Blissful Bali: A sanctuary for the older solo traveller
When it feels time to get away and rejuvenate the body and soul, Bliss Sanctuary in Canggu, Bali offers a unique escape for 50+ women particularly if travelling solo.
The casual concierge-style of Bliss sprang from owner Zoe Watson who wanted to take the awkwardness out of dinners alone, the danger out of having a nap outdoors with your belongings at your feet as well as remove the workload of booking spa treatments and tours.
So upon arrival at Bliss, one of two full-time dedicated hostesses greet guests with a fresh fruit mocktail then a 90-minute massage.
The rooms are stunning with king-size wood-carved beds, mosquito nets and multiple sarongs to wear during treatments and around the Bliss grounds.
What I loved most was the semi-enclosed bathroom with a mini-rainforest thriving inside.
Many spa treatments are included in the package cost and you can have whatever you want at any time every single day - massages, manicures, pedicures and cream baths. Extra services at very good prices include tarot readings and spiritual healing sessions.
Along with an a la carte menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, there's a full kitchen with 'help yourself' tea, coffee, cold drinks, chocolate, a fresh-cut fruit platter and yoghurt. It’s not like a hotel where you have to call room service or be up for an extra cost for every little thing you want.
Dinners are a banquet of Balinese dishes where all guests can meet, eat and mingle. Or if going solo is more your thing, you can dine by the pool, in your room or have a hostess book one of the great restaurants in Seminyak. A dedicated Bliss driver takes you there and anywhere else you feel like going.
Bliss gets you into a comfort zone then after being pampered and rejuvenated with a couple of days of spa treatments, you have the option of getting out of your comfort zone.
Bliss arranged an Eco Bike Tour of Ubud - 23 kilometres all down hill. It wasn't hard on the legs as no pedalling required but it was tough on my rear end. TIP – get a bike with a padded seat.
On this tour, I really stepped out of my comfort zone by sipping a 'catpoocino'. It is what it sounds like – a coffee made from feline excrement.
The civet is a beautiful wild nocturnal cat that loves coffee berries. The Balinese harvest the civet droppings and refine them into an expensive coffee. It was hard to drink a hot beverage of a substance I expected to find in kitty litter but I took a taste and it wasn't so bad. It wasn't as good as Italian or Turkish coffee but it was a big step up from any supermarket instant variety.
Interesting women come and go from Bliss and travelling solo, you can easily connect with some or none and keep to yourself. Even very shy women find the atmosphere warm and inclusive.
I be-friended Alison who at 50+ was travelling alone for the first time in her life. Over a banquet dinner she talked about how this trip was a big deal for her as she'd been happily married since age 18 with two grown up kids. Then just a few months ago, her husband died suddenly. She'd come to Bliss to start her life again and find strength in being solo.
I also formed a great connection with Krista, age 58 who took a voluntary redundancy and then took off to Bali. Being a big planner and researcher before making any moves, she really stepped out of her comfort zone by turning up here in blissful ignorance.
Along with its rejuvenating and healing qualities, Bliss is an escape into a luxurious sanctuary that can be as healthy as daily yoga and meditation or a daily dose of cocktails by the pool.
That's the unique offering of Bliss - anything you want it to be, any time with any organizational work done for you by your hostesses.
Also making adventure fun and easy is your very own small mobile phone with all the numbers of the dedicated drivers, hostesses and key staff. So when you arrive, you can lock away all your devices in the room safe and just use the Bliss phone.
Just as I was leaving, I enjoyed wine and a cheese platter with the newbie from Zimbabwe. She had her arm in a cast - nerve and tendon damage - from being attacked by a lion. The stories about her work were enthralling. I was sorry to say goodbye and board a flight back home.
Bliss is a valuable experience for the 50+ woman and could easily become a regular journey for me. While nirvana and Shangri-La are mystical, mythical notions and difficult to find, Bliss is easy and also offers the reality of being a real place, with real women having a really good time.
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