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For a long time now I’ve wanted to do a health retreat to someplace where I could completely unwind and engage in healthy activities. But I didn’t really want to do a retreat that was all “nuts and berries” with hour upon hour of yoga and meditation. Let’s face it I enjoy an alcoholic drink or two and although I enjoy healthy eating and exercise I didn’t want that to be the main focus of my holiday. So when I heard about a Women’s Wellness Retreat to Bali with the travel company called BaliTravel4Women, I instantly put up my hand to go.
My six day retreat began in the lush surrounds of Ubud and culminated in a one night stay in a French-Indo inspired boutique hotel in Jimbaran. Alongside six other lovely ladies, ranging in age from 40 to 60, I had the most incredible time of my life.
Firstly, let me tell you about the organiser of these “women only” Bali trips. They are organised by Bali guru, Cherie from BaliTravel4Women, who has worked in the airline industry and is an ex-school teacher from Melbourne. Cherie has been taking groups of women over for the past 5 years and believes that there is a budget for everyone to enjoy Bali. She has travelled to Bali an astounding 35 times! During which time that she has developed a deep affection for the people and culture of Bali and knows absolutely everything there is to know about this Indonesian Island. Cherie knows the best places to stay, the best places to eat, the best places to shop and the best Bali experiences to try out. Her ability to haggle a good deal and squeeze a few extras is unsurpassed, as she has all the right contacts.
Follow Cherie on Instagram for some Bali inspiration!
Day 1: Check into our hotel in Ubud – the Adiwana Jembawan. A warm welcome afternoon tea around the pool and dinner out at the Casa Luna Restaurant.
Day 2: Early morning yoga class followed by a delicious healthy breakfast at the Herb Library Restaurant at the Adiwana. A women’s mental wellness session with a Psychologist. A relaxing and rejuvenating spa treatment at Adiwana’s Tejas Spa. Visit to Pyramids of Chi for Sound Healing. Dinner at Ibu Susu.
Day 3: Set off to Ubud market early for a browse through the fresh food section. Short walk to Pura Gunung Lebah Temple and then commence the Camphuan Ridge trail. Breakfast and another session with our Psychologist at Karsa Cafe in the village of Bangkiang Sidem. Return to Ubud to visit Saraswati Temple and Ubud Palace. A free afternoon to shop or relax. Dinner at Sacred Rice Restaurant set amongst rice fields on the outskirts of Ubud.
Day 4: Early breakfast and then into a mini bus for a day trip to East Bali. First stop at Penglipurian Village – a preserved and pristine Balinese village. Drive through the stunning countryside via the Telaga Waja river, famous for white water rafting and then through the terraced rice fields and villages of Sidemen to the Luxurious Wapa di Ume Hotel for lunch and a quick tour of this beautiful hotel. Visit to one of Bali’s most beautiful beaches – Pasir Putih or Virgin Beach for a refreshing swim. Drop in to the town of Candidasa and the International Humanity Foundation (IHF) to sit in on a lesson with some of the children learning English. Head to Hotel Komune Beach Club at the famous Keramas surf beach for sunset cocktails and dinner.
Day 5: Early morning yoga class and breakfast at hotel. Pick up our Ebikes to ride to the Tegalalang Rice Terraces. Free time in the afternoon. Attend a spiritual blessing (or Fire Ceremony) called Agni Hotra at Five Elements Eco Resort in Ubud. Late dinner at the hotel.
Day 6: Last day in Ubud with an early breakfast at the hotel. Say goodbye to the Adiwana and embark on a trip to Green Village on the Ayung River in Mengwi. Tour two of the twelve unique and eco-friendly bamboo houses. Arrive at our hotel for our last night of the retreat in Jimbaran at the Balquisse Hotel. Settle into our rooms, enjoy a swim and afternoon tea around the pool. Dinner at The Shaba.
The Adiwana Jembowan is perfectly located in the heart of Ubud in a laneway, that is far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the town, but close enough to be within walking distance to the shops, markets, restaurants and cafes. It describes itself as being a boutique wellness retreat that focuses on body, mind and spirit rejuvenation. The Adiwana has a team of onsite experts, including an Ayurvedic doctor and yoga instructor, the resort offers lifestyle programs that are tailored to address any specific health concerns you may have.
Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient Indian system based on the concept that health is achieved when the mind, body and spirit are in balance. The resort offers daily yoga classes, pranayama and meditation, two swimming pools, wellness consultations, daily healthy breakfasts at the onsite Herb Library restaurant, Ayurvedic and spa treatments and daily afternoon tea. Tejas Spa was out of this world and the only time that I have been indulged in a four-hand massage.
I stayed in a beautiful deluxe room that backed onto the jungle and a trickling creek. It was beautifully appointed with clean-line furnishings, a smart en-suite bathroom and a decorative wall that showcased Bali’s creative legacy. There was also a private balcony that blended seamlessly into the outdoors providing extra space to sit and relax.
The six days of the retreat were astonishing. Each day on the itinerary bettered the previous day and I was left wondering how it could in fact get any better. The main highlights for me were:
Camphuan Ridge Walk
This 9 kilometre walk commenced at the Gunung Lebah Temple and passed over the lush valley of the Sungai Wos River with stunning views of the valley and the countryside surrounding the ridge. At the end of the walk we entered a small artisan village, small houses adjacent to rice fields and finally to the village of Bangkiang Sidem.
Dinner at Sacred Rice
One of Ubud’s best kept secrets is the amazing Sacred Rice Restaurant located on the outskirts of Ubud amidst rice fields and beautifully landscaped gardens. The Chef James Tan uses his own organic garden from which he draws seasonal items and produces consistently excellent dishes. We dressed up to impress and enjoyed a 7 course degustation menu that was aesthetically delightful and delectable.
Although a very popular Bali tourist attraction, I discovered the World Heritage Listed Penglipurian Village to be absolutely enchanting. It’s considered to be the third cleanest village in the world and the traditional architecture and culture of the village has remained unspoilt. During our early morning visit, before the crowds came in, we witnessed a wedding ceremony being set up at one of the family temples.
Sprawled across a magical valley with a magnificent landscape of terraced hills overshadowed by Gunung Agung, Sidemen was like a breath of fresh air. While it’s primarily a rice growing and rural area, the area also produces chillies, peanuts, corn, tapioca, snakefruit, cacao, coffee and cloves. We stopped here to check out the brand new resort called Wapa di Ume and were blown away by the decadence of this place with gorgeous views over rice fields and surrounded by soft green hills. This was our coffee and lunch stop where we received 5 star service in the resort’s restaurant.
Pasir Putih or Virgin Beach
A big highlight as we got to enjoy an hour or so on one of Bali’s most beautiful and relatively uninhabited beaches in Candidasa. After a bit of a hike down a dirt track we discovered this treasure known as Pasir Putih, Virgin or White Sand Beach. The sand and the water was pristine and we learnt it is one of the only beaches along the eastern coastline that has white sand. Most of the other beaches are volcanic and have black sand.
Sunset Cocktails at Komune Beach Club
Located on the famous Keramas surf beach in Gianyar, Komune Beach Club is a popular resort for holidaymakers and surfers. It was voted in the top 5 in Asia and boasts a sunset bar and restaurant with views to die for. Here we enjoyed a “sundowner” of freshly made jugs of Sangria and some tasty tapas to ward off the hunger pangs.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace
We picked up our Ebikes and rode through the rice-rich fields of Tegalalang outside Ubud. The Heritage Listed Tegalalang rice terrace is home to the most famous rice fields in Bali. A truly awe-inspiring sight, the beautiful green rice paddies stretch on for what seems like an eternity. There are many photo opportunities to be had so make sure you’re camera ready!
Spiritual Blessing (Fire Ceremony)
As part of our wellness package we experienced two different forms of spiritual healing or blessings – Sound Healing at Pyramids of Chi and the Agni Hotra (Fire Ceremony) at Five Elements Eco Resort in Ubud. It was a truly magical and memorable experience with the ideology behind it being to remove negativity from our lives and throw one’s worries into the fire pit. Agni Hotra is considered one of the highest Vedic rituals and only trained healers can initiate such practice. I was extremely humbled to be part of this blessing and ceremony and felt completely carefree and cleansed afterwards.
Green Village Bamboo Houses
On our last day in Ubud we were driven to Green Village, perched on the sacred Ayung River and surrounded by tropical Bali rainforest. Here we were taken on a guided tour through some of the eco-friendly village that is spread out over a large area, and got to look inside two of the astonishing bamboo houses. The houses showcase how black and white bamboo can be combined to create a stunning collection of luxurious floors, walls, ceiling, and railings. Plus the views from the houses were staggering.
Our final night in Bali was at the Balquisse Heritage Hotel in Jimbaran where we were treated to a wonderful dinner at The Shaba. This French-Indo inspired hotel is boutique style with each room designed and furnished in antiques and an eclectic theme. Each piece, furniture, décor or linen, is obviously hand-crafted or lovingly chosen for its’ story and uniqueness.
The location of the hotel, only 400m from Jimbaran Beach, is set in verdant Balinese-style gardens, in the grounds of an old Balinese coconut plantation. Next door is the equally delightful The Shaba Function House where we dined on a deck adorned with twinkling lights sitting on top of mangroves. Our dining table was dressed with crystal glasses and silver cutlery with nostalgic mismatched crockery. This exquisite hotel left me feeling like a princess for a day!
Once I reflected on this trip I tried to choose a favourite day or a favourite moment, and you know what? I just couldn’t do it! Every day was better than the last and every day was a new Bali discovery for me. The beauty of the Balinese countryside and the existence of some relatively untrodden spots on the island, opened my eyes to an entirely different Bali.
I would like to say to people, open your eyes and find beauty where you normally don’t expect it ~ Jean Paul Gaultier
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & BeyondApril 12, 2019
I followed your journey on Instagram and FB Kathy and it looked wonderful. this post has some amazing photography and I feel calm just reading your post. What a wonderful way to spend some quality time and do wonders for your health. I need to put this on my bucket list for sure. x
KathyApril 12, 2019
It was a truly wonderful 6 days and I’m hoping to do it all again next year.xx
DebbieApril 12, 2019
I really enjoyed reading this Kathy. I had been following your IG and SM posts while you were there and it looks fabulous!! What a great retreat, it sounds like it covered everything you needed it to! Always enjoy your posts :)
KathyApril 13, 2019
Thank you so much Debbie. My Bali retreat was incredible and I would highly recommend it to other women.
Johanna CastroApril 13, 2019
What an amazing time you had, and your wrap up of the retreat, the hotels and the beautiful sights in Bali was an absolute pleasure to read. We hear so many bad things about Bali, but it is just the most beautiful, mystical, magical island at heart. Loved your photos :)
KathyApril 13, 2019
I had the time of my life Jo. I really enjoyed seeing this side of Bali. Thank you so much for your lovely comments.
JanetApril 13, 2019
Ohhhhhhh what a magical experience … would love to follow in your footsteps one day! Thanks for sharing.
KathyApril 13, 2019
Yes it certainly was Janet. If you get a chance do something like this. It was a great experience.