How Bali became the world’s best place to rejuvenate and relax (

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Writer: Penny Watson


It may have taken the past couple of decades for yoga and meditation to become truly mainstream. But I’ve noticed that the move to other holistic wellness pursuits – where mental, physical and social factors are all taken into account – is definitely gaining pace.

Sure enough, when Janine Hall, founder of Bali’s new Escape Haven (see below), surveyed a global network of 500 women, she asked respondents to state their top three priorities in 2022. The results? Mental health came out on top (71 per cent), physical health (67 per cent) and making time for self-care (56 per cent) all rated above even career and financial security.

“The results align with the global post-pandemic values-shift where wellness travel is viewed as a necessity rather than a luxury,” Hall says.

Last year, the non-profit Global Wellness Institute listed “awareness and acceptance of mental health and its nuances” as a top trend, reporting that more focused intervention programs “like meditation, breathwork, and holistic practices continue to grow”.

Given my (relatively) early dabbling in holistic practices in a decidedly less exotic locale than Bali, and the island’s reputation as a world-beating wellness destination, it’s perhaps not surprising that I’ve taken an interest in the gamut of Bali’s more esoteric experiences, from healing Balinese massages to consciousness-bending breathwork sessions.

Here are my recommendations for the best places on the “Island of the Gods” to rejuvenate, re-energise and renew or simply to relax.

Waroeng Djamoe Spa, Hotel Tugu, Canggu

The lowdown Hotel Tugu is lauded for its incredible collection of Indonesian antiques and artefacts. Amid the frangipani trees, its traditional spa riffs off this theme, offering heritage treatments from ancient Balinese, Javanese and Chinese Peranakan cultures. Javanese deep-tissue massages, hair and scalp treatments, and herbal baths along with Balinese dance massages inspired by rhythmical temple dances and gamelan music are on offer. The new wooden Guan Yin yoga pavilion is a space for meditation sessions, sound healing and classic yoga practices including hatha and yin.

Something special The 90-minute eastern spirituality massage is a coconut oil, herb and spice rub accompanied by soft vocal incantations for a deep relax. The 90-minute jamu, or djamoe, explores traditional herb and spice concoctions used in healing and rejuvenation.

Suites and villas from $430. Drop-in yoga classes $13. Massages from $40. See