These are Bali's best wellness retreats
Whether you’re looking to perfect your tree pose, meditate or get fit, there’s a feel-good island escape to suit everyone in Bali.
- February 2019
When it comes to the ultimate holiday, if you’ve swapped late nights out, sleep-ins and indulgent dining for 6am workouts, colonic irrigation and meditation – you’re not alone. Wellness has never been more popular. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness tourism industry is growing at a rate nearly twice as fast as overall global tourism and by 2022 this niche travel sector is predicted to be worth a staggering AUD $1.2 trillion.
Where better to get a piece of this (obviously, wholesome) pie than Bali? With its culture steeped in healing, unique natural landscape and skilled local therapists, the Indonesian island is one of Asia’s hottest destinations for all things wellbeing. From mind-body makeovers to intense fitness retreats, Bali has it all. Here is a list of the best – find one that’s right for you.
Como Shambhala Estate
This A-list adored retreat opens in new window – fans include celeb couple Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, who checked in last year – offers bespoke packages in holistic wellness in a soul-soothing jungle setting next to the Ayung River in Ubud. Combining modern science with traditional Balinese healing and water-based therapies using local alkaline spring water, the retreats start from as little as three days, which means you can head here for a quick, if expensive, wellness fix. Yoga, pilates and qigong are central to the concept but you are encouraged to get busy with activities like hill bike challenges and whitewater rafting. The estate hosts no more than 82 people at a time.
Even if Michael Klim isn’t one of your dream dinner party guests, you’ll want to pinch yourself when the swimmer sits down opposite you at this luxury villa retreat opens in new window. The Australian Olympic gold medallist is just one of several renowned experts who join a carefully curated team of hosts (on selected retreats only) offering mentorship in everything from fitness to finding your purpose. Balance is at the program’s core and once selected – the application process is rigorous and there are only 8-12 guests at a time – participants tackle a mix of physical and mental challenges, whether it’s canyoning down waterfalls or intense meditation sessions. Come to meet like-minded souls, stay for the restaurant-quality food.
Sukhavati, Ayurvedic Retreat and Spa
Learn how to eat, sleep and work for your dosha (body type) at this integrated Ayurvedic retreat opens in new window in Bali’s peaceful Mengwi for up to 15 guests. Set in a leafy, private estate with seven luxury villas, this little slice of paradise offers one- to 21-day holistic healing programs rooted in the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda (utilising traditional herbs, oils and massage techniques to detoxify and heal). Therapies are complemented by regular yoga, meditation, expert seminars and local bike excursions – perfect for detoxing and stress management. The light vegetarian food uses local, organic and seasonal produce – think zucchini soup and carrot curry. Make sure you book in for the Shirodhara oil treatment while you’re there.
If cult fitness is your thing, then you’ll feel right at home at this new surf-and-turf retreat opens in new window in south Bali where you can make friends with your fellow gym junkies. Exploring the yin and yang of Bali’s landscape, this seven-day adventure mixes up daily HIIT sessions with outdoor activities such as surfing (including video analysis of technique), mountain hikes and waterfall treks. Wind down with yoga, meditation, daily massages and wellness master-classes focusing on topics such as digestive optimisation. The package also includes professional snaps of your most Insta-worthy moments. Expect to find between 10 and 20 other guests wandering the grounds.
Bali’s serene east coast is the backdrop of this fitness-focused retreat, which includes a stay at the laid-back Hotel Komune opens in new window on the famous Keramas surf break. Choose a week-long program led by Bali-based personal trainer Mark Hill, incorporating strength, high-intensity training and boxing, with a focus on improving agility and flexibility. There’s lots of fun stuff, too, from moonlight surfing to a sunrise volcano hike up Mount Batur and snorkelling at nearby Amed. While a nutrition consultation will point you in the right direction to start eating better, the gourmet vegan food on offer at the resort’s poolside Health Hub area – macro bowls or cashew cheesecake, anyone? – will ensure you get a tasty head-start.
Revivo Wellness Resort
One of Bali’s newest luxury health resorts opens in new window offers immersive three- to 14-day retreats in an exquisite bougainvillea-draped villa compound in Nusa Dua for up to 32 guests at a time. With just 16 suites – some of which have private pools and sunken baths – it is an intimate experience and the small group classes feel more like personal training sessions. The inventive vegan meals such as coconut ceviche and raw zucchini pesto pasta provide all the fuel you need to tackle the varied activities, including everything from Muay Thai and aerial yoga to aqua fitness. Combined with daily yoga, mindfulness, journalling and detoxification treatments such as body scrubs and colonic hydrotherapy, it’s designed to give you an inside-out reset. The day spa with an infrared sauna and floating salt pool is considered a highlight.
The Pineapple House
Spreading good vibes wherever she goes, owner and yogi Rachel Fearnley, along with her small team, is the reason this cosy villa retreat opens in new window in Canggu feels like a warm hug. As well as trying their surf and yoga packages, you can request tailor-made programs – whether it’s a juice cleanse detox or a deep-dive mind and body reset. Expect them to include private yoga sessions, yoga passes for nearby Desa Seni, in-house massages (from a former royal masseuse, no less), personal training and a daytrip to nearby Ubud or Uluwatu. This retreat is best for couples and solo travellers with up to 10 guests only.
Retreats beyond Bali
Nihi Sumba: Named the world’s best hotel twice in a row by Travel + Leisure, this luxe resort opens in new window on Indonesia’s Sumba Island hosts week-long mind-body retreats with guest experts such as Tatiana Boncompagni Hoover, co-author of The Model Trainer Method.
Ocean Soul Retreat: This yoga and free-diving escape opens in new window sails around the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Komodo Island on a traditional Indonesian boat.
Togat Nusa Retreat: Based out of Sumatra’s famed Mentawai Islands, one of the world’s best surf destinations, this retreat opens in new window offers surf and yoga packages in a remote tropical setting.
Timor-Leste Active Adventure: Sunrise walks, hiking, snorkelling, boating and daily yoga and pilates make up this retreat opens in new window on the island nation of Timor-Leste, east of Bali.