Wellness: It’s a term that’s thrown around a lot these days, with almost any new resort located in a breezy, tropical destination advertising some sort of wellness angle to cater to the increasingly health-conscious, 21st-century traveller. Whether as a supplementary or a comprehensive offering, chic resort travel around Southeast Asia these days has become almost synonymous with detox. And in Hong Kong, escaping every now and then to reset your mind, body and spirit is not so much a luxury as it is a vital component for surviving the frenetic, fast-paced, and quite frankly, exhausting city.
Luckily, with wellness resorts popping up in every corner of popular destinations such as Bali, Thailand and Vietnam, that vital need for R&R is no longer an unattainable luxury, but perfectly within reach, with affordable resort stays located a few hours from Hong Kong by plane. But how do you separate the true wellness destinations from those that are just jumping on the trend?
For me, a wellness getaway is all about looking better, feeling better, and eating better by the end of the trip — hopefully habits that last long after the flight back home. With this in mind, I headed to the newly opened REVĪVŌ resort near Nusa Dua beach in Bali to see if it could live up to expectations.
Balinese tradition meets modern luxury
Standing on a 3-hectare property surrounded by lush greenery near the southern tip of the island, REVĪVŌ offers 16 Balinese-style suites in total, with two four-bedroom villas that can be booked out for a private retreat, in addition to a restaurant, bar, poolside lounge, fitness area, spa and multiple events spaces. Located inland and perched on a hill, the property doesn’t offer the gorgeous beachfront and cliffside views usually found in this part of Bali; however, it’s certainly got its own charm and sense of intimacy with spacious, well-kept grounds offering everything you need for a 3- or 4-day full-on wellness immersion (any longer than that, and I might find myself planning an excursion to nearby Nusa Dua beach, a quick, 10-minute drive away).
REVĪVŌ was co-founded by hospitality veteran and yoga instructor Laurie Mias and Hong Kong-based entrepreneur Gordon Oldham, whose ventures stretch from publishing to radio to even a hand in the jewellery business. He also owns The Pavilions Resorts, a collection of boutique villa resorts in Bali and Phuket. While Bali is the first opening for the REVĪVŌ brand, more wellness retreats are slated to open next year, including a château in France and a Komodo Islands cruise.
REVĪVŌ in Nusa Dua is housed inside a restored villa estate; thus, buildings have been renovated rather than built from scratch. Nonetheless, the villas all boast new furnishings featuring a distinct mix of traditional Balinese style and modern luxury, with the traditional and instantly recognisable alang-alang thatched roofs seen all over the island. Both avid travellers, Oldham and Mias have a deep interest in health and wellness, and their respect for local culture and tradition is evident in the aesthetics of the resort.
Surrounded by dense tropical rainforest, the setting makes you feel completely immersed in nature, with rooms maximising the seamless blending of indoor and outdoor space. Walking into my Private Pool Suite in the main villa complex (this is also where the restaurant, spa and other facilities are located), I was taken aback by the sheer size of the room, outfitted with Balinese-style wood and décor, sliding doors and a draped four-poster bed. The adjoining bathroom features a sunken bathtub and a full suite of premium bath products; outside to the left, a private courtyard and pool beckons.
Located right across from the main dining area, I was steps away from the resort’s central facilities for easy access; however, those seeking privacy and quiet may want to opt for one of the villas located in the adjoining compounds, as it can get a bit noisy, and despite my closing the doors several times, the staff — at least during opening week — would breeze right through my suite’s courtyard throughout the day, meaning I had to keep the sliding screen doors closed for any privacy when I was lounging in bed.
A diet transformed
A good F&B programme is one of the most important aspects of a holistic wellness retreat (at least for this food-obsessed writer) — one that actually encourages you to contemplate and revisit your food choices while not compromising on the perks of vacationing: namely, great food and booze. While some wellness retreats tip-toe around a half-formed healthy food offering — perhaps worried about guests not fully enjoying their holiday — REVĪVŌ dives in deep with their NŪTRIŌ programme, promising a completely high-protein, low-carb, and for the most part, gluten-free and vegan menu offering. Amazingly, every dish churned out by the kitchen staff during my stay there was downright delicious.
Rather than the weekend I’d imagined spent irritably nibbling away at a piece of kale, I found the two short days that I spent immersed in the food programme at REVĪVŌ completely transformative.
Led by the chief nutritionist, chef Aliwalu, the kitchen team here are experts at turning fresh, raw and local ingredients into balanced and wholesome meals with a delightful Balinese twist. On our first night, we sat cross-legged underneath a canopy of lights in the courtyard, tucking into a bountiful feast of fresh and colourful arrangements from barley with broccoli to shaved squash and pumpkin; vibrant herb salads teeming with crunchy radishes; gluten-free falafels on strips of whole-wheat pita; and classic Balinese-style dishes such as papaya salad and steamed meat and seafood in fragrant bamboo leaves.
In the mornings, healthy breakfast offerings included tahini toast and tofu scrambled eggs, accompanied by platters of bright tropical fruits like magenta-hued dragonfruit and juicy mangosteen. For lunch, the menu shifted to hearty main courses: I particularly loved the ramen made with beetroot noodles and tempeh in a soothing broth; and the matcha soba noodles packed with snow peas and avocado in a light and tangy dressing. Everything was fresh, wholesome and delicious. There was an ample variety from day-to-day and most importantly, the team works closely with growers nearby to sustain the local farming and agriculture.
I never once felt like my vacation diet was compromised; in fact, in just two days, my body felt happier and healthier, and my digestive system had reacted instantly to the uptake in fibre and protein, to the point where the sight of burgers at the airport made me slightly queasy. I’m not one who gives up my junk food easily, so the fact that I came home with a renewed vigour to transform my diet was a big upside in my book.
Yoga, meditation and more
REVĪVŌ’s landlocked location means that you’re going to spending most, if not all, of your holiday lounging about the resort. That being the case, the resort does a nice job of rounding out the activity offerings, with the main pool and the REMISSIŌ spa ready for those who want to do nothing but sunbathe and spa away the day; while a vast number of activities are available for those looking to delve into other branches of holistic wellness offerings, from Tibetan chanting to music therapy, meditation and aerial yoga.
Every day includes a schedule of small-group activities led by experts in the field, so you can tailor your day-to-day according to your individual goals, whether it’s meditation and mind training, detox and weight loss, or simply de-stressing and relaxing. With fitness being one of the key tenets, the resort incorporates a 8,000-sq.-ft. MOVEŌ fitness area that includes a yoga barn, martial arts hall, Pilates studio, and fully-equipped gym with the latest in TRX, boxing and kinesis equipment. Get your heart rate up with an adrenaline-pumping HIIT session, or relax your muscles during a calming yoga or pilates practice. There are also Qi Gong and meditation classes for those looking to dig deeper into their spiritual well-being.
During our quick visit, we were able to try an eye-opening nutrition workshop, crystal healing (an intriguing experience although I’m not sure I would do it again), and “Ecstatic Dance”, where you’re encouraged to essentially “dance like no one’s watching” out on the open lawn. Of course, I also found time to pack in a spa session, melting away tired muscles in a traditional Balinese-style massage at the plush Remissiō Spa, which encompasses five double treatment rooms, each with an outdoor bath; hot and cold plunge pools; a Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room; and a saltwater pool for floating the afternoon away.
I visited during opening week, so while there were still a few kinks that needed to be sorted out, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend REVĪVŌ for those looking for a bespoke holiday that not only nurtures your physical and mental well-being in the short-term, but can also open up your perspective to long-term changes for a healthier lifestyle, especially for those caught in the detox-retox cycle of cosmopolitan life. The lack of more intimate settings (don’t expect fancy cocktails overlooking the sunset here) and the focus on ‘inner being’ mean I would likely come back again as a solo trip rather than a romantic couples’ retreat, one where I can fully immerse myself in the meaning of wellness and restoration.
Prices start from around HK$4,000+ per night including breakfast. For more information, visit www.revivoresorts.com.