Many of you know that I recently took the time to travel around Bali—primarily in and around the ever-so-lovely Ubud. In between yoga, green smoothies and experiencing the best the region had to offer, I dedicated an entire day to exploring the top retreat centers in and around Ubud. But I didn’t go it alone—I had the fantastic company of my new friend Catalina, a charismatic Colombian currently living in Australia and running her trail-blazing business EventswithSoul.com
Catalina and I hopped on my scooter and explored the best retreat centers around Ubud so that you don’t have to!
We all know that sometimes websites can be deceiving or confusing, so the best option is to view the facilities with you own eyes. Catalina and I both run retreats and events, and we each have our own unique expert eyes to share our insights for your epic retreat benefit.
I hope after reading this post, all of you will book ultra-cheap and luscious retreats in Bali next years. Indonesia is truly a magical country, and Ubud is a mystical city highly worth visiting.
(In case you missed my other posts, this is the third article in my exclusive series highlighting my favorite retreat centers around the world! To see the other swoon-worthy destinations I’ve covered, click here.)
Bali is one of those destinations that pulls you back time and time again. The mystical culture, the generous people and the stunning scenery are truly one-of-a-kind. But even more specifically, the vibrant city of Ubud is a must-visit for retreats and events. The small city was largely made popular by the famous book “Eat, Pray, Love,” yet despite its rise to fame, still boasts a unique authenticity.
Ubud is so attractive to many because it is a place of healing. Retreat centers overlook verdant rice paddies. The expansive ocean is never too far away. Elders lay flowers on temples outside their door just as the first glint of sun rises above the horizon. Whatever you are in need of, Ubud seems to offer it.
When I lead international retreats, I cater to 10-30 guests. If you are going smaller than this, there are many guest houses near Ubud that are screaming out with potential for retreats. You may need to hold workshops/yoga classes elsewhere as not many have larger community spaces, but these spots can always be rented. Additionally, you’ll find plenty of cafes for nearby small group discussions.
If you are planning an entrepreneur’s retreat for 10-30 guests, than these are my top choices. It’s worth noting that not all of the retreat centers in Bali are what they claim. If you’re diverging from this list, then I would recommend checking out the accommodation in person before putting down a deposit. However, having personally visited the following locations, I can vouch for their authenticity and stunning features that make them top-notch choices for all your retreats and live events:
Floating Leaf is my top recommendation for any retreat in Bali. However, as it’s not near downtown Ubud, it’s worth noting that this is the best option for intense community retreats. In fact, I often prefer this for retreats over ten people as you’ll find everything you need all in one place. And trust me—Floating Leaf knows retreats and has you and your group covered for all of your needs.
For facilities, you’ll find an amazing healing pool complete with color therapy and a meditation sitting / lounging area. Don’t miss the spa services; the co-owner is a gorgeous world-trained Balinese woman with fantastic gifts. It’s also worth noting the permaculture garden which helps farmers around the property with their education.
You can see the sea from the rooftop, and there are tons of little nooks for deep chats with heavenly breezes. The gorgeous rooftop yoga deck is ideal not only for retreats, but also events like weddings and ceremonies. Bali is hot, but this retreat center is not. It’s all part of the architecture, and it’s absolutely perfect.
Floating Leaf also boasts lovely new bedding as they’ve just expanded to a second building to be able to host more people. Four brand new eco-luxury Garden Rooms in addition to the six Deluxe Pool View Rooms are increasing the guest capacity to 20 retreat participants. All rooms can be single or double occupancy and each features countless eco-luxury amenities.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful things about Floating Leaf is that they will help you fill YOUR retreats! This is so rare, but so many follow Floating Leaf that it is easy for them. So if you book your retreat here, you are nearly guaranteed to sell out.
Mikaku, the co-owner, is a great guy who will help you with anything you need. He’s a fellow world traveler and yogi, and will become a friend the moment you meet him.
Just a 20-minute walk along a narrow road through the rice paddies of Ubud lies the Dragonfly Village.
Dragonfly Village is overflowing with seriously amazing amenities. This was a real perk to me. Think: organic garden and cafe, smoothies to-die-for, delicious meals and an ideal space for workshops or breakout sessions. The eating area is raised on the second floor, which I also thought was quite a nice touch.
A gorgeous raised yoga deck with spectacular sunrise and sunset views over the rice paddies is a must for any retreat. Water is brought up to the deck, along with all the yoga props you could possibly need. The massage area is below for ultra-convenience.
Rooms at the Dragonfly Village are simple and traditional Balinese, a bit dark but also authentic and just moments from a gorgeous lily pad pond walkway.
The Dragonfly Village is famous for their herbal sauna (offered 4x a week), which is included for retreat guests. Thursday nights are silent sauna night. I experience this first-hand and can say that it is absolutely magical with the sauna, saltwater pool and fire pit under the stars. (Starts at 6:00pm and lasts roughly until 9:30pm.)
July through September and March are high season, so it might be fully booked at this time. Nalom took amazing care of us, including giving us our tour, and recommends booking at least a year out if possible. But like many retreat centers, last minute cancellations do happen, so it’s worth emailing them to see what is possible.
After 15 minutes of snaking up and down the hills of Bali’s narrow roads, we finally arrived at Azadi, a beautiful retreat center nestled amongst the rice paddies. This is a true getaway for those retreat goers who need to disconnect to reconnect.
Azadi currently has eight cozy but simple double rooms with bathrooms. Beds can easily be converted from double to twins, depending on the needs of your retreat group. Bathrooms have comfortable showers with hot water and a toilet. The small terrace in front of each room is equipped with a hanging chair as well as an arm chair for meditation over the expansive rice paddies.
As my friend Catalina says, retreat centers are definitely worth visiting before planning anything at all, but Azadi is one of the gems in the area. The wide, open-plan common area opens up to a pool. The kitchen is behind this area, where yummy and healthy treats are prepared and later served.
The retreat is booked on a weekly basis, and because it’s quite popular, they are expanding to build eight more rooms a few meters away. A large serviced spa is also being built in the new area, opening in early 2016.
Catalina and I thoroughly enjoyed going around the property, and noticed that the property feels cozy and together. However, Catalina did note that it is missing some break-out areas where people can comfortably sit in a shadow and reflect, but then again, the relaxing atmosphere of the pool area and the paddies around it might be enough. Plus, every room has a mini-terrace with a nice hanging chair to chill out.
At the very bottom of the property is the yoga/workshop space. It’s an open area with a jungle view and a fair bit of mosquitoes, so come prepared. The space can currently holding up to fifteen people, but the area is being expanded to accommodate more.
At about $150/night/room, Azadi is a fantastic option for medium sized groups in twin accommodation.
In addition to the three fantastic retreat centers listed above, there are also a few guesthouses that warrant exploration. Specifically, I recommend Nur and Gusti’s Garden Bungalow—both of which are small but absolutely magical. There are five or six rooms in total, each equipped with queen beds to sleep one or a couple.