‘Fivelements Holistic Healing Centre’…the name sounds like a rehab. And in a way, it was. But instead of an addiction, I was battling something else— a serious case of quarter-life burnout. With a twitching eye, sore jaw and knots the size of fist (okay, slight exaggeration) in my back, I was so ready for a chilled-out holiday.
As our driver pulled through the gates of Fivelements in Bali, I knew I had come to the right place for some serious relaxation. The sprawling property was a feast for my tired eyes — a lush, rainforest haven. Despite being only being a 30-minute drive from Ubud, I immediately felt a million miles away from the hustle and bustle. Instead of car horns and scooters, I was greeted by the sounds of the flowing river and chirping birds.
Already, I was feeling so much calmer! But I could never have anticipated just how transformative my experience at Fivelements would be. Here’s the lowdown:
Let’s be real — there’s no shortage of retreats in Bali. But how many can boast that they’ve won 17 international awards? It’s not hard to see why Fivelements has been heaped with accolades — the zen sanctuary is the perfect blend of Insta-worthy modern luxury and traditional Balinese healing practices. Not only that, they have a strong sustainable focus — they’re just as passionate about saving the environment as they are about healing guests!
My friend and I stayed in the Waterfall villa, which was just metres away from the Ayung River and — you guessed it — a waterfall! We could hear the river rapids from our room, which made drifting off to sleep at night absolute bliss. Of course, our massive, fit-for-a-queen canopy bed probably helped too! There was also a huge open-air bath overlooking the river — but more on that later.
When we weren’t lazing by the incredible pool, we were sampling some of the many activities Fivelements has on offer. One morning, we were guided through a private 90-minute yoga class with one of the coolest yogis I’ve ever met, Savitri. The next day, we were treated to a fire blessing ceremony with the high priest of Fivelements, Nyoman. That will certainly go down as one of the most amazing and humbling experiences of my life.
While we were at Fivelements, we also checked out the Bali Swing. Chances are, you’ve seen it on your Instagram feed before and wondered where it was. Well, conveniently it’s only a 25-minute drive from the retreat! It hangs between coconut trees, allowing you to take an exhilarating swing ride over the rainforest. It’s quite an epic drop but don’t worry, you’re strapped in with a belt and it’s all very secure. It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted, but is an unforgettable experience (and great photo op!) if you’re up for it.
I’m going to be honest — I’m pretty much as far from a vegan as you can get. I live for meat and cheese! So, when I found out the food at Fivelements was not only vegan but raw, I wasn’t too sure how I’d go. But the cuisine at the award-winning Sakhti Dining Room was nothing short of mindblowing.
There was no ‘lettuce on a plate’ to be seen. Instead, the talented chefs put a creative, plant-based spin on comfort food dishes. Think jackfruit ‘pulled pork’ tacos, zucchini and cashew cheese lasagne and raw chocolate banana pancakes. These were always washed down with a glass of kombucha or a freshly squeezed juice. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the desserts! The raw cheesecake with gelato was just divine. Bali has become a bit of a hub for vegan food in general, but this fine dining experience was truly on another level.
There’s no shortage of treatments to choose from at Fivelements — in fact, there’s a whole book. But if you want to truly pamper yourself, go for the Super Food Facial. The two hour (!!!) facial consists of all natural ingredients like pineapple enzymes, a flower steam and a spirulina-seaweed mask. I have never felt as relaxed as I did after that facial — and my skin had never felt so smooth!
The next day, it was time for a 90-minute healing massage. We got to choose our favourite essential oils and were slathered in it from head to toe. True to its name, it felt as if all of the muscle tension I’d accumulated over the past few months had been instantly healed. Plus, I was so blissed-out I felt I was going to melt away into the treatment table!
The chilled-out vibes didn’t end there. Just in time to catch the sunset, we had our flower bath by the river. The tub was filled with ahimsa bath oil and an array of colourful, aromatic flower petals. It looked and smelled great and felt even better! As I soaked in the bath, I wondered ‘How on earth am I going to go back to my everyday life?’
But that’s the thing about Fivelements. It’s not the kind of retreat where you do one half-hour yoga session then go straight back into your normal, stressed-out routine. It might just be the 10+ hours sleep talking, but I feel my experience at Fivelements has genuinely shifted my mindset. I feel more balanced, focused and rejuvenated. Now, I plan to take more time out to practice yoga, meditate and maybe even have the occasional DIY flower bath! I’m also going to add some more plant-based meals to my cooking repertoire. Or, you know, I could just find another excuse to come back to Fivelements in the near future!
Want to experience the magic, too? Fivelements currently has two homes — their Bali location and their newly-opened urban retreat within the Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy.