Bliss Sanctuary for Women Retreat Review by Women’s Fitness Magazine
I GET A CRAVING every now and then. It starts softly, a little rumble as deadlines build, and grows downright pushy when life starts doing that freaky, fast-forward thing where all of a sudden it’s Friday and you’ve barely had a chance to brush your hair. That’s when I feel an internal nudge to check out from my routine and go a bit wild. Call it ‘me time’, call it selfish, call it plain weird, but the idea of packing my bags and going off to explore on my own? I call it bliss.
Funnily enough, that’s what my itinerary says, too. I’m headed to Bali to set up solo camp at Bliss Sanctuary for Women, the brainchild of an Aussie professional who couldn’t find just the right getaway to soothe her stressed-out soul. “As a career woman in a high-stress media sales job, there came a time when I was burnt-out and unwell,” says Zoë Watson, the founder of Bliss. “I was looking around for somewhere to nurture myself and all I could find were retreats that were activity and group-based, or hotels where I had to come to terms with the loud kids doing bombs in the pool or honeymooning couples. I finally found a hotel on a small island, but dinners were bleak on my own.”
Her solution was simple: a ‘sanctuary’ where women could do their own thing – and have company when they needed it. No couples, no kids, no boys allowed. The only must is making time for a 90-minute spa treatment each day, which so far, no guest has complained about…
I’m no stranger to the solo getaway but one thing I seriously dislike about travelling – alone or otherwise – is the planning part. So it’s an absolute joy to discover that organising this trip starts and ends with the Bliss booking form. They’ll arrange a driver to meet you at the airport and whisk you straight to your lush tropical villa in Canggu. They’ll organise day tours or surfing classes on your behalf. They’ll drive you to yoga classes as early or as late as you like. Or they’ll simply leave you be if all you want to do is collapse by the pool.
My agenda? A little bit of everything, please. I arrived at Bliss on a hot Sunday afternoon with a whole week of Balinese goodness stretched out before me like endless green rice paddies. One of Bliss’s friendly hostesses, Aussie ex-pat Shar, was waiting to greet me with a fruit smoothie and need-to-know info. I floated off to my room feeling like I’d been welcomed into a friend’s home – albeit one with a gorgeous pool and full-time kitchen staff.
Later, when I joined the other guests (a maximum nine ladies stay at Bliss at any one time) for dinner in the outdoor pavilion surrounded by lush greenery, that warm, homey feeling blossomed.
If you’ve ever ventured across the globe alone, you’ll know that dinnertime is where the loneliness lurks, but there’s no table-for-one, BYO Kindle awkwardness here – instead, you’ll quickly bond with likeminded travellers over coconut and papaya salad, steamed mahi-mahi and the best damn banana pancakes your taste buds have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
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So what do you do when you have an entire week of alone-time in an exotic location to play with? Be prepared to dig deep, because this is one of the rare times in life when you’ll get to do exactly what your heart desires. The joy of a travel party for one is the freedom to do what you want, when you want – no compromises. For me,that meant prioritising daily sessions at nearby yoga resort Desa Seni (unlimited classes here are one of the perks of a stay at Bliss). Saluting the sun in this peaceful corner of Bali has to be one of the quickest ways to decompress from city life, but if you need extra stress relief (or you’re just reluctant to shatter the post-yoga glow), you can hang in the thatched treehouse after your sesh and chat with other yogis over fresh ginger tea and raw energy balls.
Whatever floats your ‘me time’ boat, Ketut is the guy who will make it happen. He’s Bliss’s Roxette-loving, permanently smiling driver, on call to take you wherever you want to go – and he also doubles as an enthusiastic local tour guide. Take my impromptu road trip to the jungle village of Ubud… On our way into the treetops we stopped at the Tirta Empul temple, built around a natural spring, and Ketut generously accompanied me inside the carved gates, explaining the intricacies of Hindu beliefs and the dos and don’ts involved in wading into the pool to cleanse in the sacred water.
We also discovered a shared appreciation for the Balinese speciality of babi guling (roast suckling pig cooked in traditional spices – a treat if you heart crackling), but it was when he pulled over on the ride home to allow me to snap fairy floss clouds over rice fields (Instagram gold) that Ketut really won my heart. No wonder Rhonda was smitten…
It turns out you can get super busy in chilled-out Bali, even with no set agenda. My days filled up fast with shopping trips to Seminyak, visits from the local healers and tarot readers and a cycling tour through Ubud. So it took a concerted effort to actually stop and focus on the soul-searching, mind-clearing stuff that brought me here.
In the end, nature put a gentle halt to my tendency to do. The almost daily downpour was the perfect opportunity to surrender and I became accustomed to taking Bliss’s signature hot stone massage outdoors in the balé overlooking the pool, allowing my therapist’s hands and the warm pebbles to melt away worries as I listened to the soft tinkle of raindrops. In those moments my mind found the pockets of peace it was craving. And that, dear friends, is a bliss worth chasing.
Bliss Sanctuary is a haven for women seeking a yoga or fitness retreat experience in beautiful Bali
We now have new active packages on offer to Bliss guests. Our ultra fitness and detox retreat package, and bliss active retreat package are all designed to combine a relaxing retreat experience whilst also allowing you to keep active and fit. Check out all of our Bali retreat packages here.