Bali, loved as a haven for health and wellness experience, has reinvented itself to offer even more specialised programmes, discovers Mimi Hudoyo
Wellness tourism, particularly based on local heritage and tradition, has been one of a major draws for travellers to Bali. Now, this segment is being expanded to include medical and sports specialisation.
Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia minister of tourism and creative economy said: “Indonesia Health Tourism is one of the national focus, developed jointly between the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy (MoTCE) and the Ministry of Health. This includes medical tourism, wellness tourism, sports (events) tourism and health-science based business events. Bali is one of the destinations with the potential to develop these four elements.”
Besides Bali, the government has appointed Greater Jakarta and Medan for health-based tourism development. This will potentially generate a business value of US$11 billion and 2.3 million jobs.
Apart from improving Bali’s existing health facilities, including incorporating traditional healing services, the government has carved out a 40-hectare Health-related Special Economic Zone in Sanur.
Sandiaga said: “A number of health facilities will be built there, including a hospital that will partner with well-known international institutions such as the Bio Clinics of John Hopkins University.
“With this, we hope that not only (will) Indonesians (who favour health and wellness treatments overseas) get prime health services here, but international travellers can immerse themselves in nature and enjoy quality health-related services here too,” he said.
The Indonesia Health Tourism programme has been introduced to delegates of the B20 Indonesia Summit 2022 in November 2022, while the International Wellness Tourism Conference & Festival (IWTCF) was held in Solo, Central Java as a side event of the G20 Summit.
Sandiaga said these events pioneered Indonesia’s integrated wellness tourism sector, and MoTCE would organise the second IWTCF in 2023 in Bali.
In the meantime, new wellness resorts are opening in Bali while premium hotels are expanding their programmes.
Como Shambhala Estate, for example, recently launched the Integrated Wellness Programme, which is personalised for the guest with expert consultation, nutritional guidance, daily wellness treatments and access to all group wellness activities.
The Estate’s wellness manager and Ayurvedic consultant, Prasanth Vayanakathu said: “Our Integrated Wellness Programme is designed to address varying health conditions, goals and preferences, and we get increasing number of health seekers under this programme. We are also actively planning to incorporate new wellness strategies into this.”
Como Shambhala Estate is no stranger to guest wellness. It was launched as a well-being destination in 2005, long before wellness tourism become a trend. Its holistic approach to health is renowned.
Prasanth said: “Our wellness philosophy aims to assist our guests to have a transformational impact on their well-being by imparting a step-by-step actionable plan during their stay with us and beyond. This allows them to create their own wellness paths and we hand them the tools to suit their health conditions and goals.”
Over the years, the estate has witnessed a growing awareness of sustainable wellness – something that the team constantly incorporates into its practices.
Wellness-focused travellers to Bali can discover new experiences at The Asa Maia wellness retreat, which opened in November 2021 in Uluwatu, and Gdas Bali, which soft-opened in Ubud in October 2022. The latter aims to be fully operational in January 2023.
The Asa Maia is a 10-suite barefoot luxury wellness retreat that promises unique holistic wellness treatments. The property also highlights local arts and culture, such as through its villas that are old wooden Javanese houses called gladak. The spa also offers an array of Indonesian treatments as well as unique experiences through its infrared Himalayan salt sauna and specially-designed hot and cold plunge pools, whose contrast therapy can help quicken muscle recovery, reduce inflammation and improve immune function.
Guests can sign up for SOMA breathwork coaching to clear negative imprints and liberate themselves from their past, releasing trauma and increasing fitness capabilities. The programme can be customised.
Axel Jehanger, general manager of The Asa Maia, said: “Breathwork is for everybody, from bankers to corporate workers; you do not need to be a barefoot walker to do this.”
The wellness retreat was founded by Martha Booke, who had health issues and was inspired to create a space where people could heal and implement live-changing transformation that they could take back home, according to Jahanger.
Over at Gdas Bali, said to be the ﬁrst health and wellness resort in Ubud that is equipped with modern facilities such as Cryotherapy, LiveO2, colonic hydrotherapy, salt therapy and IV drip treatment, guests can also heal their bodies through traditional rituals.
Rini Sekarani, sales and marketing manager, Gdas Bali said a herb garden is in development to house some 200 species that will be used for healing purposes.
Gdas Bali creates programmes according to individual needs, offering options such as plant-based diet, healthy drinks and spa treatments. Guests can also pick ready-made packages centred on sleep management and emotional healing.
A highlight at this 27-room retreat is hot yoga, conducted in a dedicated space heated with infrared technology to maximise detoxification. The UV-C lights also help to keep the space sterile and safe for guests.
The owner and director, Gary Foster, is an avid yogi who birthed Gdas Bali for his yoga community.