Bali may be best known for backpacker bars and surf beaches, but behind the island’s beguiling surface beats a holistic boutique heart. Luxe spa retreats offer serious pampering with a little spiritual wellbeing on the side, while villa-style stays are in vogue.
There’s always a moment in every spa treatment when you think, ‘Phew! This is going to be a good one.’ Perhaps you’re enjoying aromatherapy in a treehouse treatment room in Fiji or getting pummeled by a powerful hammam lady in Turkey. Maybe it’s a four-hand massage in Sardinia or a feet-first manipulation on a beach in Thailand.
Bali is a case in point, with a plethora of spa treatments on offer, from budget to bling. No visit to this island is complete without being massaged, scrubbed, cleansed, bathed and blissed out to within an inch of your life. Indonesian massages are all long strokes and much stretching, skin-rolling and palm-and-thumb pressure, with pampering taking place in your villa, relaxation sala (open pavilion), on the beach or in tropical gardens. Sometimes it seems as though there’s a salon at every street corner (especially in chichi Seminyak and Ubud, of Eat, Pray, Love fame), while upscale hotels here offer some of the world’s best spas, invariably open to non-guests, too. Throw in great-value prices and calm, tuned-in practitioners and you’d be crazy not to indulge in a little detox (even if you plan to retox again right afterwards).
Bali’s best spa breaks don’t involve hair shirts and worthy-but-dull lentil dishes, though. Cue Alila Villas Uluwatu, an eco-glam getaway clinging to the coast on Bali’s southern Bukit Peninsula. The 61 indoor-outdoor pool villas, designed by Singaporean architects WOHA , are wow-worthy. The infinity pool gazes towards the Indian Ocean and a cabana lounge bar cantilevers over the cliff (cocktails, anyone?). Spa Alila’s ‘Journey to You’ includes a full day’s pampering, from dawn yoga to a massage under the stars – or shake off that jet-lag at some of the island’s surf breaks nearby. Who knows, maybe you’ll find enlightenment sitting on your board watching the sunset at Uluwatu Beach.
Reproduced with permission from Great Escapes © 2015, Lonely Planet, http://www.lonelyplanet.com/