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  • Heaven can wait – go to Sukhavati Spa instead

    by Rebecca Weisser

    Fat bumblebees hum as they dip in and out of violet trumpet flowers that sway languidly over the verandah.  Tiny yellow-bellied warblers dart in between, sucking nectar as they sing.  Sukhavati Ayurvedic Retreat and Spa is only 50 minutes from Bali’s international airport but stepping through its ornately-carved wooden door is like entering the land of the lotus eaters: Homer’s mythical isle of honey-sweet fruit, which once tasted banishes any desire to leave.

    Image courtesy of Sukhavati Bali

    On the first day I meet a young woman who wails that there is no gym, no pump classes, indeed ‘NOTHING’ to do — she speaks like President Trump tweets, in capitals.

    “But that’s perfect,” I reply.  “That’s what I want to do — nothing — and where better to do it?”

    She looks astonished.  In fact, we do quite a lot, but slowly, peacefully, to the music of an invisible orchestra of insects, rather than a blaring soundtrack of hip hop blasting into the eardrums.

    The day begins at 6:30 with a walk through the rice paddies.  This is the timeless Bali that I remember from 35 years ago: sunlight glinting on emerald shoots, clouds reflected in shards of water, a Bali dog wandering up to greet us.

    Yoga is at 7am in an open-air pavilion facing the jungle.  Butterflies flutter as we stretch our way through the asanas.  The positions can be as simple or as challenging as you wish.  The teachers melt into sideways splits as they lay their chests flat on the floor and beam like Cheshire cats.

    “Never forget to smile,” says Mr. Nana.  “It always allows you to stretch a little further.”  At the end of the class, after chanting ‘Om Shanti’ and bowing to the divine in each other, we finish with laughing yoga, a sort of alchemy in which practice laughter turns into contagious chuckling.

    Breakfast is in the spa pavilion by the stream at the bottom of the valley.  There is fresh mango, papaya, dragon fruit, mangosteen, idli or dosas with mint chutney, dozens of juices to cleanse, soothe, boost, stimulate or regulate, and exotic teas including special Ayurvedic brews.

    Image courtesy of Sukhavati Bali

    Ayurveda is the ancient Hindu science of life and longevity that has evolved over more than two millennia.   Each guest has a 45-minute consultation with the doctor when they arrive to diagnose ailments and have prescribed a personalised diet, along with treatments with herbal oils to eliminate toxins and re-establish balance, administered by highly-trained, gentle practitioners: two per guest.

    From the spa pavilion to my villa there are 95 steps – “who needs a gym?”, I think, as I climb them slowly, admiring the smiling Buddha carved into the rockface, and then plunge into my private pool to cool off. There are only eight villas, creating a sense of both intimacy and

    escape, with 37 staff catering to every need, hence the blissful feeling of not having to do a thing.

    At the end of a week I don’t want to leave — I’d like to go on eating lotuses for a lifetime.   I have lost only 0.1 kilos but I am so relaxed that I don’t care.  I look at the voluptuous stone goddess in the garden, with the swaying hips, and think, “who wants to be thin anyway?”  I’d rather be fat and happy.  Time for a little laughing yoga, which quickly turns into the real thing.

    Image courtesy of Sukhavati Bali

    For more personalised information tips and advice or to book this incredible holiday, contact your local TravelManagers’ personal travel manager here.

    With compliments of First Class: visit them online or at Instagram