Spending a Week at a Women’s Retreat in Bali

I thought I was handling 2022 just fine, until I realised I really wasn’t. It’s not always easy to ask for help, and it’s sometimes harder to accept it, which is exactly why I booked myself a week-long stay at Escape Haven Bali, a women’s wellness resort in beautiful Canggu. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Bali and even longer since I’ve travelled alone but booking this trip in September was the greatest gift I could have given myself come January 2023. This trip was a chance to give myself some quality ‘me-time’ and a space to fully embrace self-care, heal, indulge in some pampering and connect with all the other amazing women who will be at the retreat.

Getting to Bali isn’t anything crazy as I’m lucky enough to live in Perth and the trip is only a 3-and-a-half-hour flight. I took an early morning flight, landed around 11am and then the resort’s driver drove me to the resort and I arrived around 1pm. Instantly I was welcomed and greeted with so much love and many smiles. If you’ve ever been to Bali, you will know just how beautiful the Balinese people are and I think their smiles are some of the most stunning in the world. Being welcomed so openly and honestly was a great first impression of the resort and it was topped off with a Balinese water blessing. I was soon given a welcome coconut (yum!) and then got sat down and told how the resort works and functions. I was kindly shown to my room and my jaw fell open. I stayed in the Uma room which included a massive King size bed, a huge bathroom and a luxurious bathtub to round it all off. The room had so much space and was fully stocked with delicious complimentary treats and plenty of drinking water. It was honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever stayed.

The room was beautifully furnished with tones of cream, dusty pink and gold; even the room key matched the aesthetic and I was living for the shell chandeliers in the bedroom and bathroom. Fresh flowers were placed in both the bed and bathroom and the tea/coffee station was very well stocked with stunning drinkware. The sweetest part of the room decor was my name spelt out in frangipani petals on the bed. It was so ostentatious and precious I refused to even sit on the bed so I didn’t mess them up.

When booking Escape Haven, you have multiple packages that determine some of the activities you experience during your stay. I chose the ‘Bali Healing’ package which is described as “A deeply transformational journey combining traditional Balinese therapies and advanced holistic therapies for healing, reconnection and peace”. Throughout the week, if you choose the Bali Healing package, you experience a Balinese Healing and Chakra balancing session, traditional ayurveda therapy, colour puncture, Balinese Letting-go sunset beach ceremony, Balinese blessing ceremony, a ceremonial cacao sunset ceremony, daily yoga, daily meditation, unlimited spa treatments and an Ubud day trip with a Tirta Empul Water Blessing and Pyramids of Chi Sound Healing session. Phew, that’s a lot to fit into one week. Besides all this, there are multiple spas, sauna and infrared room access, plenty of space to hide away if you want to, all meals provided, many many snacks and drinks.

No matter what package you choose, the point of the resort is an opportunity to embrace being looked after, be pampered, engage in self-care and give others a chance to fill up your heart cup. I found it really odd to not be allowed to help with anything; whether it be putting away my yoga mat, taking my dishes to the kitchen and leaving my drink cup by the pool (don’t worry they’re plastic so no chance of breaking glass). It took me several days to let go of wanting to do things for myself, it felt so indulgent to not do anything but it also gave me a chance to practice asking for things I wanted and needed. We were all encouraged to constantly ask for things be it a drink (so much ginger tea), request your bath to be drawn, choose what to eat (and where to eat it be it by the pool, at the table or in your room) and anything else you can think of. I got more and more comfortable asking for tea and even requested it in my room before breakfast one morning and what a golly gosh fancy way to start the day.

If you’re wondering about the food that you eat, it was seriously some of the most delicious food I’ve had in a long time. Most of the food was dairy and gluten-free, all of it was fresh, local, organic and healthy. It was just what I needed at the beginning of the year after all the Christmas treats I indulged in. The resort caters to all diets and dietary requirements and you don’t have to partake in meals if you don’t want to. Oh, and there is also a snack bar that’s open between 1pm and 5pm just in case you want more food. I never once wished for more food or anything other than what was on the menu. I never felt bloated or uncomfortable from the food and really want to make an effort to eat cleaner once I get home. Oh and drink so much more ginger tea because it’s delicious.

Day 1
Upon my initial welcome and general run down of the resort, my luggage was taken to my room where I unpacked a few things before a quick wash in the gorgeous shower in my room. I was then whisked away for my signature welcome massage where just having my back worked on felt incredible. After a short break in my room, I had my consultation with the gorgeous Emilie who works at the retreat and is head of yoga and guest relations. We instantly bonded over being Endo Sisters and I instantly felt like I had a friend at the retreat that I could talk to in case something went wrong or I was feeling bad. Emilie was so passionate about her work it made me want to try and get involved as much as I could throughout my stay. She helped me choose my beauty and healing packages for the rest of the week and I was told more about the activities on offer. After my consultation, I had a bit of pool time where I got chatting with some of the other ladies staying at the retreat before it was time for evening yoga. I’ve actually never done yoga before and I was honestly really nervous. After being sick for several months, I knew I had no strength and I was afraid it’ll all be crazy planking and stretching that I couldn’t do and I’d be laughed out of class (or knowing me I’d break wind during class) but I actually loved it. In the evenings, the retreat does restorative yoga, which is all done on the floor, and there’s nothing I couldn’t do. It was calm, slow and really comfortable; I loved the breathing techniques we got taught and from that first class, I knew yoga was something I wanted to continue doing (and so far so good). To end the evening, all the ladies had dinner together and it was all gluten and dairy free, fresh, delicious and local making it a filling and nourishing meal. After a quick sit in the pool again, I ended my evening with some meditation in my room before going to bed early for the first time in months.

Day 2
I woke up on day 2 just after 7 o’clock and I felt really well rested despite waking up to drink some water during the night (aeroplanes dehydrate you). I got dressed and ready for morning yoga which was a little more intense than the evening yoga but I somehow got through it. Yoga was followed by a delicious breakfast where I ate way too much and I had no choice but to lounge by the pool. The resort has two pools (one salt water, one with chlorine) and a jacuzzi/spa bath and I got to use a mix. of the salt and jacuzzi bath whilst chatting to the other resort visitors and reading my book. Come noon it was time for my Ayurvedic massage which was absolutely magical. It was a full-body massage focusing on the energy centres of the body. It was just what I needed to really settle into the resort and I felt myself relaxing to the point of wanting to fall asleep. Lunch was straight after followed by a creambath which is an amazing hair treatment including a head, neck and shoulder massage. My hair honestly smelt incredible for an entire week even whilst washing and swimming daily. I kept the hair mask in my hair for several hours and even had it in my hair during my evening yoga. After yoga, we were all invited to a small opening ceremony where all the ladies staying at the resort introduced themselves and shared a little about their stories. I kind of wish I opened up more when it was my turn but I don’t think I was quite ready. Looking back I should have and don’t know why I was worried but it’s something I’m working on in terms of my anxiety and allowing others in and sharing more of myself without fear. Dinner was straight after and after evening chats with some of the other guests, I went off to bed.

Day 3
On day three, I decided to skip morning yoga and I did the very scary thing of asking for a cup of tea to be sent to my room first thing in the morning. It was delivered very kindly and I spent half an hour just sipping my hot ginger tea, reflecting on my trip so far before getting ready for breakfast. Breakfast was followed by all the guests getting dressed up in traditional Balinese outfits worn by local women and being taught how to make offering baskets called canang sari. I loved learning about the meaning behind each item we put in our canang sari, how making the offerings was a traditionally women’s task and the symbolism behind it. It gave me a chance to really appreciate the local culture, learn about the culture and it was honestly such a precious moment to be invited into such a sacred and beautiful activity. After making our canang sari’s, we all partook in a Balinese blessing ceremony run by a local priestess involving cleansing and blessing. The ceremony was beautiful and if you ever have a chance to partake in one, really embrace it because it’s a wonderful thing. I had a short break after the ceremony before I had my tarot reading which was a great experience. Tarot is very direct and tells you straight forward what you need to hear and my message was very loud and clear. Although I didn’t get told about what’s heading my way in the future, I know what I need to work on and what direction I will be heading in soon. I took some quiet time to absorb everything I learnt from the Tarot reading before heading out and joining what was left of the cooking class. We made a chicken curry with sambal and that’s what was served at lunch. I had a quick swim after dinner before going to my daily spa treatment which was a full body scrub. I was expecting something like a Korean body scrub but it was more like an all-over body peeling gel. It honestly felt amazing and the best thing after having covid for a whole month. I finally felt really clean. After another swim, I made my way to yoga which was absolutely incredible and one of the best ones of the whole week before finishing the evening with dinner, a candle-lit meditation and then a flower bath. Hands down one of the best days of the whole week.

Day 4
The morning of day four, I joined morning yoga (which was a tough one) before heading to breakfast. Straight after I had an energy healing and chakra balancing session which was honestly amazing. I found the experience a little odd at first but really tried to embrace it. The gentleman conducting the session was able to sense things in my body, tell me what foods to avoid and how to change small practices in my life to keep my energy aligned. After the energy healing, I felt a little out of sorts. I, unfortunately, started my monthly women’s courses the day I arrived at the resort so by day four, I was really cramping and feeling off. I thought about cancelling my spa treatment for the day but decided to continue with my scheduled facial and neck and shoulder massage. It was actually very relaxing so maybe it was the right thing to do. Lunch followed my spa treatment, then some soaking time in the jacuzzi and yoga. That evening, the ladies of the villa were going to be taken to a local bar at the beach but because of the cramps, I knew it was best to skip as I didn’t want to feel sick whilst out. Luckily, a few other guests stayed behind as well so I was treated so a small intimate dinner with some gorgeous ladies. We got local takeout and chatted for quite a while before calling it in for the night.

Day 5
Day five was excursion day for the ladies on the healing package so we were taken to Ubud, one of my favourite parts of Bali. We started our trip by visiting a Balinese Healing water temple, Tirta Empul. Unfortunately, due to my monthly bleeding I was forbidden from entering the water so instead I wandered the grounds, enjoyed an iced tea by the koi pond and got to chat with our lovely driver. The temple was followed by a walk through the market, which was quite overwhelming for some of the girls who had never experienced such a shopping experience before, and then we were taken to a lovely lunch spot at Indus Cafe with a stunning rainforest view. After lunch, our last stop was the Pyramids of Chi for sound healing. The Pyramids of Chi were in theory, a great idea but at least for me, unfortunately, someone near me was snoring so loud I couldn’t embrace the healing sounds so I left feeling a little disappointed and annoyed. Before the session started, we got told that anyone snoring would be gently woken up so having to listen to someone snore loudly right next to me was irritating, to say the least as I so wanted to experience something so unique without distraction. On the drive back to the resort, the girls in my car wanted to check out a few local art sellers which were really lovely before we were taken back home. As there was the option of going out to dinner at Yuki’s restaurant that evening, I noticed many girls decided to stay at the resort because they were tired from the trip. I too stayed behind and ate dinner by the pool chatting with two very special ladies and it was one of the best evenings. I finally opened up and could feel the emotional dam I build start to crack and crumble.

Day 6
Day six was the day the dam came crumbling down. I had an early morning ‘Letting Go Ceremony’ where myself and another resort guest were taken to the beach and treated to a full ceremony by the same local priestess who did the Balinese ceremony a few days prior. I really cried and got emotional during this ceremony, I was very lucky that my friend who did it with me also was ugly crying so it was a nice way to bond and release with someone else without judgement. When we returned to the resort, I had breakfast before being taken to a deep tissue massage which felt incredible after that morning. The resort offers additional healing packages and I had scheduled an energy healing with a lovely lady named Veronique. It was such a great session and I was able to let go, embrace it and really immerse myself into the session where I found myself crying for the third time that day. Luckily lunch was after followed before myself and another resort friend and I ventured out into the town for a bit of shopping. I didn’t really come to Bali to shop (I know, what’s wrong with me) but I did find a cute ring, bracelet and a bikini. Then I did something that frightened me, I got a scooter back to the resort. It actually took me at least 15 minutes to work up the courage to flag down a Grab (similar idea to uber), negotiate a price and then ride a scooter back to the resort but … I did it! And it was amazing and I had so much fun to the point I lifted my arms in the air to embrace the breeze and we zoomed through the countryside. I was so proud of myself for doing something that scared me that by the time I returned to the resort, I was feeling elated. When I got in, I was just in time to be a part of the cacao-making workshop as later that evening, there was to be a cacao ceremony. I had done a cacao ceremony before but learning about the practice and the culture behind it gave me a greater connection to the ceremony. This is the one event that was the turning point in my healing and I honestly think it’s changed my life or at least pushed me in the right direction. The ceremony was emotional but so beautiful and I loved hearing the stories the ladies all shared and I was finally able to really open up and share. If you ever go to Escape Haven, embrace the cacao. To finish off the night, we had dinner and I had a flower bath which was just as magical as the first. The flower bath was scented with lavender to help me sleep and came with a teapot of chamomile tea which meant I slept really well.

Day 7
Day 7 was my last day at the resort and I started it with morning yoga and breakfast before I packed up my luggage. I had a little time to take some photos around the resort and say a few goodbye’s to the girls leaving early. I had my final spa treatment which was a hot stone massage followed by an amazing high tea where I ate way too much food. It was then time to leave which was bittersweet but I truly believe the universe tells you when it’s time even if you’re not ready for something.

It was a very full week, and when I booked it originally, I thought you could only stay for the prescribed week had I known I could add more time, I would have added at least another two days. The week was so intense that I would have loved to spread out some of the events and have more pool and relaxation time. This is all something I will keep in mind for next time; oh yes, there will be a next time. I cannot say enough good things about the experience, I came into the retreat an anxious mess with awful coping mechanisms and some unhealthy habits. Although a holiday can’t cure all your bad habits, this one set in motion some changes I wanted to make in my life and so far, I am still going great with all the changes I wanted to make. The entire time I was at the retreat, I felt safe, welcome, understood and pampered which was kind of foreign at first but all the staff really made the experience incredible. The staff made me feel so welcome and safe that it felt like I finally had permission to let go, feel, heal and embrace pampering time. I have never had an experience like that ever before and felt so grateful that it all happened to me.

If you have ever thought about doing a retreat such as this, don’t delay anymore and just book it. This is not a sponsored post and I am under no obligation to say any of this but honestly, this retreat helped me and I didn’t realise just how much I needed it until I was there. From the room, the food, the ginger tea, the yoga, spa treatments, healing treatments and the staff, there’s nothing I can fault about the whole experience. I feel like a new person and ready to take on the challenges of the new year. It’s the best gift I’ve ever given myself.

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Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.

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