“Listen to the water. Feel and listen to the birds, the wind, the trees.” Fitness instructor Jaka is wrapping up our Aqua Fitmat session with a deep-breathing exercise, the water gently rocking our floating yoga mats as we lie still on our backs under the warm morning sun. “Make two wishes – anything and as big as you want. Ask the universe. If you send good energy out into the universe, it will come back to you.”
Fitness, yoga, mindfulness and meditation practices like this are being carried out daily at hotels and resorts the world over. The lifestyle shift away from all-out debauchery to blissed-out well-being has fuelled wellness tourism to the tune of US$639 billion, with experts predicting it will reach US$919 billion by 2022. All of which indicates travellers are willing to spend, but how can providers set themselves apart from the pack?
As I discover after three days at Revivo Wellness Resort in Bali, it’s all about personalisation. Programmes can now be tailored to one’s individual health condition and desired outcomes (weight loss, stress relief, sleep hygiene, recovery from chemotherapy and so on), and there’s probably no better method than to consult a guest’s own genetics.
The first resort of its kind to offer GenePlanet’s NutriFit genetic- testing service, Revivo currently provides six signature retreats ranging from anti-ageing to emotional balance and mind training (with new ones being added soon). I’d selected the Detox & Organic Weight Loss option and was soon swabbing my cheek and shipping my DNA off to Slovenia – a fact that might give some people pause, although a written request can be made to have your sample destroyed after testing.
Next came the 12-page pre-arrival questionnaire, covering everything from my expectations of the retreat and coach to my daily eating habits and emotional support system. And finally, several weeks after I’d sent my DNA sample, I was being whisked from Denpasar International Airport to a peaceful corner of Nusa Dua on the southernmost tip of Bali.
Revivo is spread across three hectares of teak-tree forest, with 16 Balinese-style single-suite villas and two four-suite villas. The public areas are dotted with small, low-slung buildings housing fitness and meditation studios, treatment and consultation rooms, and open-air dining and lounge areas. The relatively low capacity and personalised approach mean I rarely see more than one or two other guests at a time, making it feel like a truly private retreat.
After a traditional Vietnamese welcome, I head straight to meet my wellness coach and discover the plan for the next three days. Andreja has already printed out my questionnaire responses, analysed my DNA results and prepared a journal for the duration of my stay. We discuss goals, concerns, likes and dislikes before he provides a summary of my DNA results (I should beware of deficiencies in vitamins B6, B9 and B12 as well as potassium; I’m good at metabolising fats, caffeine and alcohol but don’t respond well to carbohydrates).
This is reflected in my menu for the retreat, with ingredients like tofu, kale, wild fish and potassium-rich vegetables included in every meal. Coffee and alcohol, meanwhile, are not included – though I discover upon leaving that I could have imbibed if only I’d asked.
Besides my three meals plus morning kombucha shots and an afternoon snack, each day is carefully planned to include two or three movement- based classes and one spa treatment. Each night I’m also given a mindfulness practice to do in my suite. It’s impressively comprehensive, down to the scheduled leisure time and suggested bath ritual.
It’s also surprisingly enjoyable and educational. I didn’t know quite what to expect (which, as general manager Samy explains, is intentional because they don’t want guests to “prepare” and instead to see the retreat as a jumping-off point to a healthier lifestyle).
Jaka leads us through TRX and Pilates sessions. Dr Sudhin teaches us cyclic meditation, and vinyasa and aerial yoga. Andreja, a nutritionist as well as strength and conditioning specialist, provides us each with an individualised mobility and HIIT workout we can do at home. And Chef Joshua makes the most incredibly tasty soups, salads and otherwise nourishing meals using herbs and vegetables from the property’s own organic and hydroponic garden.
The daily spa visit becomes a cherished escape, with treatments that include a body scrub using local ingredients, an herbal-pouch massage and a rejuvenating facial. In keeping with the focus on mindfulness, each treatment begins with the therapist playing a singing bowl.
General manager Samy, a trained medical doctor who’s been working in hospitality most of his career, also serves as a life coach and couples therapist upon request. His mission is to help guests reconnect with themselves while providing them the tools to continue their wellness journey at home, an approach that includes follow-up calls and check-ins with guests weeks, months and even years after their visit.
The Hong Kong company that owns Revivo, in addition to The Pavilions Resorts, has grand plans for this wellness-based concept. It already has a Revivo Wellness Cruise on an Indonesian phinisi as well as resorts and clubs under development in France, Spain, Italy and Japan.
As for me, after three days, I’ve leaving Bali nearly a kilogram lighter and armed with a whole new set of ideas, recipes, motivations and insights into my well-being. All that’s left is for me to follow the advice I’ve been given and put my faith in the universe. Because as I learned from Jaka, make a wish – or two – for a long and healthy life, and you might be surprised at what comes back.
Revivo is offering a six-night retreat from US$7,300 (double occupancy), including one NutriFit package per person. Bookings must be made 40 days before travel to allow sufficient time for DNA testing. For more information, visit revivoresorts.com.
What to pack for your next wellness retreat