afternoon excursions, not to mention dining on incredibly sumptuous Indonesian cuisine.
Salt and pepper squid, chicken curry, chicken satay, seafood barbecue, the list goes on. You can eat as much or as little as you choose, to and prepare can even something ask the in- and house store chefs it for you, so you aren’t tied to set meal times. There’s a seemingly endless supply of chocolate in the fridge, too. Midway through my trip, eversmiling Ketut drives me to the spiritual heart of Bali: Ubud. Made popular by the bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love ( made into a film starring Julia Roberts, in 2010) this cultural, playful part of the island is home to streets of shops and cafés that reflect the local artistic and creative scene.
Set among emerald rice fields and misty mountains, this village cluster is the perfect place to recharge and reflect.
I spend my day temple- hopping and trinket- shopping, before wandering through the famous Monkey Forest. The natural sanctuary is home to a horde of grey long- tailed macaques, which you can see swinging through canopies, lazing along pathways or feeding on bananas.
Before heading back to the villa, we stop at the breathtaking Tegalalang Rice Terraces, famous for their beautiful scenes of sloping green paddies.
Like something out of an ancient history book, the layered terraces provide a stunning patchwork that has to be seen to be believed.
For a change of scene, I spend my next afternoon on one of Bali’s most stylish beaches. Seminyak is a beautiful haven of white sand with great waves that makes it a favourite among surfers. As the shadows lengthen I bag a spot at one of Seminyak’s rooftop bars and watch day turn into night, a cocktail in my hand.
During my week at Bliss, I was reminded how the world is full of beauty and wonder, and met people who are friendly for no reason other than to be nice.
Everyone wants health and happiness, and after a week at Bliss Sanctuary, you’ll feel a little closer to achieving that goal.
The relaxation lounge at Bliss
Healthy eating – mahi mahi mango salsa and freshly- made rice paper rolls Cool and calm: The yoga and massage area
A bath filled with petals on the terrace of your hotel room? Oh go on then