You can go minimalist with just a thin white curtain, which acts as an insect screen, or, if that feels just a bit too open, pull down a bamboo blind for a more enclosed sensation. The sustainable design of the villas does more than just deliver a big hit of nature, according to Puspa. “The openness of the architecture invites our guests to try new ideas, to connect to yourself and nature,” she says. “Having no walls, no doors, no separation between yourself and nature, is what we want.”
The verdant jungle that envelops this adults-only resort is also home to two rivers and several untouched waterfalls. “The place itself has so much healing power,” says Puspa. “We encourage our guests to be in nature and to get active.”
A stay at Buahan is all about slowing down, and the luxurious villas are the perfect spot for a touch of cocooning, with an expansive deck and your own private pool. If you like to keep busy on holiday, there are plenty of excursions to choose from, ranging from a sunrise hike to the top of Mount Batur – the second-highest peak in Bali – to a cycling trip along jungle trails.
Then there are the yoga classes, the spa where you can book in for some of the renowned Banyan Tree treatments, and lots of activities for food lovers, from foraging and cooking experiences to a tour of the resort’s 2000-square-metre farm, where organic produce is grown. For Puspa, however, the most memorable experience is a trek to one of the waterfalls, where a local priest conducts purification ceremonies based on traditional Hindu practices. “Guests can make their own offerings, which may include coconuts or different leaves or flowers,” says Puspa.
Image by Bali Photo Shooting
Let it go at Escape Haven
Some beaches are made for surfing; others for swimming. At Escape Haven, just west of Denpasar, there’s a beach that is tailor-made for letting go. “We have so many women who’ve gone through some sort of trauma, who’ve had a relationship breakdown or lost their job or are in a state of change,” says Escape Haven founder Janine Hall. “They come here carrying around boulders of loss and grief, and we help them unwind from that.”
Janine has been welcoming guests to her retreats for 14 years. “We have 10 different packages; before the pandemic, the surf, yoga and Pilates packages were the most popular,” she says. “These days, however, it’s the healing packages that are most in demand.”
Escape Haven doesn’t offer one-size-fits-all stays; instead, it focuses on a personalised approach. By enquiring about your needs and your preferences – right down to whether you’re a morning or an evening person – the staff create a bespoke package that’s perfect for each guest. Whether you opt for more yoga, more cultural cooking workshops or extra time lying by the pool, every package includes unlimited spa treatments.
“Women who are very busy and very successful are used to being on all the time, being in their own heads constantly,” says Janine. “They’re out of sync with what they actually feel, which is why we have so many yin-based activities, with gentle yoga and breathwork and healing spa sessions.”
No detail is overlooked here, especially when it comes to the importance of a good night’s sleep. To promote optimal relaxation and recovery, each of Escape Haven’s rooms has been designed as a place where you can slumber in peace. “Your room is your sanctuary,” says Janine. “There are dimmers on the lights, temperature control, blackout curtains. We have Belgian pure linen sheets, lavender spray by the bed. And, if it’s your sort of thing, we’ll even show you how to do a night-time candlelight meditation.”
Get your groove on at Soulshine
Used to massages beginning with a foot bath or deep inhale of scented oils? Well, at Soulshine, located just 10 minutes south of Ubud, your massage session starts when you choose your playlist. “Music is the soundtrack to your life and the right music can let your mind flow and take you to somewhere else,” says Soulshine co-owner Sara Agah Franti. That’s why the luxe spa offers a number of different playlists, including traditional nature sounds, a soft acoustic soundtrack and a more upbeat playlist. “Of course, if you have a playlist of your own you prefer, we can play that for you, too.”
It’s no surprise that music is an essential part of the Soulshine experience, given that Sara’s husband, Michael Franti, is a musician with an international following. An acoustic band sets the mood on Saturday nights; some of the rooms have record players that guests can spin discs on from the resort’s vinyl library; or you might find yourself taking part in an exhilarating drumming circle around the fire at night.
“What’s cool about music is that it feeds the senses; it unifies and brings people together,” says Sara. “You can have a group of people who don’t know each other, but they’re all dancing to the same beat.”
Image by Arley Mardo Oerss (INSET)
Soulshine is all about feeding your creativity and finding your joy. “When Michael and I asked ourselves, ‘What makes us happy?’, the answer was food, the people surrounding you, finding a spiritual, physical, emotional balance. That’s what wellness is about at Soulshine,” says Sara. That and letting your inner child out on the giant water slide.
On the menu – which Sara cheekily describes as “100 per cent healthy, 90 per cent of the time” – you’ll find selections for every type of eater, including vegans and raw food fans. Communal dining is encouraged here, letting you strike up new friendships over a meal.
Soulshine offers a range of retreats, including the Conscious Creator series, each one led by a creative, such as a photographer or musician, who shares their vast knowledge. Or, you can opt for an à la carte experience, selecting the treatments, excursions and activities that appeal most. That could include anything from visiting a water temple to walking through the resort’s picturesque rice fields.
“That’s one of the things I love here in Ubud: the incredible tradition and culture that’s still so alive,” says Sara. “We used local artisans to help create the retreat – so many things have been hand-carved. It’s one of the really special things about this place.”