My first spa retreat experience
Having been to Bali several times in my life, I can honestly say it’s like no other place I’ve visited. There’s an overwhelming sense of calm and bliss that comes over me there, and the Balinese vibe begs me to slow down and enjoy things. As an admittedly anxious soul, I had been craving a different travel experience recently, one that could speak to my pursuit of wellness and peace of mind. With the last few months being the busiest ever, I was aching for a trip to get me out of my head and more into my spirit for a change. What better place than Bali?
Sukhavati Bali was an amazing place to soak in the splendor of jungle surroundings and get restored and balanced through Ayurveda, for my birthday, and with my husband no less! This is my two-day experience at one of Bali’s finest wellness retreats (2018 winner, Best Luxury Holistic Retreat in Asia.)
Disclaimer: my trip to Sukhavati Bali was part of a collaboration for this blog; all thoughts and opinions are my own.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest healing systems, with its roots in India dating back over 5,000 years ago. Its holistic approach tries to balance the mind, body, and spirit through healthy eating, massage, herbal medcine, and meditation. The Sukhavati experience relies on Ayurvedic medicine to nurture its guests during their stay. Ayurveda attributes each individual’s physical and mental makeup to the three doshas below. The idea is that we’re all a combination of either both or all three doshas; the doctor told me my constitution was Pitta-Vata.
Doshas are derived from the 5 elements
Pitta: “Dominated by the fire element, which makes them innately strong, intense, and irritable”
Vata: “Vata types tend to be thin and lanky. They are very mentally and physically active and enjoy creative endeavors, meeting new people, and traveling to new places.
Kapha: “The influence of the earth and water elements makes them innately stable, compassionate, and loyal.”
My consult with Dr. Raju: the shockingly accurate pulse diagnosis
Everyone’s stay at Sukhavati starts off with a 45-minute consult with Dr. Mithun Raju. With the relaxing sound of a dripping fountain in his outdoor office, we began our conversation calmly. Before I could mention much, he put three fingers on my pulse and was still for minutes. With closed eyes, he listened and uttered one sentence at a time. Not asking, but telling.
“You have pain in your right shoulder.”
“You’ve been experiencing joint pain in your right knee.”
“You struggle with sugar and sweets. You love chocolate”
My jaw dropped with each revelation that was 100% spot on. Especially the sweets statement.
We talked about the source of my stress and anxiety; about my physical ailments and how to treat them naturally with herbal medicines and a more routine lifestyle. He stressed the importance of stability for a healthier life and a calmer mind, especially with our expat life. After years of stomach issues, I was shocked when he promised that taking castor oil every night before bed would get rid of my acid issues, forever. Our chat was an intense and special experience; I felt he truly got my pain and understood my situation without me having to say much.
2 bedroom Saraswati Villa w/ private pool
Intoxicating scents of frangipani and orchids, outdoor shower and bathroom, eco-friendly touches
Walking through the beautifully carved wooden doors and into our Saraswati villa felt like peering into Eden. At Sukhavati there are 8 luxury villas spread over immaculately kept grounds. Some, like our Saraswati villa, feature a private pool and a nice seating area with a couch and chairs. Our modern yet Bali-chic room featured a very comfortable four-post king-size bed with luxurious amenities, daily tropical fruits, ayurvedic teas, and even books to read up on trascendental meditation. In the breaks we had between treatments, it was a joy to go back to this lush haven, nap, lounge and dip in the gorgeous private pool.
Heavenly & healing ayurvedic treatments
Each day at Sukhavati meant a new customized itinerary full of different blissful experiences to nourish mind, body, and soul. Our two-days were planned from sunrise to sundown but in the best way possible:
– Morning walks through the village and rice fields
– 2x daily yoga sessions overlooking the jungle
– Daily meditation moments
– Four-handed massage treatments (90 minutes)
– In-room facials
Jungle serenity, trance-inducing massage, 90 minutes of pure bliss
As a massage lover, I was thrilled to indulge in ayurvedic massage (known for its heavy use of essential oils and longer strokes). The treatment area of the property faces out to the river and wild jungle and two ladies started tending to my neck and feet as I faced out to this incredible view. I was already melting away by then.
Once on the table, I enjoyed a four-handed Abhyangga massage of rhymic long strokes with herb-infused oils. The two women massaging me were so in sync that I forgot there were two different people. The massage ended with Shirodara, a steady pouring of oil over the forehead. This part of the massage took me to another place entirely; I was so incredibly relaxed and dazed after the massage sessions.
My knee treatment, as prescribed by the doctor, meant the two women damming off both knees with a metal contraption to then pour hot oil over my knee caps. They massaged my knees gently for what felt liked 30 minutes. I haven’t had knee pain since. Our in-room facial was another heavently taste of spa treatments at Sukhavati. We sprawled out on the bed and three ladies took turns massaging our head and feet, followed by a mixture of heavenly smelling scrubs and lotions.
Tempe curry, cauliflower soup, rice noodles, pumpkin chana dall, sticky rice
Food at Sukhavati was fantastic clean eating and featured all vegetarian dishes. Breakfast on the patio by the river overlooking the jungle, to lunch and dinner under the pavilion meant digging into delicious vegetarian food with no alcohol, or coffee. I noticed that people were open and willing to talk at these meals on a deeper level and I enjoyed the communal part of the day. We met solo travelers and couples who came because of ‘burn-out’ from life or work, and some who needed a detox. The funniest thing was how we all found giving up coffee for a few days so difficult.
Sukhavati Retreat is a special place for people craving serenity, rejuvenation, and a professional and kind team to tend to their aspects of physical, mental, and emotional wellness. The nature was enough for me to get out of my head, and then the treatments came…The biggest de-stressing happened on the massage table facing the river and with the sounds of the jungle lulling me to sleep. There are no words for how I felt after. The serene and spiritual feeling created by the place and the team impressed me most, and a few weeks after my stay there, I can say I’m more interested in natural remedies, listening to my body better, slowing down with the caffeine, and finding mental peace through mindfulness. The fact that my knee pain that had been bothering me for months disappeared after my treatments also made me a believer.
+ Located perfectly between the beach, rice fields, and jungle
+ Professional and extremely kind staff
+ Top notch facilities, treatment and design
– Prescribed medicines are quite expensive if bought on-site
– It would’ve been great to have left with literature or a recommend diet/lifestyle plan based on the consult with Dr. Raju
Sukhavati retreat details
Our retreat experience was valued at 790 USD per person ++ 15% taxes and surcharge. They have loads of programs suited to addressing just some of the following: