At Hoshinoya Bali, tranquility amid tradition

The Villa Bulan at the Hoshinoya Bali.
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Afternoon rain rustled the jungle leaves as a blanket of mist rose up through the trees. From a soaking tub perched on a covered, treetop balcony, I watched incense slowly burn and drift out into the rising mist. I am not a traveler known for sitting still, but the spa experience at the Hoshinoya Bali was tranquil enough to quiet even my restless legs.

Ubud, Bali, is not short on wellness. It is one of the top destinations in the world for wellness travel, including everything from ancient traditions passed on through healers to hipsters doing Downward-Facing Dog. And one of the most refined experiences to be had in terms of both wellness and accommodation is found at the Hoshinoya Bali.

Guests are greeted in the hushed, outdoor lobby pavilion through traditional Balinese-style doors. After check-in, I was escorted to the Cafe Gazebo, a cluster of hanging pods like sleek, open-air treehouses, where I snacked on succulent beef rendang while waiting for my room to be ready. 

And what a room it was. The understatedly elegant space was washed in blond wood, with just a mattress covered by a plush, white comforter on a raised platform. Outside the suite was a small, private pavilion area with a raised, covered daybed. A short staircase led down to an outdoor living room and a private entrance to the resort's pool.

There are three room types at the Hoshinoya Bali: Villa Bulan, Villa Soka, and Villa Jalak. The Villa Bulan measures 2,238 square feet and features a poolside living area and a second-floor bedroom that opens to a garden terrace. The 2,012-square-foot Villa Soka includes a first-floor living room with a section that juts out over the pool as well as combination bedroom-study on the second floor. Villa Jalaks are 2,131 square feet and are single-floor units overlooking the jungle.

Dining is on point at the resort, whether it's the set breakfasts in Japanese, Indonesian or American styles or the traditional Indonesian dinner of ayam betutu, an entire chicken roasted in banana leaves. 

While the private sanctuaries and the dining are enough to provide that tranquil escape, the real highlight can be found at the spa. A small funicular transports guests from check-in to a lower level of treetops, a secondary escape from what already feels like worlds away.

A menu of treatments and massages include everything from traditional Balinese massage to the Royal Lulur, which is a traditional body treatment that royal women would take before their wedding day. Treatments range from 90 minutes to three hours and can be as simple as a foot and shoulder massage or as elaborate as a combo of body oil, facial, body scrub, wrap, head massage and flower bath.

Guests can also book the exclusive Balinese Dance and Beauty Ritual, which is a one-day program that combines traditional Balinese dance, food and wellness. The program begins with a private, two-hour, morning yoga session followed by a private dance lesson that includes traditional costume and makeup. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all centered around traditional Balinese recipes and ingredients, like fruits, vegetable curry and soto ayam, a spicy chicken soup. The package includes spa treatments as well as an evening watching traditional Balinese dance in downtown Ubud.

My experience was the Spicy Body Revitalizing treatment, a combination of body massage, scrub, wrap and bath. The two-hour treatment began with a deep tissue Balinese massage in a glass-enclosed room overlooking the jungle. Then the therapist applied an exfoliating scrub made with healing oil and local spices, which she left on my skin underneath a wrap to let it harden, after which she scrubbed it from me, revealing a new layer of extra-soft skin. The grand finale of the treatment was a dreamy, 15-minute herbal salt soak in a tub with floating yellow and pink petals that looked out into the green mist.

Rates start at $640 per night.

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