Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sat January 23 2016

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | January 23, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Ubud Wellness Centers: Which One is the Best?

    Ubud Wellness Centers: Which One is the Best?

    PHOTO: Taksu was the definition of paradise on all levels. (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    When I had booked a flight to Bali, I came for one reason: Personal Wellness. I was turning 27, three years from 30 and nearing my one-year mark of traveling. After falling in love with the yogi lifestyle in Central America thanks to my time at Montezuma Yoga, I knew I wanted to further work on myself and be immersed in a place that preached and practiced well-being on every level.

    So I found myself in the small town of Ubud — known to be Bali’s center for healing. 

    Throughout my time in Ubud, I found that there was an endless supply of ways to make yourself feel great. Between unlimited options for yoga classes and retreats, holistic healing, clean-raw vegan eating and pampering for mind, body and soul; I knew I had come to the right place.

    I tried and tested a handful of wellness centers across Ubud and have found the best there is so you don’t have to attempt to pick a needle in a haystack — leaving you with more money to spend on outstanding treatments!

    Bali Botanica Spa

    PHOTO: Bali Botanica Spa was light, bright and calming with the best massage to date!

    I arrived at Bali Botanica Spa after being picked up at my hostel by its driver free of charge and arrived with the friendly staff smiling to greet me. I was given a pair of slippers within seconds and was taken to my beautifully decorated room for its most popular treatment: Ayurvedic Massage — Chakra Dhara.

    Upon walking into the room for my treatment, I was pleasantly surprised. Unlike the somewhat-basic waiting room, this other area truly feels like an upscale spa. The room itself is spacious and well presented: the window view looks out into the jungle, real flowers are placed around the room and once you laid down for your treatment, instead of looking directly at the floor, you saw a bowl of flowers floating in a clear bowl which was a nice touch.

    READ MORE: Australia And Indonesia Mend Fences Through Tourism

    On its website, the full-body massage is said to promote blood circulation, increase flexibility and relieve pain and stiffness as well as be stimulating and soothing. I can testify to this 100 percent, as it was one of the best massages I’ve had to date. In the 2.5 hours I was there, my therapist worked out each kink I had after almost a year of carrying a backpack around the world, applying the perfect amount of pressure without needing direction and by the end, I was so relaxed that I even fell asleep briefly due to how comfortable I was (which has never happened to me at a spa before)!

    The second portion of the treatment included the dripping of one liter of warm herbal oil onto the chakra points (along with an incredible head-massage), which was said to balance the energy flow and purify the body, mind and spirit. The oils used smelled beautiful and the overall sensation was pleasant, but it did take me two days to remove all of the oil from my hair which was a bit of a hassle and if I was to do it again, I would likely pass. (However, they did advise me that my hair would be oily — I just didn’t think it would be to that extent.)

    The last of my time consisted of sitting in a comfortable robe as my feet got the royal treatment soaking in warm water with flower petals floating all around, followed by a lower leg and foot massage.

    When the treatment was complete, I was able to take a shower with a nice rainwater head and at the end was given a delicious ginger-cinnamon tea to drink in the courtyard before being driven back to my hostel feeling on cloud nine.

    Type of Massage: Ayurvedic Massage - Chakra Dhara

    Price: Rp495,000

    FINAL OPINION: I highly recommend getting the massage. The head massage was out of this world — the quality service and lovely staff left me the most relaxed I’ve ever been. But I would forego the oil treatment.


    Tai Ji Wellness Centre

    PHOTO: Tai Ji Wellness Centre was barebones and lacked character. 

    I arrived at Tai Ji Wellness Centre for my traditional massage and unfortunately, the experience was far from relaxing from start to finish. When I had arrived, the receptionist was a tad unwelcoming and it dwindled from there. The amenities were bare-bones basic along and the room’s ambiance was reminiscent of a doctor’s office. The oils used were not good quality and the massage itself was far from relaxing.

    Type of Massage: Traditional Massage

    FINAL OPINION: I wouldn’t recommend going here even with its lower prices.

    Taksu Wellness Centre

    I arrived at Taksu in the heart of the Ubud before I had even had a cup of coffee and ready for my day of wellness consisting of yoga, a traditional Balinese massage, coffee-cinnamon body scrub and dining at its restaurant — the full experience, if you will.

    Upon arrival, I had found that unlike other facilities, Taksu is truly a one-stop-shop for personal wellness. In the confines of its large wellness center is a wide range of services spanning from a spa and salon, to healing services such as life coaching, workshops and holistic offerings to yoga, plus a wide range of healthy eating options at a cafe and restaurant supporting clean eating for all dietary restriction foodies.

    At 8 a.m., I was guided with four other beginner yogis down towards the yoga studio where you could hear the calming sound of water flowing as you walked down the stones steps and past the stepping-stones surrounded by ancient architecture and jungle. The atmosphere right away put you at ease and felt like a journey into the past and a prelude to enlightenment, even in the early hours before coffee.

    The yoga studio was quaint, a small class size of five and personalized for beginners to intermediate levels which was nice in comparison to larger studios where you feel you are just a number. Our teacher Indra taught us Yin Yoga and I appreciated his level of detail, explaining in depth each position and how it affected the body throughout the hour and a half class. Although personally, Yin Yoga was a little too slow for my liking.

    (The cost per class was Rp 120,000, which is a little lower than average pricing around Ubud.)

    At 11 a.m., I was taken for my “Taksu Balinise Massage” where I was given a choice of three blends of organic, coconut oils: lavender, lemon and coconut. I chose lavender due to its relaxing scent, perfectly fit with the environment.

    I was taken to my own large stone bungalow which was simple yet thoughtfully designed — consisting of a solar-powered rainwater showerhead, stone bathtub, a raised area for massages with an electric adjusting massage table and a locker to stow personal belongings.

    There was a bowl of flowers floating underneath the headrest adding to the experience and the massage lasted 60 minutes, leaving me feeling in a state of pure bliss by the time it was time for the body-scrub. The full-body massage left me without any tension in my body although the head massage was too hard — making it not as enjoyable.

    The second portion of my treatment was a Coffee and Cinnamon Body Scrub meant to deeply clean the skins pores, removing dead cells and leaving the skin perfectly soft and scented. The body scrub lasted 40 minutes and was the perfect combination of exfoliation and massage. I had never had a body scrub prior but I thoroughly enjoyed it and even days after treatment, my skin is still the softest it’s been in ages.

    After my treatment ended, I was then brought to a pavilion overlooking the jungled area where I was served a cold-pressed turmeric juice — said to provide a natural energy boost.

    READ MORE: 27 Life Lessons Learned In Indonesia

    The final part of my day at Taksu was to try a few items off of the clean-eating menu. Although a bit pricey for Bali standards, all items were organic, beautifully crafted and the taste was equal. I tried a cappuccino with cashew milk, a salmon eggs benedict and a raw-vegan guacamole appetizer so mouthwatering all I could say between bites was “mmm!”

    It was an entire day of pampering from head to toe, internal and external and I left feeling as though I had the royal treatment.

    Drop In Yoga Class: 1.5 hours — Price: Rp 120,000

    Type of Massage: Taksu Balinese Massage: 60 minutes — Price: Rp 500,000

    Type of Scrub: Coffee & Cinnamon Body Scrub: 40 minutes — Price: Rp 180,000

    Meals/Coffee: Rp 40,000-80,000

    FINAL OPINION: The yoga class I attended is good for beginners but I would likely go elsewhere for a more intensive class. As for their spa treatments and food, it was a truly enriching experience making me feel as good internally as externally and worth every penny.


    Tamarind Spa at Murni’s Houses

    PHOTO: Tamarind Spa at Murni’s Houses had a calming decor and visual appeal.

    Tamarind Spa is centrally located in Ubud, which is great for those of us who prefer to walk rather then risk driving a scooter around. When I arrived at Tamarind Spa at Murni’s House, just walking in, it felt as though I jumped into a traditional Balinese paradise. The ambiance was superb with lush greenery, flowers and the calming sound of water as it flowed from the fountains. 

    I was welcomed instantly by the staff and was informed of the many treatments available, along with slippers, a nice cold towel and drink as I looked through treatment options. I opted for the famous Balinese Massage and was given a choice of three beautifully scented organic coconut oils: one for Uplifting (made of lemongrass, mint, bergamot, ginger and chamomile), one for Calming (made of lavender, chamomile, cinnamon and cananga) and the third oil for Energizing (made of ginger, cloves and nutmeg).

    I chose “Uplifting” and was then taken to a massage room where my feet were soaked, cleaned and massaged in nicely scented flower petaled water before my 60-minute treatment and my therapist made me feel at ease right away with her grand smile and warm personality.

    Overall, the experience in terms of staff, ambiance and products was wonderful but the treatment and room seemed to lack. I have had plenty of massages over the years and although my therapist was thorough, I did not enjoy the massage as I had hoped. It was good but not great; seeming to be far too strong at points, specifically the head massage portion, the room was very basic, the lights remained on during the treatment and the music of bells ringing was more alarming than serene which affected the enjoyment of the treatment.

    Overall, the spa itself was beautiful and relaxing, but I would probably opt for a bath over a massage if I was to return to Tamarind Spa.

    Type of Massage: Balinese Massage

    Price: Rp 300-550

    FINAL OPINION: The ambiance and oils are top quality but the massage unfortunately was a letdown.



    After four wellness centers and feeling pampered like a queen, I would have to say that the moral of the story is you truly get what you pay for.

    Out of all four, without a doubt, the best massage I received was the Ayurvedic Massage from Bali Botanica Spa. My therapist had hands of an angel and I have never been so relaxed in my entire life. (And that’s no understatement).

    However, If you’re looking for the whole shebang — An entire day of pampering without having to go from place to place and an ambiance you truly cant beat making you feel as though you’ve been transported to your own version of heaven; then Taksu has everything you need and then some — you don’t need to go far to get quality at every turn here.

    Overall, whether you choose Bali Botanica Spa or Taksu Wellness Centre, you won’t be disappointed by the quality of service!

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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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