Deciding to take a holiday was not an easy decision for me. I knew I wanted one, I knew I needed one but actually taking one and committing to relaxing was a whole different story. In my pre-holiday post I told you about why I had chosen Bali and where I was going to stay. Upon my return I wasn’t sure I even wanted to write about my experience. I’m not sure why, perhaps because I thought I wanted to have just one thing to myself instead of revealing it all on the blog as I always do, but naturally I had the revelation that I created this blog for women just like me who have trouble taking time for themselves and need to be motivated to do it. So for you, I write this post.
How I Spent My Days
Choosing to stay at Bliss Sanctuary for Women in Canggu was probably one of the best decisions I made this year. As I explained in the pre-holiday post, I wanted to attend a health retreat but one that wasn’t very strict. In fact, I think I just wanted the idea of being secluded with someone to take care of every decision for me, and that’s what Bliss Sanctuary did. The hardest decision I had to make in the 8 days I was there was which spa treatment I’d like to have each day and choosing what breakfast/lunch I would like the chefs to make me. It sounds ridiculously spoiled but I think every woman should experience that level of being taken care of once in their adult life. Even the most cold-hearted women (myself included) have a natural instinct to do everything ourselves. It was something I struggled with a lot in the first few days at Bliss, but after the 4th day I finally gave in and stopped worrying about who was going to clean up after me, or if my breakfast order would be inconveniencing anyone.
So how exactly did I spend my days if everything was taken care of? Great question! Well, the first thing I can tell you is I didn’t do one bit of yoga. I mentioned that I wanted to go to a retreat in the hopes it will kick start my desire to get fit or do a bit of exercise, and it did that, but I will tell you more about how a little later. What I did realise was that relaxing was actually hard work for me. I decided on the 2nd day that I had to make this holiday what I needed it to be and that was relaxing. I decided to not make myself feel guilty for not wanting to exercise or do yoga classes. It was a great decision. I also didn’t realise just how hot Bali would be and it was demotivating to do much else.
I spent most of my days sitting by the beautiful pool, I read a book (thanks to the peer pressure from everyone at the retreat, the book was Eat Pray Love) and I had my 90-minute spa treatment every day. I swam in the pool every day – I love having a pool within easy reach but haven’t had one since I was a child. Surprisingly, I didn’t nap as much as I thought I would. I just enjoyed sitting in the pristine, picturesque grounds of Bliss Sanctuary, listening to the birds chirp and the water fountain trickle. I still woke at a reasonable time, (8 or 9am each day) and went to sleep late (11pm on average), but I wasn’t bored once. I didn’t feel the need to pick up my computer and work once my brain had settled into that relaxed, do-nothing mindspace.
Each night all the ladies staying at Bliss Sanctuary (there were no more than 8 at one time while I was there) would come together for a group buffet dinner. We would debrief about our days, the things we saw and learn a bit about each others lives. I loved that if we weren’t in a talkative mood it wasn’t expected of you to stay and chat but we all seemed to want to, even the shyest of the guests.
The time flew by but not so fast that I didn’t get to enjoy it. It was the perfect speed and just what I needed.
Having never been to Bali, and honestly having thought so little of it before I did go, I wasn’t too keen to see much of it. Once I was there I had a change of heart as I would hear the other ladies talk about what they did each day. My first excursion was to Tanah Lot, a bizarre mix of commercialism and spirituality in one place. Their markets line the paths as you make your way to the cliffs and the beautiful temples at the waters edge. I went with two of the kindest ladies I’ve ever met, Emily and Melissa, who had recently arrived at Bliss as well. We watched the sun set, we sweated like we had never sweated before and we saw an obscene amount of market stalls selling penises carved out of wood. We couldn’t stop laughing and questioning why on earth they would sell such a bizarre thing, and we still don’t have the answer despite asking many locals.
I didn’t plan to do much shopping but I did venture out a couple of times to see what was on offer. I won’t recap that all here so you can read all about my shopping finds another time. My overall take on the shopping is it depends what kind of style you have. I personally find shopping in the USA is much more suited to me but I do understand why many see Bali as a great place to shop.
One of my favourite outings was to visit the shiny Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran Resort where I experienced a treatment at their spa (read all about it). I love lavish hotels and resorts, I dream of living in one but it was funny that this time I actually realised that there is more to travelling than lavish hotels. Don’t get me wrong, I will always jump to visit and/or stay in one, but deciding to stay at a retread as I did with Bliss was just what I needed.
Don’t let my previous paragraph convince you that the accommodation at Bliss was anything but 5-stars. It was incredible. Bliss have two compounds, each a few meters apart. The main compound houses the majority of the villas, while the other has two villas. Each compound has a full kitchen, a gorgeous pool and seating areas. Behind the high walls I would forget where I was. I couldn’t hear much local traffic and I felt a world away even though I was actually quite close to the action. It was the ideal mix of seclusion and access to comforts that I had hoped for.
The villas themselves were wonderful. Each villa has its own beautiful semi-outdoor bathroom with all the usual amenities as well as a bathtub and large shower. There was no telling the difference between the inside of a villa and the inside of a 5-star resort, except for the fact you I felt instantly at-home there and not like a stranger staying in someone elses room. The marble floors, the huge wooden beds (some rooms have 2x Queens or 1x King) and the aircon, they were all extremely delightful but the one thing that rocked my world was the mosquito nets. I can’t tell you how long I have dreamed of sleeping in a wooden 4-poster bed with a mosquito net. I don’t know why I was obsessed with it prior but sleeping in one was the best thing ever. You feel so safe and like you’re in your own little tent but on the comfort of a bed. I’m weird, I know.
I mentioned the food earlier, which contributed a lot to the relaxation I was able to experience during my stay. They have a large menu of items they recommend but they can cater for every dietary requirement and it was no concern for them to make sure I had lots of vegan options. They also have fresh fruit cut up and in the fridge for us every morning so you can snack as you please, although you barely have any time to get hungry before the next meal rolls around. They really do keep you well fed!
One of my favourite things was being greeted every morning with a fresh juice. I have no idea what was in it but my god it was refreshing and delicious. You don’t realise how lovely it is to be greeted with a juice, made just for you, when you first emerge in the morning. It sounds like such a small thing but it felt like a big thing.
While the food was a big part of real big part of my overall love for the place (not having to cook or clean is a load off ), there were two other things that made my stay as blissful as I had hoped. The first was Katut and his team of drivers who would take us anywhere we wanted to go and did so with the biggest smile on his face. Bliss have drivers on staff full-time to ensure guests can come and go as they please without worrying about transport. It took a huge load off my mind to not have to worry about having to find a taxi or even know where I was going and how long it should take to get there.
The second was definitely the spa treatments. Bliss have a team of lovely local ladies who perform incredible spa treatments for the guests every day. It is all-inclusive in their packages which I loved because it means you do make sure you give yourself that 90 minutes each day to bliss-out and do nothing. My favourite was the hot stone massage, which I had actually never experienced previously. You could choose to have your massages/treatments out by the pool or in your villa if you wanted some more privacy. I mixed it up and sometimes it was nice to have a hot stone massage beneath the cool air con (again, I’m weird).
I wouldn’t call this an amenity but one final thing I experienced during my stay at Bliss was a session with their recommended spiritual healer, Sammi (he has a Balinese name but it is too long and complicated for me to write). I’m still not sure I want to reveal a whole lot about that experience because opened my eyes to a lot of things and frankly, I just don’t know how to put it into words. An appointment with Sammi isn’t included in the regular Bliss packages, it costs an additional 50,000 rupiah (approx $50 Australian), but it was well worth it in my opinion. What I can say is that learnt I need to take better care of my physical health, especially in the areas of exercise, and I need to address the things that scare me most. It was a lot to take in but I’m hoping I can make sense of it all for a post later on.
Bliss Sanctuary for Women is located in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia. Their all-inclusive packages take care of everything you need and they have some great offerings depending on what kind of vacation you are looking to have. I booked the Self Empowerment Special, one designed for solo travellers.
Do you have trouble taking time out for yourself? Would you take a holiday just for yourself? Let me know by commenting below!