Zoë is the founder and creator of Bliss Sanctuary for Women in Bali and lives a busy yet fulfilling life between Bali and Australia. For Zoë Bliss is a project of love that is an extension of her own needs after she couldn’t find anything like this for herself when traveling. ‘We are different to a retreat, in that you are there for yourself, not to fit into group activities or lose weight, or to better yourself somehow… importantly it is a space where you can follow your own bliss and have some ‘me time’ in a relaxing, beautiful kind and nurturing environment’.
After years struggling with stress, health problems, and overcoming some big personal hurdles while maintaining a high level of success in a demanding career in media and marketing, to say Zoë Watson was burnt out would be a massive understatement. It’s no doubt she needed a life change, but first she just wanted a holiday.
She took a solo trip to Bali in 2010, where she hoped to recuperate after a busy year in a new job and the persistent illness stemming from a car accident four years prior. “I was at breaking point,” she says. “What I so often dismissed as merely stress, was actually an accumulation of the past ten years. My heart and health were suffering badly – I deal with Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, and crippling migraines– and I so desperately needed some time out and a fresh perspective.”
With her health issues and work taking over her life, Zoë had started to feel estranged from herself and her core values. “I became more and more disconnected from myself which left me feeling incredibly uncomfortable physically, emotionally and spiritually,” she says. “And I came to realise I wasn’t alone – every woman I spoke to seemed to feel the same disconnectedness in their own way. We all have different roles within our own lives, but the similarity is, we all have multiple roles, and different things to deal with.”
It was during that trip that Zoë had an epiphany. “It become clear to me that, yes, I needed to take some time out for myself, but more importantly than that, I realised I needed to create a space that all women could come to rest and reconnect with themselves. It’s the people who take the steps to make changes, or give themselves such a powerful boost of self-love, who shift things in their life. Sometimes we need a little help doing that, and I realised I wanted to be that help.”
And so it was that her plans for Bliss Sanctuary For Women were born. She quit her lucrative media sales job, and with her tenacious work ethic, her passion for supporting and empowering women, and, yes, a little bit of blind faith, Zoë’s blueprints for a gorgeous Bali hideaway catering to solo women travellers looking to find and follow their bliss was made a reality in 2011.
Bliss has now seen countless women through its doors, and like Zoë, guests often leave with a changed perspective on their lives. “I often don’t say much when guests leave crying in happiness or email me later saying, ‘this really did change my life,’” Zoë admits. “I’m dumbfounded by it, I’m in awe of it. The fact that something so simple – providing a beautiful environment full of kindness and nurturing that allows each guest to follow her own bliss – seems to have somehow created something magical for women looking to reconnect with themselves, is such a gift to me.”
“I’ve suffered some hardships, but over the years I’ve built up my beliefs around living a life of love,” Zoë continues, “And the more time we take for ourselves, the more we can do to help others – to me, it’s a necessity not a luxury. Over the past couple of years I have developed a deeper understanding and empathy through illness and struggle. We all deal with pain in our lives, and my challenge is to learn to accept and transform it with love. Life is busy, and at times it can be hard, but that isn’t what’s important. Connecting, authenticity, self-esteem, self-love, love for others… those are the important things.”
And it’s those things that Zoë has created and cultivated at Bliss – for herself and many other women.