AmaZEN Place

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Aah… Bali sunsets. There’s nothing quite like sinking back on a beanbag watching the glow of the afternoon sun slowly disappear over the beach and horizon. After almost a week at Nuala Retreat, I’ve a clear mind and radiant complexion and it’s hard to remember what stress feels like.

In our busy everyday lives, sleep deprivation, stress and occasional reckless over-indulgence are often the norm. Yet, do you find yourself returning home after a holiday with the feeling you already need another one? You plan your getaway, researching the destination and every possible sight to see, place to visit, and activity. Before you know it, your itinerary is jam-packed and you’re running from one tourist attraction to the next, only to arrive home to reality with less energy and enthusiasm than you left with.

Instead, I recommend: take a fresh tack and engage in the smart travel trend by booking in to an all-encompassing health retreat. My companion and I found the ideal escape for a well-deserved mind and body rejuvenation, achieving a calming inner peace and life rebalance – but not short on fun games either – at intimate Nuala Retreat, tucked away in splendid surrounds near Seminyak, Bali.

Well removed from the concentrated tourist hub of Kuta and 10 minutes on from the heart of dynamic Seminyak and picturesque Canggu, the retreat offers a relaxing, reinvigorating experience with fresh healthy menus, daily yoga, and massages. We’re greeted into its serene atmosphere by welcoming staff and shown around its cluster of just six modern adjoining villas, all with poolside frontage and bright, cheery decor. The main dining area features an open living space with traditional Balinese architecture, dark wooden accents and that signature sophisticated Bali style. We’re overcome instantly by a soothing sense of calmness, immediately immersed in a balmy tropical oasis far removed from everyday cares.

As a dedicated wine and carbs lover, though, I have to admit the idea of “detoxing” makes me apprehensive. Happily, Nuala’s menus can be adapted to suit individual dietary requirements – or preferences. We took the less rigorous approach and chose the full menu. Bali has abundant nutritious and flavoursome fruit, vegetables and fresh seafood, so we enjoyed fresh fruits for breakfast, power salads for lunch … and by dinner any detox dread was entirely banished by delicious – and wholesome – fish tacos.

Guests keen to lose weight or do a serious detox can opt for a raw food menu or a weight loss, detox and cleanse program with an emphasis on vegie- and plant-based juices, soups and smoothies to fuel the body with superfoods. Charming Nuala host Varney imparts a wealth of knowledge on healthy eating ideas and creating delicious flavour combinations from the simplest of ingredients. We don’t feel at all deprived when we’re eating the right foods, and in fact find it a “snack” to enjoy mealtimes while effortlessly banishing toxins, re-energising from the inside out. The team at Nuala aims to kick-start new habits and establish a healthy lifestyle, so whether for a single day’s detox or a sustained weight-loss effort, it’s an ideal destination for individual travellers, girls’ getaways, couples, families or groups.   

A great way to start the day is with an energising beach walk taking in the laid-back ambience of the Seminyak shoreline, followed by a yoga session back at the retreat. Even those who aren’t experienced “yogis” still enjoy a morning session with Nuala’s resident yoga guru, Rae, as she leads our group through a Hatha yoga session: a series of slow movements, stretches and poses said to open up the heart and inner recesses of the body. With each deep breath we become more acutely aware of our muscles and movement, and areas of pain or weakness, and naturally allow tightness, stress and tension to slip away. Overlooking the pool in the private bale (thatched roof pavilion) there’s an intense sense of calm as the group finishes with a short meditation, sensing the soft sounds of nature bringing us back to the present. Afterwards we’re rewarded with a vibrant breakfast: energising green smoothie, fresh colourful fruit and yoghurt and gluten-free lemon and blueberry pancakes prepared by our in-villa chefs.

It’s soothing to know the only thing on our agenda today is to find a sunny spot to soak up the peace and quiet. Officially on “Bali time”, we’re intoxicated by the heavenly scent of frangipani filling the air as we recline in the luxe poolside cabana. We don’t want to leave the cool inviting pool right now … but one of the best things, we decide, is we can choose to do as much or as little as we like. There’s an abundance of – truly cool – activities on offer to keep us entertained, including aqua-spin (water-based spin classes) and stand-up paddle boarding. Wonderful, willing staff will organise our activities and transport: we don’t have to worry about a thing.

And so on Day 2 we prompt ourselves to venture out paddle boarding. A scenic 30-minute drive to the sands of Jimbaran brings us to an oasis of crystal blue water, the coastline stretching far into the distance. Rainbow-coloured fishing boats dot the scene and we quickly strike up a gentle rhythm on our boards, waving as we pass by the fishermen hauling in their catch. A deceptively energetic, effective, workout, stand-up paddling is great for improving stability and strengthening the body core. Afterwards we wind down on the beach, enjoying refreshing draughts from fresh-carved coconuts. Slightly more adventurous fellow guests have taken a day trip into the foothills to Ubud to visit the sacred Monkey Forest and browse the centre’s popular traditional markets in a hunt for gifts and souvenirs.

But we’re up for some pampering. Options include two venues that offer Nuala guests half-price treatments: and the manicure and pedicure at Think Pink Nails comes with chocolates and champagne included. (After all, who’s to know?) And then, there’s Cocoon – for luxury facials and treatments …

Way to Go

Virgin Australia flies direct to Bali (Denpasar) daily ex Sydney. Nuala Retreat is approximately a 40-minute drive from Ngurah Rai airport and transfers are provided.


Nuala Retreat
Seminyak, Bali
Book your 4-night 5-day Nuala Retreat Yoga, Spa and Meditation package and bring a friend for free.

Corporate retreat packages: Stay in luxury 5-star beach front villas, with morning yoga, meditation, healthy meals and daily massages. Group rates start at $1500 for five nights.
Large groups: Stay in a luxury five-bedroom villa that sleeps 11. Create your own retreat programme focused on yoga, surf or health with in-villa chef catering. Rates from $60 a night per head based on 11 guests.


Cocoon Medical Spa

Yoga at Desa Seni: Guests of Nuala Retreat can get a pass to experience a yoga class at this eco village resort.


Ocean Tribe Retreat, Canggu

Priority SUP Rental Jimbaran Beach


La Laguna tapas bar & restaurant

Sardine Restaurant for superb seafood

Cocoon Medical Spa

Aptly named for its nurturing atmosphere, Cocoon Medical Spa is said to be the first of its kind in Indonesia, centrally located on Sunset Parade in Seminyak.

Luxury facial rejuvenation packages boasting intriguing names such as Vampire 2.0 and Cleopatra 24-carat Gold are promoted as innovations in non-surgical aesthetic treatments aimed at boosting skin health, resulting in a “younger, smoother, brighter” complexion. Cocoon’s founder, Australian Louise Cogan, has utilised more than ten years’ experience in medical tourism in Malaysia and Thailand to now create a calm, private beauty enclave here in Bali.

Efficient, experienced cosmetic therapists assess the client’s skin type and offer a complimentary consultation before treatments are begun. I selected a Snail Serum Facial with hopes of diminishing some of the fine lines and freckles I’ve been accumulating (and was glad to find no live snails were involved!) Snail serum, I was told, is in fact a nutritive product harvested and produced in Japan, reputed to be beneficial in firming and tightening skin, boosting collagen production and reducing discolouration.

First, needle-free warm and cool mesotherapy – a safe alternative to more invasive procedures – is performed. The serum is applied and stimulated to penetrate the pores by low-current massaging with a gentle palm-sized pad. Warm heat first opens up pores, then the cooling process is used to calm the skin. Next, painless LED therapy is used to plump up fine lines, followed by a rich collagen-generating mask. Finally, soothing layers of snail serum and then snail moisturiser are applied for a bright, glowing result. The service and attention were wonderful, with Nurse Elis carefully explaining each step of the process in detail, and its benefits. Afterwards, my skin felt smoother than ever and, on arriving home, the outcome was confirmed by equally glowing compliments from friends on my newly radiant appearance.

The spa also offers a range of therapeutic massage and body wraps, and detox and wellness treatments including intravenous vitamin therapy, infra-red sauna and fat-blaster slimming packages. On my short sampling of its treatment, the effects are truly wonderful: restorative and re-energising, and a boost to the wellbeing and self-confidence as well.

Travel Writer Jasmin Johansson.
Travel Editor Susie Boswell.

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