Adventures in Bali | Being pampered at a luxury Surf and Yoga Retreat

After a few days of immersing myself in the hustle and bustle of busy Ubud, it was quite literally time to escape to the final stage of my trip and nestle myself in the luxurious surroundings of Escape Haven, Canggu. Having already done a post about the truly monumental experience I had here, I thought I’d also do a far more lighthearted review of the rest of the week!

The Retreat

I wasn’t really sure what to call the actual physical structure of Escape Haven, as it’s not a ‘hotel’ or a ‘resort’, it’s a magical land where from the moment you arrive you are plunged into absolute bliss. Being greeted with a flower necklace, iced tea and a snack was already my idea of heaven, and I hadn’t even seen my room yet!

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I was blown away when I was shown to my room. I’ve stayed in some posh hotels before but nothing could have prepared me for my villa! I’d booked a twin share and was expecting to be paired with another solo female traveller but as we were only a small group I was on my own, the same as what had happened on the Intrepid tour. Anywho, the room was bigger than my flat, and I was more than happy to make myself at home here for the week!

They even run you a bath on request, complete with animal-shaped towel and flower petals!

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All of the staff were incredibly lovely, always asking how you were and if they could get you anything. Being in the military, I often found myself wanting to tidy up after myself or take my used glasses/plates back up to reception when I was finished – something which I was frequently told off for! They always had a smile on their face and made you feel like nothing was too much trouble.

All the little details at Escape Haven are really taken care of, from the way the table was laid beautifully for every meal, to the turn down service (yes,¬†turn down service!) where they left a positive quote and little treat on your bed each night (spoiler, it wasn’t always chocolate, much to my disappointment and everyone else’s amusement)!

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Speaking of food, every meal we were served was incredible also. It was mostly ‘family-style’ dining, so huge bowls of each yummy dish for us to help ourselves to. I didn’t take many pictures of the food, but I did take one of the incredible salad I was served on one of the days when only me and one of the other girls was actually around at lunch time!

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That was on our ‘ignite and indulge’ day where we got to pick an activity that differed from our normal schedule. There were 3 different programs to pick from, but on Wednesday everyone got to choose an activity such as a cycle, cooking class, extra spa treatment etc. Most of the girls went for the bike ride, but having already done one the previous week, I decided to have a session with a Balinese healer so I was around the magical land hotel all day. I took a walk into Canggu that afternoon too which was nice to have an explore of, very expat friendly but it had a great vibe to it and some awesome shops to look around!

We also got to venture out for dinner on a couple of the nights. It was great to see more of the area, but I’d have been equally as happy to ‘stay in’ and eat the delicious food on offer to us at the hotel!

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The Spa

I was doing the ‘Revive’ package which consisted of daily yoga practice, surfing lessons and spa treatments. On arrival, we got a 30 minute massage to relax us after our journey (everyone else had flown in that day, I’d got a taxi – though I did have a bit of a mare when I got picked up so I still needed the massage!). The treatments were done in outdoor shalas, and each day you got to pick from the menu what you felt like.

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The first treatment I picked was a sampler package which included a mini back massage, mini facial and – best one – mini head massage. It was an hour of pure bliss. I’d never had a facial before so didn’t want to go straight in with a full hour, and to be honest, the approximately 15/20 minutes she spent on my face was just right for me. It was such a perfect treatment for what I enjoy, so I chose the same again the following day!

I then made the mistake of going for a hot stone massage. Don’t get me wrong, she probably performed the entire experience exceptionally, it just wasn’t for me. You know when you go to your favourite restaurant, decide to order a different dish just to mix it up a bit, but it doesn’t quite hit the spot? That was my experience of the hot stone massage! Thankfully I still had one last day at this point which meant I could finish the week back to my favourite back, head and facial!

The Yoga

Tucked away behind the spa shalas is the yoga shala, a serene little spot which was perfect for both relaxation and revitalisation.

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Those on the yoga package had twice daily practices with both Laura and Lorin, whereas the surfers just had one class a day, mostly with Laura. Again, I’ve talked about what the yoga did for me in a previous post, but I’ll just reiterate – it was awesome. I think the majority of the women who come on the retreat are in serious need of some TLC, for whatever reason, so the classes are centred around healing, letting go and relaxation. We had some great fun too though, including the welcoming ceremony on the first night, and yoga-beats on the last night which ended in everyone jumping in the pool! We also did a workshop where we could ask questions and get help with any asanas, which was really useful.

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The Surfing

Before going to Bali, I’d never been on a surf board before. When people asked what I was getting up to on holiday and I replied with ‘I’m going to a yoga and surf retreat’ the most common reaction would be ‘oh, I didn’t know you surfed’, to which I would reply ‘I don’t!’ But I was in safe hands with Luca and his awesome team from Shift Division.¬†There were only 4 of us girls on the surf package, and there were 4 of them in their coaching team, so we basically had our own private instructors for the week.

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On top of that, we had a photographer too! Indi was fantastic, capturing some great shots of us all and putting them on memory cards for us so we could take them home! I really felt like I progressed a lot in a short amount of time, and I’ve definitely caught the surfing bug! There’s just something about the ocean which I adore, as I’m sure is the case for many of you too! Not that I’m particularly keen on what creatures may be lurking beneath the surface mind you, but I think I’m over that one now!

So without further ado, here are a select few of the thousands of photos Indi took!

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This is us walking along with the grown-up boards, whilst the boys carried our huge beginner boards for us ’cause they were heavier! We took the opportunity to look like pros for a few minutes at least.

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We always did a warm up on the beach before hitting the waves!

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Here’s a few of me showing everyone how it’s done:

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Though saying that, I did have my moments

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Each session finished with a fresh coconut and snacks on the beach, what more could we ask for?!

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So that’s about it, not that I’ve even talked much about all the beautiful souls who were the ladies I had the privilege of sharing the week with! The universe brings people into your life for a reason, and I strongly believe that everyone I connected with there was brought there intentionally.

Thank you Escape Haven for the most life changing experience, I can’t wait to come back and visit – hopefully next year!

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