Best of Bali

by Rona Berg

Image: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay 

A serene and deeply spiritual place with a long tradition of wellness and healing

With its jungle thickets, pulsing rivers, volcanic cliffs and delicate rice fields, Bali’s beauty is powerful. But it is also a serene and deeply spiritual place that pulls you inward and takes hold, where reservoirs of healing and devotion run deep. 

Ubud, a renowned wellness hub for the healing arts, has been Bali’s spiritual and cultural heart center for centuries. The beach around Jimbaran Bay is pure relaxation, and the East Coast, though less traveled, offers splendid temples and water palaces to explore. Here are some favorite ways to experience Bali.

Jimbaran Bay

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay

Begin your trip at the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, where, surrounded by water, you can restore yourself after a long journey, in a stunning villa (with private plunge pool) or at the beach. Water sports on offer include stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, windsurfing and sailing with the catamaran.

Designed to incorporate architectural elements of a traditional Balinese village, the all-villa resort offers direct access to the beach and, wherever you walk, intricate wood carvings and statues by local artists. An immersion in local culture is easy, with an early morning visit to the local fish market, then enjoy one of the most fun cooking classes ever with the charming and voluble Chef Anak Agung Kristya Yudha (Kris), head chef of Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy. As with many resorts in Bali, there is a temple on property. Guests can take classes in basket weaving, painting and wood carving at the Ganesha Cultural Centre.

The Healing Village Spa’s Blessings of Bali treatment is a divine two and a half hours at the Nirvana Shanti Bale, a traditional Balinese-style, open-air pavilion, where soft breezes waft in over the water. The treatment ends with a blessing from a local priest.
fourseasons.com/jimbaranbay

EAST BALI

Amankila

The breathtaking Amankila, set where the forest meets the shore on the remote East Coast of Bali, is the perfect spot for a wellness escape or restorative retreat.

Quiet, remote and inspired by architectural details from the spectacular nearby Water Palace of Ujung, Amankila is built around a jaw-droppingly beautiful elevated three-tiered infinity pool ringed with frangipani and bougainvillea, overlooking the Lombok Strait. 

Terraced villas and suites float up into the treetops, while eight bales (open-air pavilions) on the beach are perfect spots for foot massage and reflexology. One, tucked into a line of trees, is where Ekat, a cheerful young Balinese yoga instructor, is full of ideas for all types of yoga “everywhere.” Aqua yoga in the pool, laughter yoga (also in the pool) and “office yoga,” which is certainly not what comes to mind when you’re in paradise. 

Amankila has assembled a talented team of wellness therapists from around the region to collaborate on a series of week-long retreats, and the resort is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, with special cultural events and master classes in Kundalini yoga, Balinese painting, Kendang drumming, artisanal textile gallery exhibitions and more. 

There are many wondrous sites in the region to explore, including the floating palace at Karangasem and local temples, or enjoy traditional Balinese baths or Lulur rituals in the Massage  Pavilion. aman.com/resorts/amankila 

UBUD

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan

You may never have made a more dramatic entrance in your life. Stepping onto the suspension bridge that takes you to the reception area at Four Seasons Sayan means walking over the treetops, above a thicket of jungle that pulses with the sounds of frogs, cicaks, crickets, exotic birds. 

Breathe deeply and you will inhale the intoxicating scents of jasmine, frangipani, ylang-ylang. With two rivers—the Ayung and Subak—running through, and villas discreetly placed to offer inhabitants ultimate privacy, Four Seasons Sayan is a perfect place for deep relaxation, introspection or sensory overload, it’s up to you. 

Yoga at the Dharma Shanti Yoga Bale, at the edge of a rice field, can be as low-key or challenging as you like. If you’ve always wanted to try Anti-Gravity Yoga, hanging upside down and using hammocks and silks to support your body into inverted postures, this is the place. The daily Life Talk series, on a topic like finding peace within yourself in daily life, led by an extremely wise and wonderful Buddhist ex-nun, is profound and unexpected. And my signature Ila Chakra Ceremony, at the Sacred River Spa, was one of the best treatments I’ve had. 

If you want to immerse yourself further in local ritual and ceremony, the hotel can organize a traditional Balinese Melukat—water purification ceremony—with High Priestess Ida Resi Alit, in her village temple, intended to cleanse the mind and body of negativity and past karma. Then, hike by the river, walk through the rice fields, breathe in the peace and quiet. fourseasons.com/sayan 

Mandapa, A Ritz-Cartlon Reserve

Just opened late last year down a quiet road in Ubud, Mandapa is the third resort in the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Reserve collection. 

Set alongside the Ayung River, in a valley surrounded by jungle with rice fields and a 100-year-old Hindu temple (where local villagers still worship) on site, Mandapa features 60 rooms—35 suites and 25 pool villas—made with local materials like teak, thatch, bamboo and more. Dine by the river at night, lit by candlelight, where the setting is wildly romantic. Mandapa Spa offers wellness programs based on pillars: Balinese Spa, Detox and Nutrition, Alternative Therapy, Body Therapy and Healing. mandapareserve.com

For more on Bali and what to do in Ubud, see ospa.me/more-bali


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