Going on wellness retreats is the sort of thing many of us like to talk about, but never actually get around to doing for myriad reasons: it's too expensive; we can never find the time; and worries of "what if I have to go on a digital detox for one whole week - how am I supposed to survive without Instagram?!".
Valid concerns, of course, especially if your desire to go for a retreat stems more from "I need a short break from work" reasons, rather than feelings of "I am ready for my rapture because there's nothing good happening for me here", and the thought of shelling out a nosebleed sum of cash to have all your creature comforts stripped away in the name of wellness scares you. If you belong to the former camp, the recently-opened REVIVO Wellness Resort in Nusa Dua, Bali is the happy middle ground to catering to your wellness goals, while still staying friendly enough for first-timers, as I found out on a recent three-day stay there.
As with all good wellness retreats, a pre-trip consultation is first held over the phone to find out more about the guest's general life habits and individual goals and needs. I am put on a three-day "emotional balance and mind training" programme, which, given the nature of my job and my very erratic sleeping habits, is perfect. REVIVO's resident health and wellness coach Kathy Cook wants me to try to put work out of my mind and - gasp! - avoid using my electronics in the evening. I tell her it's impossible for people in my line of work to do either and she laughs. "Try anyway," she says, seemingly certain of my willpower to stay off my phone. "Also, I want you to just be more aware of how you feel at all times."
Being "present" is a mantra that many wellness retreats preach, and REVIVO is no different. It's, of course, something that's easier said than done; we constantly obsess over problems of the past and future. But as I step into the lush, expansive grounds of REVIVO, suddenly made very, very aware of the lack of urban sounds (or that of other people, even; the resort only has 16 villas, a maximum occupancy of 32 guests at any one point), I can see how fully being in the "now" is an achievable goal. Having a huge Balinese-style villa with a plush four-poster bed and a sunken bath that looks out to a private gardens definitely helps too. I pass out quickly and easily on the first night, lulled to sleep by the chirping of crickets.
Besides the emotional balance and mind training programme, REVIVO also offers retreats that help with detox and organic weight loss, sleep, anti-ageing, and de-stressing, ranging between three to 14 days. A big unifying factor is the fitness component, which is supported by a hybrid fitness area comprising of yoga barn, a martial arts hall, a reformer Pilates studio, a gym with TRX and boxing equipment, a 25-metre-long lap pool for aqua workouts, and a 1,500 square metre landscaped park for outdoor exercises.
With my itinerary, I am signed up for three workouts a day, with a reinvigorating yoga class first thing in the mornings, followed by a more high-intensity kickboxing or TRX class, rounded off with a gentle meditation class in the evenings. These are conducted by a band of cheerful local instructors, and together, are tough enough to demand a little more effort, but not so taxing that you're spent for the rest of the day.
If you feel apprehensive about meditation classes (like I am), you'll be relieved to know that these have been tailored for beginners, and are more like deep breathing sessions that offer quiet, contemplative time. I take the chance to try to stop thinking about work, and (mostly) succeed.
The highlight of the retreat for me, however, is the one aspect that I'd initially dreaded: the food. Like many less enlightened folks, I'd assumed that I would be fed a diet of cold-pressed juices and salads and bland gluten-free options that would be good for my health and nothing much else.
Instead, I am presented dish after dish of vibrant colours, incredible flavours and, surprisingly enough, substantial portions: A high-protein tempeh satay is served with a fragrant Balinese roasted peanut sauce; a nourishing bowl of ramen soup replaces the carb with purple beetroot noodles; and a perfectly medium-rare steak dish is paired perfectly with beautiful roasted vegetables. The intention of Aliwalu, REVIVO's creative nutritionist chef, and creative force behind the flavour-led menu, after all, is to serve food and drinks as close to their natural state as possible, "with a mission to sharpen and delight taste buds, while continuously supporting health". I am better fed than I usually at back in Singapore, and don't even feel my regular impulse to order a glass of wine with my meals (which REVIVO does offer - the resort's not about depriving you of your baser needs).
I meet up with Kathy again at the end of the three days for a debriefing chat. I admit sheepishly that not only had I not taken a break from my devices, I was more plugged in than ever - on account of my not being in the office and stressing over it. What I had managed to do, however, was to pay closer attention to my breathing habits; according to this GQ article, I'd been breathing incorrectly all my life, and being made to slow down and be introspective at REVIVO had made me more aware of it. Kathy seems pleased enough, despite my failings, and tells me that the point of the retreat at REVIVO is to help me cultivate habits that I'd hopefully be able to stick with in time to come.
That's the beauty about REVIVO. Wellness retreat regulars who are looking for serious programs may not be too impressed by the resort's more free-and-easy approach towards its programs, but it's the perfect gateway experience for beginners and everyone else who just needs a break from the stresses of urban life. And with prices starting at US$698 (S$935) per night per suite (twin-sharing), inclusive of full board, three daily fitness classes and a daily spa treatment, in stunning environs, it's far, far more accessible than what many of REVIVO's equally luxurious competitors offers.
For more on lifestyle head here. Don't miss also, why Kanazawa is your go-to Japanese destination this year, and 18 of the most luxurious villas in the world perfect for a girls' getaway.