My Bali Welness Tour


We all know that Bali has, by and large, become the Spa capital of the world. Nowhere on the globe can you find such an abundance of Spas in such a densely packed area, offering everything from traditional treatments to international, super luxury pampering involving ingredients such as caviar and silk.

THE FLAMBOYANT SPA
flamboyant spa-01 The treatment at the sumptuous Moroccan and Rajasthan-themed Prana Spa at The Villas begins with a refreshing ginger lemon tea, which we sip before padding across delicate Kashmir carpets, through opulent archways and past intricate Indian paintings. Entering the Spa's dim, boudoir like Private Suite, which only opened in November with a remit to target couples. It's a sprawling affair, and a huge shell shaped bath tub, glittering with blood red and golden mirrors, stands as its centerpiece. Changing at one end of the room and head to the message table way down at the other. As ambient music plays in the otherwise hushed surroundings, settling into position for a 30 minute Crown Therapy session. Typically added on to a Suite package, I am enjoying the treatment as a standalone today.

flamboyant spa-02I lie flat on my back as a gentle but firm head massage begins, and I peek out of the small diamond shaped gaps between scalloped heavy curtains and patterned glass windows to see coconut palms swaying against a blue sky. Heaven ! Then a steady warm stream of oil floods across my hairline from right to left, left to right. A more intense pressure point, rhythmic massage then begins across my scalp. It feels somewhat like an extravagant Indonesian cream bath, but the temperature of the oil is soothing and I'm soon off swaying with those palm trees. Just as my eyes finally close and I float off into the heady ether, a whisper tells me it's all over. I take a shower behind a shimmering deep blue organza curtain and shampoo out the oil, which nevertheless leaves my hair feeling soft and supple. It's a brief but rejuvenating interlude in my day. Prana Spa at the Villas, www.thevillas.net

 

THE NO NONSENSE SPA
Jari MenariJari Menari (Dancing Fingers) is renowned as one of Bali's best spots for an excellent massage and a second recently opened outlet down in Nusa Dua really lives up to the original's excellent reputation. Its style is as sleek, minimalist and serene as ever. I opt for the Serenading Singing Bowl massage, during which a Tibetan singing bowl is struck by a practitioner around one's body to encourage internal adjustments that cannot be made by external manipulation alone. The process begins with me slipping into a sarong and walking across stepping stones laid amid smooth rocks to a fan cooled private room, which catches the breeze and has a soothing trickle of water within earshot.

Jari MenariFace down on the bed, peering through the table at a delicate little painting, Eric, one of the all male masseuses, begins to work his magic on me. It becomes immediately clear that Jari Menari is an apt name, as Eric's manipulations follow an assured yet varied rhythm that quickly lulls me into a deeply calmed state. Moving from my back to my legs, to my back to my arms and so on, the massage feels just great, and I'm not just lying in wait for him to get to the good bits ! The singing bowl is introduced when the face down session is complete. Although the sound coming from the bowl is also considered a kind of therapy in itself, for me, the vibrations that emanate from the bowl as it circumnavigates my body are intense and grounding. The bowl is a meaningful, balancing addition to the massage therapy. Jari Menari, www.jarimenarinusadua.com

THE CLASSIC SPA
the classic spaAt Ayana's Thermes Marins Bali, I catch sight of an outdoor, shaded aquatonic pool filled with some 700 million litres of seawater sucked from the Indian Ocean. The pool waits in the distance, gurgling, churning and spraying, ready for me to take the plunge. Two laps against the current in a small circuit prepare me for taking my first position under the water jets. Two minutes in each position around the pool are prescribed by the watchful attendants. First standing, then sitting, then standing again, nothing is left bereft of attention from Achilles heels to hips to upper back, the jets of water pummel and knead. I round things off in the first pool with water thundering onto my shoulders.

the classic spaThe jets are powerful, loosening up places no human fingers are ever going to reach, and the peace of the pool itself makes for a nice, calming bonus. Tiled in shades of cerulean, set amid blooming tropical flowers and overlooking the ocean, this is relaxation incarnate. Inside the treatment room, frangipani bas reliefs decorate the walls and the shadow of a real frangipani tree sways outside the window. I lie back on a warm massage table and am smeared in a seaweed puree, wrapped up and insulated, then given a short but seductively scented facial. Next, my therapist literally peels and rinses me under warm seawater (it's all about the minerals working their natural magic) and then my stunning lomi-lomi massage begins, with impossibly long strokes, as half a dozen showerheads simultaneously spray seawater onto my skin. By this stage, I've been under saltwater or seaweed for close to three hours, and the human touch feels reassuring and reinvigorating, bringing me back to earth completely re-energized. Thermes Marins Bali, Ayana Resort & Spa, www.ayanaresort.com

THE BACK TO NATURE SPA
kupu barong-01It's appropriate that I'm sipping on mango nectar as I ease into the plush, white cool surroundings of the lobby of the Mango Tree Spa by L'Occitane. Fully acclimatized, I'm escorted to one of two tree houses, in which treatments can be enjoyed whilst overlooking the Ayung River as it tumbles and rushes over boulders strewn at the base of the terraced, paddy filled valley below. I slip into a kimono and slippers and head for the bathroom, which sports just about the best view of any bathroom I've ever used in my life. I then return, lie face down on the table and peer through it into a bowl of baby pink and crimson flowers. The therapist cups her hands above the flowers, just under my nose, and asks me to inhale. Lavender, tea tree and geranium scents flood my olfactory system.

kupu barongThe massage begins and involves a combination of Swedish, acupressure and long Balinese style movements. Oil infused with mango is also brought into play and the scent is so lovely that I find myself craning my neck to surreptitiously breathe in another waft as the therapist weaves her magic. There is no music, and it would be an intrusion here as the steady gushing of the Ayung in the distance is the perfect aural accompaniment to the treatment. Suddenly a hushed voice is rousing me, asking me to turn over. Already ! The massage continues as I lie face up. Fabulous scents and nature's sounds mingle together, lulling me back into my meditative state. Later in the lobby, green tea and fresh biscuits conclude the treatment. Mango Tree Spa by L'Occitane, www.kupubarong.com

 

THE SERIOUS ONE
kupu barongAs I close my eyes and breathe deeply down at Fivelements, an evening cacophony of tiny animals competes with the roar of the nearby Ayung River. I inhale the unadulterated air and let the world I've come from slip away. I'm here for a Healing Dance treatment, which basically consist of a kind of aquatic aerobics session in a purpose built pool. I begin with a half hour of breathing work and relaxation before immersing myself in the water. My therapist Michael explains that this allows for the maximum possible benefit to be gained from the session.

fiveelementOnce changed into my swimwear and bobbing in the warm water, I release an offering of flowers and set out my stall for the session. Michael holds my face clear of the water, however my ears remain submerged and are serenaded by underwater chanting. Meanwhile, my legs are each supported by unobtrusive floats. And then, well .. we dance ! Or rather my body is gracefully led, tracing circles and loops in the pool, limbs arcing and neck curling fluidly, as time is suspended and direction loses meaning. By watching, listening and feeling my breath. Michael intuits what to do next, helping return my attention to my body, so that I am totally present in the experience. That, at least, is what's happening physically. Psychologically, the water is womb like and I feel secure, yet free and exhilarated. In my mind I am soaring, I'm in one of those dreams you have in which you're flying above the earth and don't want to wake up. It's euphoric and joyous and the subtlest of physical manipulations enables me to shed all sorts of physical and emotional baggage and watch as it is blown away on the breeze. Fivelements, Mambal, Abiansemal, Badung, Bali, www.fivelements.org

 

THE SWISH SPA
spaIn the centre of bustling Seminyak, the Private Spa Wellness Centre is a quiet oasis of bleached recycled woods, terrazzo and cold glass. My five hour indulgence begins with me heading through curtains and a dramatic entrance into the large area behind, where treatment rooms follow Japanese, Thai, Indian, Moroccan, Balinese Victorian and European themes. My therapist, Gede, hooks me up to a German Prognos system, which takes an electronic reading of the energy levels of my body's meridians. Only one meridian is out, though my overall energy is quiet low and my yin-yang balance is a touch out as well. Then we ease into the Vitality Pool. I surrender to the pool's jets, which target various areas of the body, stimulating circulation and massaging muscles. It is indeed an excellent morning wake up session and I soon find myself tucking into some fresh cucumber, yoghurt and mint soup, followed by a drink of Es Kelapa Muda (iced coconut juice) from the delicious organic menu. Suitably fortified, it's now time for a Dancing Silk massage in the Indian room. The massage begins with a kafir lime and salt ritual foot wash beneath a mural of the Taj Mahal (complete with blinking stars).

spaUshered to my massage table, I lie face down and gaze at an anthurium nestling in a bowl of pearls. The massage commences with a length of super soft silk, which dances over my entire body. I almost giggle at such playfulness, an unexpected moment of fun and levity in the treatment room. The silk is then pressed across my body, under a wooden roller, so that I can savour the sensual texture of the fabric. A dynamic, energizing massage by therapist Sri soon follows. The crowning moment now arrives, a relaxing caviar facial using scrumptious Pevonia Botanica products. The highlight of this highlight is the caviar mask, which gently peels off to reveal tauter and far softer skin than I started with. After a tuna tartare and glass of chlorophyll, it's back to the Prognos. My yin-yang is now in balance and my overall energy levels are lower, which is typically immediately after such a long period of relaxation. A few hours later however, I'm positively bursting out of my skin thanks to my little getaway. The Private Spa Wellness Centre, www.privatespawellnesscentre.com