Bali is probably one of the world’s most popular destinations for yoga and wellness retreats.
Most retreats in Bali are concentrated in Ubud and Canggu, but a fresh one has just popped up in East Bali.
One of the newest options to consider if you’re looking for a yoga retreat experience on the Island of the Gods is Alila Manggis’ recently launched Signature Yoga Retreat, held with Indonesian yoga teacher Ami Effendy.
Known for having high standards of luxury design and service, Alila has hotels and resorts throughout Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Cambodia, India, and soon, in Sri Lanka. Bali locations include Seminyak, Ubud, Uluwatu, and of course, the site of the new yoga retreat program in Manggis.
What sets Manggis, a small village near Candidasa, apart from Alila’s other Bali locations is that it’s well off the trodden track with its more remote location up in Bali’s quiet East Coast.
You actually feel like you’re in (a luxe resort) in Bali and not, say, in Australia.
Even though it’s outside of busy South Bali, one of the things we liked about Alila Manggis was just how easy it was to get in from the south. It’s pretty much a straight shot 60 kilometers up the By-Pass, so there’s no jarring journey on winding or broken roads to deal with. The retreat includes a pick-up service from the island’s Ngurah Rai Airport, which takes about 75 minutes.
And while the hotel is far from all the stuff in the South, it’s relatively close by to a bunch of cool points of interest that would otherwise be a schlep to get to from tourist hubs Kuta or Seminyak. Manggis makes a great base for exploring around Mount Agung, Tirta Gangga, Pura Lempuyang, the Mother Temple Besakih, the traditional Tenganan Village, the diving town of Amed, and quiet east coast beaches. You can even take a short fishing boat ride from the hotel over to a snorkeling spot or jump in a car to the famous Blue Lagoon Beach. These two outings are among the “crafted experiences” included in the yoga retreat package, amongst trekking, cycling, and a few more (take note that diving is excluded, so be prepared to pay if you want to play scuba).
Unlike many larger commercial hotel chains with uniform cookie-cutter styles, Alila is known for each of its locations having its own unique design elements, integrating the design with the landscape.
Located on a small bay, Manggis is centered on a seaside coconut grove, forming a horse-shoe-like shape with a pool in between the grove and the rooms. Breezy two-story building structures with thatched roofs and fish ponds wrap around the pool, with the bottom floor rooms having a patio and second-floor rooms a balcony for sitting out and enjoying the outdoors. The hotel’s on the smaller end of things with 53 rooms and two suites, so it didn’t seem to ever too crowded in any one spot.
If you’re lucky with the weather and get clear skies during your visit, then prepare for epic technicolor sunsets from the pool and a view of the island of Nusa Penida beyond the bay.
The interiors of the rooms felt a bit dated and show their age with some with the older-style furnishings, shower hardware, and overall bathroom design flow. They were super clean, though — and the fact that every room has a great view is nice.
The yoga is led by Indonesian teacher Ami Effendy, who practices traditional Hatha-style yoga. Yoga programming is a mix of workshops and actual practice.
There are three yoga sessions offered each day. Yoga covered a lot of ground, with a balance of what was a more energetic-style vinyasa flow and chiller, restorative yoga, as well as yoga nidra.
Effendy’s teachings are very well-suited for yogis of all levels — even people who have never practiced before. She very readily adapted to the different experience levels of the three people in our group.
If you’re looking for a more advanced yoga retreat and have very specific goals, however, it would be beneficial to get in touch with Alila to discuss the retreat’s course materials.