JUST BACK: From Bali

I’m just back from beautiful Bali where I attended the 2011 Global Spa Summit. An invitation-only event, spa experts from all over the world came together to meet and discuss important topics to advance the spa industry. The most touching point of the conference: the unveiling of the Evidenced Based Medicine Portal, the world’s first online portal dedicated to the ever-mounting medical evidence supporting spa and wellness therapies. The site is currently hosted on the www.globalspasummit.com website, but eventually (hopefully late summer) it will stand alone as a site for anyone seeking medical proof that massage, yoga, and other alternative therapies really work – a momentous event for the global spa community!

My personal experience in Bali left a huge imprint. Prior to the Summit, I spent three days at the Como Shambala Estate in Payangan Giayar (www.comoshambala.com), near Ubud, a residential health retreat committed to physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. “Shambala” translated means “the sacred place of Bliss” and the whole experience was very blissful, sacred and healthy. I can honestly say my time at Como was one of the best spa experiences I’ve ever had.

Located in the jungle and perched over a ravine with a river running through it, tropical sounds abound. Kerstin and I stayed in the Water complex, a fitting place for us given our reverence for water and spa.

We arrived in the evening to a ceremonial Balinese dance followed by a serene and spa-healthy dinner (with other pre-conference delegates), created by Chef Amanda Gale, who used the most lush and fresh ingredients: raw vegetable spring rolls, ginger, mango, papaya.

The staff was equally beautiful – especially Tinton, our personal assistant who made us feel instantly at home…offering every convenience we could imagine from flowers in our room to our own personal yoga matts to instant transportation anywhere on property (we preferred to walk but it was nice to have the choice).

My favorite part of our stay, however, was at dawn. Every morning, we trekked to a sacred spring (down a handcrafted flight of stone stairs that led to the ravine below) to give our gratitude, leave flowers and drink from the clear beautiful water which came from deep inside the earth.

Late in the day, after Thai massage, a river picnic and Pilates, we took a trip to the sacred Water temple, Pura Tirta Empul (926 AD). The temple, about a 30 minute drive from the estate, is regarded as one of the six most revered in Bali. Inside the inner sanctum, there are a number of bathing pools for the Hindus. We elected not to bathe but it was beautiful to watch the locals enjoy the experience.

But my favorite part of the temple was the sacred, rectangular clear pool where you can see water bubbling up from the earth. It almost looked volcanic, but the pool was perfectly clear.

While at this pool, we were fortunate to spot a very holy and seldom-seen sacred eel, approximately three-feet long, swimming in the ferns. The Balinese say that if you make a wish on the eel, your wish will come true. My wish being in Bali had already come true.

I was grateful to have my Neroli Water with me. It offered me a refreshing lift from the heat and humidity of this beautiful island.

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