Explore 5 Popular Types of Soulful Retreats in Bali.

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So many of those retreats have been budding around Bali, we can see the ads in the media, on billboards and our friends going to these silent retreats… What is it this entire hub about?

Retreat is a holistic way to reconnect with the inner self, the core, one’s internal power and consequently the rest of the world. Retreats give us opportunity to recharge, and unplug from stress, technology, and everyday routine with intent to get more clarity and make the necessary lifestyle changes.


Retreat tourism makes up half a trillion dollar market

It’s something like hitting the restart button on computer, when we get in our own way.

Retreat, looked up in English thesaurus, means “withdrawal”. In the spiritual circles it is understood as a withdrawal for a set period of time to be able to engage in some practices aiding our spiritual advancement and self-knowledge. Retreats used to be of highly spiritual nature but nowadays they are becoming popular vacation packages centered on a unique theme.

While spas were once the epicenter of wellness tourism, the industry has expanded to include healthy hotels, holistic cruises, hiking trips, weight loss clinics, former addicts retreats, art retreats, weight-loss programs, medical tourism and more. As the Huffington Post reports, a study presented at the first Global Wellness Tourism Congress in October 2013 estimates this type of travel is now a half-trillion dollar market, accounting for 14 percent of all tourism revenues.

“Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.” – Anton Chekhov

Yeah, Chekhov got it right, our lives can get overwhelming. Having tight schedules, meeting deadlines, achieving high goals we set for ourselves. Go to work every day, make our bosses happy, make the customer happy, make the wife happy …Stressing, overthinking, not eating well enough, not sleeping enough. We wear ourselves out by doing things because we should, or feel guilty about instead of doing the things we like.

Fast living pace, millions of emails to answer, smartphones, social media, family obligations, traffic, no time for self can make us confused, anxious and depressed…Western civilization has reached its ultimate peak, but how does one unwind?

For that exact purpose, many holistic techniques for achieving balance have made it back into the modern living. Techniques like yoga, reiki, meditation, mindfulness, and detoxare becoming popular resorts for improving the lifestyle.  Retreats are unique vacation packages that incorporate exactly those techniques in their programs and teach how to make use of them once we are back home.

I have been researching retreats on Bali for the past year and a half  – doing the hard work behind the scenes.  Testing the venues, trying out massages, spa treatments, testing the cultural activities, and undergoing therapies. I just love the world of retreats because they give us a chance to de-stress and rejuvenate while enjoying the best hospitality features Bali has to offer.


Pampering and self-improvement is available to everyone

Beautiful spots in nature, lovely accommodation, healthy food and inspiring therapists/teachers taking care of us are the finer things in life. With retreat programs, they are available for a week or two to everyone. I list a lot of those retreats on a website called Gekkoretreats.com and it offers guidance for choosing the right one.

From wellness escapes to surfing retreats, all these packages try to fulfill specific needs unmet in common travel packages. Retreats packages include accommodation in eco or luxury resorts located in secluded natural surroundings. The programs usually include the following elements: physically active daily routine, coaching sessions, exploring local culture, spa activities and meals and they are usually full board.


Here are 5 popular types of retreats available on Bali:

 1. Need an exercise routine?Active Retreats are your cup of tea

One of the most familiar types of retreats are created around intensive yoga practice. Those are intended for the mid level to advanced yoga practitioners. Most famous, but at the same time hidden from the public eye are Olop Arpipi’s yoga retreats. Olop is a renowned Iyengar yoga teacher who has a yoga joglo in Seminyak, Jl. Drupadi 7.

Then there are Pilates retreats, pole dancing retreats and more of those that focus exclusively on body toning and improving the self-esteem. Ubud is known as the hub for retreats in Bali. The lush tropical forests and rice-fields as well as the numerous temples are some of the reasons why clients want to retreat there. SvargaLoka is a new spa and retreat center in the heart of Ubud that offers yoga, tao-kung and cultural program in a luscious jungle surrounding for the whole year around.


2. Feeling like some pampering? Spa retreats will do just that

Popular resorts or hotels that have experience with SPA treatments usually offer those types of retreats. Although spa retreats are aimed for couples, singles are increasingly signing up for some “me time”.

A typical spa retreat usually includes accommodation, meals and body treatments, and quite frequently, daily yoga. Often, the retreat will be combined with a healthy food program, so be ready to leave your French fries behind.

Spa retreats are custom made, so a nutritionist and a so-called “retreat mother” will be assigned to you to make your program fit your needs and wants. What I like about those retreats is that they respect client’s physical condition, mood, level of tiredness etc. So if you feel like just sleeping in that day, it is perfectly reasonable to cancel everything. No pressure.

One of the best places to have a spa retreat is Aroma Spa Retreat at Sanur Beach Hotel and FivelementsPuri Ahimsa in Mambal. Another place is Como Shambala Estate in Ubud that offers a spa retreats focusing on Ayurvedic treatments.


3. Want fun around your favorite artistic activity? Try these Art retreats

Do you like to sing or paint, but don’t have time for it? This type of retreat is basically aimed to offer lighthearted workshops in the art medium one loves. Usually prominent artists are hired to do the program. Their programs include several hours of art workshops per day, yoga or other exercise, delicious food and free time. Singabout is one of the organizations that offers art retreats on Bali, but there are others like Antida Sound garden, that specialize in Jazz music, etc.


4. Theme retreats

They have different names and use different techniques, but the goal is to help you improve your lifestyle, to lead a more positive and more fulfilling life. Some of them are Mesion – finding your true life purpose, Stay Healthy in business, Rewriting your narrative, Health and prosperity retreats…

Mesion retreats use the techniques of creative workshops and yoga to help one discover his Mesion. Mesion is the line dividing the body into right and left symmetrical halves, neither the female nor male, but our centre. And there is our mission, the state of being on the right track.

Rewriting your narrative is an inspiring retreat by Wholistic Recovery International that uses mindfulness, yoga, modern dance workshops and group therapy. Mindfulness is a meditation technique that originated in Buddhism, practiced as mainstream psychology on the west. It is simple practice of being aware of our emotion and our surroundings in each moment without judging. Mindfulness is a great tool to remove the negative mental programs and feel better about ourselves.

For those who want to get the best of both worlds  – serene isolation of Ubud rainforests and city vibe of Seminyak, DARE offers retreats that combine both Ubud and Seminyak locations. The Retreat for Health and Prosperity blendsserenity with luxurious accommodation with three days in Ubud and 4 days in Seminyak. There are options for beachfront or villa in the center of Seminyak.


5. Do you like the ocean and outdoor adventures ? Try Surfing retreats

Bali Yoga and Surf Retreats are a great choice if you are looking to reconnect with nature and explore the outdoors wholeheartedly. The retreats include 7 nights accommodation, meals, surf lessons, yoga and meditation activities. They are located in Nusa Lembongan, which is a separate island to the south of Bali, still belonging to the Bali province. Surf Goddess Retreat and Mind Body Soul Surf Bali are organizations that offer surf retreats for women only. Both of them are located in the vibrant Seminyak.


What clients say?

Clients say they like retreats because it gives them time to reconnect with themselves, away from the regular, day responsibilities of work and home. “Because of the lack of many responsibilities, it was a relaxing time for my body and soul.” Clients love that retreats are all about them and that they are seen and heard.


What therapists say about retreats

Mrs. Martina Ferk from Mesion, who is doing a PHD research on development of human resource potential, says doing retreats are like being a part of a movement. “It is a support to people to find their own mission in the world – their life propose”. It’s a joy of discovery in people that motivates her as and the fact that her clients gradually starting to live according to their own true values, she stated.

Mrs. Cathirose Petrone from Wholistic Recovery International, a clinical psychologist and neuropath, says as she developed interest in mindfulness, she underwent a two year-long experiment on her self, practicing mindfulness every day.” I learned firsthand the value of mindfulness practice and find it to be an essential foundation for my work and for my work and for life”.


When I asked her how the clients react to mindfulness she commented that at first, many people are concerned they will not be able to do it “right”. When they learn that mindfulness is simply being present as the observer, with compassion, acceptance, and non-judgment, and that there is no “right” or “wrong”, they are excited to get started.


Iva Tarle

Iva Tarle is a former diplomat and public relations expert, founder of Gekko Retreats specialised in wellness and health tourism on Bali - retreats, vacation for mind, body and soul. Iva works with established international coaches, yoga teachers, nutritionists and MDs to build and promote fine tuned retreat programs. Gekko Retreats also offers consulting and hands-on assistance for coaches and therapists to build their own retreats in Bali and in Croatia.

Iva Tarle

Iva Tarle is a former diplomat and public relations expert, founder of Gekko Retreats specialised in wellness and health tourism on Bali - retreats, vacation for mind, body and soul. Iva works with established international coaches, yoga teachers, nutritionists and MDs to build and promote fine tuned retreat programs. Gekko Retreats also offers consulting and hands-on assistance for coaches and therapists to build their own retreats in Bali and in Croatia.